Move on.

I sent this picture to a friend the other week, a friend who was having a tough time with something, someone.

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It’s spot on. Easier said than done, of course. I’m sure we’ve all been there. Toxic relationships, toxic friendships, maybe even toxic family or toxic work environment.

And sometimes, we cling on, even when we know we shouldn’t. Feeling bad, even though the brain tells us not to. Ending up not feeling good enough for someone, or understanding why something won’t go our way or someone won’t feel the way we want them to.

Relationships can be really fucking complicated. Or they can be easy. Or both. So many people stay in relationships that aren’t healthy, that are toxic. Relationships they really need to get out of. But yet they stay; for a variety of reasons. Scared to be on their own, scared they won’t find anyone else, children, financial reasons, sometimes abuse and control. Sometimes people don’t really realise they’re unhappy, but maybe they know they’re not happy but perhaps don’t feel it’s enough to do something about it. You know, sometimes people are looking for a reason to leave, and that if there’s not a big ‘thing’ that happens, then low level shit behaviour is not enough to leave or end a relationship/friendship etc.

Bollocks.

Just not being happy is enough of a reason. Of course it is. Yep, easier said than done, but also easier done than said sometimes. Short term pain, long term gain. If a relationship, friendship etc is making you unhappy, then you can do something about it. You don’t have to stay with that person. You don’t have to make a go of things, or make an effort.

Because that’s the ‘sunken costs fallacy’ that causes people to make poor relationship decisions. “I don’t want to throw away X years together” for example.

Are you basically saying to yourself that you’ve invested so much that you cannot notice your thoughts and feelings telling you to end this relationship? This divorces you from you inner thoughts and the quiet feelings that might guide you in your life and you can end up in a neglectful relationship with yourself. In other words, thinking about what already has been may prevent you from deciding what you want your life to be.

It’s a mistake to think that the amount of investment in a relationship automatically adds value to it. It doesn’t. The value of the relationship consists of what is happening in the present and in the future. The past is done. The past is useful in predicting the future, but the past by itself doesn’t actually add any value. The length of a relationship or the amount of effort put into a relationship doesn’t actually add value. If it’s clear that a relationship won’t serve you in the future, your previous investment in the relationship won’t change that and you’ll still be in the same position.

Yes, it’s hard, but don’t let the rest of your life be dictated by what has been. It doesn’t have to continue to be. What your future contains is down to you.

And so to my friend, I told them, yeah, I know you can’t just turn off feelings and all that, but you can try to look at things objectively, look at what’s been and what could come, think about your own integrity and self worth and realise you’re worth more, much more than that little crapbag who wasn’t the person you thought, who wasn’t the person you fell in love with. That person never existed. You don’t need someone else to validate you or make you happy. That comes from you. Other people just compliment that.

Go be a bourbon drinking dancing unicorn instead.

 

 

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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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Sunday night ponderings.

I like Sundays. I know not everyone does. I often work from home on a Monday so I don’t quite have the same Sunday night blues as if I had to get up and drive to the office, although I have booked myself into spin tomorrow morning at 6.30am for some odd reason.

I also love living on my own. Today I have mainly been pottering around at home not really doing that much apart from my ironing and moving stuff around in a bid to convince myself that I am actually sorting things out and getting rid of stuff I no longer need (I’m not of course). I had a conversation with some friends last night about how spending time alone means that you think lots, or can mean you think too much and need distractions. I have realised that random things have been swirling around my brain tonight and so I thought I’d share them as I’ve been wanting to write for a few days now but didn’t really know what to write about so this seems as good as any to curb my itchy fingers for a bit. In no particular order:

