Tag Archives: Work

It’s Life Jim, But Not As We Know It

Following on from my previous blog post, A Whole New World, I did indeed make it to my first day in the new job. And in an instant, it was gone. 

I started my new job, met the fab new team and received a warm welcome to the office. It was something of a baptism of fire as clients began reacting to the news that a global pandemic had been announced. The boss gave the small team the option to work from home as it emerged that traveling by public transport and working in close proximity was aiding the virus growth.

We had a team lunch, tried to keep spirits high while all churning over the breaking news. Major shops closing, high profile cases being reported, death tolls in China, Italy, Spain and then at 5pm, instead of rushing home, we waited and watched the first UK government live press conference.

On Monday 16th March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the nation that COViD-19 had been declared a pandemic and the UK was about to take drastic measures to stop the spread among the elderly and infirm. There were tears, I felt for these girls I’d met just a few hours ago, and my boss. Caring, worried about her staff and clients as well as her own family. We went home with a plan to give clients more support than ever before.

On Tuesday, I brought my children home. My daughters and I have a vascular disease. We’re not at increased risk of contracting COViD-19, but my middle daughter had lung surgery a little while back, and I wasn’t taking any risks. Tuesday 17th March became day one of Social Distancing for us as a family.

On Wednesday 18th March, I was let go from my new job. Contract terminated with immediate effect as I was still in the probation period. I don’t blame my boss at all. It’s a scary time for everyone in business and at this early stage, the support package from the government hadn’t been announced. She assured me that once this was over, there would be a role for me.

On Thursday 26th March, we made a poster, with a rainbow on it and a message of thanks to those on the front line, our incredible NHS workers. At 8pm we stood on our front doorstep and we applauded and cheered as a way to give thanks to those making huge sacrifices for us. It won’t ever be enough.

It’s now Sunday 29th March 2020. We’ve adjusted to life, for now. My mum and step-dad, friends Michelle, Kate and Paul have become our lifeline, delivering shopping, helping with school work for the kids and my brother and sister have kept our spirits up thanks to Whatsapp. The Ble Room podcast, which I’ve contributed to for a year this month, has also kept me sane, utilising Skype to catch up with the lads and chat all things Everton and COViD-19 of course. Houseparty is a great app. Get it.

It’s day 13 and while we’re having a lazy Sunday. Tomorrow we’ll be starting a new routine. 9am PE with Joe, 10:30 – 1:30 school work, no Ipads or tech until 4pm. Everyone is helping to prep lunch and tea. There will be baths and bed and movie night on the projector thanks to Disney+ and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

I don’t know what’s to come. The prospect of it scares and excites me in equal measure. One thing I do know is that I don’t want to go back to ‘normal’. I’ve learned some serious lessons these last couple of weeks, and I’ve no doubt there are more to come. For me, going back isn’t an option.

I hope you and yours are safe and well.

To every single key worker and volunteer, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for everything you’re doing, you are incredible. 

 

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1, 2 Back Again

As you might have gathered from the previous post, things haven’t exactly plain sailing of late. It’s time to move on. 

I’ve been working as a freelance journalist for the last 4 years. I loved it. Until a few months ago when I realised I’d stopped being fun. I shouted at my kids, for being kids. I was living hand to mouth because I’d prioritise doing fun, work-related stuff instead of making sure I had enough money for a rainy day.

It’s hardly the crime of the century, I know. I mean who has money to save in the current economic climate? But the reason this has bitten me so badly in the ass, is because it’s now three weeks until Christmas and I have a grand total of £87 in the bank.

WHY did I stop being a freelance journalist so close to Christmas? Why not see it through until I had another job, or at least until January? Well, mainly because I was so ridden with anxiety and down about it, I walked around the Christmas Markets with my kids, randomly bursting into tears. That’s usually a sign something isn’t right.

For four years I’ve (just about) managed to juggle everything. Three kids, a full time, pretty demanding job, a house, a dog and a boyfriend. Working in the media is like having another child. 24 hour commitment and this overwhelming feeling of not being able to switch off and never quite being good enough.

Every update my Iphone spewed out about how many hours screen time I’ve accumulated (Approx 7.58 hours per day FYI) I’ve felt increasingly like I’m missing out on my kids, yet I wouldn’t put my phone down. I’d work harder to get my workload done so I could chill out, only for another deadline to arise, and another and another.

A steady stream of work is absolutely nothing to be sniffed at, again, especially not in the current climate. But my god it’s so hard to keep up. I got teary. My persistent nose bleeds got even worse. I got the shakes and then the random bouts of crying my eyes out started.

