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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Big girl pants.

 

Some days you have to put your big girl pants on, even if you don’t feel like it. Some days are just a bit crappy and all you want to do is sit and moan about how shit and unjust things and PEOPLE are and wonder what they very hell is wrong with you. And wallow. Wallowing is allowed though, you know. Just maybe for not too long, it can be cathartic for a while, then it just turns into self pity which is no good to anyone.

Yes, there will be a silver lining, yes, things happen for a reason and all that jazz. And yes, one day you will look back and realise that actually, this is probably a good thing, this was meant to happen. But now? No, now is for feeling a bit sad and wanting to eat garlic bread and Maltesers and get a fat food baby bloaty tum. Which actually, works to make you feel better, until you realise that will not actually help the situation and mentally make a note to go on a 12 mile run as soon as possible. Until you realise you’ve not run 12 miles in months and that’s as likely to happen as the whole of August being sunny in the UK. <shoves another Malteser in mouth>

Luckily, the big girl pants are big enough to go over the fat bloaty tum and you know the 12 mile run will happen, just probably in 3 separate occasions. And you know that sometimes, it’s not you, it IS them. And it IS their loss, as much as you might feel like it’s yours right now. And that no, there isn’t something wrong with you (although you do wonder).

The pants have superpowers. For those people going through a shitty relationship time right now (you know who you are), pull them up and embrace the power. Remember that one day this WILL all be a memory. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is shining brighter and lighter than ever before. There’s a new life waiting for you that, yep, isn’t the one you imagined, but maybe, just maybe it’s actually a whole load better. How about that thought? You are doing amazingly, you have no idea how much. You, at some point – months, maybe even years down the line, you’ll look back at this time, and wonder how the very fuck you did it. Maybe even laugh at the absurdity of it all. But right now, doing it you are, and with the utmost dignity. There’s no rule book, there’s no guidelines, just Big Girl Pants and a pair of hypothetical balls to strap on and fill them with.

Mine are Batman ones.

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.)

Day #45 14.02.16

I wasn’t sure what my photo a day was going to be today; probably a picture from a run because I’d planned on going for a long(ish) run because it was a beautiful day with the sun shining and birds singing. It certainly wasn’t going to be anything Valentine-related as I’m not into that and think it’s a crock of shit.

As it happens, circumstances took over and I ended up walking into a door, forehead first, pretty hard (the door jumped out at me, honest). Plans for a run went out the window as I didn’t think it would be the best idea, especially as my head started to feel a bit woozy. So I went to watch the rugby instead.

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I’ve ended up with a bit of a big bump which will probably turn into a big bruise but no major damage done as far as I can tell.

But, it did remind me of that phrase “I walked into a door” that is often used as an excuse if someone’s been used as a punch bag. Which then made me think of domestic abuse. Which then made me think about how ironic that was on Valentines Day. Which made me think about Valentines Day.

It’s hard to say anything about V Day when you’re single without people thinking you’re just bitter and jealous that you’re not in a relationship. As many times as I (and other single people) would say that’s not the case, people still won’t believe you. Well, think what you think, but it’s really not the case.

The thing that really gets me about February 14th is that it’s sold as the most romantic day of the year and that if you don’t do anything if you have a partner then you are an unromantic twat that should be strung up by your small and curlies. Commercialism at it’s worst.

It demands that you should do something romantic, which is generally send someone flowers and chocolates. Buy things! All the things! So is there any thought in that? Is it really so thoughtful to follow the masses and give a generic gift only because there is a day in the year that stipulates that you should? Then social media is full of gift receivers posting proud pictures of the gifts they have been given, adding further fuel to the massive keeping-up-with-the-Joneses fire that is raging within society today, and slotting on the life-is-perfect filter. Because you know, we all know that there’s often the hidden underneath. Underneath the “look, I have such an amazing partner because they got me this massive bunch of flowers” there’s the little fact that everyone knows the rest of the year they’re an absolute twat.

And don’t have pity for me because I’m single on this day of the year (I’m happy being single). Don’t tell me that my perfect man is ‘out there for me somewhere’ (I don’t believe in ‘The One’ etc.). Don’t tell me to go and have a drink to feel better (it’s patronising and arrogant). I don’t feel sad that I’m single. Chances are I’d rather be single forever than swap it with some of the relationships that I see out there.

Because you know, the other 364 days of the year are the ones that count. The little things that mean something. The little thoughtful gestures that people do in relationships just because you are you, not because some calendar celebration tells them to. The cup of tea they bring you in the morning. The meal they cook because you’ve had a long day at work and can’t face cooking. The flowers they get you because they are your favourite and they’re in season. The notes they leave in your lunch box if they make you sandwiches. The surprise present they get you for your birthday. The playlist they make you of your favourite songs. The card they give you that says they love you, just because they can. The film or sports game they sit through with you because they know it means a lot. Not cheating on you. Not name calling and putting you down. Not embarrassing you in front of other people and belittling you. Not raising a hand in violence. Not telling you that it’s your fault, that you provoked them.

