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….

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Open Space postponed

Posted in Commentary, Ipswich with tags , , , on November 6, 2015 by racheljackson

Based on the feedback from the Open Space survey I have decided to postpone the event scheduled for 19th November 2015.

Whilst most of the respondents who gave their views wanted the event to continue in 2015 to enable a discussion which other forums do not represent, the level of response suggested that the timing is not right for this stage of the dialogue to begin.
That said it has opened some new conversations and sparked some new activities and I do not expect this event to go away – far from it I would love to see you signed up to come along when we reschedule in Q1/2 2016. Until then – keep talking.

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

A question about the Ipswich Open Space event…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 3, 2015 by racheljackson

The intent of Open Space is to bring together people who care about a specific question to discuss, engage in and take action upon that issue. Asking the question can itself highlight some complex dynamics surrounding the issue and has done just that in our case – to my mind this simply reconfirms the complexity of the question and the need to work together to solve it.

However….I want to run an event for Ipswich that is valuable and have given my time for free to that end. I am aware that there are a number of other activities and events taking place in parallel to this Open Space and it is my sense that to continue with our own event at this time would not fit with a spirit of collaboration and an avoidance of duplication.

In the spirit of Open Space I would like to gather your views on the way forward before I make any changes. I have kept it simple and very very quick – you can share your view by clicking https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OpenSpace.

You are welcome to forward the questions to others if you feel they have a view we should capture but please only click the link if you really care about Ipswich and it’s future.

We have over 30 of the great and good of Ipswich already signed up so there is clearly energy and reason to have the dialogue…the question here is when and where.
Thank you for getting involved

Balls!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2015 by racheljackson

Odd title for a post you may think. But for multitasking me it’s pretty appropriate.

image

Whilst my youngest son enjoys the ballpark at Felixstowe leisure centre, I am putting the finishing touches to my husband’s handiwork on my Bouncability website where he has managed to incorporate the words “some more ball for your bounce” in a moment of creative genius!

The ball metaphor has been quite a fun one to work with in my design work for the Resilience Series – but I know it has its limitations. For a start there are a huge range of balls with an equally broad range of purposes. Some are designed to bounce but others are certainly not – as my one time attempt to bounce a bowling ball reminds me. The glories of plastic have provided the ultimate flexibility from squash balls carefully graded by speed of bounce to table tennis balls – light as a feather and more prone to crack than squash under direct pressure.

Much like our metaphor, we too have different degrees and speeds of Bouncability. We each have different tolerances for being thrown, different heights of bounce and fall. I’ve learned  over the years that I bounce pretty hard and high – and that at times this capacity is far from healthy. Bouncing places a great deal of strain on both my own system and those around me and can lead to a distinct inability to relax and be mindful. So how do we each find the balance to roll, rest and bounce just enough?

My thoughts:

  • if you look after your elasticity and your energy, your bounce can be endless and serve to take you to new heights
  • learn to recognise the difference between bounce and buzz – if you’re buzzing you can often overpower others and your own limitations with detrimental outcomes
  • Tune into what makes other people around you bounce, buzz and break – and recognise that their bounce might not look like yours!
  • know that whilst fun and free, bouncing all day means you only experience snippets of both the ground and the sky and that you’re never actually present in either.

…and before I stretch the metaphor too far I’m going to sign off and do some more ball work with Benjamin

Share me your thoughts on the bounce

Open Space Ipswich

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2015 by racheljackson

What more can we do to improve the state of Ipswich?

On the 19th November I will be hosting an event in central Ipswich to bring together a diverse range of people from public, private and third sector, health, education and political plus the general public using Open Space Technology to explore how best to work together to deliver a future that we all want for a town we all care about.

Find out more and book your attendance today by emailing racheljackson@changingdialogues.com or by putting http://eepurl.com/bzfL5j into your web-browser and signing up.

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.