I woke this morning to the sound of my electricity metre beeping. This means it’s low on credit. No credit, no internet, no work, no money – no electricity. Who’d have thought it? Someone having such an amazing time, bossing it at work, going to parties and meeting famous people – would be wondering where the hell the next £10 electricity is coming from?

It’s two weeks before Christmas. I have £85 in the bank and I’ve spent so long applying for jobs and ticking ‘I Am Not A Robot’ Captcha boxes that I think I actually am a robot.

It’s terrifying. But it was still the right thing to do. My mental health has taken serious nose dive and while it’s going to be a really tough few weeks, it can only get better. I took the advice of a friend and looked at Universal Credit while I’m applying for jobs all over the country.

I would genuinely rather pluck my own eyes out than have to go through that absolute shit storm of an application process, which at the minimum takes 5 weeks to reach a decision. Now I can fully understand just how desperate it must be when even though you’ve worked and paid into the system, there is nothing to help you bounce back when you need it. Thank god for family and friends.

Back to square one it is. I’ve written this primarily to look back and realise how low I’d gotten before I did something. Wanting to do you best at work is a great attribute. Letting it blind you to the reality of a situation, is a curse.

Catch me on Linked In!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For Hire: Expert Juggler

I cannot juggle balls. 

I can juggle a young family, school run, parents evenings, dentist appointments, hospital check ups, daily nosebleeds, domestic shiz, seeing my friends, meetings, writing, sketching, way too much social media, running every day and dating – ish. That’s level expert kind of stuff right? Apparently not.

2019 is an age of influencers and the belief that we can be and achieve anything our heart desires. Manifest your best life, work hard, don’t drop the ball and you shall receive. Absolutely nothing wrong with a positive attitude and strong work-ethic.

I see that go-getting, ‘no-stopping me’ approach everywhere I go, especially on social media. Inspirational quotes based on having it all, reaching for the stars, it’s all about working on your hustle. I meet friends and colleagues who are constantly in a rush. Working on this, that’s in the pipeline, meetings for this, planning for that. It’s fascinating and fucking exhausting in equal measure.

Just because we can have it all, it doesn’t mean we have to.

I’m self-employed. I’ve juggled freelance journalism/copy writing for a number of years and I love my job. I adore it. Journalism, listening, writing, stories, meeting people, working with clients, planning media strategies, learning. It constantly challenges and frustrates me. The perfect mix.

But in 2019, is a little job satisfaction enough? How many of us believe the old adage ‘find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’? I love my job. But I also love switching off my laptop, muting notifications on my phone and re-watching Sex And The City for the 74th time.

How many of us feel that working as much as humanly possible is the only way to get ahead or be deemed successful now? How many of us, and I’m definitely counted in this one, feel like a day off work is a day wasted? Maybe its the nature of freelance work. Don’t work, don’t get paid.

I’ve officially adopted my laptop. You know the way people in the US can marry door knobs or classic cars? My HP laptop is now my fourth child. It’s not even my favourite (that’s Cleo) but it’s the most needy and dependent. Or is that me? Is it lazy to be satisfied with one job and simply, get by? Is it not enough to boast about on social media? Should I be spending every waking moment trying to be ‘successful’?

Juggling is great. I think I’m really good at it. I have glowing references and it pays alright too. I’m going to give acrobatics a go next. You know, as a side hustle. That’ll look good on Instagram.

 

 

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Close All Browser Windows?

It’s 08:21 and so far this morning……..

I have stripped beds, put laundry on, made breakfast for the kids, washed up last night’s dishes, emptied the household bins, tripped out the front door in my pjays and ugg boots with said bin bags, re-wound my toddlers first yo-yo 3,985 times, checked to see what’s in for dinner, stuck the heating on, put cartoons on, organised colouring in, finally nipped for a wee and boiled the kettle……..twice.

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Whatever

I was supposed to be writing a minute by minute account of what my day is really like. It’s Thursday morning, the kids are off on half term break and I necked two Kopparberg and two glasses of wine while watching Sleepless in Seattle last night, so I’m less than fresh.

 

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Where Mummy’s go for a bit of peace

 

I’m taking the kids into the city today to do some cultural shiz, art gallery, museum, central library etc. They’re so desperate for a Gumball and Darwin figure from McDonalds that they’re willing to appease me through a couple of stories and ten minutes admiring my favourite Impressionist painting of all time. It’s the little pleasures that matter on days when you’ve got 469 mental browser windows open and battling with being all things to all people.

