Friday, 20 April 2012

Gardening Leave I

Seriously? A year? A WHOLE year? As my last post was the 21st April 2011, I guess it must be..
Well life has changed radically, again. Probably for the best...
Those who follow me on Twitter will know that in December my long-term corporate employer decided to cancel the IT Innovation initiative I was on - and along with 6 of my colleagues, I found myself without a job.
If you read my other posts you will know that I was at best ambivalent about my employer and it's culture, no matter how much I loved my job and the people around me.
So, a new start, and while it is not crystalline, I have been adjusting to another new paradigm, finding out things about myself and how I want to operate.
I have only just finished 'working' out my notice and reaching a final agreement with my now ex-employer, and until that was done, didn't feel motivated to blog, but now I need to restart my working life, and so thought I would blow the dust off, and give this another go...
So, I've been on 'gardening leave' - literally and metaphorically, and I thought I'd share with you what's been happening....

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Sandwich Woman

I am a Sandwich Mum.

No, no, not (just) the school lunches.

I am in a generation, who, having had their children much, much later than their own mums, are in the unenviable position of caring for young children even as their husbands' and their own parents grow older and less able.

Care for a new generation is segueing gently through into care for a previous one.

I had resigned myself to that....

What I hadn't reckoned on was being in a career sandwich too.

As a feisty young neo-feminist, I believed that I was equal, I believed that through intellect, hard work, and ambition, I would 'make it' - become a leader in my chosen field, be a role model, and attain the financial rewards for the role I held.

Yep, I thought I could make it, and I have done well FOR A WOMAN but the truth is, and I know it, I have never reached my full potential.

What I hadn't reckoned on was that gender issues would still be ongoing even as I reach middle age. Paid less even than my direct reports, I had been fobbed off as not being experienced enough for new opportunities, only to see the best roles go to the less able.

Yes, male, in every single case....

I know you'll tell me I have contributed to this situation, by staying at the same conservative employer for 20 years, and by being probably a little too feisty for their taste - I have not exactly helped myself.

Ultimately that is why I have taken the step I have, to move away from my career ladder, to do something enjoyable, worthwhile, to be a better person, to be a little less Demented.

So why am I up in arms, again?

One word - Diversity!

Has there ever been a word more divisive?

Yesterday I sat through global presentation on Diversity, and you know what? it sucked. The penny suddenly dropped that now I am again in the 'wrong' generation, neither old enough to be a 'valued Senior' (yeah, right) nor young enough to be considered 'Talent'.

Fuming, even as the presentation unfolded, another statement caught me by surprise. What? Wait? What are they saying? Oh, apparently our Diversity action plan is North America only...

Ah, that's all right then - White Middle-aged Men everywhere else, you can relax...

So, what do you think? Are you in the sandwich generation? Are you in a career sandwich too? Do you find that Diversity Policy is really only lip-service? Do you think I am just being Demented, again?

Comment away...

Image 1

Image: m_bartosch /

Image 2

Image: Ambro /

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Transitions and Compromises..

Back in September when things were getting a bit too demented with school entry exams, a loss of a sense of control over my career, and an abiding sense of Working Mothers guilt, I made some promises, to myself, and I hinted at them in my Twitter Tribes blog

I didn't really dare voice them here, but this is what I decided to do:

Find time to spend with the girls so they get the best out of life and school.

Find a job that I would enjoy doing and would therefore make me a better (read nicer...) person, even if that meant leaving my long term employer.

Free myself up to do more writing and find some ways of making myself, well, a little less 'corporate'.

I had a sense that Social Media, new technology and even blogging might help in all three, and inspired by such fabulous people as Margie Clayman (@MargieClayman) Paula Thornton (@Rotkapchen) Kelly Craft (@KRCraft) and Daria (@Mominmanagement) have made some changes.....

Taking a deep breath, I applied for and got a new role in my company - in Technology Research, where I get to do what I have been doing in my own time for the last six months anyway - looking at Social Media, and mobility and its implications for the particular enterprise I work for. This is the chance to do a job I know I will really enjoy, and one that will free me up to spend more time at home.

The transition is in full swing, from old job to new job, from traditional office supervisory to home based virtual team member, I am getting to use every piece of technology you can imagine to make it happen - Mobility, telepresence, unified communications, corporate social media - Our team get to try them all out first, so I'm having a ball!

And the compromises?

Well, I have baulked at changing my Linkedin profile because the role seems so at odds with a lot of what I have been doing for the last few years - moving from Manager to Analyst is a change in brand... But that is to the outside world and I need to be comfortable in my own skin

Membership of a virtual team with a six hour time span means that we have all had to shift our days to get a better overlap.

But still this new job helps me keep my promises...

I can have breakfast with the girls and take them to school
If I am working from home I can pick them up too, or at least be right here when my workday ends. They have signed up for activities that they wanted to do but I was always too busy to take them to.

I have better organised myself to spend time with them on their school work, so things are (only slightly) less demented.

I am enjoying my work,which is making me a little less cranky, the benefit of which is not to be underestimated ;-)

The only thing is that I have been too busy in the midst of the transitions to work on that last promise.. But that is next, and @NaomiTimperley is guiding me there...

So, stay tuned, lets share this new experience and experiment in Technology and together we can learn about a new way of life for Demented Working Mums...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 24 January 2011


It's 3 in the morning and I have been lying awake for an hour - worrying, as you do, at this forsaken hour of the day.

I cycle repeatedly through woes I can't change from my bed or even from here, my kitchen, at stupid o'clock.

There's no need to bore you with the details because with each word I blog they diminish, and now I feel foolish that I worried at all.

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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Why the 'Wannabe Runner'?

Why the wannabe, what's stopping you, you ask yourselves. I do love running - the sense of freedom, the low entry cost, the simplicity of it, but sadly running no longer loves me...

Almost exactly two years ago, my body unilaterally decided that it didn't want to run anymore and, realising that my exercise junkie brain would never give in, it snuck up behind me and administered what can only be described as a huge kick in the ass - at least that's what it felt like.

One of my discs, weakened by 10 years of competitive rowing, and made considerably worse by regular poundings during 7 mile training runs had admitted defeat...Don't mind those dramatisations of someone clutching their lower back - a real slipped disc can be, quite literally, a pain in the butt.

That resulted in a series of MRI scans, cortisone injections and ultimately an operation. I finally felt better, after 9 months of pain and immobility. Better enough 6 months after the op to start walking 10,000 steps a day, 4 months of that and I felt great.

Now that I was fit, I could start running again - right?


One short session later my body crept up on me again to teach me another lesson, a second disc 'went' and I was back where I started. So here I am, 5 more months of pain and immobility, more cortisone injections and scans, and the possibility of another op, and yet I would still really love to go for a run....

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Sunday, 2 January 2011

Because I thought of the day...(Mar smaoinigh mé ar an lá)

Over the holidays I have had a couple of my own Subh Milis moments.

Bemoaning the quantities of Sylvanian Families bits and pieces, the Hama bead horrors, the fact that there are almost no decorations over five feet high on the tree, or that the modernist tree on the sideboard seems to have acquired some colouful, though poignant, additions to the black and gold theme. I suddenly realise that in a very few short years I will have it all to myself.

Suddenly I am overcome with nostalgia for these days, already slipping away, while we are still in the grip of Santa and joyous belief and enjoyment of the moment, and I stop and remind myself that one day the small hands will be..


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Sunday, 26 December 2010

Walking it off

A little walk along the canal in winter coloured weather....

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