Archive for the Life and Learning Category

Who is teaching who here?

Posted in Life and Learning, On Resilience with tags , , on May 24, 2017 by racheljackson

You couldn’t make this up – but bear with me whilst I unfold the tale…

Last week a friend of ours bought a gift for our boys – a Star Wars construction kit to make a U-Wing. My eldest (6.6 – and yes the 0.6 is important) claimed this prize and between us we carefully inserted tabs and bent pieces until the model was complete…and I have to say pretty impressive.

Alas my youngest (nearly 5 – the ‘nearly’ is equally important) was upset – where was his model? I dutifully went onto Amazon and found the same brand but this time a model AT-AT. It arrived the next day – thanks Amazon – and whilst my eldest was in the bath, my youngest opened the package and filled with smiles. I suggested he keep it to himself until the morning as Leo would only want to play with it and he reluctantly agreed…only to sneak into the bathroom and wave it in front of his bathing brother with glee.
I put Ben to bed gripping his model-book ready for the morning….and went to put Leo to bed…who was now sad. “Why can’t I have an AT-AT?” comes the standard parental nightmare. “Do you think Ben would swap with me?”

Bedtime complete, I go downstairs and attend to my evening – helping my husband evaluate an umbrella (don’t ask) and watching the repeat Planet Earth II offered (the one with the snakes) to replace the Broken series we had planned to watch. We hear a few toilet trips upstairs but nothing really worth a walk up the stairs…until 10.15 when we are turning lights off to go to bed. I hear Benjamin’s door close, a quick dash across the landing and a hastily turned out light.

I find Leo with a fully completed AT-AT model in his hand sneaking into his brothers room to put it by his bed! It appears he has spent the last 2+hrs in his ‘bat cave’ with an angle poise lamp painstaking constructing what was in fact quite a tricky model. His eyes tell me he knows this may not have been the right choice…”I’m sorry – Ben wouldn’t have been able to make this so I did it for him…” he offers hopefully.
I do the necessary chat about “you’re going to be so tired for school” and “you should have asked first” but with secret pride in my heart I go downstairs to discuss how we should best handle this parenting dilemma. Between myself, my partner and two fellow mums over Messenger we agree that it could be an incredible act of love…or a devious lack of resistance to an envied toy. Either way it was clear that believing the former made us all feel better…and we went to bed – gently placing the completed AT-AT outside Ben’s door.

My youngest wakes at about 5.30 every day…and this morning comes into my room to update me on his wee colour (again – don’t ask!). Nothing is said about Star Wars or model making….

At 7am Ben comes downstairs and asks his dad whether he can help him to make his Star Wars model. Confused, dad reviews the presented model book – complete with all the pieces in their places as new….

It turns out that Ben had spent his morning carefully deconstructing the whole kit and painstakingly placing all the individual pieces back into their allotted places in the model book so that he could make it himself. There was no question about how it came to be made and outside his door – no complaints, no arguments, no pointy fingers or tears…he had simply fixed the problem…

…and we think we need to teach our children….

On a day where we are still reeling from a young person’s apparent decision to eliminate a number of other young people from this world at the Manchester Apollo please feel free to share this simple act of brotherly love with friends and colleagues.

Our children are born with the capacity for immense love, resilience and creativity…we need only nurture it.


It’s “Derbyshire Rain”!

Posted in Life and Learning, On Resilience with tags , , , , on June 14, 2016 by racheljackson

Last weekend was spent in a small three man pop-up tent in a field with a four year old and a five year old…in Derbyshire.  If I wanted to study resilience in practice I could have looked no further – but in fact it was a last minute response to a clash between a car service which resulted in no car and a need to attend a dear friend’s 40th birthday party.

It rained….a lot.  It specifically rained in the vital hour between my children waking up and everyone else waking up and making breakfast together.  This meant explaining patiently to my son who is lying on one side of me that the reason we can’t go out yet is that the raincoats are in the car…with the umbrella.  Simultaneously explaining to the other son on the other side of me that no, we can’t lie together and watch a film on the iPod because the iPod is also in the car…and we can’t get to the car…because the raincoats are in the car…and its raining.

Donning shorts and t-shirt I ran through the torrential downpour and associated mud to retrieve said supplies – only to find both iPods depleted and both children disappointed.  Time for Plan B.

