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No Age Limit – Hayley’s Story : Women Behind The Network

By telling my story I hope to lead the way and raise awareness of Premature Menopause/POI. As well as helping older ladies push and challenge their GP’s, when they try to prescribe anti-depressants rather than HRT. Stand you ground and shove the NICE guidelines under their noses.

As a younger woman who has been dealt this card, I want to help older ladies with my positive outlook on life. I have never let it define me or take away my spirit for a good life. I also want older ladies to support me by trying to raise awareness, as if we all stick together, we can get us women the support we deserve.

I have it tough yes, but I am not going to let it ruin me. We have one shot at this so let’s live it as happily as we can.

Here’s the background to my story….

14 years old and told I had gone through the menopause… yep that’s right 14 years old.

I will never forget that day, sitting on the bed in a hospital room waiting for the Consultant to come into me and my Mum saying those words. My Mum balling her eyes out and me comforting her asking her to not cry as it’s ok. Thing is it wasn’t ok, but then I had no clue what the Consultant was even talking about.

At the age of 12 I started my periods like a normal teenager. Then after a year they just stopped. I was struggling to concentrate at school and the nights were hell. Waking up dripping with sweat and just feeling weird. That’s literally how I described it to my Mum one day. I don’t feel like meMum, I feel weird. So off we went to the Doctor’s. I explained what was going on and I was referred for a blood test and an ultrasound. Then two weeks later a Consultant Gynaecologist confirmed I had gone through my Menopause and that I needed to start taking HRT tablets.

I was told I had a womb but a small one and that they could only find one ovary. That was the first and the last time I was going to see my Consultant. I am now 39 years old. I literally have never been contacted since. Not given any follow up appointments, no help, no guidance to understand what had happened to me nothing. Put on HRT (Prempak C) and left to just get on with it.

Even when Prempak C was discontinued a few years back I wasn’t even informed by my Doctor. The pharmacist told me when I went to pick up my meds. Meds, may I add that I have to pay for… which I find astonishing. I need to take these daily and I had none left so luckily after a long phone call Imanaged to get in with a GP the next day. Who then told me there was no exact alternative and she was putting me on another brand. But that was horrendous. All my levels went crazy and my symptoms returned, and my bleeds were so painful. I then was changed onto Femoston which I took for years. But I have since learnt after a consultation with Dr Louise Newson that many symptoms I had presented at my Doctor’s with, were in fact menopausal symptoms. My GP never linked the two and instead prescribed me anti-depressants for insomnia. He should have sent me for blood tests, which would have revealed my estrogen levels were too low and my HRT infact needed adjusting. I have also realised since taking control of this and speaking out that I should have been having DEXA scans. I have never been for one in my life. I have since pushed this with my GP and I now have one booked for Jan 2021. 

As a child I needed to learn what it all meant, and back then there was hardly anything on the internet to read and even to this day limited material to a teenager experiencing this happening to them. This needs addressing as I felt lost for years as I just didn’t understand it all. Medical professionals looked at me like I was some sort of freak. If I was given a pound for the amount of times a doctor or nurse has said to “me you poor girl” when I answer the dreaded question… “what medication do you take”. I would have had loads of work done on myself. Which leads me on to how I have felt growing up… hating what I saw looking back at me in the mirror. The one job a woman is given to do, and I couldn’teven do that properly. I felt like a failure. A failure as a woman. 

I can’t say I grew up depressed I just learnt how to cope. I grew up not liking my appearance. I suppose I felt insecure about myself.  I struggled with relationships with guys as I knew I had it looming over me that one day I was going to have to tell them. Even when I did tell them or my friends neither understood. I even lost a friend over it as she said I was lying and that it was a sick thing to make up! Charming ay…  The response I got from the close few I did tell was always the same… It will happen one day mate, loads of women are told they can’t have kids and they do. 

Nobody understood what I was saying. Because no one was/iseducated enough, No one knows what it means. Even to this day people still do not understand. So, in my words I say it how it is…. To produce a baby, you need an egg and a sperm,and I don’t have eggs, end of.

Since I have spoken out, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and in a way I feel free of it. I hope that by speaking about my experience out loud I can try and get this recognised more. To help educate all, that this can happen at such a young age as many are still so unaware of this. I have even been called a liar on some so called “menopause support groups” on Facebook, as people do not believe that this can happen. To help Mother’s if their daughters are showing any signs to get them to the doctor’s as soon as possible. I also want women to push at the doctors for them to listen to you. As doctors still sound like they are in denial that it can happen to younger women. As well as to get people to speak out and not hide it all inside, because you feel everyone will be gossiping about you.

