Hippy Punk Diaries

Life, work, writing and being a mum

How to be the new girl July 30, 2016

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I’m a month in to my new life and I have to say it’s shaping up pretty sweet. The (two) day job is paying the bills but it’s also meant I’m getting to work with a whole new team of awesome people. My days in the office give me the chance to catch up with other adults, take a leisurely lunch sans baby, oh, and use my brain. I’m also learning some useful new skills, both in HTML and settling in.

After 8 years in the same job it could be considered pretty daunting to be thrown into a whole new office environment but having started two new jobs (I’m also doing some contracting for a local university at the minute) in the last month I feel like I’m becoming a bit of a pro. During this process it’s also struck me that the whole settling in thing is a skill I need to get good at because as a freelancer I’m going to be having this experience A LOT.

So, as a reminder to me, and tips for others in a similar situation, here are the three key things that have helped me survive my month as a new girl (twice over).

  1. Smile
    When in a new environment it can be a bit overwhelming, you’ve got no idea who anyone is or even where the toilets are. Even if you’re feeling nervous as hell keeping a friendly, upbeat smile on your face means others won’t see your inner wobbles. Plus, making a good first impression on the folk in the office will not only make your time working there more pleasant and help you feel part of the team more quickly, if you’re a freelancer it could even lead to more work from the large number of new contacts you’ve just made.
  2. Ask questions
    Depending on the kind of role you’re going into and whether it’s temp, perm or contract, there will be a varying degree of expectation on your shoulders. But whatever the expectation, it’s essential to ask questions. I used to always feel too nervous to ask too many questions but I’ve now got to the age where I give far fewer fucks and if I’m not sure about something I just ask. I’d rather ask and get it right than sit and procrastinate, and normally your employer will be glad of that (I know when the shoe was on the other foot I welcomed questions). If you really, really feel like you can’t ask your new boss something, either use your existing contacts (think hard enough and you’re bound to know someone who’s an expert) or, if all else fails, ask Google.
  3. Be confident
    This kind of links into the other two, but whatever you do, be confident. Remember they employed you for a reason, because you have the skills and ability to do what they need you to do. Sure it might take you a while to get your head round it (I’ll admit I’m still not entirely sure what a span tag does), but remember, you’ve got this. When you’re out on your own you’ve got to be your own cheerleader, so get those pompoms at the ready.

So wherever I’m called on to go these days I’m keeping that smile on my face, those questions on the tip of my tongue and believing in myself the whole while. And remember, the best thing about being the new girl is that you get to recreate yourself and be exactly who you want to be.

 

Pressing reset June 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiecranfield @ 7:45 pm
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My celebratory meal!

My celebratory meal!

Today I pressed reset on my life. After years in the rat race I’m taking things back to basics, focusing on the things that are important to me and making some really major changes in the process.

After over 8 years in my communications job at Midcounties I made the tough decision to walk away. After months of deliberating, reconsidering, wondering ‘what if’ and imagining all of the worst case scenarios known to man (which at one point threatened to ruin my enjoyment of my maternity leave), I did it, I actually bloody did it – I handed my notice in. Both the job and the people there have been great, and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot, but in my gut I just knew it was time to move on. And the best thing of all? After 176,000 miles travelled, I get to wave goodbye to my hellish commute!

The other best thing of all (I get to have two, right?) is that I get to FINALLY openly talk about all the plans I’ve been making for the past 6 months or so.

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve decided to become a freelance copywriter and content marketer. It means I get to write again for a living, something I’ve become more and more distanced from in my day job. I’ve already completed a handful of projects and when I’ve been working on them I’ve enjoyed it so much, just creating and getting into the ‘flow’. I know that there are risks and that it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I am so up for the challenge. The feedback I’ve had so far has been really positive and I’ve met so many fantastic people (Bhavini and Claire to name but a few) who have made me feel that this can be my new reality.

The best thing about it is that I get to work it around my little man, so I can still spend time with him and save on some of the cost of childcare.

My thanks to my lovely friend Liz who gave me the heads up about a job going at her place of work, where I managed to snag a 2 day a week in house role, to allow me the security to step away from the commute and the high-pressured work without putting all of my eggs in one basket. I’m hoping that the combination of an in house content role and freelance will give me a great balance, allowing me to develop my skills and spend time with other people (pretty sure freelancing can get lonely at times) while also following my dreams and flexing my creative muscles.

Please take a look at my new AM Content website, and if you like what I do I’d love for you to like, share and support me as networking, online and offline, is everything.

The button is pressed, the scene is set, let my new life begin!

