When I was a young teenager I wanted the prize that the author of letter of the month in my favourite magazine received. I pondered how best to craft a few sentences that would earn me whatever it was I wanted (for while the experience stayed with me, my tastes quickly moved on).

I hit upon my idea just before Christmas. The November issue had carried the free gift of an advent calendar where behind each door was an object of teenage lust. Previous winning letters had often featured crafty tips and I thought that recycling the calendar to produce a wallet size picture of your favourite celebrity was genius.

The editor did too. I didn’t win my prize but thereafter there was a wallet sized picture of the celebrity on the front cover with little scissor marks around it and the suggestion you cut it out and keep it in your wallet.

I didn’t quite know what to make of it and this is the first time I’ve ever told anyone. I was confused, if my idea was good why hadn’t I won?

As an adult I understand all too well and while I feel for teenage me I think I probably gained more from the experience than I would had I received whatever lip gloss kit it was I might have received. People steal ideas all the time, this was simply my first encounter.

When my so-called mentor in my first proper marketing job presented my ideas to our boss then badmouthed me it was my first experience of workplace bullying. But it was also an important step in boosting my confidence. While the husband suggested it illustrated a weak has-been empty of creativity and threatened by the fresh young thing, it also proved that my ideas were good. Rather than crush me, it gave me the confidence (after I had shed many tears into glasses of wine) to apply for a role that was a major step up on the career ladder. A role I got and where fabulously my new boss proved to be an inspiration.

It always smarts when your ideas are taken but lots in life hurts and I believe it’s how we interpret things that determine our success.

I encountered an idea at a recent sales seminar whereby meetings without clear outcomes and pitches were reframed as free consultancy. It’s something I’ve certainly fallen into and am keen to better manage my approach. I’m currently working on a deal I hope will come to fruition soon and am wary of giving too much campaign planning information away before the deposit is banked. While my business offers fairly concrete marketing products, there is a huge amount of creative planning and more than one potential client has had the benefit of the latter without ever paying for the former.

But it’s a learning curve and I carry no bitterness. I’ve encountered copywriters that come across as quite defensive on their websites (so goodness knows what they’re like if you have the audacity to phone in an enquiry) and I’m determined not to lose my cheery optimism.

While being nice and assuming niceness in others can render you a bit naive I do think the world is as you perceive it. My world is full of promise and opportunity, it wasn’t always and it makes far more sense to me to think it was me that changed rather than the world.

This has made me think of a post I wrote in 2010 on Avatar and a quick visit shows people haven’t moved on. There’s a current thread called Saddened feeling after watching Avatar with some similar comments to the ones discussed in my ancient post.

Then there was a fascinating thread (How might I earn £1000 a month working from home) on Mumsnet that got a bit hijacked by a poster suggesting she aim to earn that in a day. A lot of sensible advice was given but there were still those that think of her as a fantasist. Clearly to them, the world is not full of opportunities just waiting for those wanting to grasp them.

Would those people sink into a depression when up against like my old bully or lose heart at spending time on pitches that don’t lead to sales? Would theft of their efforts break them rather than build them?

I don’t know what combination of factors made me the way I am, for me that’s the holy grail. My youngest stepson I have no concerns about, he has an inner glow of confidence and he knows he has charisma. He seems destined to bounce through life. But I worry about the eldest. Tonight he explained that he didn’t move the cat who sat where he was about to sit because he didn’t want to be mean. He’s a lovely child but I’m at a loss at how to convey that assertiveness doesn’t make you mean.* I think that lies at the root of these musings. Logically I know he needs to get knocked by life before he’ll toughen up, it’s just hard watching two children grow up who have such different raw material to start with.

* Also, he’s a sodding cat so just boot him off the sofa.

 
This is my first post this month, quite the slacking off. I’m just so tired and it has been falling into the non-essential category. It has also felt like an endless chore and life is too short to do things you don’t enjoy that aren’t essential. Needless to say, I’ve had to start delegating. Here are my thoughts in five easy steps from the dusting to your sex life.