Unfortunately, it happens to all of us females one day. There is no set age limit on it, which I am living proof of…..

The present day….

So life currently is busy, busy, busy, as aswell as working a 40 hour week, trying to get my story out there… me and my Husband are currently going through the Adoption process 😊We always knew it was the route we wanted to take. We had discussed in length the idea of going through IVF and he accepted my decision that it wasn’t something I wanted to do. I had already grieved for years that I was never going to have a baby of my own biologically so egg donation for me just wasn’t the way I would see myself become a Mum. In my eyes to be a parent it is to provide endless love, support and just adore your child. I know how much love I have to give,and for me to be able to give that to a child whose own parents cannot do this is a much more fulfilling way. I also now see that maybe things do happen for a reason as that reason is to find my Child and give them a much better life.

The adoption timeline is actually a lot shorter than it used to be. So please if you are considering this don’t let that put you off. Once you have got through the Pre-stage and into Stage 1 it can feel a bit slow waiting on training days and workbooks to be issued, but you just have to keep the faith that it’s just part of it all and it will all be worth it in the end 😊

We are currently heading towards the end of stage 1 and praying that we will make it into the second stage. That will be when we are working towards a date to go to panel to become approved adoptive parents.

Soooo, wish us luck 😊

Hayley

Contact Hayley on Instagram prematuremenopause14 and twitter @CockmanHayley

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Top Tips for getting that job at 50 plus– View from a Recruitment Consultant- Nicola Brooks

Ageism shouldn’t exist in the workplace, but it does and unfortunately you can’t stop it from happening. But what can you control when you are applying for a role you really want?

A new job is like a blank book and you are the author.”—Author unknown

Here are some tips that I would advise all candidates to adhere to, but these are especially useful for overcoming prejudices interviewers may have on appointing over fifties.

Nicola has been recruiting senior level finance professionals into the NHS for 21 years, working for Interim Professionals and the permanent division, Executive Professionals. Together with NHS England & NHS Improvement, Nicola established “Women in Leadership for Finance”, a networking group of senior female finance leaders which addresses the imbalance of gender balance at board level in the NHS. She can be contacted directly at nicola@interim-professionals.co.uk

  1. Use your experience to your advantage– Credibility, gravitas, wisdom but also the combination of 30 + years in the workplace – what experience have you gained over this time that someone in their 30s or 40s may not yet have encountered in their career? Be clear and confident about this.
  2. Keep up to speed with technology – a common misconception is that “older candidates” will be out of touch with new technology and social media. Do your homework to make sure you do not fall into this category. Make sure you are active on Twitter and Linked in, Keep up to date with TED talks, webinars and podcasts on new technologies relevant to your field. Make sure you are adept at MS teams and Zoom and that you are comfortable initiating meetings. Practise these at home, engage your kids or your friends’ children who have grown up with these.
  3. Develop your networks and do your research – your network will be invaluable to get background information on the role you are interviewing for. Take every opportunity on offer to speak to the hiring manager or individuals who you know will be involved in the interview process. Ask them questions about the role, what it’s like to work there and listen. The more you know about the role and the more the interviewers know about you and the research you have done on the role/organisation, the stronger your chance of getting the job. If the hiring manager has put their telephone number on the job advert, ALWAYS call them and make it personal. The more experience you have, the wider your network should be – use this to your advantage.
  4. You are not too old to get a mentor. Be clear what your development areas are and work on these with your mentor. Also reverse mentoring with an individual more junior than you can help you to connect with a different generation and to learn from them.
  5. Think about your image – This is important at any age, dress for the job you want to get, not for the one you have. Regardless of whether a meeting is in person or online, the interviewer will inevitably make subconscious assumptions about you based on your appearance and this is something you can control – own your space.
  6. Keep your CV brief –it’s unrealistic to cram a 30 year long career onto 2 pages but try to keep to 4 pages or less, focusing more on the more recent and more senior roles. Eliminate language from your CV which no longer exists e.g. “Personnel”.
  7. Demonstrate you are open to learning new things and constantly evolving. A common misconception of the more mature candidate is that they will be set in their ways and resistant to change. What have you initiated or changed in your current role? What are you doing right now that is new? This doesn’t have to be work related but could be learning to play chess or the guitar, or learning a language.
  8. Ask for help – do you have a recruitment professional/colleague or friend you can trust who can look over your CV or cover letter or who can do a mock interview with you? No matter how much experience you have, you can still get better at being interviewed.

