Career Change…

So I left my job – quite a good paying job, in January and I had ZERO clue what I was going to do! I just knew something would plan out and I’d be fine.

I have always worked in either a leadership based role in retail or as a PA/Assistant in an office based environment and I thought thats what I would do until I retired when I’m in my late 60’s. I was quite happy with that fate to be honest.

I left my well paid desk job for the council because I wasn’t getting enough time with the boys and I was always having to ask for time off for appointments, school trips and when the boys were poorly – not to mention my own sick days. I had run out of annual leave and was triggering the absence procedure. I felt trapped. I wanted to be a working mother so I could show the boys that you have to go out and earn your money. having grown up in a household of workers that was all I had ever known…to go out and work for someone else – to be an employee.

As a user of social media I would often see my ‘friends’ promoting weight loss products and I would just think ‘as if that pays their bills’, and keep on scrolling. Don’t get me wrong I do support my local girl gangs and buy locally from small businesses where I can but I always thought differently of people who advertised on social media…I even thought it was a scam.

One afternoon in February as I posted a picture of my just delivered glossy box I got an inbox from someone I didn’t know on Instagram. I replied out of politeness – but it wasn’t something I normally did. The lady said she loved my profile, she could see my friends were subscribing to Glossybox just off my monthly recommendation and asked what I was getting from it…my reply was I like helping people out, glossy box enables people to try new beauty products for only a tenner a month so I liked sharing it. She then told me she had an amazing opportunity she wanted to share with me….after an email and a 30  minute phone call I committed to changing my life forever…but I didn’t know that at the time!

I was now a partner of a leading anti ageing beauty and wellness company. I just thought I was going to sell a few tubes of whitening toothpaste and make about £50 a month…I would have been pretty happy with £50 a month extra from using social media. I had now entered the world that is network marketing – I was petrified.

So it started with a tube of toothpaste, then a mud mask…then it kind of snowballed. I was using the products (which are A-Mazing BTW) and I was sharing them with my friends and family (and strangers) and I was making sales. I was making at least my £50 target every month. I started to see the bigger picture. Network marketing is like one huge family where everyone helps you out – or at least it is in the company I’m partnered with.

I quickly realised I wanted to share this opportunity with everyone who would listen – my customers, friends and family, the mums at swimming lessons, the man in the local shop…pretty much anyone who would listen. And its not because I want something out of it but because I want other people to know there is another way! We aren’t all destined to be someone else’s employee, to be told when and where to work, to answer to a hierarchy of office politics, told what to wear or when to take breaks. There is another way. At school we aren’t taught how to create our own businesses and it can take people their entire life to build their empires or even decide what they really want to do for their ‘career’.

  • Harland Sanders was 62 when he franchised KFC which he sold for $2mil in 1964 (that was a hell of a lot of money then).
  • Ray Kroc spent his career as a milkshake device salesman before buying McDonalds at 52 and growing it into the worlds biggest fast food franchise. (If you haven’t watched The Founder…stop reading this blog and go watch it right this minute!)
  • Henry Ford was 46 when he created the revolutionary Model T car.
  • Samuel Jackson landed his first award winning roll at 43.
  • Vera Wang was 40 before she entered the fashion world…now look at her!
  • Stan Lee created his first hit comic ‘The Fantastic Four’ at 38…from there he created the marvel universe.

So its never too late or too early. Even if Network Marketing ‘isn’t for you’ maybe find out a little more about it first. I was one of the sceptics; now its my mission to show other people how to make an income from home, around their other commitments, family, everyday life and help make a difference to their life.

I am so grateful for this free opportunity because I am working hard now to build the foundations of something that will enable me to relax with my family and reap the rewards in a few years time…its not a get rich scheme, its not a pyramid scheme – its a change your life for the better and help others scheme. 

Oh and my skin is better than ever, my teeth are whiter and my hair is amazing – and I am supported and in a much better place mentally than I was while working at a desk 9-5 under those AWFUL fluorescent lights waiting for Friday and hating Monday’s….

