Friday, 23 December 2011

Finally I feel Christmassy!

I’ve finished work.

It’s not because of work that I didn’t feel Christmassy before, although having some time to wrap the gifts I’ve bought for the children has helped.

While I was working I did manage to unearth our bargain bought-in-February white feather tree and get the children to decorate it.

I designed a Christmas e-mail in lieu of cards and sent it out to those on a list. I know you can’t hang up e-mails, but I think of all those trees and the massive amount of re-cycling that may or may not get done!

I made a donation to Lend With Care instead and enjoyed reading about what they will do with our donation.

The difference is I’m not going into the city centre anymore. My office is based right in the shopping district and for the past four weeks (maybe longer) it’s been a nightmare.

The traffic has been horrendous. Drivers are increasingly frustrated and less giving as they fight their way to the car parks and even the very full park and ride. Car horns and rude gestures. Parking in the city centre has been nigh-on impossible.

And so many people out shopping. And I have to say it makes me feel really nauseous. All this shopping. All this consumerist waste. All these people buying stuff – when money is tight for the 99%. Do the recipients want what they’ve been bought or will it end up in next year’s school fayre? Or a New Year car boot sale? Capitalism gone wild. Today a study was published showing the rise of problematic hoarding among people in western societies. The need to keep all this stuff. Signs of a society with really twisted values.

I feel like Scrooge. I don’t want this. I don’t want Christmas cards going on sale in July. Or even September. I don’t want plastic brick-building toys going up in price by 25% just on the run up to Christmas (a particular disappointment for my son!). I don’t want shops selling tat disguised as decorations to be discarded in the New Year. I am Scrooge.

But what I do want, is to remember that we are celebrating the birth of a spiritual figure who has an immense impact on the world (even if he wasn’t actually born in December). I want to be there for the lighting of some Hannukah candles. To celebrate with pagan friends the winter solstice. To remember that this is a spiritual time, a family time.

And as I remember this, I finally feel Christmassy!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Car washing - a lesson in empowerment!

All the work I do - and have done - coaching, training and supporting people - has been based on the tenant that if you empower people to do things for themselves, then they have greater ownership, generate skills, knowledge and experience for themselves and can enjoy the pride in their own achievements. This is so well summed up in the quote “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life”.

Today has been a reminder of this for me! Today I decided to wash the car!

So what! I hear you say?

Well, I don’t do it very often!

In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve ever washed this car!

I usually pay someone else to do it. One of the drive-through type where you sit in your car while it’s covered in foam and every last molecule of dirt (and sometimes I wonder if the next layer of paint too!) is blasted away. Sometimes I even get out for ten minutes so it can be vacuumed and the grime inside dispatched too!

I justify this on the basis that;

  •        they’ll do a better job than me;  
  •       they will be much quicker than I would be (true today!);
  •       it’s more cost effective for me to spend my time doing other things...etc etc

Not that I’m lazy and can’t face getting cold and wet doing it. Noooo...

But it’s been getting increasingly expensive and the length of time between washes has grown longer as I struggle to justify the cost against what else that money would buy. Until we reached today: I decided to do it myself.

It’s not difficult after all, it’s not rocket science. I used to do two or three cars every week to earn my pocket-money when I was a teenager and got to know the little tricks that make such a task easier under the exacting eyes of my father. So, I washed it, rinsed it, leathered it, vacuumed inside and sparkled the windows!

What joy! I am so proud of how it looks now! I keep peeping out of the window to have a look – something I’d never do when it’s been washed by someone else. And I will be taking better care of it. No getting inside with muddy boots. No letting the kids drop sticky sweets and bit of Quavers down the seats. No stuffing old receipts in the ashtray. No storing old CDs under the seats. No, I cleaned it and I would like it to stay looking like this for at least...oh I don’t know? Forever ideally - but a week is probably more reasonable.

I feel proud of my achievement. I’ve renewed my skills and knowledge. I feel empowered this evening to do more – other things I’ve been putting off.  

All those things I hope to generate in others when I work with them.

Of course, if my kids washed the car next time...they would feel empowered too. Must try that one!