Nicola has been recruiting senior level finance professionals into the NHS for 21 years, working for Interim Professionals and the permanent division, Executive Professionals. Together with NHS England & NHS Improvement, Nicola established “Women in Leadership for Finance”, a networking group of senior female finance leaders which addresses the imbalance of gender balance at board level in the NHS. She can be contacted directly at nicola@interim-professionals.co.uk

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I wish that I had duck feet…. Women Behind the Network- Female Leaders At 50 – Sweet Gill

I wish that I had duck feet

…and I can tell you why.

You can splash around in duck feet.

You don’t have to keep them dry.

I loved reading this wonderful children’s book by Dr. Seuss to my three boys when they were young. First published in 1965 and with cartoon illustrations, it’s a simple story about a boy who wishes that he could have different animal parts such as duck feet, a whale spout and a long, long tail. He thinks this will give him an advantage over his nemesis Big Bill Brown. The boy quickly finds out there are consequences to pretending to be someone else.

It got me thinking about how we adopt certain styles of leadership depending on the business situation we find ourselves in – it could be to connect more fully with customers; to launch a new product to stay ahead of competitors; to adapt strategically when uncertain times emerge or to simply be excellent communicators and motivate our team. What should a good leader look like? Is there such a thing as a Natural Born Leader and if the aliens landed tomorrow demanding: ‘Take Me to Your Leader!’ where would they go?

Setting up and running Maurizio Dining & Co. with my husband in August 2016 was a huge learning curve. Along the way I discovered some interesting things about myself (who knew I hadenough resilience to work with the husband!) and in hospitality, an area of business that initially I knew nothing about (love eating pizza but selling it was a new concept). Having a blended career means there’s definitely overlap in skills and attitude. My part-time work as a Video Producer is creative and it comes more naturally to me as I’ve been in the industry of broadcast television (firstly as a runner on a show called Beadle’s About!), and then video communications (mostly in education) for over 25 years. But nothing really prepares you for starting a new business as much as taking a risk and just getting stuck in.

Adventures in Pasta Land: How Not To Start A Food Business

It began so quickly that we barely had time to think. But I soon learned that this suited my leadership style well. In February 2017 we launched A Valentine’s Venetian Dinner and Drink pop-up event in an empty shop on Mill Road, Cambridge. Within two weeks we had the challenge to source ingredients, produce and price menus, market the event, sell tickets and run the evening making sure all 40 diners had delicious food and drink to enjoyplus a great ambience to be in. It confirmed to me that, despite the pressures of troubleshooting right up to opening, I’m driven by deadlines, enjoy a challenge, can lead a project creatively and be innovative on a tight budget. 

The night was a huge success and within three months we’d opened permanently as a small, local, independent Italian kitchen and wine bar. It really was a case of frugal innovation – a concept that Professor Jaideep Prabhu from University of Cambridge says is: ‘Doing more with less – whatever your location’. It’s about adopting a mindset of keeping things simple for maximum effect. Since then, I’ve tried to keep this in focus when making decisions. Here’s what’s helped me so far:• Mentoring. We were lucky enough to find a neutral voice with oodles of business experience. He helped us see different viewpoints and find solutions to move forward.Perfect at managing our different personalities, understanding our vision and giving advice.• Networking. Join like-minded groups and communities where you can build relationships and contacts to share ideasand keep learning. Locally I found the resources and short courses at EnterpriseWOMEN useful: https://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/insight/2019/entrepreneurial-myths/ and to connect nationwide I like: https://f-entrepreneur.com/about-us/• Investing in my team. Having the right personalities on board can complement your strengths and weaknesses. It’s an on-going process but a range of experience and diversity certainly helps – we’re about to employ an apprentice pizza maker who will grow professionally alongside our business.• Being creative. Thinking outside the box can bring new ideas to the forefront. Our brainstorming sessions have resulted in delicious food and drink additions to our menu. Pasta with chocolate? Er, no thanks but our Sofia Loren pizza is a firm favourite.• Trusting my senses. At first, I found it difficult to listen to customers who didn’t enjoy their dining experience. But I learned that all feedback is valuable and it’s okay to get it wrong…as long as we then put it right.• Taking time out. It’s so important to relax and spend quality time away from the business. One of our team sayings is: “And don’t forget to breathe!” Keeping your sense of humour is essential to get through tricky times.

Psychologist Kurt Lewin says there are three main leadership styles but of course there are many more: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/leadership-styles explains these in a bit more detail.

Keeping leadership fluid and transformational is what works best for me as I’m not a natural leader as such. But we do all lead in some way or other at some point in our lives, even if we don’trealise it at the time. Whether it’s taking charge of family life, standing up for ourselves at work or diving into a new venture, leadership exists in many shapes and forms. 

