Stepping out

As I slipped on my shoes this morning I noticed they had sand in them.  Puzzled, I tried to remember why.  These last 7 weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of end to end house guests, bank holiday weekends, work trips, and adventures…so it took a few moments.

Yes!  A couple of weeks ago I met a lovely client, who has become a friend, in Oxford to talk about website and online strategy.  We were joined by her funny, sweet, energetic pre-schooler, so we held our ‘meeting’ in and around the huge outdoor sandpit at Cutteslowe Park playing, picnicing and chatting.

Reflecting on how different my working life is now to how it was in my 9-5 (or 8am-7pm!) days, I love that I am able to work this way.  Week days are spent researching and crafting the content I’m due to produce, and thinking about how to develop or improve on existing projects.  Managing my own workload and income means I can set aside time to volunteer with a variety of organisations during each month too.

rad cam
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

Since moving here, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time back in Oxford for work.  I miss that beautiful city, and it has been nice to make the break gently!!  Each time I go back, it’s a pleasure to see places that hold memories, and to catch up with family and friends.

On my most recent visit in early June, as I drove down the M40 into Oxfordshire from Birmingham airport, I thought how lovely it is to go to work in a place I know so well.

And then it dawned on me that I no longer think of it as home.  I’m just another visitor.


As if to reinforce the shift in my focus, I returned to N.Ireland just in time for the launch of a new project I’m really excited to be involved with.

Boardroom Apprentice – a groundbreaking initiative here in Northern Ireland – is a programme for training and enabling individuals to contribute to their community at board level.

Over the coming year I’ll sit as an Apprentice with the board of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, gaining experience and understanding, and contributing in whatever way I am able.  I’ll also attend training sessions, along with the 48 other Boardroom Apprentices in my cohort, to learn some of the financial, legal and practical skills required at board level.

There are lots of aspects of this house move that have been straightforward – unpacking, settling in, appreciating the traybakes, exploring and visiting local destinations (much more on those in coming months too!), welcoming guests…to name a few.

However, knowing how to contribute, how to really get involved in life here, has been a slow burner.  It has taken time for us to adjust to working for ourselves, sharing the childcare, balancing our family priorities, knowing when to volunteer for things and when to wait things out.

We’ve* learnt to be patient and not to just say yes to everything.

It’s worth doing – not only because one can lose perspective on priorities when there are competing demands on our time, but also it’s possible to resent those commitments that eat into our rest/leisure/family time.  And that’s not the spirit in which we ought to be giving of our time and skills, is it!?

Be encouraged, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to say no.  Time is a precious gift and ought to be apportioned wisely.  Don’t be afraid to rein in some of your own/your families’ activities and protect some time and space for regular rest and refreshment.

To that end, and I digress, I’ve recently discovered the delight of the views from nearby Crewe Hill.  This is where ancient Kings of Ulster were crowned…I guess they could survey the land and lough pretty satisfactorily from here!

Anyway, it’s amazing how much more one can give to, and benefit from, extra-curricular commitments when they’re not a chore.

So choose wisely, get involved, give generously…and let me know how you get on.


*that’s shameless use of the Royal ‘we’!

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