 

A Monday thought on authenticity  May 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiecranfield @ 9:35 pm
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Just a quick blog, more of a bloggette if you will but just wanted to share a thought. 

I don’t know about you but I feel like there are certain core values and beliefs that underpin my life and have done since I was young. Or perhaps they are rules that I once set for myself in order to be authentic and to live my best life. Most of the time I don’t question them, they are just there and I occasionally spout them off, but sometimes I don’t think I’m actually honouring them either. For instance when I’m stressed , in autopilot or just feeling ‘out of whack’. 

But right now I’m facing some of these fundamental beliefs head on and to actually follow them wholeheartedly means making some choices that aren’t all that comfortable. And even though I know that comfort shouldn’t be an aim for life, it’s just so damned hard to walk away from. Living the life you’ve laid out for yourself in your heart is hard and it’s scary and brings up a lot of ‘what ifs’. But if you turn your back on your values and press on with what’s expected of you you’ll always live with the ghost path, the way things could have been if you’d been authentic. 

I guess all I can do is listen to my gut and trust that it will all come good in the end, and if it doesn’t then at least I will know that I followed my heart when it mattered, even though it wasn’t easy to do.

So, deep and heavy for a Monday evening. If you have any experiences I’d love to hear them.

 

The four sounds a new mum dreads March 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiecranfield @ 9:30 pm
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Babies are strange creatures and noise making is one of their specialties. Ranging from cute babbles and fun raspberries to enormous burps and rumbling farts, mums get to love (or at least appreciate) these noises as signs of learning, growing and healthy digestion. But not all baby-related sounds are so well received and there are four that strike fear into the heart of a new mum beyond any others:

  1. The Splatter 
    It’s the middle of the night, they’ve just had their second twilight feed and you’re exhaustedly burping them on your shoulder and simultaneously willing them back to sleep. Then you hear the long awaited burp followed by the dreaded splatter. Your bedroom carpet has been turned from dark blue to a beautiful shade of cream and usually your PJs have been taken along for the ride, sometimes even your bedcovers. Cue bleary eyed scrabbling for the lamp, soggy feet, a major clean-up operation and baby who’s no doubt been dumped down unceremoniously and with all the light and commotion is guaranteed not to sleep for another two hours. Thanks to The Splatter your odds of getting any more sleep have plummeted.
  2. The Post Feed Vibration 
    The Post Feed Vibration is another middle-of-the-night affliction that will often result in a zombie mum the following day. Imagine the scene: you’ve given them a lovely long feed sending them into a food coma, avoided The Splatter and laid them down in their cot. You’re just sinking back into the warm, inviting duvet when you hear it: the unmistakable wet, vibrating explosion of a poo. Bugger! You crawl out of bed ready for the change and an additional hour of rocking them back to sleep but they’re still asleep. You then face one of the many moral dilemmas of parenthood, to wake and change or to pretend you never heard it and hope they carry on enjoying their peaceful slumber, kept warm by their own excrement. Decision making here takes into account a number of factors, including trying to calculate the magnitude of the bum explosion from the sound, whether there were any after shocks (there normally are) and how damn tired you are. But even if you do opt to let them sleep you’ll feel guilty (for all of five seconds before you fall unconscious) you know that you’re likely to be faced with a sleepsuit and bedcovers that need a good wash in the morning, so either way the Post Feed Vibration is a lose-lose.
  3. The Thud
    The other two sounds make your heart drop, that longed for sleep sailing swiftly out of sight but The Thud is the one that makes your heart stop. So, you’re both chilling on the sofa, playing happily and you need to grab something quickly from upstairs. You shuffle them back so they’re as far from the edge as can be and make a run for it. But as you’re descending the stairs you hear it. The Thud. You run faster than you’ve ever run and re-enter the living room in time for the crying to start. It’s not coming from the sofa, it’s emanating from the floor. Crap! Cue desperate checking for injuries, rocking and shushing while simultaneously berating yourself as a horrible person and unfit mother. Five minutes later they’re fine but you can’t let it go so easily, cue a day full of flash backs and promises to never leave them alone again. And that works, until they start escaping from pretty much everything and you hear it again. Until the floor is the only place you ever leave them. And I’m pretty sure that, at 6 months, even that won’t be safe soon.
  4. The Midnight Scream
    It’s 2am. All is still. You’re enjoying some well-earned slumber and suddenly you’re ripped from your dream by an almighty blood curdling scream. WTF? Shooting out of bed your heart pounds and your mind reels over what could be wrong. You get to the cot and…they’re completely asleep. There’s nothing wrong, they were just indulging in some sleep screaming, like you do. And then you can’t get back to sleep because your adrenaline is running faster than Usain Bolt.

