Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Light

Source

Could I let 2014 slip away without one last blog post? I'm sitting at "home home", back with my family for the Christmas period, and I'm reminded of my old ways. The days, weeks, months I spent scribbling/typing away in time which needed filling or which was stolen from studying. I read a tweet earlier today claiming that a good writing tip is to write when you're supposed to be doing something else. The feeling of being naughty, knowing you're supposed to be researching for your coursework or getting ready to go outside. What am I avoiding now? A last minute dash to the shops for hopefully the end of the Christmas shopping period which I promised myself would happen in October. There's always next year..!

At dinner last night with some of my closest friends, we took it in turns to speak about the highlight of 2014. I know it's a question that's upcoming in my 5 year Q&A diary too. It's often a question I dread because when I reflect, the more painful memories always seem to stick out. In a privileged society like ours, it can seem almost like we treat happiness and pleasantry to be the norm and experiences which do not fit into that category are treated as blips on the smooth journey we expect from our lives. Do we always appreciate fully that these marks are as much part of our lives as the good stuff? Or is it a case of attitude and approach?

I've been taught recently to re-adjust the way I view decision-making and management of worries and anxieties by someone who enthuses about life and has much more positive eyes than I do. M posited the following: "Rather than look at why you wouldn't enjoy something, think about why you would". Rather than worry about what someone doesn't like about you, remind yourself of reasons why they do. Rather than formulate theories about how unbearable an experience is going to be, focus on the excitement and gratitude you might have for the opportunity.

The instinctive analysis that my brain decides to undertake at every given chance however warns of the dangers of getting carried away by not considering whether the bad outweighs the good. We can't ignore certain negativities for the sake of trivial indulgences, for example; it is a balancing act, of course it is.

But it can be a useful mantra I think - apply it to present-buying, a new opportunity at work, planning a trip. How can it help you? If you find yourself in a situation where you are needing encouragement to do something you're unsure on but ultimately feel like you want to do, maybe we should apply that logic.

Going back to the question of 2014's highlight - what would make you say you did enjoy it, rather than what would make you say you didn't? For me, it was my trip to Spain over the summer. Not necessarily for the travel aspect of it, which I suppose is the predictable part of the answer (travel is a popular highlight for most people), but rather for simple reasons of time and freedom to be me in different places with the person who so often I forget is a separate person to me.

Of course, we do carry with us grief, trauma, pain and it forms part of who we are, through the good times and the bad. Suffering doesn't go away but shiny stars do need a dark backdrop.

Or as Dumbledore would put it: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light."

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas

xxx

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to Basics


I can't write. I've tried and I've tried but I can't do it at the moment. Not in the way I would like to anyhow. Not even one of my Taking Stock posts.  Tiredness, distraction by other things, not enough reading, not enough imagining.

I've tried to put together pieces for this blog, I miss writing and I miss the cathartic value of putting pen to paper. I miss stringing together words in sentences which don't sound basic. I miss having something to say. I miss knowing my tone and voice.

My routine is a tiring one, fulfilling in many ways, but harsh on other passions like this, like reading, like writing, like yoga. In this adjustment phase, each day is a single-lane road, my body exhausted and mind consumed. I'm not unhappy, I'm just not exploring much in the way that I used to. I'm unhappy about that but I'm working on it. I never put pressure on myself to post on here, I only ever did when there was something within me that could not be still. The words would spill out without even trying. So why should I worry about this inability to convey now? Is it just not the right time or place? Is this the end of my run here? Quite simply, it is unsettling because I have a hundred thoughts I want to share, and thousands of feelings that won't quieten til they're out, but no tool to paint them with.

Writing fluidly comes with practice, so step one is this post - not least because it doesn't sound exactly how I would like it to. Step two will be picking up a book and starting there. I do believe that to be able to write, you must first read. Step three might come from your advice if you have any.

Thanks for bearing with me during the radio silence. I hope to be back properly soon.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lessons learnt moving out of home and away from London


I started writing this blog post a couple of weeks ago. So here is how it started.....

"I am writing this in my local library. We've been moved in two weeks and wifi still hasn't happened. This may well be a personal record... I am so eager to type all of my thoughts and observations out at the pace at which they're running through my head but unfortunately I've got to contend with a space bar which requires two thumbs to press it down and the eccentric sound of a father and toddler daughter singing a song from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". In a library. Yep. Welcome to my weekend! Life is weird away from home (London) sometimes. Anyhow, here is a little list of things I have learnt moving out of home... "

Then, as you can gather from the distinct lack of list, I decided to give up and go home (via three awesome charity shops). Now here I am two weeks later, sitting on my bed in the comfort of my new home with wifi galore. I suppose that can be lesson number one - transitions are unsettling sometimes but the beauty of them is that they're temporary.

Anyway, not only did I fail to complete the list or the blog post, I didn't return to Blogger again up until now. Where have I been? Well, just here really. Here and at work, and in my car getting between here and work. And on trains getting between here and work when work isn't at work. Up until this month - and can you believe that this is only post number three of September when we are pretty much in October? - I blogged regularly with the energy I'd been bottling up from all of those hours of rest. It was a full-time hobby, a creative outlet and something I loved. I still do love it now, but here's lesson number two - real life can get in the way!

