Day #142 21.05.16

A staffing crisis at my sister-in-law’s tea room led to me swapping a visit to a farm park with my niece to be kitchen bitch for the day. It’s a long time since I’ve been a waitress and I forgot what it’s like to work in a 30 degree kitchen but I got paid in cake and secured my fall back job if I ever need it.

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Day #139 18.05.16

Kate and Ruth decided to create a WhatsApp emoji date code for a date I’m off on soon. I did highlight if I could get to my phone and if it was tragic I could at least call one of them while escaping to the bathroom, but they insisted this was more fun. I also highlighted that as I will be driving, have little interest in dating and have no free weekends until August now it’s unlikely I will have any codes above 5 (yes, 5 is missing).

But, in for a penny. If anything it will just add more stories to the car crash that is my love life sometimes.

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Day #138 17.05.16

I see this urban art in Cheltenham at least a couple of times a week. I love it. It reminds me of Melbourne where there is a plethora of street art, none of this graffiti tagging shit, but proper, actual art. So bright and colourful and pretty, the laneways are dotted with them. And the huge pictures on the sides of buildings, some only seen from the rooftop bars are just amazing. Sigh.

And Chiang Mai, where we used to sit and watch the artists creating the bright pictures of people, animals, aliens. You name it, it was there.

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Life after divorce.

Life after divorce (or a breakup). By the time you’re in your 30’s and having a relationship breakdown, marriage isn’t necessarily the default but chances are you’d got to a point in your relationship where you were the last ones in your friendship groups to tie the knot and both of you thought it was probably about time you spent thousands of ££ on a big party where you’d invite a load of people you probably won’t speak to 5 years on.

So, once you’ve paid out more thousands of ££ for solicitors to undo the bit that you signed before the big party, what do you do? Easy! Follow this guide* to getting through that breakup and starting life again (aka have a life crisis):

  1. Get your hair cut in a new and funky style by the junior stylist (because the divorce wiped you out and you cant afford the salon director any more). Exclaim “it’s fab! Just what I always wanted!” with hysterical gusto while crying silently inside and wondering what your head would look like shaved.
  2. Take up a sport. Doesn’t matter which one, just do something to help lose more weight in addition to the 3 stone you’ve already lost through stress and a diet of alcohol and biscuits.
  3. Shag someone at least 10 years younger than yourself. Just remember not to engage them in conversation. Unless of course you do actually care about Justin Bieber or Harry Styles’s hairdo.
  4. Go on Tinder and other online dating apps/websites. Spend a few days chatting to John from Peterborough because he’s the only person who has messaged you before you realise you don’t actually care about the steam engine show he went to at the weekend or how many cabbages he is growing. Realise you have lost all self respect and delete apps in a fit of self pity and loathing.
  5. Join an internet forum based on shared interests. Realise after a week you have not slept or showered or gone to work, but you do have thousands of new friends who ‘get you’.
  6. Wear short shorts. You’ve lost 3 stone through the breakup diet and realised you don’t give a fuck about anything any more.
  7. Do household chores without any resentment towards the lazy shit you used to live with. Realise you actually like housework. Skip around with the hoover like Mary Poppins! Get bored and fed up. Give up on housework and eat biscuits instead when you remember the mantra ‘fuck the fucking housework’.
  8. Eat pizza from the box. Because you can’t be arsed to wash a plate up and because your body is now craving carbs following the break up diet initial stages.
  9. Don’t get dressed for 2 days. No one will see you! No one will judge, not even Phil the Postman. And besides, he likes your onesie, he said so that time.
  10. Go to bed with your make up on. After all, you’ve given up dating after Peterborough John, so no one will see you in the morning. And besides, you’ve always admired the Absolutely Fabulous look.
  11. Go on a singles holiday. All your mates are still married or have kids so you have no friends left anyway, so why not join other desperate singles trying to appear like they’re just there for a holiday and not there to find someone else to marry to avoid being alone for the rest of their lives.
  12. Go on an activity holiday. You’ve given up on the singles holidays because Greg from Southampton mistook your ‘let’s have a nightcap’ drunken shout out in the bar for something completely different which then triggered an incident involving hotel security, a flannel, a bowler hat and some chocolate mousse. At least an activity holiday means you don’t have to pretend to be interested in Joanne’s stories from her time in the Accounting department at the local council because you’re too busy hanging off a rock the size of a pea on a cliff face while mentally chastising yourself for not making a will.
  13. Shag someone from work. If you really want to keep things amusing try either someone from your own department or your boss. Or your boss’s boss. This way meetings will be interesting as you’ll just be picturing them naked.
  14. Get a cat. Decide one cat isn’t enough. Get another one so they can occupy each other while you’re at work picturing your boss naked. Decide against getting another one because you realise you’re in danger of becoming crazy cat lady.
  15. Contemplate getting a dog because you read somewhere it’s a good way to meet people. Realise you probably can’t get a dog because you now have cats. Read about a cat cafe. Decide to visit one as an alternative way to meet people. End up just meeting lots of crazy cat women.
  16. Wonder how long your eggs have got left before they start shrivelling. Wonder about freezing them then realise how much that costs. Make a point of visiting friends with horrid children to put you off the idea of spawning.
  17. Rediscover (or discover) tequila slammers. Who knew how much fun some salt, a lemon and some incredibly foul tasting alcohol could be?
  18. Get hideously drunk at a wedding and behave inappropriately. Drink tequila slammers (because they’re fun, remember), fall over on the dance floor, fall off chairs, flash your knickers, kiss your friends uncle in front of the whole family including his children, leave your hand bag at the venue and make your friend homeless for the night, eat the whole cheeseboard even though you don’t like cheese and other things that you will never remember because you drank so much tequila. Just remember to mention you’re recently divorced/separated/single, because this may go some way to excusing your behaviour.
  19. Spunk £3000 on a bespoke, hand made in Italy, cream fabric sofa. Because your ex loved black leather.
  20. Spill red wine on sofa. Throw white wine on it. Clean it up as best you can. Realise it’s futile and that even if it cleaned up you’d probably just do it again. Go out and buy big cushions instead.
  21. Cry for 3 days solid. Realise you’re crying more over a sofa than your ex. Realise you’ve turned a corner.
  22. Try Zumba because Jill from Reception had a spare pass to the gym. Realise you have all the grace and finesse of a baby elephant but enjoy the hip wiggling and freestyle. Make friends with Claire and Sophie. Start going to fitness weekends at Butlins where you spend just as much time drinking Blossom Hill and dancing to 80’s tunes as you do going to Body Pump and Zumba.
  23. Eat bowls of broccoli for tea. Spice things up with a few chilli flakes every now and then. Pride yourself on this ‘quick’ tea that does not involve anything beige from a freezer. while overlooking the lack of other essential nutrients in this diet. Mention said meal to friends who then start inviting you round for dinner more in exchange for juicy gossip and scandal.
  24. Start to realise that life alone isn’t so bad. Ponder the thought that maybe you’ve had more fun in the last few months than you’ve had in a long time. Decide you’re in no hurry to get into another relationship, and that you and you alone are responsible for your own happiness.
  25. Book another activity holiday, this time with sky diving. Hope that Greg from Southampton is still banned from booking with the same travel company.

