Why Now?

I wanted to blog because well, I love to write. I write down most things; my thoughts, poetry, quotes that I come across, my shopping lists, everything! I have been known to write letters to end relationships, I mean, come on, that’s 1940 type shit! Who even does that?! Cringey as it may be it is honestly the only way I can collate and organise my thoughts and feelings.

Most of what I have written has never been shared, but on the occasion I do share my writing my friends and family encourage me to share more. I have told those who believe in me a million times “one day I will start a blog” and yet I never get round to it. Not because I don’t have time; I do. Nor because I’ve lost interest; I haven’t, I don’t get round to it simply because my writing is very personal, I write about experiences, about traumas and lessons, I write about love and loss and life.

Therefore though I desperately wanted to blog for the longest time, I have always lacked the nerve. In actual fact would you believe I made this blog nearly a year ago in April 2017 following a conversation with my sisters about creating a shared blog between us. The plan was to share our lives from each of our perspectives, me being the mum and a little bit of a tearaway, my older sister being the successful and keen traveller living abroad and our youngest sister being the most independent 20 year old of all time.

Unfortunately despite our plans, it never happened, the discussions dried up & so once again without the comfort of my sisters to join me on the journey, I pushed the thought of blogging to the back of my mind and poured my heart and thoughts into note books instead.

How then did I get to this point? You’re asking the wrong person, I really don’t know where I found the courage. When I decided to finally blog, I thought (and overthought) a lot about, well everything! The themes of my content, my target audience, the style of my writing, the responsibility of being credible and honest, the commitment to consistency et cetera. There were many things to consider and in turn many pros and cons to creating an online platform.

The biggest con was not being in control of my audience. My job means that I work with some of the most vulnerable people in the community. I have to be very careful about maintaining boundaries and ensuring I share very limited (if any) information about my personal life. Thus, sharing my life and thoughts via a virtual platform makes me susceptible to clients potentially coming across my blog. The very thought made me cringe since the last thing I would ever want to do is cross professional boundaries. My work is important to me; as are the people I work with.

Having said that, so is writing. I love to write; I have been writing since forever. I wouldn’t say that I am an exceptionally good writer however articulating my thoughts and feelings has been a passion of mine long before I can remember, and it is one of my few comforts in life.

I mean sure, I could cancel out all the if’s, buts and maybes by simply writing anonymously. At the very least then I could protect myself from the possible over exposure to the young people I work with but I’m a firm believer in transparency and integrity. I’ve never hidden from who I am, I’ve lived an ordinaryish life and have overcome a lot along the way.

Perhaps naïve but I don’t necessarily see the harm in my clients knowing any of what I plan to share. I’m human and outside of work I have a life that isn’t perfect. Who’s is? I’m an average young woman and a busy mum living a standard life in an overpopulated city. There are thousands of women like me all over the globe.

That being said, the biggest pro to creating a blog was; there are thousands of women like me all over the globe. Thousands of people who are currently juggling motherhood and work and single parenting. Who have or are trying to overcome hardship by chasing their dreams and finding their inner strength to continue on their journeys in the face of adversity.

And so I guess that’s why I’ve decided to blog, for the women just like me who may have gone through or are going through similar situations to the ones I have experienced. To encourage them, to connect with them, to learn from them, to support them & hopefully have their support whilst we continue on our journeys into pension age and beyond.

Jaimeé  ♥

Awkward Intros

A few years ago I used to work for a local authority training social workers and other social work professionals around improving their relationships and communication with young people in care. (I already hear you asking yourself where I’m going with this since its no way to start a blog but stay with me).

Each session would involve ten social work professionals and two care experienced young people to help facilitate the session, as well as myself, the lead trainer.

The main purpose of the training was to create an environment where professionals could step into the shoes of the young person and attempt to understand the care experience from the young person’s perspective. It was my goal to teach these specialists how to improve their relations with young people by exercising empathy to build honest and trusting relationships whilst still maintaining clear boundaries and assuring their professional integrity.

As I’m sure you can imagine, no social work professional wanted or appreciated a young woman coming in to train them on how to practice being a “better social worker”, they were all already qualified after all.

So initially at the beginning of every session there would be a room full of professionals who quite clearly would rather be anywhere but there (even if I did put on an amazing lunch time spread). They would come in, sit down and glare at me from their desks, unable to mask the irritability that they had been forced to waste an entire day in yet another training session when they were drowning in paperwork & TAC meetings & quite frankly had better things to be doing. I mean, in some respects it was true, what could I without my social work degree or any degree for that matter teach them that they didn’t already know? (A lot as it happens but that story is for another day).

Therefore to stimulate their willingness to engage as well as dispel the negative preconceptions of the training, my first task of any session would be to start off with an ice breaker. This would typically be something fun, silly and interpersonal to allow the group to begin to comfortably interact with one another as well as see me beyond my role as their trainer. Ice breakers are magic during group meetings and opening the session by sharing that my name was Jaimee and I was once 16 and pregnant, despised paying council tax, enjoyed to read and had only one tattoo that I regretted the very minute it was inked on my skin was a lot more effective than beginning with the rules and objective of the training. It made me human, it made me vulnerable and most importantly it made me relatable. I wasn’t there to speak at them after all, I was there to speak to them and with them, and above all, I was there to listen.

I rolled out this training many times to countless professionals in a diverse number of roles from social workers to foster carers, to the metropolitan police, corporate parents and youth offending workers to name but a few. To their credit, by the end of the sessions the majority of the participants were extremely glad that they had joined me and I’d often see tears and emotion from the group before the day was out. This was my objective, to evoke feeling and passion in these professionals, to allow them to step away from legislation and policy and actually empathise with children in care. To encourage them to think of their young people as children, people and human beings and not just cases or service users.

Nonetheless no matter how many times I bared my soul to a room full of colleagues and/or strangers and regardless of how useful of a tool it was to use my vulnerability to encourage them to open up and be vulnerable themselves, it was always unnerving (which is where I will finally get to my point – and if you’ve made it this far, thank you for hanging on in there).

Introductions are awkward and sharing personal information is uncomfortable!! In fact, nothing makes me more anxious than the responsibility of telling someone who I am within a paragraph or a few sentences. Where do I start? How do I start? What do I say? What information is appropriate? Where do I draw the line between “ok great” and “yep, that’s definitely an overshare?” The long and short of it is; for me, no matter how many times I do them, introductions are difficult. So rather than tell you who I am beyond the short description provided in amongst this spiel, I am going to let my blog do the talking.

What I will share is that I intend to write about life. Life as I have known it so far in my 26 years of what has been a rollercoaster of a ride. I will write about my life as a small child when my mother was tragically murdered when I was just nine years old, about the fearless wayward teenager I used to be growing up in inner city London in children’s homes and foster care, about the single mother I am to an extraordinary young man who changed my heart and my life and about the woman I aspire to be who has been on both sides of the care system and is committed to one day changing social care. Do I think it’s valuable? Possibly. Do I think it’s worth writing about? Most definitely. Do I think you should stick around to find out? Please do.. perhaps somewhere along the way my thoughts, feelings and experiences may resonate or be of some use to you.

Jaimeé  ♥