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…

 

 

Image is everything.

Image is everything. Or is it? Today’s world and social media says so. Especially for women. Airbrush this, stick a filter on that, photoshop the fuck out of everything. So many apps that allow you to change your photos to make them look ace.

Which, let’s be honest, they do look ace. You can make something look pretty damn sweet with enough filters and editing. This is nothing new, photographers have been doing it for years. But now everyone can do it with their day to day photos, and then use that to present their life to the world. Which is OK, apart from that makes it intrinsically false and fake.

There’s been loads of talk of this in the media over the last few months, lots of people writing similar posts and sad stories of people who presented the perfect life when reality was actually far from it, some ending in tragic circumstances. I kind of posted about this back in May when the #lifeunfiltered hashtag was doing the rounds.

Today I read a story about a teenager who was making money from social media – mainly the pictures she was posting and the clothes she was wearing – when she decided to remove most of the pictures and edit the captions of certain pictures to reveal the truth behind the pictures.  How she didn’t eat, would take over 100 shots to get the ‘perfect’ picture and so on. What a great thing to do to try to raise awareness of the reality behind these ‘perfect’ lives.

I hate the world today in terms of the media and what we as women get told we should be, what we should look like, what kind of life we should be living. Who is anyone to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do? The life the media and advertising gives us is totally unattainable for most people, and can cause so much unhappiness and low self esteem. It’s like chasing a unicorn across a rainbow; unrealistic.

We should be teaching our daughters, nieces, friends etc. to love themselves. To be happy from within. That looks are not the be all and end all. That how much you weigh doe not dictate your happiness. That being healthy and loving yourself is much more important. That you do not need validation from others to feel worthy. That confidence is much more attractive than make up or clothes. That following your dreams and listening to yourself is a pretty good Thing To Do.

The older I get the more I see younger women unhappy and uncomfortable. I’ve found the older I get the more happy I become (and having chatted to a lot of my friends of similar age or older it’s common). Because the older I get the more I realise what is important (and what’s not). That worrying about what you look like in your 20’s is such a waste. Get to your 30’s and more and you’ll realise that looks wise, your 20’s is a prime time. That you weren’t fat. That you didn’t have wrinkles. That old saying of youth is wasted on the young. And I’m sure it will be the same in my 40’s. And 50’s. And so on.

Back in 2012 I did a photo-a-day blog to document my first year of single life – a year I knew would be spent rediscovering myself. One post was some advice I would give to my 15 year old self. It’s a fairly short post but still stands true today. I’ve recently seen a post about what older women would also say to their younger selves too. And similar articles on the internet. It’s all fairly similar. Tricky though, as I also know that had someone told me this back when I was 15 I totally wouldn’t have listened. Because of course I knew everything, I was a teenager. I was lucky enough to have parents who made me believe I could do anything, and even though events in my 20’s could have quashed that belief, they didn’t, luckily. It just took me a few more years to start putting it into practice.

People need make and learn from their own mistakes, but if we could foster a world where some basic principles become the norm, I’d like to think that the lessons would come from where people had reached for the stars rather than cried over what stares back at them from a mirror. If someone is only interested in you for what you look like, then do you really want to know them? Does their opinion really matter? Why do you feel the need to be validated by them, and especially why do you feel the need to be validated on what you look like?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know there are a number of things out there trying to break down the notions of a ‘perfect life’. To encourage and inspire women (and men, this isn’t a gender-specific problem) to believe in themselves, ultimately boosting self confidence and self esteem. And I’m going to try to do that at any opportunity. I don’t have kids, but I have a niece, a god-daughter and many friends with children. If I can be some kind of role model to them and try and pass this message on, then that’s the least I can do.

In the words of Nelson Mandela:

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

#adulting.

Do other people secretly not know what they’re doing with life, or is it just me? Sometimes I feel that at some point, someone will find out that I don’t actually know what I’m doing, work-wise or life-wise, and that I’m not a proper adult. Like I’m pretending. Pretending to be responsible and make proper decisions and stuff.

