Sometimes I can't remember what I did before I became a blogger. And before I go any further, I find it funny how we can now say “I became a blogger”. Ten years ago, uttering the words “I’m a blogger” drew a quizzical frown from most - I’ve been on the receiving end of many. These days I’m happy to report that the number of frowns I receive are on the decrease. But, back to matters at hand - it now feels weird to think that I ever had any job other than this all consuming thing. The thing that I have an unending amount of love, passion and enthusiasm for and the thing that continues to fuel all my creative fires.  

But other jobs I did indeed have, so I thought in order to mark eleven years “in blogging”, it would be fun to have a light-hearted look back on what I did before, what I learned, how some of those roles taught me valuable (and not so valuable) life lessons and how they sometimes assist in this business of blogging right here and now. 

And because your experiences all add up to shape the person you are today.

Left School At 16 To Be A Hairdresser 


... that I didn't want to be a hairdresser, that you can descale sinks with vinegar and that perm lotion smells like rotten eggs.In all seriousness, it was my first foray into the big wide world of work and my first encounter with some suitably scary arse grown ups too. The head stylist in the salon wore a white jumpsuit to signify her seniority (the rest of us had what can only be described as muddy beige dresses), and she was prone to throwing perm curler rods back at us if we passed her the wrong sized ones. Which was nice. 

It taught me how to get on and knuckle down to hard work that I didn't enjoy one iddy little bit. On leaving school I wanted to go to college but due to a parental split finalising around this time, this wasn't an option. So despite my dislike of being a skivvy who did everything but hairdressing, I completed the year's YTS experience (remember those - £25 a week!) so that it would look good on my CV... whatever that might look like eventually. It taught me the importance of being polite to customers and to ignoring the petty behaviour of grown ups who really don’t act like grown ups at all. 

 And it made me vow never to have a shampoo and set once I got older. So far so good… 

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Went To Work In A Window Blind Manufacturing Family Business 


... that you should be prepared to muck in on all levels and show that you can go above and beyond the call of your original job description. I began by learning the ropes of running the office, serving customers and sending out invoices. By the time I left there a couple of years later, I knew how to assemble slatted vertical blinds, what the difference was between an Austrian and a Roman blind was and how to look after the bosses kids when his wife needed to be in the office. 

Most significantly, I got to see what goes into running a small business, the importance of treating employees well and how having them invested in the company, no matter what it's size, can make all the difference. 

I also vowed never to have vertical/Austrian/Roman blinds in any future property I might live in. 

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The Large Bank/Insurance Company 


..what it's like to work in a big office for the first time. I both loved and loathed it at the same time. 

Aged 18 I'd unwisely moved to Andover to escape home and primarily for a boy... who, a couple of years later, ended up being my husband for all of ooh about, eighteen months. Short (and disastrous) marriages aside, this first foray into an Accounts department was to set a precedent for the rest of my corporate career. Be really crap at maths at school, go work in Accounts - go figure. Or go work with figures. 

I vowed to never again move towns for a boy... or marry someone who highlights his hair more than I do. Surely my year in the hairdressing salon should’ve taught me that? 

Large Health Insurance Company No. 1 


... that some people can work their way up way quicker than you can because their face fits better than yours. I also learnt the ins and outs of collecting premiums by direct debit, what BACS stood for (Bankers' Automated Clearing Service in case you were wondering) and how to placate angry customers on the phone who personally blame you for all that is wrong with your systems, the banks systems... and any other systems they can think of too. 

Also, even though your marriage is in the toilet, I recommend that you don't use the office messaging system to flirt with the man in IT who paid you some attention. Someone else is monitoring those messages and because they're a bit twisted and bordering on the edge of slightly psychotic, they might try a sly attempt at intimidating you. 

I vowed never again to use office messaging systems for the purposes of flirtation. 

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Even Larger Health Insurance Company No. 2 


... that it's okay to use the office messaging system to flirt with the actuary you've had your eye on for a few months... especially when you find out he's now single. As are you! 

This (successful) office relationship came nearer the end of my fifteen year career here and before that, I learnt so much in this job. From the best and worst bits of people management to the complicated workings of an accounting system and how to effectively run a purchase ledger for a large company. Both of these have been instrumental in helping with the business of blogging. From team management I learned that you can't please all the people all the time and not everyone will like you, what you stand for or the decisions you'll make. And that's more than fine. 

And when it comes to me paying the people I need to, and equally importantly getting paid in order to keep the blog afloat, having an understanding of how payment systems work, the importance of cash flow, pipeline income etc. and maintaining some sort of business budget has been invaluable. 

I also formed some of the best friendships here that I'll carry with me for life. Oh and by the way, I vowed to marry the actuary. And I did.  

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Becoming A Mum 


... that it never stops evolving and it's the most challenging role you'll ever ever have. 

It will test you to your limits, give you sleepless nights that progress from the newborn kind to those that come as you hit the teen years... and I'm told, forever beyond and always. Amen. But it will grow a fiercely protective love inside of you that you never knew existed and root your feet into the ground stronger than anything else in the world can. It's humbling and elevating in equal parts and provides you with a sense of self that becomes stronger as both you and your offspring grow older and weather all the storms of parenthood. 

And I vow to become better at it everyday. I'll keep you posted on that one… 

The one thing that's been running around my head on a continual loop whilst writing this? When it comes to what you do for a job, you can plan all you want (or if you're me, leave education at sixteen with not even one iota of a plan) but eventually, you'll probably end up doing something completely unrelated to what you first envisaged anyway. 

This is the life advice I hope to pass onto H as she begins to navigate the transition from child to adulthood. What will be will be… and don't forget that everything just seems to work out okay in the end...