If you would like more info email me on beautifywithjandj@gmail.com…I have finally found my calling and would love to help you find yours!

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12 Things I have Learnt Since Losing Mama…

So its been a year since my very own Mama lost her fight with cancer and was taken up to heaven…here are 12 things I have learnt since last August…

  1. You only get one Mama, treat her amazingly no matter what because even with all the mistakes in the world no one will love you as she does.
  2. Make memories, I regret all the things we never did together as adults; afternoon tea, shopping trips, a foreign holiday, the theatre, the cinema…the list is absolutely endless
  3. Not everything needs to be perfect. My Mama was a firm believer that the house needed to be spotless and the washing up done before anyone went to bed. I have learnt that the house doesn’t fall apart if the washing up is left to dry over night.
  4. Unspoken words start to rot. There was a LOT of things I wanted to say and ask my Mama before she passed but I didn’t have the guts to, this will be one of my life regrets – I’ve now learnt that if something is on the tip of your tongue you need to ask it not bottle it up
  5. It’s perfectly okay to cut off from the world – I stopped answering my phone around November time. I just didn’t want to talk and I needed to process the difficult year that I had survived. I didn’t feel bad about it, well I did to start with but I don’t anymore. I hadn’t spoken to hardly any of my Irish family because I found it hard to speak about my Mama with them. I now know its totally okay to cut off from your family and friends temporarily so you have the time needed to think, breathe and heal.
  6. You don’t need things to remember people by.  Growing up my Mama always had something belonging to her parents, my brother her dear friend and she would bring them out during her spring cleans and reminisce. I read a book earlier in the year by Marie Kondo and she teaches people how to let go of items in their life that no longer brings them joy. Just because my Mama’s possessions brought her joy doesn’t mean they will do the same for me. I let go of almost everything my Mama left behind and I gave them to people who could use them rather than hanging them up or having them in a box somewhere to hardly ever be seen.
  7. Its okay to talk about her and even to her. I am always laughing about things she did, moaning about things that were said, telling the boys how much she loved them…some people are uncomfortable speaking about her and I know thats okay too.
  8. There is an emptiness. Not just in our home but in me. I have an empty feeling I can’t describe. She left a Mama shaped hole in me somewhere. It has gotten smaller over the last year but its still there.
  9. You’re not a bad person for feeling joy on days you should be feeling sad. Birthdays, christmases and anniversaries will not be the same again but I don’t have to spend the day in bed crying, I can remember the good times we all had as a family.
  10. A year is a short period of time. I can’t believe how much has happened over the past year. Although it has been 365 days it feels like its been 36.5 days. Its flown by and although its been a year it feels like a month ago I was sat in the hospice and watched her slip away.
  11. Hospices are where angels work. I had never been to a hospice before taking Mama to St Josephs, I didn’t know what to expect. The month she spent there she was cared for by absolute angels, who put up with her mischief, moods, deterioration and the constant flow of visitors. All with a smile on their face, a sympathetic ear and a warm hug if ever you needed one.
  12. The biggest thing I have learnt and something I got from my Mama (and I think I have taken over from her) is to give. Give your time, love, energy to whoever needs it. Mama used to take in anyone who needed something, she would give until she had nothing else to give. I have spent the last year raising money for the hospice that looked after her so well, giving advice to anyone who needs/asks for it, helping people when they need it, giving our clutter no longer used items to those who will use them. And to do all this without wanting or expecting anything in return.

 

So its been a hell of a year without you Mama, I just hope I’ve made you proud. I hope you will continue looking down on us and showering us with your love because we can still feel it!

Hope you’re having a toast up there with a bottle of Jacobs Creek….I’m surprised they haven’t gone under over the past year from a  rapid drop in sales hahahaha!

 

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Surviving the first week of summer holidays…

With me working from home now I imagined the summer holidays being filled with fun and activities. Oh how wrong I was!