Having entered the sensible people’s accommodation choice, I found a large number of small children playing  a box of varied musical instruments with gusto…to the terrified faces of non-parent partygoers struggling with hangovers and headaches. We were saved!

Throughout the weekend the rain continued in true Derbyshire style to the absolute disinterest of everyone attending the party.  We made multiple bees from Lego, enjoyed a very impressive (and quite miraculous) campfire, watched children in varying states of undress make and shoot lego pistols, chased chickens round the yard and laughed at my friend’s son Sonny joyfully standing under torrents of water pouring off the marquee with his mouth open.

All kinds of alcohol were consumed in suitable (and to be fair unsuitable) quantities and the world, whilst damp, was well.

Yesterday my son sat beside me as we drove home from school watching the black sky finally dropping its payload over East Anglia.  He looked up with a smile and said “Look! It’s Derbyshire Rain!”.

I believe it is true to say that a memory has been made 😉

Nature’s weirdest events – Paris

Posted in Life and Learning with tags , on November 14, 2015 by racheljackson

I’ve just watched Chris Packham’s smiley and apparently ageless face talking animatedly about nature’s weirdest events; ants circling in an ever tightening ring until they literally die of exhaustion, parasites exercising mind control over snails and worms emerging from beetles.

As the credits rolled there was a reminder that Newsnight tonight will focus on the horrendous attacks that took place yesterday in Paris.

For just a brief moment I wondered if some higher body, deity, God if you like, was sitting watching their childhood favourite presenter express similarly gruesome fascination and unanswered questions over events in the human natural world – if that isn’t a misnomer in itself.

Can I actually say this…out loud?

Posted in Life and Learning, On Women in Work with tags , , , , , on November 11, 2015 by racheljackson

Yesterday I had the most appalling afternoon with my son. Everything was melodrama and catastrophe from me refusing to play with his racing cars after he threw one at me, to the bread falling to pieces when he tried to make a sandwich. It was like a rollercoaster with all the bolts removed and how I stayed on until 7pm I do not know!
At about 3pm a friend came over and casually shared with me the highlight of her eldest son’s 7th birthday party when his 6 year old brother hit an 11 year old over the head and refused to allow him near any of his toys.
Whilst we shared these halcyon glories of motherhood with a wry smile, the undercurrent of ‘WHY THE HELL DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF’ came through in the round of our shoulders and the exhausted roll of our eyes…and the depth of our friendship rang true as we both admitted to each other that we would think twice about embarking on this journey given our time again.

I reflected as I sat down to continue working on my Recovering from Motherhood programme how infrequently we feel the space, courage and trust to let down that uncomfortable facade of parenting to admit to ourselves, let alone others, that we are not breezing through child rearing with picture postcard memories, instinctive boundary-setting and jam packed star charts – we are crawling through it with postcard memories of travels we used to be able to do, we are battling through it with wet-batteried flickering light-sabres and HSE regulated pellet-guns….we are struggling – and (yes…lets say it out loud) we aren’t sure if its actually worth it….

I do love you...although...

I do love you…although…

My friend reflected that if people like us went to talk to those teenagers in school, those twenty somethings…even some of those thirty-somethings who see the need to find the right man, settle down and have a family as vital to success and who still feel the pressure not to be ‘left on the shelf’…we could probably have a pretty big impact on rising population levels….but have we come far enough that schools and colleges would let us pass such revolutionary information to the ears of our future…would we be branded as selfish, egocentric…for daring to say out loud and in public…that you may in fact come to regret having kids….

She suggested, despite there being no way either of us can go back to where we once were – thus rendering our discussion pointless….that I should write a blog about our confession…so I did…

And if you are happy to share your totally anonymous view…I’d love you to deepen – or maybe even share my shame….

Forgive me….

Posted in Life and Learning, Motivation, On Resilience with tags , , , , on November 5, 2015 by racheljackson

…because I’ve just REALLY enjoyed my work!  Two weeks ago I ran my first free resilience seminar at Suffolk Food Hall for a great group of HR experts from a wide range of local businesses and it was FUN!

Today I ran another workshop at the CEFAS labs in Lowestoft courtesy of the lovely Karin Rundle who gave us her great lecture theatre for the morning – and I had FUN again.

