Atten…shun!

Army presentation pack

My boss had received a rather posh and proper invite to a prestigious corporate event hosted by The Army Engagement Team but wasn’t able to attend, so she asked yours truly if I’d like to go on her behalf. What? Dress up all fancy and get treated to some free food and drinks while being surrounded by men in uniform? Well, it’d be rude to refuse, so I agreed to be her representative. I also agreed (albeit reluctantly) to behave myself.

I’d been given a rather swanky ID card prior to the event, which meant I could jump the queue and therefore spend more time schmoozing with high ranking military personnel; good evening Brigadier; and business executives, before being ushered into a large room for the hour long presentation. Talks and videos all done and dusted it was back to the reception room for the nosh and more chat, before eventually making my way to my taxi home whilst carrying a fabulous presentation box full of goodies. And yes, I did actually manage to behave myself for once, although admittedly it was a challenge.

Fact Finding…

karen

When you work in a multi-cultural environment, some of the people you spend time with will probably be Muslim. I admit that I know absolutely nothing about Islam, other than all the negative press regarding terrorism and so on, which is why I decided to attend an awareness event put on by Islamic students at the local university.

Admittedly, I was a little wary beforehand, but within minutes I’d been put at ease by the kindness and courtesy shown to me by those running the information stands. Not once did I feel pushed into doing, thinking or reading anything, and I was able to wander around taking it all in at my own pace. I was offered (and I accepted) a free cup of mint tea, which tasted lovely, and I had my name written in Arabic as a little memento. I came away with a few pamphlets and a book which I can read in my own time, should I choose to do so.

I have no political agenda regarding the whole ‘Muslim debate’ nor do I feel the urge to ‘convert’; this was simply my own personal desire to find out some of the facts for myself, rather than relying on other people’s uninformed opinions, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Hopefully, the small amount of knowledge I gained today will make me a more understanding and accepting human being, which in this day and age is no bad thing…

Let’s Get Quizzical…

Quiz1

Well, I’ve already enjoyed several Quiz Nights, and a Quiz with Musical Bingo, and now I’ve been to a Quiz with a meal! The event was a fundraiser for a local Wildlife charity and the venue was a fabulous posh golf club right next to a beautiful lake. As it was such a warm evening it was the perfect place to chill out with a drink while watching ducks and moorhens swimming among the water lillies.

Being veggie, my yummy jacket spud was covered in cheddar cheese while the carnivores tucked into chilli. The quiz consisted of questions our team were actually able to answer, for once, and although we didn’t win any of the raffle prizes a thoroughly good time was had by all.

What an excellent way to spend an evening; stunning location, great company, delicious meal, fun quiz and all in aid of a worthwhile cause. Well done to the organisers – can’t wait for the next one!

The Quiz Team…

Quiz

My only previous experience of a Quiz Night was during a holiday in Corfu, where the room was full of iphone cheaters which totally ruined it for me, so when I was invited to a local event I was a teeny bit cautious. However, after being reassured that no mobile devices were allowed and that the evening would also include some decent grub and an opportunity to make new friends I figured I’d give it a go, and I’m sooooo glad I did.

Several of the questions were deceptively hard and I have to admit to being about as much use to my team-mates as a chocolate teapot for the most part (nope, no idea who sung Je T’aime!), but it didn’t seem to matter and I genuinely had a great time. The food was delicious, drinks were large and the company was a real pleasure. I now can’t wait for the next one!!

Pushing Boundaries…

networking

 

Whether you work for yourself or somebody else, if an opportunity ever arises where you can mix business with pleasure don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take up the opportunity of networking. This can mean anything from accepting an invitation to join a breakfast club in order to gain valuable new connections of your own, to being asked to represent your firm at a large charity event.

I chose the latter and stepped into my boss’s formidable shoes to attend a very posh and grown-up Cancer Research fundraiser hosted by an important client. A year ago I would never have had the self-confidence to take on such a daunting task, however, since being single I’ve been pushing my own boundries more and more by grabbing life with both hands and simply ‘going for it!’ I have to admit that spending an evening with lovely people, enjoying a superb buffet in spectacular surroundings while chatting informally over a glass of something pink, fizzy and mildly alcoholic was infinitely more enjoyable than sitting on the sofa watching repeats of old sitcoms with a cup of tea. In fact, I now can’t wait for the next one. Bring it on!

