Working 9 to 5.

I tend to write at night. Not sure why. Sometimes the words don’t come any earlier. Often, they start after 10pm which either means I don’t end up writing what I want, or that I end up going to bed mega late. Tonight though, that’s not too much of a problem, because I don’t work on Fridays any more. Yes, I am a PART-TIME slacker now. More on that later.

So today I’ve been thinking about writing, but I’ve not been sure what to write about. The topics have changed depending on what’s been going on today. And there’s been a fair bit today actually. Things that have happened, things I’ve done, feelings and thoughts I’ve had, news I’ve heard and conversations I’ve been involved in. SO MUCH for my tiny brain to take in.

Mainly I realised today that I’d just finished my 4th week in my new job. FOURTH WEEK. Really? Not quite sure where that’s gone actually, still feel like a newbie, still feel like I’ve only just got there and still don’t feel like I’ve got my head around anything. Luckily I’m not the only new person and so I don’t feel so alone, but I still mainly feel like I’m swimming through a murky lake underwater without my glasses, unable to see anything or the other side. It’s not a particularly great feeling, and I guess one of the reasons why people don’t change jobs that often. I was only in my last job just shy of 18 months, but I’d got to the point where I knew what I was doing, was doing OK at it and everything is nice and comfortable and easy(ish). So of course, time to throw myself into a new organisation, new role with no idea of what was to come eh? Be the new person again, get to know a new culture, new role, new people, new ways of working, new systems, processes and technology. Now, I love change probably more than a lot of people, but I kind of forget how fucking draining it can be. Yes, throw anything at me and I’ll generally just get on and do it, but it’s bloody exhausting too you know? Especially as I wasn’t really looking for a new job; I quite liked my old one. But, when you get offered an opportunity too good to turn down, you can’t say no right?

Incidentally there’s been a lot of talk about the transition curve at my new job, as I’ve joined to help implement some new tech as part of a HR transformation project. If you’ve not seen it, it’s basically the stages of transition that people can go through following a change. Actually really interesting, and useful, especially a week or so ago when I was having a bit of hobo-wanderlust wobble moment, which I’m thinking now was perhaps just a reaction to the change (well, some of it). Using the curve has helped me calm the fuck down, for at least a little bit longer. The head is winning over the heart right now.

transition-curve-e1327358138202Anyway, one thing that I am LOVING about my new job is that I’ve gone down to a 4 day week. Yes, I am skiving work on a Friday every week now. And I love it, and wish I’d looked at doing it in previous jobs a lot earlier. I have a 3 day weekend. And it’s bloody brilliant.

On hearing of my new slacker status, there are two things that people say to me:

One – “You’re so lucky, I wish I could do that” and two – “what will you do with your day off?”

Well, number one people – YOU CAN. You just need a couple of things really – firstly, be willing to take a pay drop. Yes, working one less day means a day’s less pay funnily enough. Circa 20%. Even though I did get a pay rise with my new job, it wasn’t that much more, and also I have to pay fuel costs now (I did actually apply for a 4 day week at my old place also but didn’t get it). So I’m down a fair bit each month, yes. BUT – and here’s the important bit – I value my time more than material things and money. I worked out I can still pay my bills, and still have fun money, just not as much. But I now get a whole extra day each week to have a better work life balance. And that is so much more important to me than having the latest handbag*. Second, it helps to have a flexible employer, one who will recognise work life balance as important, especially if there are no childcare reasons (a lot of people/organisations view part time working for someone with no kids a bit odd), and a role that is able to be done on less than full time hours. I know I’m lucky in that respect.

“Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” ~ Prophecy of the Cree Native American Tribe

And number two people – I haven’t quite figured out what I will do with it yet. So far I’ve spent them catching up on stuff I’d been putting off and didn’t have time to do in the evenings: tax return, car in garage, food shopping (we all know how shit at having food in the house I am), that kind of boring but necessary shit. But really, my only plan was just to make sure I don’t waste it. Eventually I want to spend it doing something useful, either for myself or other people. Or both. And work on projects I’ve been thinking about but never had time to do. Maybe one day projects that might make me a bit of cash. To make up for the shortfall.

Work is necessary, I have to pay my bills right now. But to me it’s not something that should be hated or endured. I’m lucky in that I also actually quite like what I do, life is way too short to dread getting up in the morning, and 5 days is too much of a chunk out of the week to spend it doing something utterly boring or hateful. But I like what I do outside of work too. I don’t think what I do now is what I want to do long term, but I haven’t got all that figured out yet. I’m not sure I ever will but over the last couple of months I’ve figured out a hell of a lot more stuff than I have over the last 2 years. So I’m on the right track, which is a pretty good place to be.

But the next step is a break. To step off the treadmill and have a fucking rest. Not necessarily physical rest (what I’ve got planned in South Africa isn’t really what most people would call relaxing, ha!) but rest from the mind fuck that is Life. Headspace, a change of scenery and some time out. I want to stop the world and just get off for a bit.

And see penguins. On a beach. They will never fail to make me smile.

 

*as if I could give a shit even if when I did work full time…

 

 

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Busy as fuck.

Busy as fuck. Yes, that’s me right now. Not much writing. None in fact. It’s been over a month that’s been full of being ill, not much sleep, too much drinking and socialising, too much to do and not enough time, long hours working (and new job) and travelling. Holiday planning (although – yay! – this is exciting to do stuff) and to do lists coming out of my ears. Trying to keep the wheels turning without falling off. I’m about managing it. Just.

