Purplegerberas's Blog

A rambling collection of my thoughts about life, my children and crafty things

Happiness Online: February Round up



I’d like to forget February really. It’s been far too busy and the happiness project has fallen down the priority list. I’m not even certain of what my plans were as I write this. I’ve been away from home far more than I’ve been here and it hasn’t really helped.

So, my resolutions were  –

  • Make the most of time together
  • Love myself a bit more
  • The little things matter
  • Do a random act of kindness once a week
  • Stop keeping a mental tally of everything

I feel I didn’t really do any of this. We had a family holiday in the middle of the month so that has got to help with the relationship!

In my defence I’ve found it easier to stick with January’s resolutions and have kept going with those. I’m not sure if this is chance, or they have actually become a habit. Maybe they were easier to fulfil in the first place. I’m not sure. I did write out the January ones and stick them on the cupbaord where the mugs are kept. This means I think about them first thing in the morning when I’m making a cup of coffee (a habit that is the very first thing done each morning without fail). Tonight I will write out February and March’s resolutions and stick them up as well. Hopefully that will bring them to mind more easily in the future.

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Small victories

I wrote this post last night in its entirety and then my computer crashed and it disappeared. The autosave version was fairly early on (grr) so I apologise that this re-hashed version doesn’t have my heart and soul put into it.

I’m getting back into the swing of things and starting to feel more positive and in control.

My Mum very helpfully sent me this –

Ten Golden Rules For Myself

The timing was very apt and it has been duly printed out and stuck on my wall. I’ve also reminded myself that I do not want to fall into the ISFJ trap of doing too much and putting myself last.

I had my appraisal yesterday and its left me feeling happy. I’ve achieved my targets for the last year. I’ve combined my goals for the next year with those from my fellowship so I’m not putting more work onto myself.

Eloise is much better and went back to school yesterday meaning I finally got back to work (was very difficult dragging myself out of bed at 6.30am!). I’d planned to have a study day to work on my essay but felt it was important to be in the office and get on top of everything there. So far so good on that one.

I spent the weekend putting up shelves. The are still on the wall (major victory). After we had our bedroom decorated I hadn’t got round to putting the pictures and shelves up so that was sorted this weekend and I’m pleased with the result. Over the weekend I seemed to get into catching up with lots of bitty jobs in the house and I feel like I’m making progress. 40 bags in 40 days is going well and I’m keeping up with the pace even though I’m not putting pressure on myself to get through it all.

So overall things are better and feels more manageable. I still haven’t thought massively about my essay and I’m not entirely sure when that’s going to happen but I’m sure it will (she says with overwhelming optimism).

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The mixed bag that is my week

Lots has happened this week – a real mixture. I’m left at the end exhausted and feeling like I’ve not moved forward.

The week started with another fellowship module. Monday morning Eloise had woken up with a very high temperature and couldn’t go to school. Again Steven had worked a night shift so then stayed up all day with her so I could go. He happily volunteered to do this but I still (as always) felt guilty about going and leaving him without any sleep.  She is still unwell and on Thursday couldn’t go to school so I had to work from home. I mentioned in conversation how busy I was at work and this was then interpreted into a snappy response telling me he felt he did far too much and that by asking him to take a day off work I was taking liberties. I hadn’t asked him to take the day off. It had not even entered my head but he made the assumption that I was. Cue an argument.

Eloise has chicken pox and an ear infection and is generally feeling sorry for herself.


Work wise things are busy, stressy and it feels like people are sniping at each other. Human dynamics are causing more problems than workload and the fact that I’ve not really been at work for 4 weeks hasn’t helped. Our office is also having major work done that will take four weeks creating more upheaval.  I’m feeling overhelmed and needing to split myself into several pieces to have any hope of achieving anything. A looming essay is also not helping.   My main feeling is that I am trying my absolute hardest and that isn’t good enough for many people. On the fellowship module we had a discussion around white water leadership. This felt a really good explanation for me and the way I feel about work. I plan to look and reflect on this a bit more over the weekend. I’m making sure my life jacket is securely fastened.

