Karen Andrews (@thehappysideof40) Recent Photos and Videos
Stick a fork in me. I. Am. Done. Week 3 of the school hols and so far this week we’ve had a round trip to the Ribble Valley, two visits to Manchester, a bbq, play dates, holiday club, two broken doors and a chipped windscreen. And I am now well and truly pooped.
Today I am giving the kids a free pass to do what the hell they want. As long as they leave me out of it. Watch TV in your PJs? No problem. Play on your devices all day? Go ahead. Mum is in need of a quiet sit down with a strong coffee.
Or ... I *could* start cleaning out those kitchen cupboards before the Jenga style stacking finally fails; and the unlucky door-opener ends up lost under an inexplicable mountain of assorted Tupperware 🤔. Hmmm, what to do, what to do??
3601 month ago
Day four of the school holidays and it feels like I’m wading through treacle. My brain is full of the things I haven’t done. The books and articles I haven’t read; the emails I haven’t sent; the chores yet to be completed. This stifling heat and two small humans to entertain has slowed me to the pace of a snail crossing a motorway ☀️🐌. Anyone else feeling less than productive this week?
3701 month ago
How do you feel about the term *work-life balance*? For a decade or so we’ve talked about it as the holy grail to strive for, but to be honest - I’m finding it all increasingly problematic (there’s a blog post on this if you’re interested, link in the usual place). It’s not the sentiment; a healthy balance between work and home life is a no brainer isn’t it. It’s more the implementation that I’m becoming disillusioned with. Whether it’s women combining their job with their hobby .. but working an 18 hour day to do so. Or working mums who are present for their kids after school … but cram a normal working day into 5 hours AND earn less money to boot. It strikes me that work-life balance is becoming less about doing less, and more about filling the space with *more*. Anyone else finding that their quest for balance, is well maybe … unbalancing them?
5802 months ago
Sometimes I spend so long trying to find the perfect, most effective, most efficient system .. that I get distracted from the original task in hand. As part of my research project I need to read. A lot! But the past few weeks I’ve been preoccupied with how to take useful notes from books. I’ve tried everything from jotting thoughts in the margins (CON = tricky to donate after), turning over the corner of the page (CON = inevitably I can’t remember later why I wanted to note it) to mini-post-its (CON = too time-consuming).
But I think I might have found the solution today. Kindle books.
✅ Accessible on either my Kindle or my phone (I’m hoping that will help me read quicker)
✅ Can highlight text and make notes at specific places
✅ All notes can be accessed from one page and it’s easy to see things I want to research further or journal about
On the downside though - and it’s a big one for me - no beautiful, physical book. A thing that I can touch and feel and smell the pages. Something I can escape into and which helps me feel like I’m disconnecting from the noise of the electronic world. And although I know it will work for my particular need, I can’t help but feel a little sad about it. How do you prefer your books: physical copy or electronic?
3402 months ago
Do we have the right to expect career fulfilment, or is the concept just an indulgence of our generation? Would my parents or my parents’ parents ever have worried about finding *their thing*? And if not, what factors have changed that make it so important to so many of us now. These are some of the questions in my head at the moment. Before I start researching, I wanted to understand my own perspective so I did a bit of journalling around it. One of the things that came up for me was that I want to role model to my kids that work can be enjoyable - it doesn’t have to be something we do just to put money on the table (although fully recognise that is absolutely necessary too).
I’m interested to hear some other perspectives though - does career fulfilment matter to you and do you think we’re right to expect it? (I’ve shared what came up for me on my blog if you’re interested)
7302 months ago
I’m not sure I recognise this woman sometimes. I mean, I know it’s me obviously 😄, but as the primary photo taker in the family it sometimes catches me by surprise when I see a rare shot from someone else’s perspective. My first thought? My god, I’m actually an adult. I’m someone’s mum! Does it seem ridiculous to suddenly feel terrified by the weight of that responsibility?
7603 months ago
This week I’m taking part in @ruthpoundwhite’s 4 day #creativeemailchallenge and it’s giving me exactly the kick in the pants I needed to get a project started that has been percolating in my head for quite a while.
As someone who has comes to a crossroads career-wise myself, I’ve been thinking A LOT about what it is I’m searching for. The short answer is a career that lights me up. A job that makes me excited, that gives me a sense of purpose and that adds something to the world. But hey, I’m not alone in that am I? Instagram is full of women like me who are either searching for the same thing, or are lucky enough to have found it. But when we don’t know what *The Thing*, how can we go about finding it?
