No Capes! ……………………

The story behind the story

Partly in deference to the Edna Mode character from the 2004 film, The Incredibles. Loved this film, and particularly loved Edna and her absolute insistence on ‘No capes’ despite the frequent requests of her ‘client’ Bob Par, aka Mr Incredible.

This story is also for one little boy who loves his action heroes, none of them female as far as I can tell. He clearly loves his mummy but maybe doesn’t quite see her as an action hero.

So without further ado, I give you:

No Capes!……………………..

SSB No Capes 1

My name is Kevin and this is what my mum says every time I ask her to add a cape to her uniform. I keep asking because I think she would look really cool in a cape. But she always, always says, ‘No’.

I have to call it a uniform too,  she does get very cross if I call it a costume. She says it takes away from the work she does and what she does is pretty cool and sometimes a little bit dangerous.  Because you see in real life my mum is a ‘Super Hero’, with her own special powers.

To be honest I think her ‘uniform’ is a bit boring, without a cape. If you didn’t know, you would just think she was going to the office, though I suppose the fact that it is orange does make it stick out a bit.

My mum doesn’t really like the colour, but ‘needs must’ she says. She prefers to just blend, do the super hero ‘thing’ and then leave. She never hangs around for interviews afterwards, ‘I haven’t got the time’, she says. “Would make me even later picking you up”.

 I think it’s really cool that she is a ‘superhero’ even if it does sometimes makes her a little late for pick up at the end of school and she can’t always drop me off if she has special ‘superhero stuff’ to do.

But I like it when she tells me about what she has been doing and how she used her ‘special’ powers to save the world. So now, I need to remember what her ‘Super Hero’ powers are.

Well, my mum can…………………………

Pick up the tiniest sound of ‘trouble’ from anywhere in the world, including mine. Really annoying if I am trying to get something from downstairs, when I am supposed to be in bed.

See through the thickest of walls, this is a problem when I am trying to get on the IPad when I shouldn’t or when I am arguing with my sister.

‘Pop up’ wherever she is needed, she had to do this a lot when I was little and running about all over the place. Mum says,’ I didn’t always know or see the danger’.

 Freeze time with her ‘special look’, she says this is really useful when me and my sister start fighting. I think she sometimes does this with dad too.

And because she can ‘just appear in an instant’ wherever she thinks she needs to be, she is never too late for school. She just has to remember sometimes where that is. One time she almost forgot to pick me up from my football match at Queens Park.

But, my mum, always has good stories to tell and is always very careful about how she uses her ‘Super Hero’ powers.

It is really annoying, though when she seems to know exactly when I’ve been a bit naughty.

Having a cape” she says, “Would just get in the way

Sometimes I say to her, “Mum, why don’t you use your powers to do the shopping, or the things around the house?”

And she says, “As tempting as that would be. I have to save them for when they are really needed. What would happen if I used them up on everyday things and then didn’t have enough, to get a cat down from a tree, to stop a child stepping in front of a car or getting someone to hospital?”

 Sometimes I ask, if I can go with her and she always says, “When you are a little bigger, and you have learnt to use your own superpowers.”

And I say to her, ‘Mum, please get a cape?”

And she always, always says “Absolutely, not, no capes!

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

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The mission……………..

The story behind the story……..

Partly in response to the ‘Lego movie’ with its incessantly upbeat song ‘Everything is awesome’, really surprised by how much I enjoyed this film, but the constant and ‘never ending positivity’ of the main character Emmet did make me smile.

It’s this proliferation of positivity on some social media channels that I find can get a little ‘wearing’ at times. Don’t always want or need to be constantly bombarded with happy thoughts, vibes, happy emoji’s or OXOXs. Still to be fair I don’t want a load of all negative ‘cr#p’ either.

I also remember my irritation largely irrational I know when music from U2 was downloaded onto my phone a year or two ago. Appreciate it was from a good place, but still felt my space and my choice had been compromised.

So without further ado I give you:

The Mission…………………………

SSB the mission May 2016 1

What can I do to help you make a positive change in your life today?”  Chirped the voice from the App as Sylvia tapped on it. More it has to be said from idle curiosity than anything else.

I am your happy app designed to bring joy and positivity to your life.”

‘Oh really!’, thought Sylvia as she struggled to shut the App down, her curiosity very quickly replaced with annoyance.

She had absolutely no recollection of downloading this particular app and she groaned inwardly as it continued to send notifications each accompanied with either an emoji or some ‘cheery’ noise.