Not So Happy Endings…

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When relationships break down, for whatever reason, it’s always a difficult time for all involved. Whether it’s the knee-jerk reaction from a massive argument or the inevitable outcome of a partnership that is way past it’s sell by date, the aftermath can be a real challenge for everyone who finds themselves caught up in the crossfire. This can put friends and family members into very awkward situations, which often ends up with people taking sides. This him versus her situation is something that isn’t particularly helpful as it simply adds another unpleasant dimension to what is already something horrid. However, if both sides can remain at least civil to each other, this can help to ease the pain a little. Mud-slinging and general ongoing accusations are not helpful to anyone.

Usually, someone (or sometimes both parties) have to move out of what has been their home for probably several years. Most of the time it’s obvious who should move out but it’s not always the case, which simply adds another objectionable dimension to the whole situation.

Once the decision has been made there are numerous issues to be dealt with immediately. Someone has to pack up their belongings and find a new place to stay, and at short notice this can be quite a challenge. Friends and family may offer a bed for a few nights and a garage or shed to store things, but a long-term solution needs to be found if the displaced person is to avoid living out of boxes for any length of time. For the person leaving, it’s often much harder.

Once the person who has remained at the property is eventually alone, it will most likely hit them like a ten ton truck. They may be relieved but it’s likely that they’ll also feel shock and sadness at the breaking of emotional ties. There may be financial worries or practical concerns to deal with as well. While it’s really difficult for the person who’s moved out of their home it cannot be assumed that the person left behind has an easy ride.

For the one now home alone, keeping busy usually helps to focus the mind but it’s only a temporary fix. Manic cleaning is therapeutic for a while but when there’s nothing else to scrub the feelings of loss can no longer be suppressed. It’s better to let the emotions out sooner rather than later, even if you don’t want to, as once this period of grief is completed the ability to begin moving on is made a little bit easier.

Communication during the breaking up process, without animosity if humanly possible, is the key to relieving some of the pain, although this depends on the individual circumstances of course. On a practical level there is the need for a forwarding address for mail, unless you can agree that the other person can collect it regularly, or send a trusted friend to collect letters and parcels. For the person no longer residing at the property, there seems an unending number of people and places to inform of the change in address; from GP the surgery, to banks and insurance companies.

If children are involved there’s the complicated process of access to go through. Again, this will very much depend on individual circumstances. For situations where children are not involved there will probably still be thorny points to address. This can mean anything from payment of bills to custody of a much-loved pet.

Once the dust has settled, the tears have dried and your stomach has settled sufficiently for you to think about venturing outdoors, there’s a scary new world of firsts to contend with. The first time you walk out of the front door as a ‘single’ person after a break-up can make a familiar street feel like an unknown route. The first time in a supermarket will see you wandering down aisles that you no longer need to be in. You may feel like you’ve become a very tiny person or that everyone is staring at you. The first time back at work can feel unnerving, but a necessary evil now that there’s one less income coming in.

Whether you choose to announce recent events on social networking sites, or take the more subtle approach of explaining to a small selection of friends and family members individually, word will soon get around of your new situation. The hugs and kind words are meant to be a comfort, but even though they are well meant they can often reduce you to a flood of tears. No matter how much the break-up was needed or inevitable, your emotions will be all over the place for quite some time and you’ll need to learn to adjust to your new status.

There’s also ‘protocol’ to follow. What do you do if your recent ex’s family or close friends want to stay in touch, for example? Every situation will be different for every person, but diplomacy will be needed to avoid appearing to be treading on any toes or to prevent being accused of deliberately stirring up trouble.

When you invest a lot of time and emotion in a relationship the last thing you want is to abandon it, but sometimes you have to admit to yourself, and to the other person, that the relationship has run its course. Sometimes this will come from a particular incident while other times it happens when you both finally accept that things simply cannot continue as they are and that a decision needs to be made to prevent any further unhappiness. It’s an immensely difficult thing to admit to, that a relationship has ended, but it’s also a very merciful thing to do.

Break-ups are often acrimonious affairs which are made all the more challenging due to the event, or events, leading up to the final split. However, if both parties can be tactful and considerate to each other, this challenging experience can be made a tiny bit more bearable. This can then smooth the way towards both people being able to move on with their lives in a more positive light.