Week forty five: Pollyanna rides again

I was all set this week to write a thoroughly bad-tempered, miserable post, I really was. It’s been a long and frustrating week, after all. On Tuesday evening an article I’d written was pulled at the very last minute with no explanation or communication: by that point it had been through four editors, had been built on the web platform by another colleague, had had all the photos retaken, and was scheduled to go live. It was a piece I was proud of and had worked hard on, but with no feedback from the person who’d rejected it…what do you do? All writers (get me! a writer!) send work into the void, to a certain extent, but that void should not exist within your own workplace and certainly not your own department.

By Thursday I was so miserable about the amount of time I’d wasted on this piece – particularly as I’d sworn after the first experience back in October that I absolutely, definitely wasn’t going to do another one – that I’d decided I’d had enough of museum education and started looking on all the job sites for something else. (Dramatic, moi? Never!)

I had also had a conversation with one of our little team about the culture of toxic positivity that exists at the moment. Our reaction to everything that’s thrown at us is ‘yes, we can do that!’. I know we can do it because we are really, really good at what we do and we have an amazing project to showcase our talents, but right now thanks to Covid-19 we don’t have the breakout spaces to sit with our colleagues and share our fears and worries. We don’t have the space to think about failure and to work through potential pitfalls. Whether that space is a Friday lunch at the Japanese Canteen, pizza in The Florist, or a walk around the lake in Vicky Park, those moments with our work family are so important to our wellbeing. Sometimes we need to throw our toys out of the pram with people who understand the pressure we are under to deliver in a time of huge uncertainty, when the whole sector is in a state of recovery and restructure. Sometimes its having a safe space to say ‘well yes, of course we can do it, but we need x, y, and z to be able to do it properly’ without fear of being thought of as negative. I have so much faith in our project and the amazing things it will do, but sometimes our faith in ourselves wobbles.

Then yesterday I had my first session with a life coach. This was a contact from a friend who is training to be one herself, and she and her fellow trainees need people to practise on: I had never thought of this as something I needed to do, but why not help people out? It costs us nothing but time, they achieve their qualification and who knows, it might be interesting.

And oh, it was. I have done a coaching for management course so was aware of the process, but hadn’t really experienced it myself. When we had our introductory chat she asked me to think about something I wanted to work on – at that point I hadn’t just had a really miserable week, so didn’t have anything specific, but luckily my crisis of faith turned up at just the right time. We had an hour session, and it was so interesting to feel the way my energy rose when I was talking about what I love about museum education and why I do the job I do. We talked about some steps I could take to get some perspective on our project and to rebuild my confidence in my own skills, and by the end of the first session my sense of purpose and pleasure in my job was starting to be restored.

I ended the week feeling a lot more positive than I did at the start, and this post is considerably less grumpy than I’d planned.

The power of a puddle

Another thing that’s cheered me up has been a couple of good welly wanders with friends (only one at a time, of course). Yesterday, despite the miserable weather (promised snow, got copious rain) Miriam and I took her house-elves/hounds Dobby and Kreacher round the aptly-named flood meadow, then left them to warm up in the house while we carried on for another couple of miles down to Dial House and back. The rain mostly held off while we were out, and we had a good chat that didn’t include Minecraft at any point, which was definitely a plus!

Jill and I went out for our usual sunrise ramble this morning, making our way through the woods towards Tawney Common and round in a loop. We both slipped over on the ice – my hand and arm are really painful and I expect there will be a bruise on my nethers later, but when we’d finished laughing we carried on. The route we take faces due east, so we get the best of the sunrise over the fields.

Where we have had so much rain over the past few days and then a freeze overnight, the flooded fields had frozen around the plants and trees as well as in the footprints, leaving ice patterns. It was good to see from the hoofprints that even deer are prone to the odd slip and slide in the mud too!

We were in very good spirits this morning, frightening the wildlife with our renditions of The Hippopotamus Song and The Gnu Song, not to mention A Windmill in Amsterdam and stamping on the ice in puddles. We are missing the swimming but we’re so lucky to live where we do: it’s not Yorkshire, and it’s not Wales, but it’s not bad, as we are wont to say when looking out over the Essex countryside.

Ivy and fungus on a tree

Other stuff….

I haven’t got a lot to show this week as the main thing I have been working on will be a gift, but here’s the latest Temperature Tree (up to the 26th, I think – count the leaves!) to be going on with. My very colour deficient sister wants to know where the key is, but since she has difficulty distinguishing between shades of green and blue I’m not convinced a key will help!

I went to the optician’s this week for my annual eye test (only nine months overdue!). At forty I didn’t need any glasses at all, and was very smug at my glasses-wearing family. Then came the glasses for looking at the computer, which at my next eye test became my distance glasses and there was a new pair for the computer and close work. Now I need new distance glasses, my computer/close up ones are for middle distance and I require a third pair for reading and close-up work. This is just getting silly….

On Friday I took a day off as I had been asked to write a crafty piece for a charity’s website, which I was (and am!) really excited about: I love to write and to make things, so this was my dream project! Hopefully I’ll be able to share it next week, along with the citizen science project it will support.

A film I was interviewed for last year, about the importance of teddies and wellbeing, was finished and added to YouTube: I hate seeing myself on camera but I’m proud to be part of this. You can find out more about Workshy Films here. I have put the film at the bottom of the post, or you can watch it on YouTube.

It’s been a week of ups and downs, all in all, but today is the end of January which seems to have lasted about three times as long as usual, and this week contains not just Thing 3’s 10th birthday (how did that happen?) but my beloved and I’s 17th not-wedding anniversary and my niece’s 12th birthday. I have a box of deliciously gooey brownies from Ridiculously Rich by Alana which arrived as a surprise from London sister yesterday along with a new sourdough starter as I managed to kill Kevin (sorry Kevin), so snacks are sorted. I do love getting unexpected post!

I wish you all a good week, and I’ll see you at the end of week 46!

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

Nice Jumper – Tom Cox

Ring the Hill – Tom Cox

Educating Ruby – Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas

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