It was while it was encouraging her to step fully into her awesomeness that Sylvia, almost stepped into the path of an oncoming bus as she continued struggling to shut it down.

Not sure how awesome she would have felt under the wheels of a bus, and she may well have needed more than a few healing Chakras to recover. Anyway after taking note of the ‘salute’ from the clearly shaken driver, Sylvia shut down her phone and resolved to sort it all out once she was safely back at the office.

Then she could take a good look at the ‘App’, that had somehow appeared on her phone.

Unfortunately for Sylvia, she had a few issues to deal with as she arrived at work and at some point during a particularly trying exchange with Rex a member of her team,  she automatically switched on her phone, having forgotten all about the ‘App’.

It wasn’t until she was back in her office that she was again reminded of the ‘App’, when it piped up:

I think you could have handled that a little better.”

“How would you have handled it?” Sylvia asked somewhat sarcastically as she gazed in astonishment at her phone. She had in the rather heated exchange with Rex, completely forgotten about the ‘App’ and her intention to sort it out.

To her total amazement her phone started to vibrate in her hand, as though it were thinking and then announced:

I might well have arranged another time to talk through the issue in greater detail, rather than trying to sort it all, in that moment”

There was something in the tone, that brought Sylvia very close to throwing the phone across her office. However, she chose instead to take a few steadying breaths as she considered the ‘App’s response.

It was true that the issue was more complex and involved than a quick chat in the corridor merited and Rex had been decidedly unnerved by the exchange.

Still it was one thing to be bombarded with ‘happy notifications’, quite another to have the thing eavesdropping on her conversations and chipping in with advice. Even if it was well meant.

How do I get rid of you? She asked, clearly there was no need to type anything if it could just hear.

“You can’t” came the instantaneous reply, ”I will only leave once my mission is complete”.

“What mission?” Sylvia croaked, she was feeling decidedly ‘freaked ‘out by this whole exchange and she resolved to renew her phone and number at the weekend.

“To make you happy” came up on the screen……………..

So until next time

Shortstoriesblogger

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

My Coach

The story behind the story

In memory of an old grey three seater sofa inherited from a neighbour of ours, apparently it had once been sat on by Sir Bob Geldof, absolutely no idea if this is true but this ‘story’ always made me smile and just added to its charm.  It’s also the sofa where my mum sat and held two of her grandchildren as babies for the first time.

Additionally I am a coach, with a somewhat jaded view of the profession and a slightly irreverent sense of humour.

So without further ado I give you:

My coach……………….

The Coach SSB April

 

“Enter”, came the voice from behind the door and on hearing this I did indeed enter to find a large grey three seater sofa with a matching chair in the middle of a brightly lit room.

But as I looked around I couldn’t see the owner of the voice and feeling a bit foolish started wondering if I had walked into the wrong room, when a voice said with the smallest trace of impatience.

Don’t just stand there, take a seat“.

As I sat down there was no mistaking the source of the voice, but my brain was struggling to make sense of what I knew didn’t make sense.

I was looking at and hearing a sofa speak to me.

Well, good morning Sarah, what can I do for you today?” Enquired the grey sofa.

Oh“, I responded “I have an appointment with Charles Derwint, the life coach. I need to get my life back on track.

Then you have come to the right place“- replied the sofa, with what I thought was just a slight hint of smugness.

But you are a sofa, a piece of furniture” – I spluttered, I was still struggling to make sense of the whole situation.

At which point it appeared to take a breath and said,-

If you care to look around you, you will notice that I am a master practitioner life coach and accredited with the Association for Coaching. I have worked successfully with hundreds of people – coaching them towards abundance and success.”

Did you look at my website?

I had indeed taken a while looking at his site, but nowhere did it say that my potential coach was a sofa. So I simply spluttered, “Yes of course, but I didn’t pick up on the fact that you are a sofa

Then that makes my achievement all the more remarkable, do you think people would have stayed and paid me if I didn’t deliver?

He asked, with more than a touch of asperity.

If you look at my site, my Facebook page, LinkedIn profile in fact all my social media you will see dozens of testimonials and recommendations attesting to the work I do with my clients

Okay, so he has a strong social media presence, I thought “but none of this tells me you are a sofa” I replied, “I haven’t seen a single photo of you as a sofa

My voice trailed off as I thought back to one image, which I’d seen of one man in a chair sitting by a sofa. I’d assumed not unreasonably that the man in the chair was the coach, rather than the fairly nondescript three seater sofa, next to him.

Well?” asked the sofa, “Are you going to stay or go?

Okay, Mr Sofa” I started to reply…..

