Sunday, 23 September 2018

Leadership In Action or Leadership Inaction - What All Leaders Can Learn From Brexit

Hi Everyone

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In my day job, I'm a Learning and Development Manager. As part of this, I get to do Leadership training, and leadership is a subject that I LOVE and could discuss probably for 22 hours straight without drawing breath.  It's a subject I'm passionate about, and I love learning about it (it's one of the main reasons I'm such a fan of 5 Live Sport).

Leadership is so many things.  At its best, it should be effortless. At its worst, it makes people feel like fleas trapped in a jam jar.   As the Brexit mess unfolds around us, week by week, day by day, it gives us many many lessons on what leadership is, and what it isn't.

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VISION.   This is where leadership starts.  If you don't know where to point the bus, you're fucked.  How do you know which direction to drive in?  How will people know whether to hop on board?   How will you know when you get there?

This is the main leadership problem Brexit gives us.  NO ONE - literally no one - knows what Brexit means.   No one can define what it looks like, where it is, how we get there or whether it's worth getting there, and this is why everything is such a mess.  For 2 years we've discussed Brexit with no idea of what it means.  No one is passionately championing it and campaigning for it, and telling us how awesome it's going to be.  BECAUSE NO ONE KNOWS. 

Equally, no one is challenging the Government with a better solution.  It's oh so easy to be a critic, but no one is saying "this would work better". Why?   Because no one has a clue.

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PEOPLE POWER.   The best leaders are consultative.  Rather than dictating, they invite the views of their teams, and involve them in change.  A little bit like we did with the Brexit referendum.  Little bit.   Most leaders worth their salt know which is their preferred solution, and although they're happy to have the debate and inspire ideas, they know where they're trying to get to (vision, see above).

We gave the British people a referendum with precious little facts, absolutely no vision, no definition of what Brexit would mean to each and every one of us (or that there could be 2 types of Brexit for fuck's sake), and a smug assumption people would vote to remain.  When Britain voted to Leave, the Government didn't have a clue what to do.

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Because they hadn't PREPARED (Leadership point number 3).   You've got to know your stuff, your stats, your people, your PLAN.   It's the old chestnut - fail to prepare, prepare to fail.  We didn't prepare for Brexit because no one thought it would happen.   We failed to prepare and ... oh wow, guess what, we're failing.  (Although why this should surprise us in a country that year after year fails to prepare for snow is anyone's guess).

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THE LEADER.    When the going gets tough, keep going, said Winston Churchill.  To be fair, Theresa May DOES keep going, but whether through choice or because she's been replaced by a robot is unclear.  Leaders need to have vision, charisma, influencing skills and be straight talking.   None of these are really in Theresa's kit bag.   To be fair, she went for the bold (and I believe right) move when she called a general election to strengthen her position.   Ironically, because of a lack of general leadership skills, she failed.   And here we are.

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TEAMWORK makes the dream work.   Teams should be hard-working, focussed on a common goal and committed to helping each other get there, come what may.  Does that sound like our Government?   No.   They are self-centred individuals with only 1 agenda - themselves.

This gives us 2 problems.   To elevate themselves, they criticise their leader (a Teamwork 101 no-no).   But, they refuse to present a better solution (because they don't have one).  They are critical, but not constructive.   These are the worst type of arseholes to work with.  The toxic people who poison everything and contribute nothing.  The people who turn up, but don't really show up.   None of these people has anything visionary to say and even if they did, they probably lack the balls to do it - their preferred strategy is to wait around for May to fall on her sword and then swoop in with a magnificent thrust of "I told you so".

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So we have no leadership, no vision, no plan, no team. Worse, we are following through on a decision made by the uneducated masses - and I don't mean that the British people are thick, just that no-one gave us the right information to vote on.   No one had hard facts that showed whether Brexit was a great or disastrous idea for our country because our politicians were too smug and confident to think anything would really happen.  If that doesn't spell recipe for disaster, then I don't know what does.

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So what do we do?  Well in business you wouldn't keep pursuing blindly something that made no sense and that you didn't even want.  We should have done our analysis - IS Brexit good for the country? - and THEN asked the people for their opinion.   With categorical proof that it was the RIGHT THING TO DO, pretty much any leader could have got it over the line.

I am agog that we have wasted 2 years to get nowhere.  If it were my business, I would pull the plug and sack the Project Manager.   I might retain an open mind as to whether it was still a good idea - but I would need convincing, via facts and figures.   