We’re Not Saving Lives, Just Cooking Pizzas And Pastas

I think it’s important to remember perspective. This can be easy to forget especially when things sometimes go wrong (power cut in the middle of service, dealing with unreliable suppliers or having to pivot in a pandemic).

We’ve created our 3E philosophy to help us maintain perspective.The 3Es are:

ENHANCE our customers’ dining experience (and we’re proud to say we’re finalists in the Cambridge News Business Excellence Awards).

ENCOURAGE working in a collaborative way as this helps to build our brand more organically.

EMPOWER our team to be the best they can be by encouraging a flexible and inclusive working culture where all ideas and opinions are welcome.

It’s okay not to have all the answers straight away as I believe sometimes there is no right or wrong decision to be made. I think of myself driving along my own business journey with lots of spaghetti junctions along the way. There are traffic lights that make you stop and reflect; fast lanes when you have a deadline; roundabouts to revisit a problem; hitting the curbside when it all goes a bit wrong; dead ends when it’s time to move on and success when you find that perfect parking space. The point is,whatever the adventure, I’ll get there in the end.

As Dr. Seuss says at the end of I Wish I Had Duck Feet:

And So…

I think

there are some things

I do not wish to be.

And that is why

I think that I

just wish to be like ME.

Be your authentic self and lead the way that works best for you.

Contact Sweet Gill D’Apollonio at: info@mauriziodining.com

www.linkedin.com/in/mauriziodining

Website: www.mauriziodining.com

Connect on social media @mauriziodining

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Notes on an achievement- Ciara Moore

I’ve just completed a 50k.

I trained but I didn’t train as hard or as much as I had planned or hoped. While I had hoped to run all of it, I ran half of it and walked the remainder.

What was brilliant about that crazy run/walk was it was done at my pace under my terms and as a result I felt wonderful for it.

I wanted to finish as strong as I started and I did. This became my mantra.

However, I’m already telling you about the tip of the iceberg when I should be telling you about the bottom of it and all that preparation to get to the tip to that sweet moment of success.

With the Covid pandemic and working in a busy NHS role training did go out the window Due to long days on virtual meetings. My walks or runs at weekends became sacred due to lockdown.

The focus on the 50 K helped me remain focused on something else during the pandemic. It was going to be a point in time to celebrate my daughters 16th birthday. With the race happening in Windsor at Easter. However due to the pandemic this was cancelled. The date now a day working in the hospital. An Easter Saturday weekend.

I really wanted to mark the day. In my imagined parallel universe I was completing that race . I wanted some positivity to come out of the spiralling pandemic that we were in. I sent a tweet to the world asking them to walk or run 1k for for me and tweet a picture of themselves running with their mileage.and it responded. I imagined I would probably get a few people responding the response was overwhelming. The response predominantly came due to Running Man Jones who through his followers helped create a wave of positivity on that day.. I even had a hash tag #1KforCiara.

I came out of work after that long day my Twitter feed was full. Full of wonderful messages, heartfelt and sincere with pictures of these wonderful people who had run 1 km from me. I cried as I read them with pride, for all of them and that positivity that they had created this wonderful thing. Over 500 km was clocked up and it truly was a worldwide event with posts from America, India, Australia, New Zealand and all over Europe.

The event by now was rescheduled, set for 12th of September which is my sons birthday. Sadly, again, cancelled. This time I wasn’t going to be working at the on the date and as I was raising money for charity I decided I would do the 50 K by myself around my normal running routes in Cambridge.

In the last month my training really picked up mainly as I had this date looming ahead and a target!. I was out running or training at least every other day for two hours at a time.

Oddly, the treadmill became my best friend and the treadclimber a close second. This second machine allowed me train for longer but with less effort on my joints. Helping me maintain that mantra finish as strong as you start.

I’m also conscious I’m 51 and body and bones are not as strong as they were in my 20s.

However I felt strong and that is what was really, really important.

But where to run and how to keep it interesting? I normally just go off running up through the fens but I was conscious that out on my own I had no back up and I need access to people in case anything happens. I started to map old routes and new around the city and the fens and cycling or walking miles, testing the distance.

Close to the day I still had not decided on tne exact route. I did a 32 km walk with my faithful hound Conall took my time as we paced out a route, got scared by several cows (twice) and delightedly realised I was ready for the following week.

The morning of the run before the sun rose my kit ready I got ready, ate a hasty breakfast and left the house. Not before passing the hound looking at me reproachfully for not taking him, past the pile of birthday presents for my son who was under strict instructions not to open them till I returned. My aim was to be home for lunch, and likely only an hour or so after the household woke up. I wasn’t going to be missed.

