Image for post
Image for post
Joint Zooming

We’d only been dating about six months when I recommended my boyfriend to my company’s bosses. The Marketing Director had just quit, and Ian was hired to fill the gap on an interim basis. We had suddenly become the marketing team — the two of us. We were getting to know each other over dinner; we were getting to know each other in the office. We’d never worked side-by-side before: now we were drawing up marketing plans and co-hosting presentations.

I guess we quickly learned how to juggle the personal with the professional. We must have liked it, because when I left the company to have our first baby, we started working together properly for our own small independent business. …


Image for post
Image for post

The world of work has changed dramatically since the start of this millennium, never mind fifty years ago. The jobs that exist now are wildly different from those of previous generations, where people used to have jobs for life and rarely moved away from their homes and communities.

These changes in working practices have had significant implications, not only on how we work but what we are looking for work to do for us - to fulfil us, nurture us and fill the holes that a lack of community has left behind. It’s something that psychotherapist Esther Perel, known for her work on relationship counselling, has turned her expertise to. Perel rose to fame as the author of Mating in Captivity, and as host of the hit podcast Where Should We Begin? …


Image for post
Image for post
Brent geese on the Thames estuary mud

The park is close to our boys’ old primary school. They no longer go there yet I usually head that way and into the park, often accompanied by my husband, because our border terrier Sukie loves meeting up with her buddies. She’ll have a good run around, getting involved in a chase with a couple of other dogs, or a bit of a wrestle. She might even sit looking bemused and let the chocolate cockapoo take her leg in his mouth, as if she’s a chicken drumstick, in an effort to get her to play with him.

Today though it was rainy. I didn’t fancy standing around in the wet watching her get muddy, nor wanted all that dirt back into the house. So instead she and I headed down to the seafront to do the two bridges walk. It’s a walk that takes between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on how much she sniffs (a lot) and whether I need to get back to shepherd the boys off their screens and into their homework. …


Image for post
Image for post
Doodling at the RA

I weaved my way through the crowded room to get up close to the artwork in front of me: drawings by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, two greats of Viennese modernism, exhibited together at the Royal Academy.

Standing just a few inches away from the artwork, I saw clearly each line they placed on the page. I imagined their hand, making the movement, drawing the pencil sometimes lightly, sometimes vigorously down the paper. I had a deeper sense of connection with the artist through viewing their drawings than I feel I would have done with their paintings. With a painting, the effect is usually shown as a whole and it’s hard to make out one individual stroke over another. …


Image for post
Image for post
Image: Netflix

We made a big mistake. On episode 8 (of what I thought was a series of 10) I turned to my husband and said I didn’t want the series to end, that I was going to miss these characters. Then, as all the various strands were being tied up it dawned on us — episode 8 was the last episode after all. Talk about feeling bereft! This was the finale and I wasn’t even prepared for it.

My attitude about the series finishing was the complete opposite of how I’d felt at the beginning. I’d started watching it with blinkers. Perhaps it was the title that prompted my dislike — Sex Education: a programme about troubled relationships and angst? The premise seemed undemanding and unoriginal. …


Image for post
Image for post

In the elaborate, high ceilinged, glorious space of the V&A café, over tea in a pot and a slice of something sweet, an elegant older lady chats to her friend. I am mesmerised by her. Her hair is grey and coiffured, with a slight wave in the locks around the hairline, which adds to her elegance. Delicate glasses rim her eyes, shadowed in a dusky pink. She has a little blusher on her cheeks and a warm, berry red-brown lipstick. She’s slight and her movements are self-contained as if she is in perfect control of herself in these surroundings.

Image for post
Image for post

When she lightly tosses back her head she reveals a fine set of neat, white teeth. There are a few powdered wrinkles that crease around her eyes as she smiles at a joke or a shared piece of knowledge with her friend. Perhaps it’s because she readily laughs, and often, that she seems to be, to me at least, a hugely likeable 70 something-year-old. An easy confidence, a relaxedness oozes off this woman who clearly takes care of herself. She maintains an interested gaze at her friend while talking. She does conversation well. …


Image for post
Image for post

For me, life-changing backpacking or work abroad trips belong to a long time ago, to a different version of me. Now that I’m immersed in family life, there aren’t many opportunities to grab myself a ticket somewhere exotic. And I wouldn’t want to anyway.

But I still love a journey, a mini-version of those escapist trips. Ones where I return, usually the same day. It’s not something that happens very much but recently I had the chance to go on a long train journey. The destination was pretty good. It was Paris after all. …


Image for post
Image for post
The Million Mile Light

It’s not every day I get to chat with a real-life inventor. A couple of weeks ago I met up with Tom Lawton. Tom devises and makes useful and beautiful things. I’d had a peripheral involvement in one stage of a recent invention, his Million Mile Light, which is being trialled at two schools, one of which is local to me. I was intrigued to meet Tom and find out more about what drives his passion, and how he gets going on his projects.

Over tea, Tom told me that his ideas often start with a conversation. And it was a conversation that began on Twitter that helped bring his latest creation into being. His Million Mile Light is a small, long-lasting, attachable light that is powered by body energy. And while in the UK it’s to encourage kids to walk to school, for kids further afield, it is a light that will undoubtedly save lives. …


Image for post
Image for post
Pic — Mike Elliott

Look around your workplace. How well do you really know your colleagues? I mean, really know them? Because even though the faces around us might be familiar, we might not know much about what lies beneath the skin.

Revealing a little of ourselves to one another builds connection and trust. Knowing more of our colleagues can smooth the waters in the workplace and foster a culture of safety and support. And allowing our true selves into the workplace allows us to feel more like us, more authentic. And that, in turn, can be good for us, reducing stress.

So how can we reveal ourselves? One way to get to know each other better is to share stories. Stories are universal. Sharing experiences, whether of adversity or triumph, connects us with one another. They give us something to identify with. We all have common experiences after all — we’ve all understood loss and longing; we’ve all had moments of joy and elation, of adventure and excitement. And more than creating bonds, it can help us understand ourselves better. In hearing from others, we see our vulnerabilities and strengths reflected back to us. Stories provide us with lessons to be learned, or give us wisdom that we can use. Or they give us another take on life and help us find a way out of a situation we might not have considered. We come away with a deeper understanding of those who sit across from us. …


Image for post
Image for post

We used to hang out after work in small, underground izakayas. The camaraderie and friendship was wonderful. We were a bunch of Brits, Aussies, Canadians and Kiwis teaching English in Japan and after hours we’d let our hair down. Alcoholic staples of those nights out were tankard-sized drinks called “sours” and shared jugs of beer. After an evening spent in the bar, we’d head to all night karaoke and sing our heads off into the early hours. They were crazy times, living in a place of juxtapositions — bright lights and temples, giggly schoolgirls and earnest salarymen. Would my time there have been so fun had it not been accompanied by alcohol? Probably not. …

About

Zoë Sanders

Storyteller at The Ian Sanders Company. Passionate about making the world of work more human. Lives by the Thames estuary. Loves swimming/doodling/creativity

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store