Heres a great link to an article in the Londonist showing Free Things To Do With Kids In London

Week One went like this!

  • Refusal to leave the house because we have Disney Life on the TV and iPads so why do we need to leave the house?? For any parents who use iPads or apple TV I recommend subscribing to Disney Life! Best fiver a month you will spend….Lots of movies, programs and behind the scenes on there!
  • Approximately 4839928479485 fights between the two boys.
  • 7 Pizza consumed.
  • NO lay ins!
  • 2 Swimming lessons.
  • 1 prosecco evening – where Sid rolled out of bed and smashed his nose on the bed side cabinet…he now has two single beds pushed together so he has no where to roll out to.
  • 1 room move – I think if Albert could move into the shed to avoid human contact he would…for now he is in Nanny’s old room.
  • 1 trip to the local farm which to Alberts HUGE disappointment had NO pigs in it. Although we all got to touch a chicken.
  • 3 trips to the park…is it only my kids who get bored after 20 minutes and just want to leave now?
  • 1 huge family meal which was lovely and surprisingly our children were very well behaved…until we left and got on the train home – ALL HELL BROKE LOSE!
  • A week of toothache (Mama) and not getting to the dentist yet…but painkillers have been a godsend.
  • A haircut for Albert at the local barbers….this is huge in our household because he’s been having Mama haircuts for the last 5 years because he hates the noise and lighting in barber shops!
  • A huge product launch for our family business – although it didn’t affect the kids it meant we had to be a little more creative about our time at the start of the week.

So I made it! I survived…with only 2 glasses of prosecco and 2 glasses of Champagne (celebrating some exciting news). I wonder what this week has in store for us! I hope all you Mama’s have managed to survive the first week too!

 

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Dreams

We are VERY lucky that chance brought our boys to the school they attend. Not only have they reached OUTSTANDING in their recent OFSTED inspection, the school has an amazing community feel and spirit within it.

The school has this amazing atmosphere from the minute you walk through the gates. They have signs everywhere mentioning DREAMS, these are the school’s values and although I knew what the acronym meant I didn’t really get it until yesterday.

Yesterday I attended an annual DREAMS assembly where years 1-6 are awarded for a number of achievements through the school year. Every day the kids come out of the school building happy and they rush to tell their adults that they got stickers for something or another – I have a fridge front covered in these blue, green, purple, yellow, brown and red stickers that Albert has brought home over the last school year. He comes out of school on most days telling me who got a gold card, and why they got the gold card if he can remember. He has never once come out of the school building crying because he didn’t get a sticker or gold card on that day…in fact he comes out genuinely happy for the friend who has received it on that day. I didn’t ever really take notice of it before but yesterday I did.

So yeah, I was sat in the DREAMS assembly and I was thinking to myself ‘there will be tears’ little did I know the tears would be of pride and coming out of the eyes of parents and staff rather than the children crying because they weren’t awarded.

The whole of year one were sat very patiently and happy on the seats in the hall while parents piled in and the awards ceremony began. The head teacher (who is possibly the greatest head in the world – my biased opinion but I have worked with quite a few over the years), stood in front of everyone and congratulated the children for a fantastic year, she said it didn’t matter if they didn’t get an award today because they have year 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to get one and achievements never get unnoticed. And so it began, the names of children were called out, they went and collected their certificate and medal, shook the hands of the head and deputy and returned to their seats after a quick round of applause. Something amazing was happening…the entire year 1 were genuinely ecstatic for their friends getting these awards. They weren’t wondering why they didn’t get that one, they weren’t huffing, they were clapping, cheering and patting their friends on the back as their names were called AND when they were returning to their seats. Not one adult in that hall can say they weren’t touched by the support these kids give each other on a daily basis.

Albert got an award for Self-belief, I was super proud…I wasn’t just proud that he had won an award. I was proud because he knew what self-belief was and is in a learning environment where the children are taught the values of the school every single day, so much so that it is becoming part of their DNA.

