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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

  1. Life advice #19: Be eccentric now

    July 27, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    19. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

    kcadb-dark_teeFor me, this is less about wearing purple and eccentricity as getting over what everyone’s expectations are of you and finally living up to your own.

    I’ve tried to fall in to line. I’ve tried to glam it up for events and I’ve tried to wear short shorts over the summer. I’ve tried to have an actual hairstyle. But I’m never comfortable. I’m never myself.

    Finally, I’m just getting on with it. I’ve ditched the short shorts. I’ve made cut offs from my jeans, at a really untrendy a-bit-above-the-knee-and-clearly-used-to-be-longer length. They are more me. And I wear geeky logo t-shirts. The pretty patterns and cuts everyone else wears are just not me. While my peers are off to Malaga, my husband and I are off to a convention. I’m much happier playing a giant game of wink murder than I am clubbing.

    Eccentricity is designated to older people doing what they have always done or wished they had done. So why wait?

    Eccentric? No. I’m just different. I’m me.

  2. Life advice #18: Prep then chill

    June 13, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    18. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

    I used to be the most prepared person in the world. Ever. With my Mary Poppins bottomless bag, I was on hand to rescue any situation. On venturing anywhere, I would run through every possible scenario that could evolve through the day and the potential results so that I could be ready for them.

    It was exhausting.

    bagI was overly over prepared, both physically and mentally.  And for every positive potential outcome during the day, there would always be a negative potential outcome which I’d also run through completely in my head. it got to the point where the stress of very unlikely situations was making me nervous. Silly, right?

    And then stuff happened. My mum died. The best advice I have ever been given to this day is still ‘take it an hour at a time’. When your life changes forever in the space of a second, it’s hard to look much further forward than that. I stopped going through all the potential consequences, packing for a natural disaster. Money, keys and Ibuprofen. That’s all you really need.

    Then more stuff happened. Our daughter was born. And while I did revert back to packing enough everything to last a week even for a trip to the shops, I soon got my head back to normal and began preparing for regular eventualities rather than obscure ones.

    Little L has just turned two so heading out is a much easier affair these days. Nappies, wipes, drink, money, keys, Ibuprofen. Money is pretty important unfortunately. It can’t buy you happiness, but by golly, it can enable a trip to Tescos to buy nappies, wipes and a new set of clothes should they be needed in the case of a bottom explosion, or entry to a farm to bust those afternoon blues, or a picnic when we receive a happy phone call from friends heading to a park.

    So now we go with the flow. We have an idea of what’s happening for the day but other than that, we see where the world takes us.

    It’s a much nicer place without the Mary Poppins bag.

  3. Life advice #16: You can be happy

    May 11, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    face16. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

    A friend of mine has been going through a tricky time lately. They run their own business and they’ve worked so hard on it, but it’s at the point where it’s not able to grow any further. They’re starting to question what they are doing and where they are heading. And you know what? Questioning yourself if a very good thing.

    For my friend, questioning themself has led to a realisation – the business is brilliant and has done so well, but they’re not as happy as they could be. So they are freeing themselves from that stress and trying something new.

    My friend is in their 40s. Not that being in your 40s is old, or too late. Far from it. In your 40s, you have been through enough to get the hang of life (just) but have so much more to do ahead of you. My friend had spent the last five years thinking it was too late to change. But through realising that they were the person who decided their fate, not anyone else, they’ve made a really positive change to the road that lays ahead.

    All I can do is support my friend in their new adventures. They’re taking a leap of faith which so far is proving fantastic in terms of a work/life balance. They’re happier than they were. And I know they’ll only get happier from here on in.

    Are you happy?

  4. Life advice #15: You are strong

    May 5, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    15. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

    This isn’t just about the big stuff. I could tell you tales of people who’ve lost limbs through accidents and have gone on to have bionic legs. I could talk about the many people I know (too many) who have lost parents. Children. Yet they have made it through. But I’m not going to talk about them. I’m going to talk about the small things that are a huge deal.

    There are small confidence killers that happen to us all every day. Someone looking your work over and hurrumphing. The person who looks at you like you’re dirt when they’ve decided to overtake you. The realisation that you’ve got to the end of the day and seemingly achieved nothing. These little moments make us feel like we are lesser beings, if only for an instant, but they stay with us and build up over time.

    This week, I did a taster session for a group which the kids loved. I was told afterwards ‘It just wasn’t for us’, and asked if I could try again but just do nursery rhymes etc that the children knew rather than the content that represented what I do. I was a bit taken aback by this – everyone has loved it so far, and surely a taster session for a specific class should represent that class? This knocked me down a peg and left me asking if the product I was offering was good enough.

    That same afternoon, I saw a quote that really irritated me. It was by Yoko Ono.

    yoko copy

    I was still on a downer from the morning’s taster session and this riled me. But then it made me think.  (Damn you, Ono, for making me actually think!) – what would happen if I applied that concept to the owner of that morning’s comment?

    I was empowered. My brain readjusted to the new information. You know what? Pyjama Drama is brilliant. It genuinely is. And the songs and activities are so much fun. So there’s a group that doesn’t like change – that’s why you do tasters. You’re proud of what you do so don’t ditch something fantastic just to rehash The Grand Old Duke Of York for a group that aren’t interested in what you offer.

    This new look at the situation made me feel stronger. It got me out of my funk. It made me feel even more passionate about what I do and gave me added focus.

    It didn’t kill me. It made me stronger.

    So you. Yeah, you. Pick out the last thing someone said that knocked you down. Draw that halo round their head. And get strong.

  5. Life advice #14: Clarity, not clutter

    April 27, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    14. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

    Clutter. It’s a family’s best friend. In our house, we do as best we can to make sure we don’t end up with stuff we don’t need. I’m notorious for selling things or Gumtreeing things away once we’re done with them. Bigger things. But clutter – it’s all the little things, isn’t it? Things that we don’t really have a place for, so they become the things that live everywhere.

    Take our mantlepiece for example. We have (left to right) a wooden tortoise brought home from Uganda by our nephew; an empty photo frame box from Boston; our wedding cake toppers; a pack of chalk; one of Little L’s birthday cards (from last month); a ‘congrats’ card for getting Pyjama Drama up and running; a clock; some empty Mario themed sweet tins; an oversize wedding invitation (my fault); drinks holder circles of wood (I can’t remember what they are called right now, okay?); a smelly thingy; the pairs to the tortoise and photo frame box.


    The only thing stopping this from being The Generation Game is a cuddly toy. We don’t need it all. It can all go, or go elsewhere. But it’s still there. And this is just a very small snapshot of our house. And every time I look at it I think ‘ugh, we don’t have a pretty mantlepiece like everyone else. I should really do something about that.’ But I don’t, because we have a child and I just don’t get round to it.

    I need to declutter. I need to hit Ebay with the four boxes of clothes under the bed. I need to sort Little L’s toys. I need to decide what I’m doing with the front garden (whole world of clutter hiding behind the fence). I need that clarity, that space.

    I will post a picture of the mantlepiece again this time next week. Together, we’ll either mock me or celebrate the clarity.

  6. Life advice #11: It’s okay to let your children see you cry.

    March 31, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    cry11. It’s okay to let your children see you cry.

    My mum and dad were chalk and cheese. My mum was bold, matter of fact, a superhero. She got on with things. She pulled my hair when she brushed it but she got the job done. My dad was and still is sensitive, a bit of a faff and also a superhero. He did the ‘fun’ stuff. He would spend a hour doing my hair, never pulling. Took a while.

    The day my grandad died was the first time I saw my mum cry. Nothing had ever got to her before. Of course she’d cried about things in the past, only silently and secretly, away from her children. But it wasn’t until that day that I appreciated that she could cry, and that meant it became more of a normal thing to do. The acknowledgement that sometimes you feel so sad that it all bursts out. And that’s okay.

    Little L is now two and has probably seen me a bit upset a couple of times. I can set myself off easily – just a glimpse at an old photo leads me to say “That’s Granny Annie. She would have loved you” and I’m off. That kind of face-looks-a-bit-crumpled-and-red-and-eyes-are-watering-a-bit off. I don’t mind this. a) I can’t help it and b) I guess it shows her that it’s okay to be sad sometimes, as long as you know you get to be happy again later.

    So I’m okay with this. I don’t need to appear to be an untouchable superhero. Just a loving and accepting one.

  7. Life advice #8: Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

    March 2, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    Money in a pot accrues no interest Picture from Expat Explorer

    Money in a pot accrues no interest
    Picture from Expat Explorer

    8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

    Paying into my pension fund was easy for me. I was a newly qualified teacher and my paycheck was neatly split into various amounts of money being received and immediately sent elsewhere. National Insurance, repayment of student loan and Teacher’s Pension. Leaving the profession, said Teacher’s Pension sat doing very little for a year or two, then got transferred over to my Government Pension when I began working for the Council. Again, it would mysteriously leave my paycheck and go elsewhere.

    I start a new job this week, one where I am managing myself and my own pay. I won’t be able to afford to pay into a pension for at least a year. This should worry me, it being £xxx that I now won’t receive as an OAP. However, knowing I’ve been paying out for the past 10 years already leaves me less concerned. I know I have a great Financial Consultant who will find me the best private pension when things are more steady, one that I can now keep track of rather than jumping to different contributory ones.

    The state pension is enough to live on. It’s not necessarily enough to enjoy living on. Get your pensions sorted, people. It’ll make all the difference in the long run. In our lives we’re expected to work longer and live longer. You, and you alone, are responsible for your pension.

    Start saving for retirement now, while it’s far too far away to matter to you.

  8. Life advice #5: Pay off your credit cards every month.

    February 9, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    Remember this fella? Picture from

    Remember this fella?
    Picture from

    5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

    My grandad had a proud work ethic and was proud of me when I got my first job at the age of 14. I worked 10-2pm every Saturday at Barnard’s Secondhand Books for £2.50 an hour. He was so proud in fact that he took my first week’s wages of a tenner, gave me one of his tenners in return, and framed the original with the manuscript ‘The first money I earned’. I didn’t really get it to be honest. I was 14. I just wanted to get a McDonalds. But I’ve never forgotten it.

    He also told me never, ever to have a credit card, citing them as evil and the start of a downward spiral into greed. I managed to avoid having one until I was at uni and even then it was never used, given my grandad’s words echoing in my ear.

    Then harder times fell and I had to use it to buy food. This is not a sob story – we’ve all been there. But I paid it off the second I got my salary that month. Even now, while I have a credit card (there’s little escaping them), it’s there not to be used.

    As a family, we have debt. I have an unnoticable* hangover from four years of university fees and there are other things that have racked up over the years, but we pay these off when we can. Most importantly, before they come back and bite us on the bum. To be debt free would be brilliant. We’re working on it.

    Time for some financial planning, methinks.

    *It comes off my salary each month if I have earned enough and it always has done. Do not freak out, dear teenagers off uni looking forward to a £16k debt. You’ll barely notice it.

  9. Life advice #3: Life is too short – enjoy it.

    January 26, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    3. Life is too short – enjoy it.


    Someone else who likes to enjoy life and have fun.
    Photo from The White House

    People die every day. There. I said it. It’s a sentence that remains true, no matter how horrid or personal it may feel. Some people make it through to a grand old age, having the time of their life, and passing away gently in their sleep with no sudden pain or long illnesses. That’s a good way to go, I think. Others choose to go, in which case I can only feel bad that their life didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. Others, well, others are taken too early. And that’s just not good at all.

    I could get hit by a bus today. I sincerely hope I’m not. Equally I could suffer a fatal concussion at the hands of a clumsy squirrel and its nut. I can be as careful as I can be, and yet something might get in the way and cause me a mischief.

    It could happen at any time, so there’s no point putting off the things we want to do until the weather is better, or Little L’s a bit bigger, or it’s not so busy. Well maybe a bit of the latter, but the point is, we should get on and do stuff.

    So we are. We’re getting a babysitter so we can go to a party. We’re going for more walks – the snow is a fun talking point, not something to hide from. Less Cbeebies, more activities. Less sofa slobbing, more fun. Less waiting patiently on the career ladder and more jumping ship to do what I’d really enjoy.

    I would write more but I’m off to dance around the room with my toddler. No matter how long or short my life is, I want to enjoy that as much as I can.

  10. Life advice #2: When in doubt, just take the next small step.

    January 19, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Life advice from a 90 year old? I’ll take it.
    Backstory blog can be found here.

    cv gag copy2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

    Every now and again, we all have a look on Reed* to see how green the grass on the other side is looking. I think it’s a bit like that with jobs. You may be one of the lucky ones, doing something you love that pays as much as you need it to. You may be doing something that’s alright and working out if this is your career path or whether there’s a better offer out there. You might be one of the unfortunate ones, having been handed your redundancy notice. There’s a lot of it about.

    Over the last couple of months, I found myself in the middle one and on the edge of the latter. Nosing around for where I might have a better fit, coming across something quite extraordinary, and receiving a request for voluntary redundancies in quick succession.

    It was a normal evening, surfing around Reed and Monster to see if there was anything that might be a better option. Apart from a surprisingly tempting offer from Affairs4u** nothing caught my eye. Cue a Google search for ‘drama teacher’, just for the hell of it. A sponsored ad from Gumtree appeared. For laughs, I clicked through, expecting a job for experienced drama teachers to deliver leaflets/earn money from home/make quick $$$ etc.

    But I was in for a surprise.

    A company called Pyjama Drama was looking for franchisees in my local area. Was this it? Was this the job I was looking for? Or should I retreat back to the relative safety of my desk job? There we have it ladies and gentlemen – doubt.

    What to do, what to do, what to do. Chase or hide from the opportunity? I didn’t want to jump in too soon. I didn’t want to fire off an application form. I didn’t want to give up on a three year start to a career without good reason. So a smaller step.

    I sent a quick email showing a bit of interest. Asking for more information.

    Taking this small step gave me the information I needed. The confirmation that yes, not only was this the right step to take, it was the step I’ve been waiting for.

    And that small step has since turned into an almightly leap.

    But that’s a blog for another time.

    *Other job search websites are available
    **This is a real thing. Also, I am referring to a job, not utilising their services.