 

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I wont look better than this today

 

A friend suggested writing a blow by blow diary of a ‘normal day’ to see if I can take a different view on how I manage my time and commitments. It’s a great idea in essence but because I suck as time management I’ve not been able to fit it into my day – hmmm.

So here I am, typing with one hand, the other is holding Miraculous Ladybug as she kicks Spiderman’s arse, I’m being forced to watch Power Rangers and I’ve still got a 500 word article due before I bath the kids, wash breakfast dishes, grab a shower, iron, pack a day bag and head out the door for some R&R.

What’s your day looking like?

x

 

 

 

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01.01.2018

Good morning and happy new year, here’s to another 365 days to smile, make memories and live life to its fullest.

Last year I vowed to give up taxis, takeaways and spend at least 30 days out of the country. I managed absolutely none of those things. On the plus side made a considerable effort to ensure Delta (local taxi company) and Khan’s Indian takeaway had a prosperous year while wasting hours of writing time scouring the internet looking at faraway places, I couldn’t afford to visit.

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I did however manage a couple of awesome city breaks which made for some brilliant memories and so, travel is the only resolution I’m carrying forward into 2018.

The name of the game for me is discipline. Woah kinky, not like that. Discipline to spend more writing words, photographing people and places and ultimately spending more quality time with my kids. I’m acquiring new ways of thinking, focussing on the things that make me and others happy which basically means spending huge chunks of time with my phone switched off.

Kate Reilly James

All You Need is Love……and discipline

My equation looks something like this…..

DISCIPLINE = Mornings – iphone + Fun time with the kids + travel + focussed writing time = 2018

I never was any good at Maths. Whether you’re rolling into the new year as fabulous and carefree as the last, or you’re on a mission to change, switch up or improve, I hope you smash it. Every single day.

I’m back on Radio City Talk this week (Wednesday 3rd January 2018) from 12-1pm, click here to tune in and let me know what your New Year’s plans are.

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Five More Years

I have every intention of writing a St Patrick’s Day piece today, given it’s the celebration of all things green, white and orange, but having logged into my website, poised to type, something way more important was brought to my attention.

It turns out that I started blogging 5 years ago today. I’m mega chuffed about this coincidence for a number of reasons. 1 – because I will never forget this anniversary ever again, given the date, 2 – I have another excuse to go for a drink, and 3 – its been FIVE years….wow! I’m absolutely chuffed to be able to confidently say that I love writing now even more than I did back in 2012.

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Yep…..it’s goosed!

Having launched myself into the passenger seat of my car, one sunny spring day back in 2012, I slipped and ruptured two discs in my lower back, and thus a writing career was born! Actually it was more like the following 9 months of daily agony that encouraged me to write as there was little else I could do while I waited for neurosurgery to fix it!

Who’d have thought that my humble, little Geordie’s Girl blog, and the comfort it gave me to get though months of insomnia, waiting around in hospitals, and the early days of recovery, would blossom into a year at college to gain my NCTJ qualification, a junior writers job, many freelance roles, radio broadcast opportunities, my first ever hosting gig and of course my beloved editorial position with The Guide Liverpool. All that from a slipped disc, not bad going huh?

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If I’ve learned one thing from this rollercoaster journey its that luck, Irish or otherwise can only get you so far. Hard work, determination and integrity are the real stepping stones to the top.

Here’s to St Patrick, and five more years!

x

 

 

 

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Sorry I’m Late…..

Slightly disgusted that it’s taken me until March 9th to post my first blog of 2017, but in all honesty, I’m late for most other things too.

Hello! Happy New Year, Happy Australia Day, Valentine’s Day and whatever else I’ve missed in the last few weeks. Assume you’ve all completely abandoned any New Years resolutions by now and are, like me, pretending to have a go at Lent instead? As well as being late for stuff I’m also incredibly undisciplined.

Moving swiftly on….

Global Scouse Day

2017 has been epic so far. I’m rushed off my feet with work as The Guide Liverpool goes from strength to strength. I’ve stepped in front of the camera on a number of occasions and (thanks to our ridiculously talented videographers) it looks like I did an okay job! Check out all the action from Global Scouse Day here. (Ps, scouse pizza is the bomb).

Lord Mayors Fashion Show

I’m (just about) still on course to show a capsule collection of military chic couture at The Lord Mayor of Liverpool’s Charity Fashion Show on March 30th at the Devonshire House Hotel. I’ve absolutely no idea how I’ve pulled this off because there really aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up!