90% of people are dissatisfied with their job and many are stressed and frustrated and unable to see the way out. If you want to get back the FUN and bounce in your role, maybe these words from an old old source will resonate with you. image

Mothers everywhere…

Posted in Life and Learning, On Dialogue, On Resilience, On Women in Work with tags , , , , , on September 4, 2015 by racheljackson

First Day

…are posting photos of their pride and joy entering a new phase of life – whether its “big school”, senior school, college courses, travel plans or first jobs.  The BPS magazine The Psychologist this month leads with “The Transition to School – Claire Hughes asks what matters and why” – talking about school readiness and the impact of family and community on successful transition and ‘developmental vulnerabilities’ (Brinkman et al., 2014).

For me this could not have been more poignant a subject.  After over a week of what I can only describe of total teenage rebellion from my 4 year old during perhaps the wettest summer holiday I can remember, I was on my knees – psychologically, emotionally and physically..and I had done something I often find difficult, embarrassing and vulnerable – I had asked for help.

Help arrived in the form of both family and friends and one thing stuck in my mind more than any other – ‘children are designed to be raised in a community – and that community doesn’t exist like it used to’.  I had been trying to cope on my own with two under fives for fear of failing in public.  The result was that I was isolated, my children were isolated, and the people who wanted to help felt ‘uninvited’ to do so. We were spiralling downwards and needed to reconnect with our community in order to recover.

Ironically my first two go-to jobs having dropped the boys off at school were a meeting around community dialogue (working with a number of passionate ‘Ipswich-ians’ to outline an Open Space event on the future state of the town) and the set up of a design planning session for Recovering from Motherhood for my own Resilience Series launching in Ipswich in November/December.

3 year old boyTalking to my own mother this morning about it all, she tells me she can no longer bear to watch the news following the reports of the 3 year old washed up on a Turkish beach and countless other heartbreaking stories of those fleeing Syria.  I reflected that the power of community and protection of others in danger has lead to a huge wave of opened doors across Europe – doors that may not even open regularly to neighbours and friends. Is our sense of community really so diminished in the UK…or do we become too easily paralysed in our goodwill by a fear of rejection, a fear of failure, a fear of judgement by others?  Is our famous ‘stiff upper lip’ still getting in the way of offering a clumsy, ill-thought through, perhaps foolish or unsustainable hand of help to someone who really doesn’t care if we have a plan or a solution…they just need a place to feel safe for a short while.

On a similar note I shared with my mother a wonderful comment made on Facebook about the news of a 13 year old who had been found wandering along the M5 near Oldbury on Thursday morning.  The news reels were full of the word “illegal immigrant”, “migrant” and “refugee”.  The comment on Facebook was incensed – “The word you are all looking for is CHILD”.  As I waved my son off to his second day at school, red jumper tucked under his arm, schoolbag swinging, I tried to imagine waving him off in 9 years time as he boards a small boat with 25 others to attempt a crossing of the worlds’  busiest shipping lane to reach a place he is not welcome and does not know. I could not.  I hope never to.


Things are hotting up…

Posted in Life and Learning, On building my business, On Resilience, On Women in Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2015 by racheljackson

So today I have spent my day juggling small boys who have accidentally spilt suntan cream/pressed exit on their Superhero Game and killed Spiderman/ emptied Travel Battleships pieces all over the floor…as well as negotiating with a Virtual Assistant from Time etc (recommended to me by Carrie Beddingfield from the glorious OneFishTwoFish), researching website redesigns and….agreeing to host a FREE Resilience session in October for HRDs across Suffolk and East Anglia in association with Waddington Brown HR recruitment specialists.

bouncing-backThe event will be a half day session aimed at fraught HRDs who support fraught employees, fraught managers (and equally completely calm “hand it to HR” managers) and generally work to keep the ship afloat whilst potentially also juggling a similar home-life to myself!

At the moment we are looking at a couple of venues in Ipswich with a ‘stay for lunch afterwards’ option and are hoping to offer 13-15 places for that intimate feel, with a potential for follow on events (also FREE) where demand dictates.

Delegates will be treated to a discounted rate on the Open Sessions that I plan to run in November/December on EI, Leadership, Recovering from Motherhood and Managing in Uncertainty

Details to follow.  If you are interested in registering your place, drop me a line at…and remember – its FREE!