Ah, let me stop you right there, my name is Charles, so please address me as such.

Okay, Charles, as I am here, today I’d like to talk to you about …….”

Until next time

Shortstoriesblogger

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

Inner Peace, with two bars of Green and Blacks…………..

The story behind the story…………………….

Since becoming a mum over thirteen years ago I have developed the habit of travelling with food and drink just about every time I am on a train. It no longer feels right to set off without a few provisions.

It was whilst travelling to London one Saturday that I fell to chatting with a mum and her young son and we did indeed end up sharing a bar of Green and Blacks, has to be said one of my favourite chocolates.

So without further ado I give you…………….

Inner Peace, with two bars of Green and Blacks……………

SSB March 2016

 Another Tuesday and another tedious train journey home, from London Bridge to Brighton.

It was the usual squash and discomfort of the 17:45 and Julianne knew she was highly unlikely to get a seat, so she reasoned far better to find a standing space and use the time to meditate and reflect on the finer points of life.

No real point, getting overly excited about the constant delays, lack of seats, lack of information and lack of space. Whatever you needed it was probably lacking when it came to this particular service.

So as her mind started to drift and soar, her breathing and heart rate slowed as she made herself as comfortable as she could in the crowded carriage.

However everything changed very quickly as the train juddered to a halt.

Oh what now?’ she thought, irritably.

Still this was fairly normal and most likely they would be on their way again in a few minutes. Better to resume her meditation and allow her mind to drift off again.

Except that after a few moments it became obvious that the train was not about to start start moving again soon – and now there was something being said over the tannoy.

“This is your driver – apologies for the delay, but we are being stopped at a red signal. We should be on our way again, very shortly”

Okay no need to panic, just another minor delay. Let’s see if I can make myself marginally more comfortable and get back to my daydream.’, thought Julianne.

Inner peace – that’s what I need to focus on and maybe a piece of the Green and Blacks from my bag. I’m glad I managed to pick up a couple of bars at lunch time.’  So with this in mind Julianne set to rummaging about in her bag, to locate her chocolate.

Breathe and it will all carry on as normal.’

However fifteen minutes later, the train was still not moving and by now it was becoming obvious to everyone that something a bit more serious was going on.

This shared, but largely unspoken view was confirmed when the driver spoke again.

“Sorry ladies and gents, it’s not great news. We are it seems going to be stopped here for a while longer. I can’t precisely say how long, but will confirm as soon as I know more”

This announcement, was all that was needed to produce a series of groans, moans and rolling of eyeballs as the passengers finally started talking to each other. Mainly sharing stories about past delays, lack of communication and so on and so forth.

Julianne on the other hand simply pulled out her bar of chocolate and proceeded to chomp her way through it.

It was while she was thoughtfully eating her second row that she felt a gentle tap on her arm and a voice ask

“Could I have a piece of that please?”

A bit cheeky’, thought Julianne, but she couldn’t think of any real and valid reason to just say no, especially as she did have another bar in her bag.

“Of course” she smiled with as much grace as she could muster.

“Help yourself” and she passed over the partially finished bar – she couldn’t quite see how she could just break off a small piece and hand it across.

“Thank you” – replied the young man, who had made the request. “I do normally carry something with me- but must have forgotten today”

“If there is a bit more to spare.” interrupted another voice “I could do with some too.”

What is this?’ Thought Julianne as she watched her bar disappearing through the carriage.

Am I the only person with the foresight to bring food with them?

“Why don’t you open up the second bar?” Another voice called out cheerfully.

“Looks like we are going to be here for a little while yet”

Oh for goodness – how on earth did they know about that?’ – thought an increasingly exasperated Julianne.

Still she didn’t quite have the nerve to deny outright the existence of the second bar she had stashed in her bag. So she simply pulled it out – chipped off two squares for her own consumption and waved the rest of it around until a pair of hands took it and it again disappeared into the bowels of the carriage.

By now the train had been stopped for just over an hour, passengers had adjusted positions and generally tried to make themselves as comfortable as possible.

Julianne could hear low murmurs as people conversed and the occasional “mmmm, that was nice” as they consumed what she assumed to be her Green and Blacks.

Oh well’, – if a couple of bars of chocolate were helping to keep up morale on the train. Who was she to complain really? Tomorrow she would work from home and enjoy the bar of Green and Blacks sitting in her cupboard……

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

An Interview with Elizabeth 1st.

The story behind the story……………..

I have long been intrigued and fascinated by Elizabeth 1st and would have loved to have been able to ‘get inside her head’ at certain points in her life. So an interview with Elizabeth is my attempt to do just that.

