12 years ago I remember saying to myself that I would give it a go and see what happens. I said if I got to 10 then I would see where I was. Who would have thought I would be celebrating my 12th birthday in lockdown!
These last few weeks have been fraught with so many challenges and I've had to learn and understand "stuff" that has really stretched me professionally and personally. I love my profession, the HR community that will support and have each other's backs (you know who you are!) and are there to provide advice, support or just a virtual coffee.
I don't want to mention the 'C' word or the 'F' word, but it would be wrong not to acknowledge the world as we know it today. The lead up to my 12th birthday can only be described as hectic. Businesses worried, employees worried and people not knowing what to do for the best.
This alongside unprecedented levels of illness, numbers of infections and, sadly, death rates I hope we never see again in my lifetime.
How many HR folks had actually heard of Furlough? Oops I actually said the F word! I certainly hadn't and there was an awful lot of thinking on our feet whilst we awaited government guidance.
I have always recognised that being self-employed can be hard and lonely, but I have never spoken to so many people in the last month. Zoom, for me, was an ice-lolly I remember loving as a child, but now several of my clients talk to me on it. Still makes me laugh!
Our informal running buddies have started our "virtual runs" and we celebrated a dear friends 50th birthday with a Fizz Friday Zoom call. The strangest of times but a great way for us to connect differently, share the burdens we are all going through and just to be there for each other. Some of my personal and professional colleagues have been there for me these past few weeks as I have been challenged by events around us and the impact this has on us, our businesses and our friends and families.
There are however, always good tales to tell from such awful times – the Clap for Carers, the 750,000 volunteers who signed up to the NHS call for Good SAM helpers, the fabulous keyworkers who keep our country running, fed, cared for and the fabulous community spirit and support we have come to get used to.
Carlisle as a City and Cumbria as a County have had their challenges – Foot and Mouth, floods of 2005 and 2015 and the devastation those events brought to us and now one of the worst impacted areas outside of London by this awful Pandemic (I am not saying the C word).
Yet again we stand proud, tall and do everything we can to support each other. Never have I been prouder to work and live here, it is where I was born and where I will stay. Facebook support groups with almost 14,000 members in less than 2 weeks, shopping for each other, collecting prescriptions, sharing information and getting important messages out to the local community.
Being self-employed has always allowed me to fulfil a personal passion of spending more time volunteering. Never has this been more important than now when we have more time to be able to support others – either business and charities with their people issues, neighbours with their shopping, or just reconnecting with our friends – albeit in a different manner.
So, the white wine vine – well we took on a local allotment late last year and this was a Christmas present from my husband. Appropriate that we planted it on Friday 3rd April 2020 as we were in lockdown – this will, hopefully, be my symbol for green shoots of recovery (and lots of Sue Hunter's Premier Cru of course!)
I wish recovery for all those businesses and individuals struggling through these difficult times and for all those who have been taken ill and sadly those many thousands who have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives we will never forget.
Thank you, which will never be big enough, to all those keyworkers and NHS staff doing the most amazing jobs under the most immense pressure and difficult circumstances – we are all in this together and we will come through it.
I truly hope that when we do come though this, and we will, that we do not forget what we found important, how we reconnected and what an impact we have been able to have on others' lives with the most simple of actions or gestures.
I will certainly not forget this "business birthday" and I hope, that in time my white wine is able to produce something which proves the green shoots have continued, that they have grown and that I have something appropriate to say cheers when I reflect on these times!