For those of us still in the waiting room with this, are there common pillars to search for? Is Is there a process to go through? What impact does our employment status (employed/self-employed) have, our culture, our environment??
My answer is this is that when I don’t know - I research. Over the next year I plan on diving headlong into this topic to understand it more and hopefully figure out some of these answers. I believe we all have the right to search for career fulfilment, if we just knew how the heck to do it. So I’m going to share what I learn along the way in a monthly email letter. If that sounds like something you’re interested in too, I’d love you to join me - link is in the bio.
6503 months ago
Exercise and I have not been friends for some years. After being super active in my teens and twenties, mine is the typical tale of falling out of the habit once kids and career took over. The husband has been telling me for years that it will help (mental health rather than physical shape - he’s not a total ar*e 😂) but I’ve disagreed fervently. Mainly because a) I can’t bring myself to ever admit he’s right and b) I’m inherently lazy.
But I’m 41 now and it feels time. Since the arrival of our dog two years ago, I’ve been out walking every day and I guess that’s been a way of easing myself back in. In fact my walk regularly resembles Darwin’s Evolution of Mankind - I start all hunched and resentful, but by the end I stride confidently back through the door fully emerged from my grumpiness.
I’m ready to try taking it to the next level now - Couch 2 5k. Any tips?
6303 months ago
After half-term week I’m feeling all at sea at the minute. It’s a combination of coming to the end of the first season of my podcast, the culmination of a five month build-up to my sister’s wedding and a sense that the six week school holidays are a mere hair’s breadth away 🙀. I have most definitely lost my va-va-voom!
In the past my instinct would have been to dive back in like a headless chicken. But this time I’m going to take this natural break as an opportunity for some reflection and reassessment. To work out what I want to improve, what I want to change, and just generally make sure I’m heading in a direction that still feels “right” to me.
Has anyone else been feeling a bit ‘meh’ lately with this shift in seasons?
6503 months ago
Two months ago I took a huge leap of faith and launched a podcast. As you’d imagine the face in this photo was filled with self-doubt - questioning my concept, my interviewing skills, my ability to follow through ... basically everything. Nine episodes later and I’m not feeling super confident yet, but I’m working with my doubts rather than letting them hold me back. So I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to close Season 1 than a conversation with the virtuoso of self-doubt research, @saspetherick.
Alongside self-doubt Sas spoke about the dangers of public vulnerability before we’re ready. Sas always gives really sage advice (listen to her podcast Courage & Spice for some fascinating conversations). And during our chat she spoke about the advice she gives her coaching clients about deciding what to share publicly - and how to know what emotions aren’t sufficiently processed yet. More on Stories if you’re interested. It really is a good one, so search for Being Heard in your podcast app to listen or the link’s in the bio.
6503 months ago
There’s something about this photo that has always appealed to me. It was taken last summer at Manchester Museum. I’m not sure if it’s the light or the feeling of simplicity and uncluttered space that speaks to me. Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s a rare moment of stillness for this young man 😂. My brain is feeling decidedly the opposite of how this photo feels at the moment, so there’s no podcast this week. It’ll be back for the last episode of the season though next Wednesday - it’s a good ‘un so trust me, worth waiting for 😉
5003 months ago
I took SO many things away from my conversation with @gabrielletreanor recently. But if I had to pick out one thing, it would be the importance of role-modelling that it’s ok to answer your own needs. So if I feel the need to sit down for a quiet few minutes - they know that it’s ok to do that. Gabrielle told me the story of a client who was feeling exhausted and worn-out but felt too guilty to allow herself to stop and take time to relax. It turned out that when she was growing up her client had never seen her own mum sit down - she was always on the go, always doing something because “devil makes work for idle hands”. From that example she learnt that being a good mum, a good employee, a contributing member of society = go, go, go. And sitting down = lazy.
I’ve thought a lot about this since I spoke to Gabrielle and really tried to make a conscious effort to take those moments, when my kids can see them. To hear the full conversation it’s episode 8 of the Being Heard podcast, link in bio or available in all the usual places.
What do you do to switch off when you need a few moments?
7704 months ago
I’ve come to the realisation lately that I’m rubbish at smalltalk. A deep and meaningful conversation with purpose? Yes please. But put me in a room full of strangers and I want to curl up in a ball and die. I was listening to an episode of #howtoowntheroom recently with Catherine Tate, a women who will happily get up on stage and perform to thousands - but ask her “how was your journey” and it sets her teeth on edge.