DREAMS stands for…

Determination

Resilience

Enthusiasm

Ambition

Motivation

Self-belief

Every single child in the school knows what each of those values mean and stands for…honestly I can say I didn’t know what resilience meant until I was in my 20’s, my 6 year old has known since he was 5!! Whats even more amazing is that because these children have been learning these qualities from such a young age they will grow up to be determined, resilient, enthusiastic, ambitious, motivated and full to the brim with self-belief. Its also rubbing off on me.

It goes to show a school where the teachers are supported well, our children are then supported and become amazing little humans with huge hearts supporting one another.

 

A year ago today…

A year ago today I made one of the hardest decisions of my adult life.

A year ago today I decided to put my Mama into a hospice. I knew she would not leave the hospice and that she wouldn’t be returning home. It had been a LONG and hard week. With multiple trips to A&E, a huge personality change and moments of psychosis. As well as attacks – verbally and physically, being accused of stealing money from her, being told I was a useless mother and daughter. I knew it wasn’t my Mama speaking to me but the cancer that had already consumed so much of her body it had reached the brain.

A year ago today I had to listen to my Mama beg me to let her go to Ireland and to die there. I had to watch as she sobbed as she packed a small suitcase with things she would never wear. I had to put an anti psychotic drug the GP had given me into her cup of tea to calm her down enough so we could get her into the cab.

A year ago today I had to listen to my Mama tell me she would never ever forgive me for this.

A year ago today I went home and sobbed when no one was around and then call our family and friends and let them know mum was in a hospice against her will because I just couldn’t cope anymore.

A year ago today was the beginning of a month of rushed family visits, many many trips to the hospice in Hackney, a month of not knowing what was meant to be put first.

A year on and I know it was the hardest but one of the best decisions I made. She got the medication she needed, when she needed it, she was eating again, was relaxed enough to sleep and had visitors whenever she wanted them.

A year on and I have learnt that I’m so much tougher than I ever thought I was. I have learnt that nothing can keep me down and sometimes the toughest decisions are the best and only ones you can make.

As much as I hated myself this time last year thinking I had done something awful, a year on and I now know I needed the time away from Mama in order to enjoy the last weeks of her life with her.

What I’m trying to say is…don’t beat yourself up over a decision for too long because sometimes that choice was exactly what you needed right then.

 

 

GBS…

What is GBS I hear you say….it’s something every pregnant woman needs to be tested for and something we should all be talking about.

I was in my second pregnancy and felt pretty rubbish the entire time. I had UTI after UTI which meant urine test after urine test. On one of my urine sample pots (I must have been holding it too close to my lady parts) it tested positive for Group B Strep (GBS) I was told to come into the GP surgery and to make an appointment with the midwife.

I still didn’t know what GBS was. I did the worst thing a pregnant woman could do – I googled it! (NEVER EVER google illnesses while pregnant…buggies – yes…illnesses – NO!)

So GBS is often perfectly harmless unless you’re about to give birth. There is no need to treat it in women as 25% of us have the bacteria and most of us don’t know unless we are tested whilst showing symptoms of other illnesses. It’s usually harmless. Unless you’re a baby having a vaginal birth with a mother who is GBS positive and doesn’t know. It is not an STI or STD, it is not a sign of ill health and it is not because of poor hygiene. It is a bacteria that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum.

GBS is the most common cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns. It is also a cause for newborn pneumonia and problems such as rubella, congenital syphilis and spina bifida. This of course is rare but it still happens.

Very few babies who are exposed to GBS become infected, but it can still cause babies to be miscarried, stillborn or become very sick after birth.

So what happens if you test positive for GBS? You are watched carefully by the midwife, you are told to carry your yellow book everywhere with you and on that yellow book there is a huge red sticker that says you are GBS positive. I was told 3473495629 times that as soon as my contractions started or my waters broke I HAD to get my bum to the hospital to be put on an antibiotic drip. This is so you get enough antibiotics into you that when the baby is delivered they won’t need to be put onto a drip.