 

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*riseandshinepaps bears no responsibility to anyone following this (fictional, made up and completely tongue-in-cheek) guide and the characters above are completely fictional and bear no resemblance to anyone, living or dead (apart from 18. Yes, that was me. Oh, and 23.)

JFDI.


Just fucking do it.

People think this is easy for me. And perhaps it is in some ways. Now. Not always. It’s been a bit of a journey to get here. After a long time (too long) in an unhealthy relationship (for both of us) I had to redefine myself. I had become a shell of who I was. In fact, I didn’t know who I was. I remember very clearly a moment in a shop where I had to buy something for my new home when I first became single (towels I think). I was so overwhelmed with the feeling that I didn’t know what I liked any more. Because I couldn’t tell whether I actually liked something or whether I liked it because actually my ex would have, or actually because he wouldn’t have (I went through a slight rebellion phase). After putting someone else first for my entire adult life, it was completely alien to me to purely only have myself to please.

I started to realise that I could do anything I wanted. Anything. I didn’t have to check with anyone. Ask anyone’s permission. Worry about what they might think. Consider whether it fitted in with our plans. Worry that I was prioritising time alone above time with them. I could make decisions knowing I was pretty much the only person they affected. And let me tell you, that was a fucking liberation. It started with towels, but it soon grew like mushrooms in a dark damp forest. I realised I loved running more than I ever thought possible and started doing races. I discovered hiking and mountains. I started going places. I fucked off for weekends to visit people I hadn’t seen in years. I chatted to strangers and got myself embroiled in different social circles. I started saying Yes more than I said No. I started travelling on my own. I tried new things.

And I realised the whole fucking world had started to open up.

I saw a life beyond my front doorstep. I saw different viewpoints and ways of life. I realised ‘normal’ was only what you made it. I understood what it was to fail. And figured out that actually, there is no failure, just a way to learn. I realised that by doing stuff, I was educating myself. Developing, growing, however or whatever you want to call it. By doing the same stuff I’d always done, I would get what I’d always got. I didn’t want that. I found new stuff exciting, the unknown becoming this mythical magical land where I wanted to skip around forever. I didn’t want to know what was happening next. Like a child, I wanted every day to bring me something new.

And that shit won’t come to you. It’s up to you to go out there any get it. It means going out of your comfort zone. It means seeing something and wanting a piece of it for yourself. It means putting yourself out there. It means taking risks and being scared. It means making yourself vulnerable and open to hurt. It might mean sacrificing stuff, whether that’s money, material things, relationships or careers. It means looking deep inside you and trying to figure out what your gut feeling is telling you. And going with that gut feeling. It means ignoring what other people might think or feel and doing it anyway because it means so much to you.