Sometimes, politicians are so consumed with themselves that they forget why they are there in the first place - FOR US.   They HAVE to do what is right for us.   If they are not convinced it is the right thing, they need to stand up and shout and stop the madness, not just flounce off in a sulk.   We demand integrity from our politicians, and more than anything, Brexit has revealed how painfully lacking they are.

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If you want to know how to set a goal, and lead a team and a project to get there, don't look at Brexit.   Look at what Sir Alex did at Manchester United, look at Apple, or UK Cycling.   Or, look at our Government and LEARN from what's going wrong and make damn sure it doesn't happen in YOUR business.  

Musicians and writers will always tell you that the best songs, the best poems, the best ideas, they write themselves.  They're effortless.   It FLOWS.   It's fun!!   Nothing THIS painful is ever good.   And if we ignore the pain now, and plough on, that doesn't make us strong and heroic, it makes us closed-minded and committed to stupidity.

Brexit - you've been illuminating, but I hope one day you're just an "almost happened" footnote, rather than a reality.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

How To Completely Unplug For A Week

Hi Everyone

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Last week, I had a week off from work, and it was everything I needed it to be.  I had started to become a bit frazzled, and by the Thursday of last week I realised I was completely and utterly relaxed and stress free, so much so in fact, that getting back to work this week has been a real struggle, something like waking up (slowly) from a blissful coma.

So, how on earth did I manage it, this Holy Grail of what we all would like a week off to be?   I've only ever once felt this relaxed in my life, after a week in Ireland where life is lived ... differently.   

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Firstly, I made no plans or commitments.  Often, when we have time off, we stuff it with all the things we don't get to do when we're too busy working - seeing friends, trips away, amusing the children, shopping.   I had just 3 things to do - go to the hairdressers (hardly a chore), go for a check up the hospital (nicely booked for mid-week) and go for blood tests at the doctors (a 30 minute round trip).   So really, pretty much nothing, and in my head it felt like just one thing required any effort - that mid-week trip to the hospital.


I think one of the very important things about relaxation is that it has to be focused on YOU. You can't relax if you're running the kids around, tidying the house, ticking things off a list.  YOU HAVE TO UNPLUG COMPLETELY.

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So each morning when I woke up, I had no plans. I had vague things I thought I might want to do, but nothing concrete.  No pressure.  No commitments.  No "if I don't do this I will verbally abuse myself for being a loser".

One of the most frustrating things about my depression is my difficulty reading.  However, I learnt this month that if the book is about something I am OBSESSED about, diving into it, DROWNING in it, does not seem to be a problem!  These last few weeks, lots of things have been happening about Sylvia Plath, and I actually managed to read 3 whole books relating to her or her life.   

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Reading is one of the best remedies in life.  As is writing, I find.  It's total immersion, and the best way to escape your real world anxieties, which is why I am so bitter that reading is often not an option for me.  Sharing someone ELSE'S head space is crucial for rebalancing and countering yourself, and the other thing what worked here was Matt Haig's Notes On A Nervous Planet.

There will be a whole blog post devoted to that book at some point, but early in my week off, one evening, I sat and finished the last 150 pages of it, and at the end I felt calm, cleansed and recentred.  It was almost a holy experience, and I think it's responsible for much of the calm I'm still feeling now.

Cooking.   I am obsessed with food, love it, and given unlimited financial means, I would eat out every single night (and lunch .... and breakfast lol).   I also enjoy cooking, and one of the things I often use time off for is to cook things I don't necessarily get the time to cook or experiement with in a normal week.   Last week I perfected my chicken satay noodles, and as I always batch cook, it kept me happy through 6 lovely meals.

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Netflix et al.   It can sometimes feel like stolen time, but there is very little quite as decadent as waking up, snuggling down in bed, and devouring a whole box set over the course of that day, never leaving said amazing bed except to pee and eat.  I devoted a whole day to The Sinner, watching it in one great big greedy gulp - and loving it.   I caught up on Bodyguard and a load of other great new TV programmes and came out the other side ... chilled, my head less full of me, and in a more leisurely frame of mind.

What was interesting is that in having no fixed agenda, I probably got more done than if I'd had a list of things.  I actually DID tidy the house.  I actually DID do several loads of washing.  I actually DID do a lot of decluttering.  But because there was no pressure to do so, no obligation to myself, it was easier to CHOOSE to do it, and then feel smug about it afterwards lol.