So why am I telling you all this? basically the test for GBS costs the NHS £11 each and the antibiotic in labour is pennies. Most areas in the UK do not routinely offer this test. GBS is often misdiagnosed by GPS as a UTI and you are sent on your way without a proper test.

With the NHS facing more cuts, how many more babies will lose their lives because their mother was unaware of GBS? Please sign the petition at the bottom of this post to show support that the GBS test should be a mandatory test during pregnancy. Many other countries offer this test in late pregnancy to ensure that labour is well prepared for but the UK never has. I know if expectant mothers knew more about the risks of GBS they would pay the £11 themselves for the testing to be carried out. I know I would.

Sign the petition here.

 

School Trip Mama…

You will never understand stress and exhaustion until you have been on a child’s school trip where you have to use public transport. I still don’t think I will ever get over it.

I am the ‘School Trip Mama’, I have been on all of Albert’s school trips including the one to the postbox across the road. Being an ASD Mama you kinda have no choice – No School Trip Mama = No School Trip for Albs.

So this week I was lucky enough to accompany 60 year 1 students on their school trip to The National Gallery (I would say London but we live in London and its not as glam as it seems). We took the bus!!! Yep thats right – THE PUBLIC BUS! 60 5/6 year olds and 10 adults. Well 2 buses because it was quite busy. So we get on the bus and it takes almost 2 HOURS to get travel a distance that normally takes 30 minutes. THEN the buses decided to terminate early. The stress could be seen on all the adults faces, busy central london, 60 kids and 10 adults to get off buses safely and have them all counted TWICE and then to wait for another bus for everyone to get on and then be counted AGAIN!

We get to the gallery and it was fine, we were very proud of ourselves as adults – we made it!!! It was hot and the kids just wanted their lunches (you know the free ones the school provides and the Tories want rid of) – can’t say I blamed them because I was starving, and the sandwich I had made myself was burning a hole in my bag. What they don’t tell you when you decide to sign up to accompany a school trip is that you get no break! You spend the lunch 30 mins opening bottles of water, cleaning up messes, answering questions and doing loo runs to actually be able to eat your sandwich. I managed to ram half of it down my throat before anyone noticed.

Once feeding time was over we were having a our very own guided tour. Our tour guide was nothing short of AMAZING. She was captivating, enthusiastic and the children actually loved her. I was excited because I love hearing all about the artist and the passion of the guide because they tend to pick the paintings they like the most. BUT NO! The guide made an announcement to the adults that we needed to police the area and make sure no one took photos of the painting she was talking about because tourists like to take sneaky (and obvious) photos of groups of english kids in uniforms in museums and galleries. I thought she was being over cautious – nope she wasn’t. It was literally like swatting flies for an hour!

Then it was home time…back on the bus (oh joy!) this time the 60 kids and 10 adults got on the same bus. this wasn’t at all ideal. Upstairs filled up quickly so the rest of us sat downstairs. I was lucky because Albs and his partner fell asleep – how I have no idea because it was the bus journey from HELL! My ears are still ringing nearly a week on! The kids were feral! They were just so so loud. I know understand why they need playtime outside – there is just too too much energy they need to get rid of. We got back to school at 3.32pm – so I was 2 minutes late picking Sid up from nursery #BadMama.

The kids all did some amazing little sketches and they loved being out of the classroom for a while and they learnt lots about the art. SO it was a very worthwhile trip. It was lovely to hear about their interpretations of the art.

Although the questions from some of the children did make me blush – like ‘Why are there so many naked people?’, ‘What are they doing to his leg?’ (The Circumcision of Jesus Christ – I will leave it to your imagination but it wasn’t his leg), ‘Why does it say its a boy they have long hair?’ and my favourite…’Why does it smell like dead old people?’.