Made My Monday

The clocks changed yesterday and I left work right on time today which means… it was still light out when I got home!! Love these longer days.

Last Monday we got a new shed for the back garden. I wanted to show you but it was too dark by the time I got home to take a picture. Not this week! Here’s our new backyard cutie.

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Hittin’ the Books

I know some of you are thinking “What’s going on, Holly? Why have you been so quiet lately?” Well, it turns out, the driving test isn’t the only exam I’m taking this spring.

Next week I’ll be sitting for the “Life in the UK” test as part of the process for becoming a UK permanent resident. The exam is 24 multiple choice questions and all come from this book. To pass, you need to get 75% right.

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Curious how you’d do? Take a free practice test online here.

Ok, back to studying for me! Chat more when I’ve learned all of the notable British athletes.

I Passed!!!

You are looking at the ecstatic face of someone who just passed their UK driving test! I’m now a licensed manual car driver in the UK and I couldn’t be happier!!

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The journey to get to this point has been a long one. I took my first manual driving lessons in the UK back in August 2011. Back then, I was splitting my time between the US and UK and hadn’t officially moved here as a UK resident. It was a stressful period of my life and learning to drive a new type of car on the other side of the road was just too much. The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth and made me lose a lot of confidence in my driving.

Last Spring, I decided it was time to work on getting my license again. The first step to doing so in the UK is to pass the Theory Test. The Theory Test is a written exam with multiple choice questions and a hazard perception section that requires you to identify road hazards while watching a series of videos. I studied like crazy for a few weeks and was able to pass the test on my first try in May.

After the Theory Test, you need to pass a Practical Driving Test which is a 40 minute drive with an examiner. The test includes questions about car maintenance and at least one maneuver like parallel parking, a three point turn, reversing into a parking space, or reversing around a corner. The Practical Test is notoriously challenging and many people need to take it several times. Needless to say, it was a pretty daunting prospect and I found it easy to put off that part of the process.

Finally in February this year, I was ready to start driving lessons again. I lucked out this time around and was assigned a wonderful instructor named Jon. He was patient and really helped me feel more confident on the road. After my first lesson, he told me I should go ahead and book my test since there is usually about a month lead time. So I booked today’s test date and started the preparations!

On the weekends, Peter and I went out practicing and one evening a week I had a lesson with Jon. During that time, my driving was all over the place. Sometimes I’d be great, other times it was a really rocky ride. Even last night, I had a two hour lesson to smooth out the minor issues and just practice more.

Going into today’s test, I knew I could pass it if I kept my nerves at bay and demonstrated everything I was taught. It was a stressful experience but it all ended so well! I’m absolutely thrilled to have accomplished this huge step toward becoming even more ingrained in life here in the UK – not to mention the freedom I know have. Woohoo!!

Made My Monday

I woke up to sunshine streaming in my window and followed it up with a walk across the park on the way to the station – glorious!

What a special treat to see the beautiful flowers and green grass after months of winter. Up until a few weeks ago, it was still dark in the mornings when we walked to the station and the park was too muddy to cross. Spring is only a few days away and it shows!

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Don’t Take My Words Away

In the last week, Sheryl Sandberg’s Ban Bossy campaign has sparked considerable discussion on the internet about the best way to empower young women. I don’t normally weigh in on these type of campaigns and I certainly don’t think my opinion will add anything to the discussion that probably hasn’t already been said, but I can’t shake the feeling of wanting to speak out.

As someone who was probably called bossy a million times as a child, I think the Ban Bossy campaign has missed the mark. The campaign is based on the assumption that the fear of being labelled ‘bossy’ prevents girls from taking on leadership roles. The proposal is to stop using the word ‘bossy’ entirely. However, I think that’s the wrong approach (and not just because it’s inherently ironic).

As a society, we need the word ‘bossy’ to make the distinction between good and bad leadership traits. Fundamentally, ‘bossy’ behavior — ordering others around, not listening, and assuming control unnecessarily — is negative. Whether you’re five years old on the playground or fifty-five in the boardroom, nobody likes a dictator. We need to teach our children how to be good leaders and that starts with identifying and correcting the bad behavior. 

I’ve always been confident, decisive, and commanding. Even in my preschool days, my teacher noticed me organizing the other children and bossing them around. What I am eternally grateful for is the way she and my mom handled it. They recognized my budding leadership skills and gave me outlets to express it in a positive way. I was taught the difference between leading and being bossy from a very early age. I learned that being ‘bossy’ was not a good way to lead others or make friends.

From that point on, the word ‘bossy’ became a way for me to keep myself in check. I didn’t want to be the type of peer and future leader who didn’t consider others. Each time I was called ‘bossy’ I reconsidered my actions and considered the other person’s point of view. Sometimes I realized I was in the wrong and other times the label didn’t hold much weight but the important thing was that I knew how to make the distinction. 

So, to everyone out there who wants to ban “bossy” from our vocabulary, please don’t. Instead, let’s teach our children how to be better leaders by ban bossy behavior in both girls and boys.