When I was little my Dad told me that I could do or achieve anything I wanted, and that the only person to stop me was myself. Somewhere along the line I’d forgotten that. As adults, we quite often do. We get bogged down with ‘real life’ that seems to be driven around those life events we’re expected to achieve; job, house, partner, marriage, children, retirement, with a nice two week beach holiday each year if you’re lucky. Why shouldn’t real life be the dream? What are we waiting for? Financial security? To be a grown up? We’d be waiting forever.

Alongside this I’d been told in my relationship that I was an idealist and a dreamer. That I should be realistic and that life was as it was and I should be grateful. That I was stupid for thinking there was more than work and the weekends and the occasional weekend away. That I couldn’t do some of the things I wanted to. That I wasn’t good enough to achieve stuff.

I never believed that. Not deep down. I just let it slide until I couldn’t any more. Until I realised that one day if I didn’t start to do the things I wanted to then I’d get to an age where I couldn’t. And I’d regret it. And one think I don’t want in this life is regrets. Or regrets of things I haven’t done.

So one day, I thought “F*ck it, Do it.” And I did it. And then I did it some more. Yes, I was nervous. Yes I was scared. Yes, I had a crisis of confidence. Yes, I didn’t think I could do certain things. I still don’t. But, how do I know if I don’t try? Only one way to find out. I let go of any fear of failure, because now I know there is no failure. Giving things a go and trying does not mean you will let anyone down. It means there will be no ‘what if’s’. If you’re going to do something, give it your best shot and see what happens. The unknown is scary, like a dark wooded forest. But it’s also a forest where unicorns skip around and rainbows shine once you get in there.

Someone told me yesterday “You’re the person I want to be. Carefree, not frightened to make a decision”. I told them they can become that person. They just need to feel the fear and do it anyway. Fuck it, do it. Think ahead in the future and figure out the worst case scenario. Is being unhappy but not rocking the boat for the next 10 years better than ripping a plaster off and short term pain? Hanging around the bottom of a rainbow with no pot of gold or riding on the top with sunbeam in your face and a view to beat a million.

Life is too short to hold yourself back. To be the best version of you that you can be. To live a life true to yourself. To exist in black and white.

And I’m not just talking about skipping off around the world or adventure if that’s how you’re reading this. I’m talking about anything you want to do but are unsure of. Learning a new skill, deciding whether to try a new activity, being more sociable, taking the kids on holiday, leaving a relationship, starting a new one, giving the cute girl in Boots your number, running a marathon, quitting your job, applying for a new one, getting a new hairstyle. Literally anything. Everyone is different. You have to figure out what it is that makes you happy and remove those barriers you stick up.

Ah yes, those barriers. Money! Mortgage! Kids! Job! “I can’t just drop everything”.

For example, travel. We’ve all seen the internet memes. Go explore the world. It’s that easy!

No, it’s not. BUT. It’s not impossible. Actually, it’s a lot easier than you think. But people don’t even start to look.

If you really want to do something, you can do it. You might just have to be a bit creative about how you do it. Or it might take you a long time. But it is achievable.

Got a job? How about asking for a career break or unpaid leave? How about quitting or working abroad? If you don’t ask, you don’t know. You might even get a better job when you come back. People forget if you go travelling and aren’t paying all your bills, you don’t need to earn a shed load of cash (e.g. when you come back) straight away. Think about the skills your travel can add to your CV. The stuff you can learn.

Mortgage? Rent your house out. The rental market is strong. Get a professional house sitter. Air bnb it. Save up extra to cover your mortgage. Sell your house and move into a caravan.

Kids. OK, a little trickier. But again, not impossible. Take them with you. The life education they will get will be immense. I met quite a few families when I was travelling. The kids were amazing (like the Meeks). Go in the summer holidays. Go on different types of trips. Make them into adventures.

“It’s so expensive”. Well, this is subjective. If you want to stay in 5* hotels then yes, it probably will be. There are so many ways to travel. It is NOT an extended holiday. Go to countries where it is cheap as chips (£5 a night guesthouse in SE Asia for example). How about volunteer programmes where you get your food and accommodation covered? Cycle trip and camping? No accommodation or transport costs. Set a budget and save up for it. Stop buying a coffee and lunch every day. Do you really need that 10th pair of shoes? Rent a room rather than a whole flat. Walk to work and get rid of the car. Don’t go out so much, or stop some of that expensive hobby (or cut down). Honestly, if you really want it, then you can achieve it. It just takes a bit of effort.

When you’re sat in a nursing home thinking back on your life, what do you want to remember? All the extra hours at work, the big TV and the flashy car? Or the moments that count. That sunrise, that look on someone’s face, that time you gave something to others? The time you took a risk or tried something new. Who gives a shit what the outcome was? You’ll remember giving it a go.

So why not try it? Go on, see if there’s something you can give a go. Something you’re maybe not sure of? Something you’ve been putting off?

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