I’m ready for a holiday. My brain is working overtime thinking about various stuff that’s happened over the last couple of months and I’m doing my own head in. A lot of change in a short space of time means I’m having a bit of a head vs heart internal discussion right now. I’ve had to tell my brain to have a rest until I’m back in January and I’ll see how I feel then. I put a lot of faith in gut feeling and that’s usually where my Fuck it, Do it action comes in, and I feel like I’m going against gut feeling right now. Tricky one.

Still, only a few weeks until I’m exploring this kind of scenery again:

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A holiday from the holiday.

That’s what I had recently. 10 days on a beach, eating lots, drinking lots, partying, sleeping, sunbathing, paddling in the sea, a little bit of running and little else. Just resting and having a bit of a holiday.

You probably think, but you’re ON holiday. Why do you need a holiday? That’s just being greedy.

But you know, travelling is tiring. Travelling can be non-stop. Travelling can be hard work. Travelling can be stressful. Travelling is not really the same as a holiday.

Imagine the last weekend away you might have had, where maybe you went to a new city, or a new place. You’ll have to get there, right, so by car, or train or even plane. Then, you need to find your hotel, that you’ve probably already booked, so it’s just a case of finding it. Then, you spend a few days finding places to eat, visiting sights and attractions, lots of walking, taking pictures, new sights and experiences. Then you travel back, and get home and probably feel a little bit worn out, and maybe in need of a little rest.

OK. Now imagine doing that pretty much every day for a few months. Imagine not having any accommodation or travel booked, so all that has to be sorted out on the move or when you arrive in a new city. Getting to a new place and finding your way around. Learning new bits of a different language every few weeks. Organising visas and getting used to new currencies. Packing, unpacking and repacking. Figuring out who’s genuine and who’s trying to rip you off. Finding a laundry to wash clothes. Lugging a heavy backpack about. Getting on and off buses, trains or tuk tuks. Finding cheap places to eat, where you can try the local food without it costing a fortune.

I tell you, it’s a bit tiring. And I’m not knocking it one bit; I do enjoy every minute of it. And please don’t think I’m being ungrateful, I realise how amazing it is for me to be able to do what I’m doing. But boy, I didn’t realise how much I needed a break until I laid on that beach. A break from doing. No going anywhere, no sorting anything out, no photos or sights to see.

Sometimes, travellers need a holiday from the holiday. A chance to recharge, to stay in one place for a while, establish a little bit of a routine and just enjoy the art of not doing.

And oh, it was heavenly. It worked.

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On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at.

(Standard English: On Ilkley Moor without a hat)

Apparently, everyone knows of this popular Yorkshire folk song, because no end of people have said this to me over the last week or so when I mentioned I was off to Ilkley. I’ve never heard of it in my life, and so could only respond with a confused look on my face. I only know of Ilkley from going loads when I was younger because my brother used to play there in a tennis tournament every year. Oh, and I knew there was a place called Ilkley Moor, which had a few rocks on it.

So, I went to Ilkley this weekend for a little break away, I had some hotel vouchers to use up before I go and a willing victim playmate to come along so we headed off on Friday for a bit of fun in the countryside.

Ilkley is preeeeetty. It has blossom trees, and hills, and green stuff, and a river, and little shops, and coffee places, and bars and restaurants to stuff your face with Bloody.Good.Food. Had an awesome meal at Le Bistrot Pierre on Friday night and then another awesome meal at Vietnamese restaurant Bistro Saigon on Saturday night. Add in the hotel breakfasts, tea and cake and then a bloody good 3 course Sunday lunch back at the Tower when we got back to Lincoln and I’d say we’ve eaten pretty well this weekend.

Ilkley was fun. We did a fair amount of walking, lots of eating (see above), some relaxing and a bit of drinking. And I took a few pictures (see below). Decided to go for a walk up Ilkley Moor on Saturday and morning and got SOAKED. Yep, it rained. A Lot. I had a hood, I wasn’t too bad. The Marine didn’t. He got a bit (a lot) wet. We dried off a bit in the hotel and tried again after a while, but went down by the river this time rather than up onto the moor. The Marine skimmed stones which I was impressed to find out he was pretty good at. I took pictures. A man in a wetsuit swam in shallow water. Male ducks outnumbered females ones by a high ratio. A child threw a drinks bottle in the water and got told off. All in all an interesting walk. In the afternoon we went up on the moor again, and managed to find a little secluded spot in the sun away from the wind and had a little lay down, watching the clouds. That little section of time was just ace, like the world had stopped for a bit.

I hadn’t taken my running stuff because I was still getting over a cold and didn’t feel great. So naturally I saw lots of runners. Tormenting me. I’m sure they KNEW. But, as The Marine himself pointed out if I had have taken my stuff he would have beasted me up the hills up the moor. Sadist. So, probably for the best.

The funniest and most bemusing moment was probably when an old woman walked past us in the street and shouted “stop!”. Shortly followed by “…looking so..[pause]..intelligent. And..[pause]..fit.” Erm, right, okay. Thank you?!

Nicest moment was getting to the hotel and having a bit of post. I’ve never had post at a hotel before. I opened it and it was a card from the girl in the central reservations team who made my booking. I’d happened to just be chatting with her while sorting out the booking on the phone (as I tend to, I’m quite chatty) about the weekend, weather and my upcoming travels, and so the card wished me a lovely sunny weekend and hoping that I have an amazing trip around the world. I’m pretty sure this isn’t standard practice so it was such a nice surprise. I decided to pass the good feeling onto someone else on the way home, and so paid for the car behind at Dunham Toll Bridge. Not a lot, but a little gesture to be nice. A random act of kindness. Made me feel good. Maybe the people in the car behind passed something on too that day.

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