Stress and the Bully

Sometimes everything feels like it’s piling up on top of you and you can’t breathe. Too many things to do, too little time, too many demands, too much stuff… and no time at all to even think.

Our lives can become so busy that we completely lose sight of what we actually want in our frantic busy-ness.

In today’s long blog post, I want to write a little bit about stress. It will be a theme that I come back to as it’s the theme of my latest book… as yet unfinished and untitled, as I’m sifting through all my research :).

We feel stressed for a number of reasons, but I want to focus on CONTROL. We know that we feel most stressed when we feel that we are not in control of a situation. We feel afraid and unable to do anything. In the workplace, this can be seen in a style of management that I’ve experienced much too often. That manager who is always breathing down your neck. Always asking what you’re doing. Always checking up on you. To the point of bullying. The manager who puts you down in front of colleagues, and who questions your judgement. The one who makes you feel ridiculous, pathetic and useless.

This makes me so angry! And I am a very gentle person really 🙂

A little story:

I was teaching in a city secondary school (a long time ago). I was experienced and my students were successful. Being a creative (I was an art teacher after all!), I wanted to teach in innovative ways, introducing the students to exciting techniques and new ways of thinking. And I didn’t care for rules that made no sense. (Some might say that I didn’t care for rules at all, which isn’t quite true :)). We were instructed to complete a particular form after each lesson… yay, another form… I asked what it was for and who was going to read the form after I completed it. I asked how the data gathered was going to improve the learning experience of my students, and whether there was evidence that completing the form would benefit anyone? Hey, was I popular? I refused to complete the form until I had answers. I never received any answer. None whatsoever. Not even a token answer. So I never completed the form. Fellow teachers completed the form religiously after each lesson, taking precious time away from important stuff. They got stressed about the form, they got angry about the form. One new teacher actually became tearful because she forgot to complete the form and worried that she would be in trouble. Fortunately, she came into the art room and I made her a cup of tea, and I told her not to bother with the form. She looked at me shocked. I told her my philosophy of doing anything unless it benefited the students in some way, but she couldn’t bring herself to rebel, and she went away and did the forms in her own time.

After about a term I was questioned about my lack of form filling… yes, a whole term… I was approached in the corridor between classes.

“What are you doing with the data?”, I asked.

“Perhaps you could come along to my office after school?”, she smiled.

I went to her office. The conversation went a bit like this:

Her: You haven’t completed the forms

Me: No, I haven’t.

Her: I understand your thoughts but we really need the forms.

Me: Why exactly? The data on the form is already available on form A, which we complete already.

Her: Yes, but it’s in a different format and there’s other information we need

Me: Who needs it and why exactly? And what are you doing with the data you’ve already collected?

Her: We are analysing it for the governors

Me: Analysing what exactly?

Her: Cate, you really are being very argumentative, and unhelpful. The governors have asked for this data and we need to give it to them.

Me: Can I speak to the governors and ask them?

Her (horrified): Well no, I mean, well, I…. that really is not necessary. I think we need to talk about your compliance…

Me (smiling sweetly): Are you trying to intimidate me?

Her: What? No, of course not… look… let’s talk about this another time

Me: Good idea. See you later..

And I left. And we never spoke of it again. Ever.

The form was dropped and is festering somewhere. I am a strong person, and a bit of a rebel. But my point in telling this story is that so many teachers spent hours and hours doing something that was utterly soul destroying and stressful. This is WRONG.

So, my message to teachers or anyone asked to do something they feel is a waste of time is this:

Ask the question why? Ask it politely and with curiosity, after all, there might be a really valid reason that you didn’t realise.. we don’t all have the big picture.

And my message to those in authority:

Why are you asking your staff to do this? Have you given them a real reason and purpose? Have you considered the time it will take and have you considered the consequences? If you yourself have been given the task of telling the staff to do the task… have you asked the question why??

We feel stress when we feel out of control. We can gain some control back when we can ask questions.

And with the time saved from filling in pointless forms, we can get back to the knitting and crochet (or whatever).

Have a wonderful, calm week ahead.

Love Cate

Sign up for my newsletter for more ramblings about relieving stress and nurturing your creative soul.





Singing Along…

Paper plate weaving

This week’s craft class at Woking’s fabulous LinkAble was just wonderful! We all ended up singing and dancing which lifted my mood no end. I run the class each week for young people with learning disabilities, and each time I come home smiling. There’s something about helping other people develop their creativity through art and craft that is so rewarding.

This week we made window charms from paper plates and weaving. Such an easy little project that can be adapted to each participant. Decorating the plate first means that you only have to weave a small amount, and it looks good. I’m all for quick results now and then.

We chose bright colours as it was a grey day, and whilst we created we sang along to a variety of songs from a rather eclectic playlist! The session was enhanced by the addition of a few students from Farnborough 6th form college who were doing some voluntary service as part of their Volunteering Week 2017 #volunteeringweek2017 . They were so enthusiastic and went home with their own window charm!


A Simple Pleasure…

I’m missing one of my favourite pass times, knitting whilst curled up on the sofa with the real fire glowing and a cat on my lap… I’ve hurt my elbow and my right hand is very painful… so I can’t knit or crochet for a little while. It’s given me time to sort out and finish a few patterns that I’ve been working on 🙂

Short post today as many things to do…


The Creative Splash

Sometimes you just have to dive in. No more worrying about what might happen, no more lists for and against. No more dithering and finding other ‘important’ things to do. Dive in. Yes, it’s scary and you’ll feel anxious, but it’s the only way… as you know 🙂

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about how you can develop your creativity by coming out of all that is cosy and comfy. I’ll guide you through the scary bits so that you can develop and grow your creative spirit. I’ll suggest videos to watch and books to read, and things to do… let’s go on a journey….