  • Are cocktail sausages are an acceptable evening meal, and is eating a massive chunk of halloumi cheese in one go any way nutritionally beneficial? The excellent thing about living alone is that it actually doesn’t matter as there is no one else around to judge. Oh, and grilling halloumi smells like pancakes. Which is annoying as I now could eat a pancake with lemon and sugar.
  • Will I ever be able to watch a whole TV programme without doing something else at the same time again? Probably not. Stupid smartphones/internet and having the attention span of a gnat.
  • Why is the reason “I’m just not that happy” not enough for some people to change something? There doesn’t have to be a big thing, or a big reason. You can ignore the other excuses. You know, the “well, it’s mainly OK” or, “I can’t do XYZ because it will affect ABC”. Live your own life for yourself. If you’re just not happy, then that’s a perfectly valid reason to make a change.
  • I never used to like beetroot but the other month I was given some by Shelley and I realised it was actually pretty nice. I can’t stop eating it now. Perhaps I will turn purple. I’m pretty sure it’s classed as a superfood though, but I don’t want to google to check just in case it’s not and I’m actually eating my body weight in empty calories or something. I do that enough with alcohol and Maltesers.
  • DS Troy was the best sidekick to Barnaby in Midsomer Murders. The other two were OK but not quite the same. My boss at work, James, looks very much like DS Scott. This disturbs me a little bit and I still think of it every time I see him and sometimes send him screenshots of the TV if the programme is on. Ha.
  • Why are some people so obsessed with relationships? Either being in one if you’re not, about not being in one when you are, or in other people’s (or lack of). Some people find it hard to understand that I quite like being single and that I’m actively NOT looking for a relationship. Yes, still – I know it’s been a while now since I got divorced but hey, there’s no time limit. And don’t forget the 2 year ‘thing’ with The Marine, it’s not been that long since that finished, and he’s kinda hard for someone to follow. So please don’t tell me that I need a good bloke or that I must want company, I am actually telling the truth when I say I like my own company and I’m happy!
  • I AM going to do Dry February. Alcohol, even just a couple of drinks, can fuck with exercise and food plans, and sleep. If I’m going to get fitter (something I want to do over the next couple of months) then drinking isn’t going to help. And yeah, I know I probably should have some more refined ‘SMART’ goals about what ‘fitter’ actually is, but come on, this is me. That’s FAR too rigid. Let’s leave it fluffy and ambiguous.
  • Social media can be a twat sometimes. Or rather, people can be twats on social media. Same thing really, same outcome. Sometimes I hate it all and I realise that one of the things I loved and that did me good on my trip away was the break from it all. Ironic then, that I am writing this on social media. It’s a double edged sword. It can be so useful, great, educational, connecting and social. But also it’s a massive time, energy and attention zap, or I find myself being transported into different lives that look much more exciting than my own and it makes me start to think about what I want to do with my life. Or there’s so much going on I don’t know what to get involved with. So many things, not enough time. I find myself so conflicted thinking about how I want to live my life and the place of social media in that life. Sometimes living in a hut in the woods is so tempting, haha.
  • I want to get some pictures for my flat. I need two big ones, and I want one I want to be a painting that I commission. I wonder how you go about finding an artist?

There’s more but well, it’s all a bit dull isn’t it? Life can’t be all exciting all the time. Sometimes I love these lazy pottering days, they’re needed. Apart from the eating of the nutritionally shit food. That’s not needed. One day I’ll not be tempted to eat big blocks of halloumi. But man, it tastes so good….

Day #20 20.01.16

I’m a lucky girl; I have great friends. Tonight I was invited over for tea by my friend Rachel. I’ve known her since we were about 13 and went on the school bus together. She’s the one person I knew in Cheltenham before I moved here and I happened to pick a flat to live in that’s 5 minutes away from her house (handy).

She’s a year younger than me but looks after me well as she’s a proper grown up so she often cooks me tea and stuff. In return I make her go out and get drunk and relive our Horncastle Town Hall youth.

Lasagne tonight (a proper home cooked meal that I very rarely have time or the inclination to cook) and a good old catch up.

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Day #18 18.01.16

That thing that everyone dreads when getting back from holiday: work. Yes, first day back to work today. But you know, it wasn’t so bad. I worked from home and today was a catching up day. So going through emails, catching up with colleagues about what had happened over the last couple of weeks, checking stuff, that kind of thing. A decent day to break me in gently really, and it’s probably good really, because there was a couple of times in the last few weeks where I kind of forgot I had a job. At least I managed to remember my passwords.

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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…

 

 

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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#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.

 

 

End of an era.

It’s an emotional time. The house I called home for over 20 years since I was 6 months old has now been sold. I visited for the last time last weekend, so I’ve said my goodbyes, but I’ve been thinking about it as the parentals move out this week.  You’re probably thinking that it’s just a house. I moved out 12 years ago. Why is it emotional? Because it’s not just a house to us. It’s home. It was built by my parents and we’re the only people to have lived there. Even though I have my own home now, and I’ve lived in 4 different places since I moved out, it will always be home, and was always the place where I could go and raid the cupboards, run up and down the stairs and lounge around no matter how old I was.

I moved there as a 6 month old baby, and we (my parents, me and my brother) lived in a caravan for 4 years while the ‘big house’ was being built. And so began a wonderful childhood which, when it comes down to it, was centred around a couple of houses and an orchard in the middle of nowhere. But it wasn’t just a house. It was the place that may have just had 4 walls and a roof (eventually) but it was what it was filled with, surrounded by and what we did that made it our home.

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Like the orchard and ponds where me and my brother built dens, treehouses, rope swings, jettys, rafts, bmx tracks, and golf courses. Where I climbed trees and picked fruit. Where I fell in the pond (miraculously only once in all those years) after trying to walk on the ice in winter when it had frozen over. No wonder I’m a tomboy when this was my childhood playground.

Or my nan and grandad’s house next to the orchard where we spent many hours playing with marbles, reading Noddy and playing cards or dominoes, listening to the tick tock of the clock rescued from a bonfire that is now underneath my bed waiting to have something done with it.

And the yard where I learnt to ride a bike (after crashing into the hedge a few times) outside all the sheds with helpfully descriptive names; the engine shed, the black shed, the workshop, the rabbit shed/big shed and the shop. Including the shed that my brother climbed on the roof of so we could play a game, only the game ended shortly after because I shoved a drainpipe in his face. Accidentally of course, although I’m sure he loves the scar in his eyebrow he still has now from the stitches he had to have.