1)    Taking care of the home

Getting a cleaner is one of the most common ways of delegating life’s chores and one I’m most familiar with. It’s a tough business though. I finally set up an appointment only to be stood up. It’s so frustrating to hear people endlessly complain about the lack of jobs when at least in the lower brackets I’m crying out for someone. It’s not just that I’m struggling to find the energy after working and looking after my stepsons two days a week but we have one of these baths and at six months pregnant I can’t actually bend over the edge to clean it. I’m also struggling to get a garden to commit to cutting the tree in the front garden. But I’m optimistic. I’ve another cleaner appointment in the morning and a flyer came through the door from another gardener. Surely someone will agree to take my money soon.

2)    The big work stuff

I’m a big believer in hiring experts. It’s somewhat important that I believe that since I sell my expertise and I can’t sell what I don’t believe in (this is why I sold lots of Nikon when I worked at Jessops). So I have an accountant and a web developer. I also spend a fair bit of money to someone to host my website. It’s very cheap and apparently easy to do yourself but when my web developer started asking questions about my domain I sent him to the guy I pay. At my hourly rate it’d be madness to do it myself. Sure it takes my host guy seconds but it’d take me ages.

3)    The small work stuff

Once I started valuing my time and paying people to do the stuff I could only at an absolute stretch do myself I started to think more about the stuff I could do myself but it would make sense to outsource. This was a turning point in my business as I realised if I worked with other people and took care of marketing and client relations I could offer better and more varied service. While that was about teamwork I’ve recently hired a VA (virtual assistant) who is building me a spreadsheet. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen of his work so far and am hopeful of what Avani might do for me in the future. It is somewhat annoying that getting an assistant in India who can manage complex research tasks is easy as pie but someone with a ladder in my home town is difficult but what can you do?

4)    Child care

Here I start to perhaps go a bit far. Driving back from this morning’s breakfast networking meeting I was hit with yet another wave of exhaustion. The boys were sitting quietly in the back of the car but I just felt drained at the idea of the next 8½ hours I was responsible for them. A friend had mentioned that Blooms had a good soft play area and I figured that a cup of tea there might be a good place to start. I wrote the vital emails while the boys started to fight then packed them into the car.

Would they be getting a long play, enquired the eldest. Hell yes they were going to. I hoped to stay until we needed to go to A&E or they absolutely needed feeding. The youngest popped out briefly to complain that a little girl had thrown a plastic ball in his face. I pulled him briefly onto my lap, heard him out then gave my standard “no blood, no foul” answer and sent him back in. There was also a toilet break which is rather frustrating when there are two of them and one of you. I had to send the youngest back to get his brother as the toilets are a short walk from the entrance to the play area. But beyond that, 2½ hours with a pot of tea and my book as they played behind soundproof glass. Bliss.

I had observed some helicopter parenting where odd people were electing to stand the other side of the soundproof glass and watch their children but shrugged them off as odd. The exit was in my peripheral eye line and I looked inside (from my seat) every twenty minutes or so until I spotted them. I only noticed the signs saying children must be supervised at all times when I went in to call them so we could go home for lunch.

Maybe a giant glass cube full of squashy plastic isn’t a nanny substitute?

5)    Sex

The husband sent me a link to a story in The Telegraph this week that suggests that the recipe for happiness is an enduring marriage and an affair with lots of sex. Was this the final step I wondered? It turned out that the husband was convinced we are going to have an enduring marriage and all we need to do is have an affair with each other and we’ll have won the happiness lottery. Hmm, that sounds great in theory but le cinq à sept (“the magical space between 5pm and 7pm when men see their mistresses”) is currently filled with things like him mowing the lawn and asking which week we’re on for the bins as I approach the end of my physical limits and put the last of the days effort into unloading the dishwasher.

Wasn’t he adding to the workload instead of reducing it? Wasn’t he wilfully misunderstanding the article and was just being too lazy to register on one of those affair sites?

Um no. I had simply lost my mind through lack of sleep.

Fingers crossed about the cleaner though.