So without further ado:

An interview with Elizabeth 1st

SSB Feb 2016 1

 

“So your majesty, or can I call you Elizabeth?”

I imagine that her reply would be no, I imagine Elizabeth would still want all the proper protocols, rites and procedures fully observed. So why would she then agree to an interview, with a ‘lowly’ scribbler?

Maybe from curiosity, but mainly I suspect to meet her own ends, like her father Elizabeth was highly ‘political’ and more than capable of playing the game. So in our modern day terms, she would I think be looking to ‘spin’ a certain tale, present herself in the best possible light.

“Your majesty, will do.”

Elizabeth is in full regalia, this ‘scribbler’ would not be allowed to get too comfortable with the queen’s person. She would want him to record the scene, the splendour and the fact that the people’s queen was accessible up to a point to her ‘subjects’.

By now Elizabeth is a few years into her reign, and quite probably in the market for a ‘husband’ or at least appear to be so.

“So, your majesty, I think your ‘subjects’ the people would like to know, a little of the daily life of their most illustrious queen.”

The scribbler, whose publication is known as the ‘Quill and Ink’, would quickly realise that overblown flattery is more likely to get him what he wants. Better to build some rapport first and see if he can get some more interesting and personal facts later. Best give her majesty an opportunity to relax and settle into the interview.

“My day, is one of work, prayer, discipline and statecraft.”

Announces Elizabeth, a little pompously.

“I am completely devoted to protecting my realm. Maintaining peace and stability in this day and age is no mean feat, and one that requires my constant attention and focus every day.”

Perhaps by now the ‘scribbler’ is worried about just how tedious this interview could be. How can he spice things up a bit? Describing the surroundings the splendour, the dress, the jewels is all very well, but what he really wanted was the ‘inside scoop’ on the queen herself.

So he takes a big risk, he has done his homework and followed the queen’s life from princess to queen and is aware that her ‘beloved’ servant, companion and trusted friend has very recently passed away.

So he takes a breath, because what he is about to do, is highly presumptuous and dangerous:

 “Your majesty, I am deeply sorry to hear about Kat .”

He pauses, he dare not stare directly at the queen.

He can feel her anger at his presumption, but then something else. In some ways like her father, Elizabeth’s emotions change quickly and can sway with the wind.

“Kat was a good and faithful servant.”

Elizabeth isn’t going to be drawn any more than this or so she thinks, so the scribbler takes another risk.

“I have followed your ‘career’ with love and concern over the years, I admire the way you lead and rule. Forgive me your majesty, but I truly admire courage and I have always admired the courage you showed in your early days as queen. We could learn so much from this time and perspective”

He pauses

“What would you say to that young queen?”            

He holds his breath, wondering if he is going to spend a night or two in the ‘Tower’.

But to his surprise, Elizabeth simply sighs and closes her eyes for a moment.

“Oh yes”, she murmurs. “What indeed would I say to that young queen?”

The scribbler dare say nothing he can feel he is on the edge of something. He doesn’t want to break the spell, lest he lose her.

Kat, was one of my rocks, my haven in difficult times. I would say know your friends, know the people you can really trust. But know your enemies even more and keep them close.”

From the change in her tone and stance, the scribbler can tell that he will get no more from her this day.

“You are dismissed, be sure to leave your ‘scribblings’ with my adviser before it is circulated. I want to enjoy what you write before my people do.”

And with this, the scribbler, bows and walks backwards from her presence.

I’ll be back he thinks

Janice Taylor

http://www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

The candidate

The story behind the story……………

This story stems from my attending a comedy improvisation course some years back now. The aim of which was to help trainers and facilitators to develop their style of delivery using comedy.

One of the exercises was based around the idea of putting together two completely different things.  So for me as a career coach and trainer, I was asked to go along for an interview but as a slug.

So without further ado I give you:

The candidate…………..

SSB Candidate 2 Jan 2016

 

“Next” – called out Tom a little impatiently, “do come in, Miss, Mr, Ms….,”

His voice tailed off as the slug trailed in.

“Neither”, interposed the slug smoothly.

“I do not really occupy a binary world view of gender. I am simply a slug, but if it makes life easier for you, by all means call me Brian. I hope that during the course of our meeting I can demonstrate the skills and attributes that I can bring to this role.”

The panel of three stared open mouthed at Brian as ‘he’, settled himself as comfortably as ‘he’ could on the chair and politely enquired, “Where would you like me to start?”