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I did manage a little trip over to Belfast with my curly girl a couple of weekends ago. We had a ball exploring the city together and spending the best part of £50 on tacky gifts to bring back home. You can read our very serious review here.

Radio City Cash for Kids

Looking ahead, I’ve just become ‘Face 38’ in the Radio City Cash for Kids 1000 Faces Campaign. The charity are looking for 1000 local faces to sign up and raise just £100 each for local children and their families facing hardship. It’s an incredibly worthy cause, I’ve pledged my support and you can too here. Alternatively just give me some change or you know, like £100 the next time we meet up. That would be great thanks.

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Aside from work I’ve been back on the dating scene, which let me enlighten you, in your 30’s is an entirely different ball game to being 21 and full of confidence! Luckily Liverpool is an amazing city for a night out and any place you can dance your little heart out to an 80’s covers band until 2am on a Tuesday morning is alright with me….and him.Eric’s Mathew Street – You guys rock!

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I’m ridiculously excited to be reporting on MCM Comic Con Liverpool this weekend (March 11-12) and cant wait to be surrounded by passionate people (including my curly girl, mad RWBY fan) who nail their cosplay costumes every single time! How many Jokers do you reckon I can get a selfie with? Check out all the details of which TV stars are attending here.

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So lucky to be working with designer Alice James again after she ‘dressed’ me for last year’s Merseyside In Business Awards. This time I’m attending the James Bulger Memorial Trust Black Tie and Tiara Ball in support of my lovely friend, Jay Hynd as he hosts the star studded event, and Alice James has stepped in to help me update a vintage gown I fell in love with over a year ago…..all will be revealed on March 18th at the Crowne Plaza, Pier Head.

There’s tickets still available and if supporting the charity isn’t enough to make you snap up a ticket, boyband 5ive are headlining the entertainment! Tickets here.

Just don’t be late!

 

 

 

 

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I’m a Story-teller, whats your superpower?

It turns out I don’t have super powers in the traditional sense, I mean I can’t fly, nor can I become invisible, although I can turn into the HULK when my kids really try my patience!

I do have some super skills though, in the form of being able to turn my hand to a number of jobs which over the years have kept me afloat and helped me to turn situations into stories that engage with readers.

When I was studying to be the next Stella McCartney, I cleaned toilets at Broadgreen Hospital at the weekends to afford bolts of Calico for my first ever clothing collection. I’ve been a call centre operative, a kitchen assisant, a merchandiser, a sportswear sales assistant, a facilities manager, an administrator, a auditor, a receptionist and an exectuive PA.

Throughout all of these roles, I’ve stored the memories and drawn on them when looking for inspiration for characters and searching for examples to give to clients. Plus interviews no longer phase me.

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I’ve also juggled full-time parenting during these roles as my little brood expanded from 1 to 4 in just 10 years. Being a mlti-tasker comes as standard.

Being a Journalist is all I ever wanted to do. I worked hard during my NCTJ course, juggling classes, work experience and my children. Just a year since I started out I’ve picked up a tremendous amount of experience, some incredile contacts and ultimately my dream role.

What I love about freelance work is that its so unpredictable, the absolute opposite to how my home life works. Everything is regimented at home. From packed lunch boxes to bedtime routines, it’s all done to the letter……because it’s the only way I can get us all out of the house by 7:45am.

The other aspect of freelance work I like so much, is the relationship building. Some clients I work with on long projects that involve developing and implementing strategy over a number of months. Some I work with for just a day. No two days, nor clients are ever the same.

I absolutely love hearing people’s stories. How they came to be in business, what they sacrifice for the sake of providing a service or developing a product and being their own boss. The long hours, taking work home, never being able to switch off. It’s an exclusive gang that only those who are self-employed, or closesly related to those who are, really understand.

Helping people is second nature to some, and being able to support businesses with their admin, marketing, social media and advertising makes me happy. Whether its turning my hand to tax preparation or writing advertorial articles……or even hand writing 100 company Christmas cards, to know I’m relieveing a little of the workload gives me great job satisfaction.

Can I help you? Drop me a line katereillyjames@gmail.com

 

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Pen For Hire

I’m finding it really difficult to concentrate today what with minute by minute social media updates from all my favourite journo’s at London Fashion Week.

But in order to join them, I must develop my own empire….sleeves rolled up…

“No-one can be successful for you.”

The world of work is a fickle one, and how to go about securing employment has mutated into an unrecognisable beast since I was last looking for work.