I started off taking the pace easy, enjoying the fresh cool morning and I ran steadily, each 5K I clocked up my heart excitedly flipping with joy. I managed my longest run of 25 km after thinking I could never do that distance in my life.

However it was never going to be a challenge without being challenging and so between 25k and 30k I struggled to keep running. By this time I was out on the fen trying to steady myself on the uneven ground, my legs wobbly.

Rather than force myself to keep running I reverted to jog, walk jog walk with the mantra in my head finish as strong as you started.

Stupidly, I didn’t bring sufficient water and started to dehydrate at about 35K. This slowed me down distracting me as hydration then became my focus.

A local pub in Fen Ditton kindly filled my bottle with orange juice and lemonade. I think I can honestly say it was the best drink I have had all year.

I finally completed the distance in my village, my legs tired but no injuries. I took a picture of my finishing point looking out across a field towards Wandlebury and I remember thinking now what? I felt almost a little lost.

I walked slowly home.

On arriving home I was straight back into celebrating a birthday with my boy. My race seen by the family as no more than my usual Saturday exercise. No celebrations, no balloons no medal, though I did afford myself one glass of champagne.

If I had allowed it I could have seen the end of the race as an anti-climax. If anything it has made me realise how capable our bodies are of doing things even when we are older that we don’t think we are capable of. It was the first time I didn’t stress myself out about being fast or slow or “ploddy.” The only person I was competing with was myself. I listened to my body, trusted my training and kept to my mantra “finish as strong as you start.” This didn’t necessarily mean run the whole 50 K (now that would’ve been amazing) It meant to finish in a positive, happy frame of mind. It meant being able to walk later in the day to celebrate a birthday with no aches and pains so as not detract attention from the birthday boy and it meant being able to go for a long walk the next day with my hound.

On a positive note I haven’t let up my training regime which I usually drop immediately after an event. I walk as much as I can and now the gyms are open I am finding new machines that will help me with sustaining and improving my stamina. It is difficult to know what to sign up for as a challenge next when all the challenges seem to be cancelled. However, what I will do in a few weeks time is test myself again on gently running 25K. Who knows I may even get to 30k …..finishing as strong as I start.

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make a life out of what you have, Not what you are missing – Ciara Moore

You make a life out of what you have, Not what you are missing – Kate Morton

I have spoken several times on growth mindset widely known through research done by Carol Dweck . This quote “you make a life out of what you have, not what you are missing” by Kate Morton from her book The Forgotten Garden resonated with me as a big part of growthmindset. Growth mindset is where individuals believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others). They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).

You may have a growth mindset however you may also feel you’re missing out on things in life as you wait for your hard work on strategies to be developed.

How often have you experienced, that as soon as you stop looking for something unobtainable it came? As soon as you stopped looking for that one person to “complete” you they were there. As soon as you stopped looking for that job a better opportunity came.

However by setting aside or to not focus on what you are missing doesn’t mean you stop applying yourself. In part I think we need to settle into the journey or process of life. of becoming. The process of making the best of what we are and have.

A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work. ~ Colin Powell, former U.S. Defense Secretary

It’s important to voice or check what you feel you are missing out on and why. Are you so focused on what you feel is missing that life is passing you by?

If it is materialistic goods why would they make your life better?

Is it wishing that you were more personally successful at work?

Is what you’re missing even achievable?

The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right it’s all we’ll need.

Ann Richards

Stepping back and really thinking about what you’re missing is a real big step in growth mindset.

Sometimes what you’re missing may be just round the corner but you’re not there yet in terms of training, education, experience emotional preparedness . Maybe you are not experienced enough for that job. If so what do you need to do to ensure you get the job that’s for you not what you think you are missing.

Settle into your current career, do it to the best of your ability, keep an eye on the future but don’t stress about it, don’t stress about that “job” not coming up.

Review what is truly important and necessary from what is merely nice to have and choose to let go some of the things that don’t add value to the quality of your life.

Settle into your emotional journey focus on the people around you, continue to learn. Sometimes what we’re missing is not actually what we’re looking for or need. On speaking with many women in my network they tell me that as they raised their families they have felt they missed out on time for themselves. When their children grow up and leave they’re missing the activity or interest to fill that time.They have been given that missing time to themselves that they fervently felt they missed and often do not know what to do with it.

The point is to be in the moment, not miss the moment while trying to capture it.

Sheralyn Pratt,

So apply growth mindset

Enjoy the process

Make the time to keep your interests going.

Spend time thinking and planning goals.

Consider what you can improve .

After all as Eleanor Roosevelt wrote

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.