I had a letter to say my child tax credits are stopping. My main feeling about this is relief. The whole management of my tax credits has been bad for the last two years with a number of mistakes, lots of stress and letters demanding lots of money from me. Hopefully I will now have a summer without an HMRC appeal looming over me.

I’ve jumped back on the weight loss bandwagon. Will post more on Sunday after my first weigh in.

I’m throwing myself into my 40 bags challenge and my scary cupboards are looking a little less scary.

On a lighter note I’ve decided I hate my hair and I’m sick to death of it. We were watching ‘Tangled’ yesterday and again I admired Rapunzel’s hair when it was short (is it wrong to want the hair of a Disney character?)

How do I find a haircut like this so I don’t have to take a picture of Rapunzel to the hairdressers with me? Haircut will be booked!

Our holiday now feels a distant memory


Tired from too much thinking

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40 bags in 40 days

At the end of last year I found a Lent related challenge to help with decluttering.

I’m not entirely sure where it originates from, there are many people blogging about it in one form or another. It involves listing and then clearing 40 bags of clutter from your home over the course of Lent.

I don’t usually officially do anything for Lent – just the pancakes at the start and the eggs at the end! So often I put things off thinking I will get round to it one day and then it never happens. I like the fact that this will make me focus on a quick intense challenge to feel like I’m making some headway in clearing the house.

I’ve decided to keep it simple – quick 10-15 minute attacks on each area. I’m just going to be ruthless with a bin bag rather than get involved in any major reorganisation or moving of furniture. Any other major work can be done at a later date once this is finished and I can review what needs to be done next. If I don’t have it completed by Easter then I will not be beating myself up about it. It will just be helpful to have a list printed off and stuck on the wall to be steadily worked through. I’m hoping to be half way through by Easter, or closer to three quarters of the way through.  I’ve got some very busy weeks coming up with work and essays so I’m being realistic and not setting myself a stupid goal that I know I will struggle to complete.


So this is the list….






Sentimental or appreciative?

Following on from my post about morals and clearing a dead person’s possessions, we started helping with the house clearance yesterday.  We’ve been told that we can do a car boot sale with the previously mentioned family member who is car boot obsessed. Whilst I like going to the odd car boot sale, I’m not a massive fan and have never felt the draw of selling my own things there.


A group of us were in the house, looking through things deciding what needed to be thrown out and what could be re-used. The champion car booter arrived and announced that its easier to just sell everything at 50p. She said you may lose money on some things but you’re still making 50p so what does it matter. If all you want to do is get rid of stuff then sell it cheap and go. This totally horrified me. The sentimental part of me was upset that the contents of two people’s lives was being reduced to a 50p price tag on a cold Sunday morning. Her speed to brand everything as sellable and boasting about how easily she would sell it was also a bit distasteful.

There were a number of things in the house which I know are worth money. I’m not talking huge amounts but certainly more than the slapdash 50p that was being applied to everything. One thing in particular was a Poole Pottery vase. I liked it and knew that it did not deserve to be car booted by someone who did not know what it was or appreciated it for the value that it held.

Sentimentality seems to be a bad thing these days. I know I’m a bit of a hoarder but I don’t keep things for the sake of keeping them. I know that the house has to be cleared but I feel someone is focusing purely on making a quick bit of cash rather than respecting and thinking about the memories that two people created over 60 years together. My hesitancy to ‘get rid quick’ was interpreted as being over sentimental and missing a precious opportunity to make a bit of cash.

I asked if I could keep the vase for myself. It matches the colours of our bedroom and I like it. I don’t know how much it is worth, I don’t care. I know that it is more than the quick sell 50p she is adamant everything will be sold for. The vase will be on display and I will remember the people that owned it before me.

We’ve decided that we will not be taking part in the grand car boot sale. I’m not reducing the memories of two people to a scramble over a few pounds for some old Christmas decorations. I will just appreciate the small things that we have and remember.


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Sleepless nights

 If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.