I fondly remember leisurely activities such as leafing through the paper, circling the job ads I thought I had a good chance of getting and posting (yep people, actually going to the post office and posting) a CV and longhand covering letter……and waiting weeks for a reply.

Do you remember how the job centre used to be? Those wall-mounted boards with all the hand written job ads placed on them? You’d write down the reference number and talk at length with an advisor about your chances of getting the job and how a role in nuclear physics at Sellafield might not be the most suitable position. (Genuinely applied, must have been feeling particularly optimistic that day).

Fast-forward to 2016 and applying for jobs, contracts, gigs, whatever you want to call it, is most likely done from the comfort of your sofa, bed, kitchen table with a response likely within hours rather than weeks.

Turning recruitment on its head entirely, apps and sites such as LinkedIn encourages employers to find you! Interviews conducted via Skype and Face-Time are common place and ensuring your online presence is as squeaky clean as your interview outfit is paramount.

Networking has taken centre stage when it comes to self-promotion in the jobs market. Liverpool is more like a village than a city, as a population of incessant talkers (I was told I can talk for NATO earlier this week…adding that to my cv) just a friendly conversation can lead to all manner of connections as everyone seems linked somehow?!

I love nothing more than getting to know people and hearing about their work, which should stand me in good stead being a journalist, right? Well the time has come for me to test that theory as I step out of the ‘trainee’ shadows and make good on all the conversations and training I’ve had over the last few months.

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My first contract has been confirmed this week and I’m absolutely delighted to have been welcomed into the fold at The Guide, Liverpool. Joining a team that is dedicated to brining you the best ‘What’s Happening’ guide to our amazing city is a brilliant first step.

You can read my recent professional work in the Show Reel section of the site here.

 

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Eat Sleep WAHHHH Repeat

This weekend I suffered the ultimate shame. I had to listen to a stranger apologise for MY behaviour. I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life. This is how it came about.

I started the NCTJ course in early September and since then my feet have barely touched the ground! I’m on the go from 5am until 8pm most days, furiously scribbling shorthand exercises all over the Metro paper en route to college and consuming every possible headline on Twitter. Lessons involve British history, political debate, discussing media law cases and commentating on football matches, plus learning hieroglyphics……no wait sorry…I mean shorthand (which after four weeks I’m finally beginning to get my head around).

It’s hard work and I’m not ashamed to say some days I feel like I’m struggling to keep up. I come tearing out of college after hours of lessons to collect my three kids from nursery and school to go straight home and start dinner, feed them, clear up, tell them to quit bickering and pulling hair, start the bath and bedtime routine, throw the hoover around, while soaking up the tidal wave in the bathroom and wiping sticky finger marks off the TV and then pack bags for the following day and set out clean uniforms. Once they’re all in bed after four requests for a drink, a wee and yet another raucous rendition of Room on The Broom I can finally sit down to look over the days notes and try to retain least a little bit of the information I’ve learned. Sound familiar? It’s all go……well until it all stopped, on Saturday.

I was taken to The Royal Liverpool Hospital by paramedics Eddie and Rich, who after learning that I’m a trainee journalist, went on to tell me just how deeply the NHS cuts were being felt by staff and patients. It’s a sorry tale, and one I intend on writing up in detail in the coming weeks. (See Eddie, told you I’d give you a mention)

The medical staff in A&E worked out I was suffering from some kind of virus and left me with a dainty little cardboard pot in a busy triage while they prepped my paperwork. It was at this exact point that I lost control of my faculties. Feeling a wave of heat rising rapidly from my feet I tried in vain to get my Superdry hoody off over my head……only to faint forwards out of the chair and vomit all over the shoes of two ladies sat to my left. The last thing I remember is a nurse running towards me saying ‘Oh dear, I’m so sorry about that’

I came around a minute of so later laying on a bed feeling utterly horrendous and being glared at by two angry-looking ladies wiping their shoes with paper towels. Not my finest hour. It turns out I have a stomach ulcer and coughing up blood all weekend is a symptom of doing something wrong! I’d run myself into the ground, my diet was pretty disgusting and trying to be the best at everything clearly wasn’t working out.

Armed with a medicine haul Walter White would be proud of, I’m now back at home resting up. I’ve come up with a better strategy to still be awesome at everything but also to take better care of myself too. And the silver lining….easy weight loss!

Thank you so very much to everyone who looked after me. Paramedics Eddie and Rich, A&E staff Laura, Kayleigh and Rob and especially to the lovely catering lady who said she’s save me chicken curry and rice in case I got my appetite back. Legends!

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