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There was really only one thing I did differently last week - I made sure I kept my normal sleep pattern.  My natural body clock would have me fall asleep somewhere around 1 or 2 am and wake up at about 10 or 11.   It only takes 2 or 3 days out of my normal routine for my body to find its way back to its preferred pattern.

Last week I made the conscious effort to still go to bed at my normal bedtime (10pm), thus ensuring I would be awake most days by about 8am.  Did it make a difference?  I think it did.  I think we're more inclined to "do stuff" when we have the WHOLE day ahead of us.  When you don't roll out of bed til 2pm, it's hard to muster much enthusiasm for anything other than more yawning and more chilling. It's about balance.

So here's your Top Tips if you really want to relax - 

1.  Don't make too many plans or commitments, you need FREE TIME

2.  Know what makes you happy, and make sure you spend plenty of time doing this.

3.  Be selfish.  It's YOUR free time, so why should you spend it on someone else?

4.  Get plenty of sleep.  Sleep is key to a healthy mind.

5.  Be kind to yourself.  Don't have expectations or heap as much pressure on yourself as you would at work.  When you have a week off, there is only ONE objective - to relax.   Piling the pressure on, or running around after other people is not going to help that.

I'm a big advocate of being selfish to maintain my mental health.  That doesn't mean I'm a shitbag to other people, but it does mean I prioritise MY needs and MY mental health above what other people need from me.  Obviously this rule has to be flexible where children are concerned, but if YOU'RE not going to look after you, then who is?

Next time you have some time off - DO NOTHING.  Resist the temptation to win awards for Best Parent / Friend  or Most Productive Individual.  Trust me, your mind, body and soul will thank you for it.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Twitter, Twits and Tremendousness

Hi Everyone

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So a few weeks ago, I decided to give Twitter another bash.  I'd first tried it maaaaany years ago, and the banality of it bored me.  However, recently a lot of good things seemed to be happening on Twitter, plus it appeals to the voyeur in me, so ..... jumped back in I did.

The first hilarious thing was how many nail related things I'd followed.  Companies I'd never worked with, bloggers I didn't even know ... the list was endless and took quite some deleting!   Worse was finding a once very close friend, who disappeared without trace, happily tweeting again under another name.  We'd been worried when she retreated from the world, and she never once bothered to tell us she was ok .. or back.   I'm glad she's ok, but also hurt that she couldn't find a way - however awkwardly - to let us know she was still here.

The biggest thing I love about Twitter is that you can build your own world.  You can choose what news you follow, who influences and infiltrates your world, and to what extent you interact.   You can deny entry to the Kardashians and the ignorance of other reality-TV imbeciles.  You don't have to consume the news the institutions want to serve you - you can find your own.   And quite often, that's a very different world. 

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So who did I decide to follow and why?  Here's a sample -

Mr Trump himself.  I was sick of hearing things spun and secondhand so I thought I'd hear it all from the horse's mouth.  Turns out the horse IS an ass, and his tweets are as infuriating as everything else about him.  I could literally feel my blood pressure coming to the boil whenever I read his delusions so .... short-lived but he had to go.

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So too did an ex-blogger friend who couldn't stop herself rising to his bait.  I deleted him because I didn't want to see his shit, and now I was still seeing him through her, and worse, seeing him through her anger (however justified).   One thing about our mental health - you just HAVE to get rid of everything that doesn't have a positive impact on you.  So, despite cute cat videos, she had to go too.

Talking of mental health - Mr Matt Haig.  @MattHaig1 is literally my new hero.  He has written an amazing book called Notes on a Nervous Planet (more on which in a further post) but he speaks daily - and with SENSE and humanity - on the realities of depression and how our culture feeds our anxiety and then belittles it.   There is SO much wisdom in his book, many things that resonated profoundly with me, but I love that he keeps the dialogue alive every day, as it needs to be.

I like sport - well, watching, not doing - so I have a lot of @5livesport in my feed, including their awesome presenters (same applies for @bbc5live too).   Amidst all this, there is probably nothing as good at capturing the emotion of sport as Test Match Special - @bbctms - and its coverage of the last week has been nothing short of outstanding.

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Sport isn't the only thing that brings us together, as Twitter proves every day.  Recently, the important and lovely Rachael Bland lost her fight with cancer.  Her positivity, her love for her son, and her legacy, all will live on, along with her brilliant podcast, You, Me and the Big C.   If you ever think Twitter is soulless, you weren't around the week she died.