It’s not even just the classic ‘room full of people’ that makes me deeply uncomfortable. I’ve realised since starting the podcast (Being Heard, go have a listen) that the moments I find most awkward are the parts before and after we start recording. When we’re not into the meaty stuff and there’s the polite pleasantries which you feel should probably be exchanged before you ask someone about their feelings on failure. What do you chat about? It seems wrong somehow to dive straight in, but I’m wondering if we’re just succumbing to another *should* in life? Would we all be more comfortable if we skipped the chit-chat and got right to the point?
5104 months ago
I’m not British but after 23 years the UK is definitely where I’ve laid my hat. I lived in Ireland for 18 years (right next to this beautiful ocean), France for a year and Crete for 3 months (still counts?) but this country is the place where I truly feel at home. Despite that, there are so many popular tourist spots in the UK that I’ve barely seen - including would you believe, the capital city. I’ve been to a London a grand total of 4 times in my life.
1. As a kid on a family holiday - we went for the day to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. It wasn’t on.
2. Work conference - I was terrified. The boyfriend had to come with me and escort me to the venue.
3. Family christening - we went to the church and a restaurant. Saw some interesting parking methods and worried someone might put a dent in the car.
4. Work conference no. 2 - first and only solo trip. I got lost and rang my now husband in tears (pre Google maps). When I eventually found my hotel, I bought soggy chips from the takeaway next door and ate them in my room.
Tell me, what am I missing out on?
5604 months ago
Last week I had the absolute joy of interviewing another one of my podcast heroes, @jessicarosewilliams from The Little Chapters. Jessica and I chatted about how her love of writing weaves through everything she does, her approach to failure, her feelings about the idea of “experts”, the call-out culture that seems to be on the rise — there were so many highlights to this conversation that I struggled to pick out only one to put on Stories! But of course to hear the whole conversation, search for Being Heard in your podcast app or the link is in the bio.
I’ve listened to The Little Chapters since it began and if I’m honest, I’m more than a teeny bit in awe at how articulate and confident Jessica has always sounded despite being a podcast newbie. And the last thing you want when you interview someone like that is to sound like a mumbling idiot. So full disclosure, my pre-interview preparation consisted of the first 15 minutes of Beyonce’s Homecoming on Netflix 💪. Anyone else with a slightly odd way of dispelling nerves before an important event? #girlsweruntheworld
8804 months ago
I’ve stared at this image in my drafts folder for over a week now. Willing myself to post it, but frozen by a vulnerability hang-up over the original caption that went with it.
I’d written about something very personal to me, something I don’t talk about to many people. But then I got the fear and my analytical brain spent the last few days debating the pros and cons of putting a piece of the real me online.
A couple of weeks ago I spoke to @ruthpoundwhite about this very topic — doing things that scare you. Ruth, like me, describes herself as ‘one of the quiet ones’. But last year she took the leap into sharing more of her voice through her blog, her podcast and her work. As she said during our chat about creating her podcast Creatively Human: “it’s shown me that I can be scared, and I can still do it anyway”.
Link is in the bio to hear our chat or search your podcast app for Being Heard.
Back to today, I haven’t shared my original caption but it’s saved in the drafts. How do you find writing about something that makes you feel vulnerable - I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds this so hard?
5604 months ago
Today the story I am telling myself is … I will not be the kind of person who keeps saying “we’ll get around to fixing that soon”. I will in fact be the kind of person who fearlessly welcomes the unannounced visitor. Fully confident that we don’t have a wonky towel holder hanging off the wall in the bathroom, the mirror is *on* the wall and not precariously resting against it, all lightbulbs are present and correct and there’s not a ‘knack’ to locking the door. Today I am writing a list, and god damn it, this time I am seeing it through.
6004 months ago
I avoided the morning chat in the playground today, for fear that someone would ask me how my weekend was. Long weekend + hot weather is guaranteed to equal pressure to have an amazing time with lazy days of BBQs and family get-togethers. But instead our household was treated to endless sibling bickering and level 10 tantrums, interspersed with tiny moments of (unwarranted) hopefulness that things could only get better. All of which leads to the inevitable spiral of feeling an utter failure as a parent.
It’s all a situation entirely of my own making of course because I made the fatal error of talking about how things were getting easier. The universe has rightly slapped me in the face with a wet fish and reminded me not to get so comfy. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last few years it’s that we just have to keep showing up. Whether it’s in business, parenting, relationships or anything in-between — we have no choice but to dust ourselves off and show up again the next day with hope and perspective.
So in the interest of complete honesty here, no I did not have a lovely Easter weekend but thank you for asking, how about you?