So they’re my top four – do you agree? But no matter what sounds they make they’re still pretty damn awesome and when you hear them giggle (the number one best sound) you soon forget about these four horrors.

Credit: Creative commons

 

Carry on January 21, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiecranfield @ 10:03 pm
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It’s cold, it’s icy, what will you be wearing this season to keep you warm when you’re out in the elements? Forget faux fur, try wearing your baby.

Baby wearing, as it is amusingly known (I can’t help but have visions of velcroing small children to you in an approximation of a living suit), is all about donning a sling or baby carrier to get your little one from A to B. When planning for the munchkin’s arrival I had a strong feeling that it would be my preferred method of transporting him around, giving me free hands and a much lower likelihood of running people over, and began researching and planning to become a fully fledged baby wearer. I had originally hoped to just carry him and not shell out for a buggy at all, but I got some mighty funny looks when I suggested forgoing such an item and as a naive mummy-to-be I felt that we would need a buggy too, as there would be occasions when the carrier just wouldn’t work. But now having lived and breathed motherhood for nearly 5 months I can honestly say we could have lived without the buggy, certainly up to this point (we bought one that is mainly designed for older kids so it still has potential to be used when he starts piling on the pounds).

In fact a few times we opted for the buggy (mainly so he could nap or sit independently while inside more easily) I found myself regretting it. Take Kev’s graduation for example. The thinking was that the buggy would allow all of us attending to push him about and let him nap more easily, but it turns out that the student union was lift-less and so we had to lug the little one up a couple of flights of stairs, the buggy constantly seemed to be in everyone’s way, it wouldn’t fit on the shuttle bus and he got cold and cranky so we ended up carrying him half the time anyway. If we’d have slinged him we’d have covered the stairs without blinking and I could have kept him effortlessly close to me, while still having free hands for canapés and drinks.

For me, there are so many benefits to carrying. Here are just a few:

  • Every walk turns into a work out, as I’m carrying additional weight I’m burning lots more calories as I go.
  • Shopping is a breeze with two free hands and no buggy blocking the aisles.
  • I can talk to him more easily as we walk around, making me look slightly less crazy.
  • I feel like he’s safer from random ownerless dogs/rabid children in the vicinity.
  • I am a nightmare for clipping people’s heels with anything wheeled – if you see me coming after you with a buggy you’d better protect your Achilles.
  • He loves it – he gets to stay warm and snugly with whoever is carrying him. Plus he gets loads of attention, usually from random people who comment on how snug he looks and how they’d like to be carried around in one (strange but true).

Although baby wearing is hardly a new concept, the reactions you get are quite interesting. I’m lucky in that they’ve mainly been positive (as above) but I know others who haven’t had such positive feedback. For instance Kev had his masculinity challenged by a worker in the local Co-op while wearing, but in a back handed compliment kind of way as he said he would have liked to have carried his kid in one but thought it wasn’t very manly (issues much?).

But some of the most interesting reactions I find come from fellow wearers. I’ve encountered everything from sling snobbery from the hippy set for revealing I have a structured carrier (Ergobaby if you’re interested – it’s fabulous) as well as my stretchy wrap (Kari-Me – also great for shopping and while doing household chores) to sling camaraderie at baby yoga: ‘oh we have another carrier’.  But baby wearers love to compare notes, swap sling stories (‘I carry my two year old on my back and my 3 month old on my front’ – this woman, although tiny, is hard as nails in my eyes) and give recommendations and it’s actually really nice to feel part of a kind of community, who understand exactly why you carry (here’s a clue people, it’s not because I can’t afford a buggy).

So this winter (and spring, summer and autumn) I’ll be wearing my baby. What will you be wearing?

 

Hey baby January 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiecranfield @ 10:57 pm
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So, I feel like I’ve left you hanging after my last blog post at the end of August, standing on the precipice of motherhood. I did indeed manage to make it through to September; the little munchkin was born on the 4th in the end and is now nearly 4 months old! There was no induction required, a scary movie and a hot Nandos did the job in the end.

I’ve been making notes for a blog post of my phone at all times of the night over the past few months but one thing you learn PDQ when you become a mum is that ‘you time’ (to write a blog post for example) is as scarce as a day passing without coming into contact with some kind of bodily fluid belonging to your baby (despite what the Baby Whisperer may say).  You realise that those dull training sessions on time management and prioritisation you sat through in your day job were actually worthwhile when you have to project manage your life to allow you to keep your head above water – juggling clearing up, cleaning, washing, shopping and cooking during the small nap windows that occur sporadically throughout the day (oh and don’t think the evenings are any better – I’ve tried to start this post 5 times this evening).