I met my old boss this week, and he admitted to feeling the same. And he does a proper grown up, responsible job. And is good at it. So if he feels it, then the likelihood is that other people do too.

Internet research shows me that adulting is a popular internet-slang-hashtag. So not just not me. Obviously this is all tongue in cheek, as last time I looked in the mirror I definitely looked every one of my 34 years (that’s a week of driving hundreds of miles, late nights, drinking and partying for you). I’ve got a mortgage, I’m a landlord, I manage to dress and feed myself and all that kind of stuff. But deep down I still feel like a teenager just playing at life most of the time, and one day people will realise.

And sometimes, #adulting is fucking HARD. Especially if you have no one to #adult with. As then you can share the responsible grown up stuff and make them do shit. Have someone to tell you whether you’re doing the right thing or not.

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I’ve long since stopped thinking about what I want to do with my life. It changes all the time. I just do what feels right most of the time. I embrace the unknown and trust my gut feeling. It’s usually right. Focusing too much on an end game means the bits in the middle get forgotten. I try to spend most of my time doing what I enjoy, and I’ve found the rest just follows. No over analysing here, just Fuck It, Do It. If things don’t work out, it’s usually for a reason. And who gives a shit? Just try something else. At least you gave it a go.

And when #adulting does work, it’s pretty cool. I’m often surprised how things have worked out for me, but then I remember it’s probably because I did something. Those #adulting decisions work out sometimes. Maybe I am an adult. Just don’t tell anyone.

 

 

Old memories.

I’m sitting here tonight wanting to write a post about the end of an era – the sale of my childhood home. I kind of know what I want to write, and how I want to start it, yet the rest of words aren’t there quite yet in my head. So I’ll have to save that one for another time.

Instead, I’m listening to the album 21 by Adele. I know most of the songs off by heart, because I listened to this CD (yep, back in the shiny disc days) over and over again in my car driving to and from work when I was going through my separation (that and Katy Perry, but I’m after chilled out music right now). I’m thinking whether the songs are tainted now with those memories. Because well let’s face it, it was a pretty shitty time for me back then. Came to the conclusion that no they’re not now, but it’s taken a while. 4 years to be exact. I look back on it now like it was someone else’s life. Feels like a whole different lifetime ago, and I was a different person, just ask anyone that knew me back then. I don’t tend to try to look back too much, I’m a bit of a live in the moment kinda gal. I hate planning too far in advance and just tend to go with the flow, maxing out life where I can. But my ‘previous life’ seems to pop up loads, I can’t bloody escape it. I remember going to Peru in 2012, meeting lots of new people and my recent divorce would pop up in conversation, and I remember wanting to escape it. Thinking that it was just because it was so new, and such a big thing in my life back then and one day I could almost pretend it never happened. But I can’t. Now I’ve realised it’s likely to always crop up, for one reason or another. Whether meeting new people or chatting to old friends. And that pisses me off a bit. However. It’s made me who I am now. I can’t complain. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be the person I am now without going through all that.

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Because you see, now I absolutely love the person who I am. I’m back to being me, true to myself and happy inside and out. In control of my life and my destiny. And having no idea what the future holds.

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This weekend just gone was a bit of a whirlwind tour of London, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Loads of travelling and catching up with loads of mates and family. Squeezing in as many people as possible for a hello, cup of tea and good old chin wag. Reminiscing about old memories and catching up on life right now.

I have SO much to smile about right now it’s unreal. So many good things happening, so many awesome people in my life. So many exciting opportunities and possibilities there for the taking. Life is awesome.

Sorry, I have no idea on the point of this post, or the direction it’s taken.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say, or whether anything is making any sense really. I’m very tired, I’ve not stopped for days and have driven so many hundreds of miles I don’t really know whether I’m coming or going. I guess mainly it’s that I’ve had a few days of revisiting old memories. It’s been great to see lots of lovely familiar faces. A visit to Lincoln always stirs up old memories, it always will. So much happened there.