Dale Carnegie

I’ve been struggling with lack of sleep for some time. Initially I’d blamed Samuel as he went through a phase of waking 2 or 3 times a night and then having a tantrum. At its worst point I was getting 3 hours sleep a night. Thing have now improved and he’s stopped waking during the night *touches every single piece of wood within reach*. I still feel just as knackered though. I’ve tried going to bed early but often end up lying there for a few hours as my mind is far too busy. Frustratingly I also end up waking just before the kids wake up.  I feel like I do not get enough sleep and wondered how true that is – or if it is just my perception. I downloaded the Sleepbot app to have a look at how much sleep I actually do get.

So I hover just under that ideal line – if I could have another nights sleep each week I’d be fine! The chances of my children waking later are incredibly slim. I need to make the effort to go to bed early and to try and get more sleep in. I’ve also been looking around for ideas and have found some helpful ones –
  • If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed and then tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow.
This is my main downfall. My mind goes mad over the day I’ve had and the things I need to do the next day. Tomorrow is going to be particularly manic so I will make a start tonight with a helpful to do list. I guess this is also another supportive aspect to keep going with my journalling.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing. Read, watch television or listen to quiet music. After a while, you should feel tired enough to go to bed again.
I noticed it doesn’t say ‘mooch around on twitter’ as a suggestion. I’m bad at continuing to waste time online even once I’ve gone to bed. I will switch off the router at night to stop any temptation.
  • Caffeine hangs around in your body for many hours after your last drink of tea or coffee. Stop drinking tea or coffee by mid-afternoon. If you want a hot drink in the evening, try something milky or herbal (but check there’s no caffeine in it).
7pm is my normal cut off time so will  give this a go as well. I’ve had an ongoing thought for the last couple of months about reducing my caffeine intake right down. I’ve got a jar of decaff in the house but it’s foul and not really endearing me to the change.


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Managing to say no

One of my aims for this year is to say no more often. I tend to take on too much, worrying what others think or wanting to be as helpful as possible and end up in a mess and feeling resentful because of it.

I’m a typical ISFJ


I had a phone call last night regarding the flowers for a funeral that we are going to in a couple of weeks time. An assumption had been made that we would be getting a floral tribute spelling out the name. I was asked if I could order it and co-ordinate with the other family members, letting them know how much they needed to contribute.

We go on holiday in a couple of days and return the day before the funeral. I know that I want everything sorted before we go away so our flowers were ordered and paid for on Friday. I do not think that I have the time (or energy) to ring round the rest of the family to organise their flowers for them.

As for the flowers themselves, and I apologise if this offends anyone, I cannot stand floral letters at funerals. For many years I’ve told Steven that if I die before him and he allows letters at my funeral I will send curses from heaven. Googling to get this picture has also enlightened and horrified me at the cost of them. Also I was told to get ‘Grandad’ but we never called him grandad. That puzzled me more than anything.



This situation comes back to the resentment that has been building for the last six months. I’m asked to do more and more for the family whilst the rest of the grandchildren remain elusive. In the past when I’ve asked if someone else could help I’m given a list of why their life is busy/complicated/tragic with an assumption that my life is simple and carefree. In total there are seven of us in this specific generation and I seem to be called on to sort the others. All are over the age of 18 and very capable, so why me? My husband is also included in that list. I  frequently have to point out to people outside of the family that I am just an in-law.

So, at the crucial moment last night I managed to say the elusive word – ‘no’.

I politely explained that we’d sorted our flowers and that due to time I could not ring anyone else to help them. I’m not sure how it was received but have decided to not think about that. I know that if I do, the guilt will kick in and I’ll end up going back on my decision. I also refrained from saying how much I hate flowers of that type.

So, I’m sticking firmly to the thought that our flowers are sorted. They will be nicer (and cheaper!) I also know the rest of the family are capable and will sort themselves out without the need for any organisation from me. Our bit is sorted so why lose any sleep over anyone else?

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Happiness Online: February

A new month and a new set of resolutions. This month the focus is love. I don’t really do gushy love love so am tackling this in hopefully, a realistic way.