The upshot of this is that the things that you used to enjoy in life, the things that took you out of the drudgery, things like writing, reading and anything non-necessary drop like a stone to the bottom of your priorities pile. I laugh to myself as I remember the pre-baby maternity leave me thinking ‘I’ll save that book for when the baby comes, I’m bound to have lots of time and I don’t want to get bored’. Seriously, what was I thinking? If it requires more than a 30 seconds of my time and any kind of focus it pretty much just ain’t happening right about now.

But I did it, I got this post to the top of my list…finally. And so, in brief, before he starts crying again here are a few of my observations of motherhood.

  • NCT teachers lie
    Our group were told all about what to expect from a normal birth. None of us actually had a normal birth. And it seems that’s pretty normal. Shame the NCT teacher didn’t tell us that.
  • Cluster feeding is the devil’s work
    Having your child attached to you for hours is enough to drive even the sanest mother up the wall. I hope never to have to be spoon-fed by my other half (because I couldn’t even get a break to eat the hospital grub) again.
  • Day 3 can do one
    When your hormones rage against you there’s no helping those midwives, whether they’re being nice or a bit short with you, they’re going to be faced with tears and probably some choice words.
  • Ditch your old favourite fragrance, the parfum de jour is Eau de Puke
    It comes to something when the best compliment your husband can give you is “You smell nice today, not of puke for a change”.
  • Your relationship with sleep will change beyond all recognition
    You know something fundamental has changed when you find yourself saying “Yeah it was a pretty good night, I had 5 hours in two chunks”. As the lay in queen (Saturdays didn’t use to begin until 10.30am) I can only think it’s the hormones that have allowed me to survive on such meagre rations for so long.
  • Oh and if you have any issues with sleep they’ll get 10x worse
    Insomniacs beware. It’s no fun when your little one has finally gone to sleep and you lay awake wondering when he’ll wake up again/whether you’ll have time to express in the morning/humming the nursery rhymes you’ve been reciting all day. And that old adage ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ will make you want to scream if, like me, you can’t nap for toffee.
  • Your sanity will be tested
    At various points in the last 4 months I’ve experienced hallucinations, temporary memory loss and extreme mood swings. When you break down crying because you can’t remember how to play hangman, yep that’s about when you need to ask for help.
  • You’ll find yourself rocking…all of the time
    Babies love to be rocked, but the action’s become such second nature that I find myself swaying from side to side wherever I am – out for dinner, in a queue – you name it, I’ve rocked there.
  • Sleeping babies are the best excuse for watching box sets known to man
    No I couldn’t possibly move from this sofa, he needs his sleep and I really need to know what happens in the next episode of Broadchurch.

But all in all, it’s been a great 4 months. Challenging, yes, but worthwhile and enjoyable, most definitely. If you’d like to share your experiences I’d love to hear them!

*photo credit: Kevin McAllister

 

Standing on the brink August 31, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiecranfield @ 5:44 pm
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Creative Commons/Andy Spearing

I am at a very surreal point in my life that feels a little like standing at the edge of a precipice. To say I’m there weighing up a decision whether to jump or not would be inaccurate, there is a very little choice left in this situation. All that there is is uncertainty about how close I truly am to the edge, whether I can really control my proximity to the precipice and when I am face to face with that sheer drop how I handle the descent into the unknown.

The 31st August has just begun. My due date was 27th August. The 1st September is just around the corner. The next day means the difference between my little one being the oldest in the year and being the youngest. It’s so close it’s tantalising. Holding out until September is something I’ve been visualising for a few months now after my hynobirthing teacher introduced the idea of visualising your perfect birth (if there is such a thing), dates, time of day and all. But can we really control such things? Or is it sheer luck of the draw? And can this control be relinquished once it’s been established? What if the delay tactics mean I have to be induced because I can’t figure out how to let go after the magical date has passed?

R&R has been the order of this weekend and has given me something to focus on but what happens when the 1st rolls around? I have to submit, give in, and accept that this is really going to happen, I am going to be a mother at some point in the coming week or so whether I’m ready or not. That could prove the more challenging of the two situations. Control I can do; acceptance, and furthermore arms open welcoming of the unknown is something more significant to embrace. But I’m sure I’ll find a way.

All I can do is close my eyes, take a step forward and hope for the best, trusting that I escape the jagged rocks on the way down. Oh and that after the descent there’ll be something pretty awesome waiting for me – a brand new life in more ways than one.

P.S. Published on a (slight) delay so as not to tempt fate!

Image credit: Creative Commons/Andy Spearing