Because life needs to have some smiles, my new favourite Twitterer is @emrgencyKittens (yes, this is how it's spelt) which delivers a much needed dose of kitty silliness every day.  Even better, there are all sorts of other emergency feeds to brighten your day.

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Heroes.  We all have our idols.  I think it's ridiculously cool how Twitter enables you to interact with them, and GASP, be acknowledged by them.  I'm a big fan of the Gratitude Attitude and try to compliment people in my every day life.  It's been great to let some of those idols know how much I've enjoyed their latest TV series, book or whatever.  Tres cool.

Twitter also has some fascinating and endless debates - ergo Dawn French and the cream scone.  Every day, semi-humorous battles abound about whether the jam or the cream should come first.  Love it.   When the world is full of darkness and danger, my life NEEDS this.

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Speaking of darkness and danger, there is nothing so weird at the moment as the story of 2 Russian spies in Salisbury.  More than anything, Twitter helps spotlight the absurdity of life in a way that "real" news can't.  My favourite tweet this week?  A comedian (I can't remember who) tweeted - asking for a friend who has 2 days to spend in this country, where should he visit?   London and Edinburgh, Liverpool and Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge or Salisbury and Salisbury?

It's tempting to say "you can't make this shit up" but weirdly, this IS our reality.  We can't control the events of the world, but we CAN control whether we consume them and how we consume them.  Personally, I don't want to read about the economic crisis, Brexit, gang warfare and all the other doom and gloom in the world.  My anxiety can't take it.  I can only survive if I create a world I can breathe in, and thankfully, Twitter lets me do that.

If you want to follow me or Tweet me or delete me, I'm @TheCrumpet1

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Since I've Been Gone

Hi Goddesses

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Wow, this has been a long time!  Pretty much 2 years in fact. So why am I here again?  A few reasons. 

Firstly, a need to talk.  The world has changed in 2 years, but some things have not.  I still fight depression, and - yay! - it's now often accompanied by the added fun of anxiety.  But the conversation is changing.  Hell, the conversation is actually happening, and I feel I have something to contribute.  Plus, writing it helps me understand it and exorcise it.

I don't really do nails anymore.  In fact - hushed tones, whisper it, aghast - many weeks my nails aren't even painted!  Can you believe?  When they're not painted, it reminds me of why I used to paint them in the first place.  When they're naked they reflect me at my most depressed - colourless, blank, dull.  The act of painting them was in many ways an act of trying to recreate myself and bring colour to my life, albeit probably in the wrong way.

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I have almost nothing to do with the nail world anymore.  I only follow a couple of blogs - Copycat Claws, XOXO Jen - most of my friends have also stopped blogging (nail blogging is often a phase, albeit a healing one), and this summer I bought the first nail polishes I'd bought in over 2 years (a-England if you want to know).

I burnt a lot of my casual friends when I tried my hand at Jamberry - shit product by the way - and the friends I didn't fall out with hastily fell out with me.   I don't even talk anymore to the person who introduced me to Jamberry, and she was one of my closest nail friends.  Another reason for writing - I hate that everytime I go on Blogger, that Jamberry post is the last post that was ever written, the last reminder of what The Crumpet was.

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Oh and did you hear? (and this may be the main reason I want to reclaim my Crumpet-self), someone stole my blogging identity.   I used to own the domain   When I stopped blogging, I let the domain lapse, because there seemed no point. I always knew someone else would buy it.  What I didn't expect was that someone else would be a would-be nail blogger, calling themselves the ultimate in nail art, whilst being shit themselves.   I have emailed her - politely - but have had no response, and it REALLY pisses me off that people might land on her blog and think that it's ME.

So, things that are still the same in my world, 2 years on -
I have depression
I love my daughter above everything
I am a cat person
I watch too much TV
Reading is a struggle
I am obsessed with Chinese food
I have low / non-existent self-esteem

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But some things are different -
I am learning to care less about the clutter and voices of the world, and strip life back to what's essential and healing
I love podcasts
Sleep !!  I now sleep!!
I love gin, especially pink gin
I am back on Twitter - @TheCrumpet1
I am learning where I go wrong in life, and how to improve my mental health
I enjoy my job more, love it some days
I feel I make a difference

Going forward, this blog will probably have very little nail stuff on it, so I totally understand if you want to hop off the train.  I am hoping that by writing again, I can bring a little humour, perspective and healing to the world, and that together, we can navigate through this madness called Life and find our way to The Other Side, whatever that is.

If you want to tweet me, do!   All the other ways to follow me are the same as before, it's just that this time, the conversation will be different.


oh and it's the last time you'll see the graphic too!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Jamberry Nail Wraps - Official Review

Hi Goddesses

Long time, no type!  I hope you're all well.  Here in the UK we've had SCORCHIO weather this week and I have HATED it.  Me and the sun just do not get on, and I can't wait for some cooler days.

It's been a couple of months now since I signed up as a Jamberry Independent Consultant, and I thought I'd update you on how it's going.   I've got to be honest, with a new house and new job I haven't really had much time to focus on growing my business, but my nails have looked LOVELY !


For my first mani, I started slow, and did 2 accent nails.  Jamberry is great for that.  It's such an easy way to spice up a normal mani, and with so little effort.


Oh wow, I LOVED this one.  Sparkly, purpley, sparkly, purpley - what's not to love?   

For me this is a brilliant example of a mani I absolutely could have done freehand / with stamping.  It would have taken me about an hour I think.   Putting on my nail wraps?   15 minutes.  So simple.


Tragic photography on this one.   It was a very gloomy week in the UK, so I had to use my phone to grab this one.  Love the funky vibe with this one - super cheerful.

4.  UP & AWAY

Ah, I do love the whimsy of this one!  Watercolour balloons - so fresh and summery, this one made me smile all week long.


I've loved this since the day I first saw it!  It screams summer, and I wore it for Wimbledon fortnight.  For me, this is an example of nail art I could have done, but never anywhere near as cutely as this.  I was never good with the small stuff!


I paired my strawberries with these Union Jack nails on my other paw to cheer Andy Murray on - and it so worked haha!  These looked great on and drew loads of compliments.


Wow, a bit of a fail here.  I think this was the first full mani I tried, and as you can see, my application is not awesome.  Also, the highly reflective nature of these wraps is very unforgiving to every flaw.  They looked INCREDIBLE on though.  I am not sure you can get this kind of shiny from anything else.  I felt like an alien wearing these lol.  So not me, so weird, but so dramatic!


And this is what I've been rocking this week.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this wrap, but sadly it's retired.  I just love the 70s vibe.  I can't wait to wear this as just a couple of accent nails with fuchsia and turquoise nails - awesome.  A perfect example of a pattern I would NEVER have been able to do on my nails.

So, now that I'm 8 weeks in, what's my verdict?

Well, overall, I'm loving them.  They take so little time to put on, I think that's the appeal.  The longer I go without doing nail art, the more amazed I am at where I ever found the time to do it once a week, let alone 5 times a week, like I sometimes did, so Jamberry wins hands down for simplicity.

A Jam mani will usually last up to 2 weeks.  I've been changing mine every Sunday, just because I like the variety, although my Wimbledon nails did last the whole fortnight, through unpacking, loads of typing, washing up and washing my hair. My only ggggrrr is that it STILL doesn't hide that faulty bit I have on my index finger, and I am finding it tricky to get this nail to look presentable!

Application is quick and easy.  Some wraps go on easier than others.  Some need a good tug, some need more heat.  Overall, it usually takes me 10-15 minutes to do both hands, usually while watching NetFlix.  You can see from the photos my application has gotten better every week.  It's easy to nail this hahaha.

If you're in the UK and you'd like to find out more about Jamberry Nail Wraps, or how to become a consultant, you can follow my page HERE and visit my website HERE.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Digit-al Dozen DOES Rainbows - Literally

Hi Goddesses

This is my final mani of DD week. I did have a full week of ideas, but heading back to work early put severe stresses on my time.

For this mani, I wanted to use a fan brush to swipe a rainbow across my nails.  It's a technique I've used before and love because all the polishes moosh together, and if you use a holo in there, it creates magical things.

As you know, all week I wanted to use the same polishes, so this mani was done using just cremes and .... I couldn't get it quite right.  I LOVE the thumb, love love love, but couldn't get it to replicate on the other nails.  

The main reason for this is that after a while (2 nails) your fan brush becomes overloaded.  But when you wipe it, it separates, and goes from being a fan brush to a 9 clawed animal, and so you can't get the spread and the moosh you're after.

Luckily, I had a spare, which is the only reason I managed to get the different colours you see on the index nail.  Yep, I actually redid nails for this mani.

I tried it matte, but felt this made it look more like parrot feathers, and eventually settled on matte with glossy raindrops.  What I should have done was chop my other fingers off so that all you could see was the thumb lol .... 

See you soon xx

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