1. Make the most of time together

Steven and I work opposite shifts and days and often I feel we live quite separate lives. We rarely get any time together to just do nothing and be at home.  I really enjoyed this Christmas and I think it was because we just had a simple relaxed time at home together. Nothing fancy, just time in each others company without the pressure of daily life. An example of this would be spontaneously going to a pub one afternoon. It never happens! I also think I’m guilty of not making the most of the precious time we do have together. Too much time is wasted online. This needs to stop.

2. Love myself a bit more

This comes back to my recurring theme of looking after myself and putting my needs a little bit higher on the general list of priorities. My skin is awful at the moment and it is getting me down. Sorting out the little things like that (little but matter to me) fall into this category.

3. The little things matter

Steven and I struggle to get time together, or go out without the children due to work patterns and childcare issues. We try and plan weekends away and then give up because it all seems too difficult. This resolution means we stick to the little things. The simple things we can do to spend quality time together without the need of a Gantt chart

4. Do a random act of kindness once a week

I don’t feel this one needs an explanation. Lets spread some karma!

5. Stop keeping a mental tally of everything

I tend to mentally keep count of things to compare who puts in the most effort at home. I resent that Steven goes out more than me. I know that in reality we are probably equally split in what we do. We do generally help each other where possible but I still insist on mentally keeping tabs on things. I easily recall this information during an argument or use it as a weapon when I’m fed up.

We’re away on holiday this month which I think will help in all aspects of life. I’m looking forward to time away from work, being detached from the internet and spending time doing as little as possible with my family.

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And back to reality: the fellowship hangover

I’ve been in Coventry for the last four days on my latest fellowship module.  Again, I’ve returned really fired up and inspired to make changes at work. I’m also getting ideas for my future direction and generally a sense of where I would like to head.

The main message I took away was that the NHS reforms are coming in and no amount of protesting is going to make the government drop them. Andrew Lansley came to speak to us and said that once he makes a decision he sticks to it. He will ensure that these reforms go through.  With this in mind there was much discussion about taking advantage of change and using it to make a big impact. Part of me thinks if this change is inevitable, why are we wasting time complaining about it rather than getting plans into action to make sure that it does succeed. I also think that we can influence and utilise the reforms to the advantage of patients.

Whilst I was away we had a family bereavement. I’ve returned to some tension as one family member has started to help herself to the deceased’s possessions (well, strictly speaking he was still alive when she started).  She is very publicly telling people to help themselves as ‘they will only be binned’ and even offering items to people outside of the family. To say the rest of the family is horrified is an understatement. She is not an executor and is not part of the will so legally speaking she has absolutely no right to do this. It also left me questioning her morals as well. We were talking about it this morning and someone told me about this phrase –

My principles are very important to me and I rarely compromise on them, even if it makes me unpopular. Again, discussion today made me realise that this conviction of what is right was one of the main reasons I was bullied at university.

I left Coventry yesterday with the understanding that ultimately the NHS is looking at ‘doing the right thing’ and the importance that is currently being placed on clinical leadership increases my faith in this principle. There was discussion around morals and addressing poor standards in care. Whilst the Department of Health and NHS Confederation are communicating this message clearly, I remain uncertain if my trust is listening. I now understand that this is where I come in. Whenever I return from a fellowship meeting I’m excited and have more courage than usual. I have plans that tend to be reconsidered after a few days when I’ve lost my bottle. Even though I’m meant to be on a day off today I started to put some of those plans into action before the courage starts to evaporate. I’ve emailed my chief executive and asked if I can meet him to discuss the fellowship and my strategic plans for my service.

Another insight for me was being told that leadership involves ‘pissing people off along the way’. As someone who avoids conflict and is currently reflecting on my aversion to tension I interpreted this in a different way to usual. My thought is if you upset someone because you are pushing an idea or an agenda that ultimately and morally is right for the care for your patients why on earth should you comprise on your standards and expectations. Along the way people may not like my viewpoint but if I am doing the right thing then it is their problem, not mine.

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