Brian was quite used to this type of reaction, but had learnt from previous experience that it was far better not to disclose before the interview that ‘he’ was in fact a slug. It was well known that many organisations carried the double tick symbol for disabilities but ‘he’ hadn’t come across anything for slugs.

“Perhaps you can tell us about your career so far” – suggested Tom. After a day of interviews, Tom really just wanted to get through this as quickly and as painlessly as possible, regardless of the nature of the candidate in front of him. There was still a round of questions to be asked, competency grids to be completed and scores to tot up.

So with a little wriggle, Brian proceeded to describe ‘his’ career and the range of roles he had held. In fairness Tom and the other two panel members were pretty impressed as Brian outlined ‘his’ career succinctly and with quite some eloquence. So much so, that they were caught a little ‘off guard’, when ‘he’ finished with:

“Is there anything else I can tell you, with regard to my career?”

The panel of three, quickly came to and indicated, “No, let’s move onto the next question.”

Again as each panel member asked a question, Brian was able to answer clearly and calmly, giving specific examples to illustrate ‘his’ grasp of the question and the skills he had to demonstrate them.

So after forty minutes or so, all grid boxes were completed and just one question remained to be asked.

“Do you have any questions for us?”

“Thank you”, replied Brian “I’d just like to know what you expect the successful candidate to achieve in the first 30 days.”

Again it was Tom, who fielded this question. To be honest they hadn’t as a panel really considered this. But none the less Tom did the best he could. So by the end the panel thanked Brian for ‘his’ time and politely showed ‘him’ to the door.

“Well?” – queried Tom “as far as I can see, ‘he’ was by far the best candidate.”

“Yes” – echoed Nancy as she glanced down at her form, all my scores are fully met or exceeded.

“As are mine”, interjected Jesse, “and yet how well would a slug fit in with the team we already have?

“I think to be fair” hiccupped, Tom as ‘he’ thoughtfully chewed on the fly that had been bothering ‘him’ throughout the interview. “The frogs in Accounts might well make short work of ‘him’.”

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

The free spirit ……..

The story behind the story……………

This particular story is based on a tale told to me about the son of a friend of mine, a little boy whom I have known since he was born. Over the years I have heard a number of different stories about this young man and his antics, so without further ado, I give you…………

‘The free spirit’……….

Free Spirit 2

 

“I am a free spirit”, announced Calvin, proudly as his mother gazed at him with loving exasperation, whilst waiting for him to get his shoes on, gather his school bag and get to the door ready for school.

“Free spirits don’t follow timetables, we don’t follow rules and we don’t…..”

“Oh”, interrupted his mother, hastily. She really was not in the mood for a treatise on the benefits of being a ‘free spirit’.  “That is interesting, what do you suppose would happen if we all became free spirits?”

At this Calvin’s, face lit up as his mind drifted imagining all the glorious possibilities of a world full of ‘free spirits’.

What would he do if could truly wander through it as a ‘free spirit’?

No school?

Or school only when he felt like it.

No homework?

Or just the homework that interested him.

No set meals?

Or just the snacks that he liked and when he liked

No timetable?

Or just his perfect day to let his mind wander and soar without the tiresome interruption of teachers talking, trying to teach him something.

No boring shops?

Or just the ones he wanted to go to

No money?

Or just being able to have what he wanted from the shops he wanted

This all seemed perfect.

Ahem”, interrupted his mother again, “We still do need to get to school”

As she gazed at her son, an idea began to take root. “I must admit I really like the idea of being a ‘free spirit’. I think I will try it tomorrow and see what it is like.”

“Oh“, said Calvin, “That does sound exciting, what will you do with your day as a ‘free Spirit ‘?”

Absolutely, nothing”, beamed his mother. “I shall have a day completely to myself. Have my breakfast at lunch time, lunch at tea and wander as free as a bird”

This all seemed perfectly feasible to Calvin until he thought a little more and remembered that tomorrow was a Friday, which was a school day admittedly but it just so happened Friday was one of his ‘days’. All sorts of exciting things happened on a Friday and he needed to catch up with his friends to find out about the party and the band he wanted to start up.

None of this was going to happen if his mother was going to be ‘swanning’ around as a ‘free spirit’.

His mother could see from her son’s face that he was giving her ‘proposal’ some serious thought and that he was perhaps a little perturbed by the idea of her being a ‘free spirit’.

I tell you what, Calvin”, she said gently, “Why don’t we find a day when we can be both be ‘free spirits’.”

As Calvin’s face lit up at this possibility, his mother then said, “But in the meantime, we still do need to get to school.”

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk