Category Archives: Management styles

What’s In A Name??

I believe you can find humour in any area or event in life and my cancer journey has    been no exception.

My husband and I were discussing the surgical procedure with the consultant when he mentions that I will have a dye injected prior to surgery that will colour not just my boob area, but the rest of my body as well, blue for an amount of time.

“Ha,” laughed my husband, “Papa Smurf.”

I shot him a look ( one of those husband/wife looks) as the surgeon continued in a sober fashion.

“Well it will have the effect of making your wife look a bit “corpse-like”.”

I looked back to my husband with a new-found respect. I think I’ll take Papa Smurf on this occasion.


So the day of surgery came. We walked on past the newly built, state of the art building where I will go for chemo and radiotherapy. I glance over at the beautiful bronze statue of Florence Nightingale in front of the door and then up at the building’s name.

“Cancer Unit”, writ large!

Not even a “The.”

Had they run out of funds or was the Minister in charge of naming buildings off that day!

I shudder and walk on. A lovely nurse greeted me and cheerily gave me my programme for the morning.

“Now, you will first go to Mamo and then round to Nuclear.”


Turns out to be Nuclear Medicine. I think the Naming Minister was off that day too.

About 30 seconds after being deposited in the waiting room another lovely nurse comes to collect me. They must have thought I would run away and they mightn’t have been too far off the mark!

“I have to ask you, for legal reasons, are you pregnant?”

I laugh……heartily. “No.”

Lovely Nurse then gowns up and dons a pair of gloves before injecting this obviously hazardous material into my right tit!!

Because of various taping and markers I am not allowed to get “fully” dressed ( no bra) before me and two-hung-low walk back, through the hospital, to my ward.

Cheery Nurse is bustling about the ward when I get back and I ask her if she finds a sudden increase in the patients need of Valium, post Nuclear visit.

Oh, how she laughs!!



Just Doing What Comes Naturally

How many times have you heard this? Does it usually spring up at the very moment someone is about to attempt to justify the unjustifiable?

Mmm, me too.

“It’s only natural,” is as bogus an excuse for bad behaviour as it is in the labelling of a lot of snacks and convenience foods. In a civilised society we are supposed to temper our “natural” inclinations, to take into account the feelings of others and the impact of our actions on our environment.

Pity then our children trying to make sense of a world where the media makes much of those that shout loudest, stomp on the weak and celebrate/revere the rude, crude and thoroughly undignified.

I feel bombarded by media showing the monetary success this kind of celebrity can bring and, even at my age, have problems processing the quantity and quality of the information, so how on earth can we expect young people to make sense of it, or to be able to filter the myth from the reality.

Unfortunately, and very sadly for all of us, when they try to emulate their modern-day role-models aren’t they then,

“Just doing what comes naturally?”

The Calm Before The……..Whatever

I keep checking the mirror to see if I still LOOK like me, because I sure as shootin’ don’t feel like me! I should be running around , crying, ranting, chewing my fingers to the bone, but I’m not. I feel strangely calm with just flutters every now and then of mild panic, quickly subsumed by this… “peace.”

I highlight this because it is common to a few situations close loved-ones have found themselves in lately as well. They have gone through horrendously stressful times, struggling with a life-changing decision, only to find that having taken the leap this same strange peace or calm descends. Other strong forces (sadness, grief, regret) can still take their toll, but, for me, the knowledge that matters have come to the only conclusion they could and should have, make the rest of it bearable.

But I am very, very fortunate. This could all sound incredibly trite to others without the level of support and kindness I am blessed with. I may yet be typing another entry in this blog with one hand, while tearing lumps of my hair out by the roots, cursing myself for putting my own happiness before my duty as a wife, daughter and mother. But what use am I to anyone without my soul and what example would that set to my adult children.  “Yes kids, live your lives but don’t believe that you deserve happiness, or peace, or self-esteem, or joy, or hope.”  No, I don’t think so.

I remember when my children were born saying the “only” thing I wished for them was that they be happy, truly happy. Some friends of mine hoped their children would be doctors or dancers or successful….you get the picture.  At this stage of my life I look back and think my wish may just have been the most ambitious.

The Worst of Times………and More of The Same

It’s really hard to pin-point exactly how I feel, having discovered that a way of life I have loved will have to come to an end. And on top of that to find that, even though I have thought for a long time people could no longer surprise me, well, guess what, they can!

I often wonder where some folk get the energy and spare time in their lives to inflict such pain and malice on others and, sadly, the last eight months, in particular the last ten days, have left me breathless with incredulity at the levels people can sink to. I feel a heartache and sadness that, at one point, I honestly did not think I could bear.

BUT, life is never just black or white. It is, it seems, one of the many( even more than 50) shades of grey; because there they were, those that I love and love me back, lifting this weight from my shoulders, buoying me up with kindness, understanding and peace. They offer me strength not pity, comfort not criticism. And when self-doubt threatens to engulf me I look at the quality of those close to me and think; “I can’t be that bad when these people care about me.”

I still panic at what lies ahead, but I believe things happen in life for a reason, that this will take me down a path I am meant to travel and I will travel that path in hope.

Just Smile and Tiny Tweaks….

I am the first to say I don’t go for this type of thing, but honestly, this is so worth watching. Actually it gets off to a shaky start and Amy seems to be suffering from dry mouth( stress perhaps), which I found odd as the message was about confidence and how we communicate that to others. But stay with it.

Amy goes on to share a very personal experience, something I found very moving and I judged her to be completely sincere in everything she said. The audience believed her too and responded very positively to her generosity of spirit.

I have heard parts of this discussion before and agree that the act of smiling is one of the most simple and effective things we can do to relieve stress and lift our mood. And completely free! That’s the kind of therapy I like.

Be careful when you practice this though. I was in a real stinker of a mood one morning on my  way into work, getting worse by the minute as I sat, stuck in traffic. I remembered about the ” Just Smile” idea and wanted to shift my mood before affecting anyone else so, with a great deal of effort, I put on my favourite “happy” music and pulled my mouth up from my boots, into my biggest, bestest smile….. And scared seven shades of daylight out of the guy in the car beside me! I think he reckoned I had lost the plot and was about to carry out some kind of mayhem. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

Anyway, like I say, I really think this is worth your time and I would love to know if you agree.

You Get More with Sugar Than Salt…

How many managers/leaders have you worked for who live by the belief that they need to be harsh, begrudging, critical ( hyper-critical even) to maintain order and achieve best results. How many offer little or no positive feedback for fear of ……what exactly??

Well, I was blessed, because I found support, wise counsel and praise in my job; enough to call it a career and to look forward to going to work. But, like all good things, it came to an end and the adjustment and sense of loss has been very hard.

To clarify, this positive effect came down to one person, my now retired manager, and if I thought I was the only one in the business to feel the vacuum since he left I could not have been more mistaken. On Christmas Eve he called in to say hello and wish everyone well for the festive season. It was quite remarkable. Afterwards the number of people talking about how much they miss his appreciation of their efforts, his kindness and his understanding, was very touching.

I really wish more managers could understand that working with their staff, giving encouragement and support when needed and praise when deserved, has the potential to move mountains. I would have gone to the ends of the earth to get the best results for my manager and was more than happy to call him “Boss” because, when all was said and done, the buck did stop with him.

So, to all you folk in positions of authority over others take note; treat people decently and with fairness, and you should be pleasantly surprised with the results.