But it’s also a reminder that everything changes – Note: Take That reference 😉 – and nothing stays still. As much as you might not want things to change, they will. It’s inevitable. No point in fighting it. Change is good. Change is exciting. But, it can also be scary. Frightening. Sad. A massive mixture of emotions. Just gotta roll with it. It’s how you deal with it that matters. All about how to think about stuff.

If you know anything about Buddhism, then a massive part of it is around impermanence. Worth reading up on if that’s your bag. I learnt about Buddhism, suffering, attachment, impermanence etc. when I did a 10 day silent retreat at a Buddhist meditation centre in India. Absolutely fascinating stuff, and helps with all kinds of shit in every day life for me. The point being that everything, and I mean everything, is not permanent. Is changing, every single second. Even that solid oak table. And if everything is changing, then nothing is permanent, and so how can you be attached to something that is changing all the time?

It’s all about how you look at things, and how you choose to react to them. What you let go, how to forgive and the difference between attachment and love.

impermanence quote TNH

No standing still. Don’t stand still. Embrace change.

Home.

I’ve been thinking about home a bit recently. Not in any particular way, but just thinking about it. Thinking about where actually is home. Especially at the moment. You’d probably say Lincolnshire but it’s not really any more. I haven’t got my house or job there any more, and who’s to say I’ll settle back there anyway when I do return to the UK? What’s to keep me there? My old life doesn’t exist any more, and if I tried to recreate it, that’s all I’d be doing, trying to recreate something that’s gone. I’ve moved on. My life can never be the same, and I don’t want it to be. Things change, that’s just a fact of life.

I’m into my 6th month of travelling, so getting on for half way, so I’m not really surprised I’m thinking about home. I’m missing some home comforts, people and a normal way of life. I’m getting a bit weary of travelling so much. So many new countries, new languages, new currencies, new traditions to figure out. Like I mentioned in my The little things post, it’s those things that start to make a difference. When I leave for Australia on 11th December I’ll have been in Asia for nearly 6 months, and I think that’s about right for me. In Australia I will stay with some friends for a while and then look after their house for them while they are away over Christmas and New Year, and I can’t TELL you how excited about this I am. It feels a bit like I’ll be going home for a bit of a rest and a recharge before starting the next part of the adventure, without actually going back to the UK. A chance to be in one place for longer than a few days. A chance to eat proper food* and get some good running** in. A chance to get some new clothes. A chance to get my hair cut. To catch up with some familiar faces. A chance, if you like, to live a normal life for a bit without actually going home, which feels like something I need to do.

It will be strange to be in a country where everyone speaks the same language as me. I’ve got so used to not really knowing what anyone is talking about, and not being able to understand any conversations overheard on buses or trains.

I’ve got a few exciting plans for Australia, all of which are being shaped by the travelling I’ve done so far, which I am probably FAR too excited about. I’m expecting this next part of my journey to be a completely different experience to what I’ve already done. Like a trip of two halves, which for me just adds to the need-to-sit-on-my-hands-excitement.

I also reckon that this next part of my trip will help me figure out what I want my future home and life to look like, and maybe where it might be, or at least will help give me some pointers on what kind of things I want to be in my life. I know I don’t want to be a permanent traveller, although I do wonder how I will feel when I am in one place for longer than a few weeks now.

Through my travels so far, the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had, I’ve got some ideas and a much better idea of who I am and what I enjoy to do, and a hugely renewed excitement for my life when I finish this lot of travel. My life, wherever I end up calling home, or whatever I end up doing will be another new start, another new adventure, and I’m already getting pretty stoked about that. I just have to remember to not try to get ahead of myself. Enjoy the here and now first. Plenty of time for that next year. So much more to come before that.

*fishfinger sandwiches

**longer than 4 miles and more than once a week

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