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My Dad’s workshop was where I’d go and sit on the black stool and chat to him. Where he’d tell me as a kid I could do anything in life if I wanted it and worked hard enough. And where as a teenager I’d go out and share sneaky cigarettes with him because Mum didn’t know I smoked.

The house for years had pink plaster walls because there were so many rooms to decorate and the parentals couldn’t do it all in one go. It was great though as it meant we could write on the walls, especially around the mirror in the kitchen near the phone (in the days before cordless phones) for phone numbers or doodles.

The flood/leak we had which meant all the furniture in the front room had to be moved into the dining area which I liked because it was all squashed in and I liked small rooms.

The death slide that my Dad made for us from the front bit of a bike and a rope tied from the roof of the rabbit shed to the garage. Between that, all the tree climbing and bike riding I am still amazed I didn’t break any bones. The rusty swing that Dad put up for us which we’d swing round and climb up. The tent he made from bits of wood and a bit of tarpaulin.

The gauntlet runs I’d have to do past the chicken runs to my grandparent’s house where I’d get chased by the mad cockerel. And going over there in the pitch black just with a torch. As a kid it used to shit me up something chronic that I could only see into the trees with a small circle of light. Used to be convinced there might be a axe murderer hiding in the orchard, but only when it was dark.

The fact we had no neighbours meant that we could be as loud as we wanted. And I mean LOUD. I used to have screaming matches with my friends over the fields (fuck knows why). Matthew used to play his rave music as a teenager on full blast through massive speakers outside.

Having my wedding reception there was just brill too. OK I know I’m divorced now but it was a cracking day. Really relaxed and chilled. And I still love the fact we had wedding photos taken in the big shed with all my Dad’s crap furniture waiting to be restored. Lasting memories and evidence of how much shit used to be stored in the sheds.

The garden wasn’t always a garden. In fact for years there was a massive hill in the middle of the garden from the earth that was excavated for the footings, which as a kid was great in the winter as we used to sledge down it, and in the summer we’d bike up and down it. After that was cleared it stayed a field for a bit because I had a donkey for a few years. I actually wanted a pony but I looked after a donkey over the winter as Dad wanted to see if I actually would do all the work needed. I didn’t, so I never got one. Clever man. I had so much fun with the donkeys though. And so did Dad, as they were escape artists.

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When we were younger we used to get snowed in properly, and I remember listening to the radio with mum in the morning to see if the little village primary school I went to was closed. And being very excited when it was.

IMG_20150831_112058 IMG_20150831_112048But of course it’s not just the house or the orchard or the trees or any other stuff. Of course there was all of that but what it all comes down to is the people. The people that filled the house. Our family. Small but perfectly formed, I think we’re pretty ace. We were lucky to live next door to one set of grandparents and have the other a few miles down the road and saw them every week, bringing my cousins with them most of the time too. My parents welcomed all our friends and quite often there was a houseful. Or an orchardful. Christmases were especially ace, everyone would come to us and there would be a week or so of mayhem, big trees and cat carnage. Oh, and I can’t forget Dad’s Christmas treasure hunts which would take us all over the house and out to the sheds, mainly to keep us out of the way for a bit and tire us out. I loved these so much I actually made Dad do one only a few years ago, haha. We were very lucky to have my parents around when we were young. Dad worked for himself at home in the workshop and so was always around to take me somewhere or help me with something. Mum was in and out too depending on when she was working.

Everything changes though. There’s been so many changes there, over all the years but especially in the last few years and the last few months. My grandparents house is gone now. The orchard is all but gone. All the sheds are gone. There’s more lawn that you can shake a stick at. Walls were added, fences were taken down. The yard doesn’t exist. The ponds have been filled in. The house was done up and dressed to sell. There’s a stable and a paddock, built years after the pony-mad youngster in me had moved out (thanks Dad).

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Where the orchard and pond used to be

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Where the yard and worksop used to be

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It’s not the same now, and so it makes it easier in some way to say goodbye. It’s not our home any more. But now, it’s real. Those contracts have been signed and I’ve had my last visit. I can’t go back and drive up the driveway any more, or run in and sit on the kitchen worktop. But, the memories will always be there. Many happy memories and that’s what I’ll remember.

There are so many, what’s above is just such a small percentage. And yes I know I’m massively lucky. So thanks Mum and Dad, for creating the best home ever for us. You should be mega proud of yourselves for all you achieved. Look at the pictures above. You took it from an overgrown field back in the 80’s to the home and gardens you’re leaving this week. Well done. That’s all you that is, loads of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Including the bastard job of removing all the stones from the field by hand – still not quite sure I forgive you for making me do that yet.

It’s the end of an era and sad, but also exciting as it’s the start of a new chapter for you. Lots of exciting things coming up, and also time for you to have a rest for a bit.