I assume it is the adjustment that needs to be made when you move to a new town, in with a partner, starting a new job, thrown in with a weekend going back home for birthday celebrations, which has stolen me away from tending to this online space of mine. I come home and feel too exhausted to even turn the laptop on, let alone spill my thoughts onto paper. Oh and talking of paper, driving everywhere means that I spend little time on trains which means less time putting pen to paper for non-work related activities. So there's a little explanation of where I have been. I would imagine that my routine will form soon enough and that will make time for blogging, yoga, exercise and other things which have taken a back-seat.

So what else have I learnt about moving out of home? Well, mostly that parents do an amazing job managing work, life worries, organising and cooking meals, making packed lunches, doing the washing and ironing, owning an ironing basket in the first place, owning a hoover, using a hoover, knowing how to do basic plumbing, knowing how to dry a bath mat, taking care of more than one person and doing all of it everyday without fail. Wow.

But also that it is hugely exciting to know that you can learn to do all of these things, and more, yourself too. Things become second-nature, your skill set widens, your interests diversify...I wasn't anywhere near as interested in dish-drying racks ever in my life as I was trying to find the perfect one during week two of living here!

Also, there's a lot of paperwork involved in moving house. Keeping a folder handy for filing important documents and knowing where to find them is super helpful in those moments when you realise you're an "actual grown-up" now and it's your responsibility to pay for things that come out of taps and plug sockets. Get your favourite stationery involved so it feels less boring :)

More specifically, I'm having to get used to seeing a whole new level of road-kill in these countryside-ish ends. Blerrrrrrgh...not a sight I'm used to in London. Plus it reminds me every morning of a documentary I once watched in which I learnt that some people actively look for road-kill to eat for their dinner. Blerrrrrrgh again.

I suppose that leads on quite nicely to another major lesson I've learnt - and this may shock you so brace yourselves - there is a world outside London!! Growing up in one place, loving it and then leaving and not knowing if you'll ever go back is a daunting thought and one which I tried not to entertain too much prior to moving but crept into my head from time to time. Living away from the bustle of the city is somewhat of a shock to the system - as is the size of the "big" supermarkets (tiny, for the record) - but I am beginning to appreciate tranquillity and not queuing up for 15 minutes in each shop, not striding down the high street willing people to move out of your way because you are on a mission, nor being on a mission because quite frankly what's the constant rush all about? Sure, I miss the variety and choice of food, entertainment and people in London, I miss my family and friends, and I will always consider London to be "home home", but starting a new little life here, with all the humongous changes and (un)anticipated challenges, with M, quite frankly feels like one of the best things I have ever done.

And whilst that doesn't take away existing hardship, it certainly feels like a nudge in the right direction, which is the last little lesson I'll leave you with - if you can create a positive space in which you feel safe, whilst accepting that change is inescapable, then that's a pretty good foundation for whatever you decide to conquer next.

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sunday Round-Up


Hello from my new town! It is a weird feeling no longer living in my family home and being away from most of the people I know....in fact, ALL of the people I know minus 1 (albeit it a very important one). It feels different to moving away for university but it doesn't feel permanent yet. That'll probably take getting into the swing of things with the new job et al but so far, so good. It took precisely five people, two cars and a transit van to transport all of our stuff down here. That should probably read *my* stuff, since M's possessions were limited mainly to a couple of books, a chest of drawers and his clothes (not packed, just carried in the aforementioned drawers). Since the weekend we have acquired a lot more joint belongings, such as bed sheets, a giant straw laundry basket and a toaster. I've been busy getting to know the area this week, doing shopping and sorting out admin before my real job starts next week. I hope to be able to continue writing here as I usually do, although that may be less frequent to begin with than I would like. Anyway, without further ado, here's my Sunday round-up....

This week I have been....

Assembling :: flat-pack furniture

Buying :: bits and bobs for the new flat and work clothes

Eating :: with M each evening - what a treat! Also tried Five Guys for the first time, having heard such mixed reviews prior to trying. I really enjoyed it! Bit expensive (same kind of price as you would pay for Patty & Bun which is the superior burger...of all burgers ever, followed closely by Honest) but the chips are awesome (and you get loads), you can pick which burger size you'd like and the drink options are simply incredible. Yep *incredible*...

Drinking :: mixtures of all types of Fanta flavours; litres of tea

Reading :: a book about yoga, "Coming Up Roses" (Cath Kidston's business story) and a book about women and the suffrage movement

Having a love/hate relationship with :: not having wifi  in the flat! It is lovely to have more time to read, talk and play chess, but it has meant several trips to the library to sort out house admin.

Booking :: train tickets all over the place

Considering :: birthday plans

Enjoying :: having plants in the house...just a little Ikea one and a mint plant for the moment. Flowers are next on the list!

Please leave any tips for being a newbie in the workplace in the comments below! Hope you've all had a marvellous week - let me know what you did this weekend :)



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