Because that’s what relationships should be about. Love. People being thoughtful and kind and generous with their time and spirit. Not necessarily money, and not just on one day of the year. If you’re in a shit relationship, one bunch of roses and a box of milk tray isn’t going to solve it. Don’t gloss over the cracks, don’t be misled.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know as much as anyone that life can get in the way. Day to day life sometimes doesn’t make much time for a lot of that, and for a lot of people today is an excuse and a reminder to recognise what they have in a busy world, and isn’t just about buying a box of chocolates. I love seeing happy pictures and examples of love. But how about all year round? On that rainy Saturday in April or gloriously sunny day in July.

Everyone wants to love, and be loved. But that doesn’t have to always be by a partner. Family and friends do a good job you know. Most importantly though, start with yourself. How can you love someone else if you don’t love yourself?

Thinking about the whole reason I’m writing this post – the “walking into a door” analogy. Domestic abuse is a whole other ball game and a whole other blog post or two so I won’t write too much about it right now. But I wonder how much Valentines Day triggers instances of violence. Or a respite and period of remorse? How many people behave shockingly over the year but hope today will earn them points to save up and cash in.

Did you know 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes?* And on average about seven women and two men are killed by their current or former partner every month in England and Wales**. Pretty scary stuff – but sadly all too common. Don’t get caught up in the chocolates and roses. If the 364 are unhappy, don’t be swayed by the 1. Everyone deserves to be with someone that thinks they’re special and treats them with respect all year round, not a cold day in February once a year.

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And if you’ve ever been used as a punch bag and had to use the “I walked into a door” excuse, then please, please, please get help and get out of that relationship. It’s not healthy. Please don’t make excuses – it’s not normal. You deserve better. Speak to someone. It can be done. Get help:

 

*(Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013/14)

**bbc.co.uk article, 22.05.14

 

Day #36 05.02.16

I’d planned on going back to Cheltenham today but as I didn’t have any plans until Saturday night I decided instead to make an impromptu trip to Boston to visit some very special friends. I’m one of those people that love unexpected visitors so I kind of assume that everyone else does too. Although, I tend to know out of my friends who actually does and who hates it. These friends were not those that hated it. Luckily. Kim was happily surprised to see my face pressed against the door (or did a good job of pretending).

I’ve known Rick & Kim for 13 years and a lot has changed over that time. We’ve had many a drunken night, trips abroad, weddings, babies (them), divorce (me), fancy dress parties, mixing, dancing, Brewdog, Buzz, 5am sunrises, jean fuck-ups and cocktail and bling parties. But one thing has remained throughout: they’re top friends and I love them dearly.

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Merry Christmas

It’s that time of year again. The time that you can’t really miss, especially living in the Western world, where it’s rammed down your throat by the fat-fisted media and advertising pretty much constantly since September. I am of COURSE talking about Christmas!

Hurrah!

Bah Humbug!

Which one are you? As we seem to be told we are one or the other. If you’re not skipping around filling your proverbial cup with festive joy then you MUST be a humbug. And if you’re not grumbling about it, then you must be a buzzing-to-the-eyeballs Christmas fairy ready to shake your tinsel wand at anyone who comes within 2 feet of you. Anyway, regardless of how you feel, there’s no escaping it, it’s only just over a week away. 9 more sleeps* until The Big Day. Not sure how Christmas Day has ended up with the same kudos as someone’s wedding day, but hearing what some people spend on food, presents and all the peripherals, it’s certainly going the same bank-breaking way.

*ah, while we’re here, who the fuck came up with this measure of time? What if I wake up and then go back to sleep? Is that 2 sleeps in one night? In which case it could be 18 more sleeps for me (I never sleep through the night, I’m like a bloody baby). Or more if I drink a cup of tea too late. Or watch a horror film just before going to bed. I have no idea when this became part of the English language, but on Heart (radio station) they even have a song about so many sleeps until Santa. Hmm.

What the chuff IS Christmas anyway? The whole point of where it came from is some Christian story about the Son of God being born to a virgin (more likely Joseph persuaded Mary it wasn’t really ‘doing it’ if he didn’t put it all the way in) in a stable where they then got visitors who had an excellent early-model GPS system and good visitor etiquette to bring gifts for a new baby. Now, if you’re religious, then I’m guessing that’s what your Christmas is going to be centred around, and carols and stuff. All the nice ‘Christmassy’ stuff but if you’re not religious, might not sit well. So then, there’s the other things that have become popular. Trees covered in shiny pretty things, the giving and receiving of presents and spending time with family. Which, for some people will be the best thing ever. And for some, the worst thing ever. There’s something about Christmas that, like weddings, that bring out the worst in people. I’ve heard of tears, manipulation and just general festive craziness. And let’s not forget the parties, the food and the booze. Over indulgence and just general hibernation-inducing activities. Eat more food in one day than you’d eat in a month; all food that should come with a health warning and doesn’t grow on trees or in the ground, then roll around on the floor with a full groaning belly (maybe that’s just me) thinking you’re never going to eat anything ever again, not even a stick of celery.

It doesn’t really matter how you spend Christmas really, as long as you’re doing what YOU want to do. Because really, who needs an excuse to be in massively happy mood, spend time with people you love and drink and eat loads of nice stuff? Let’s just take a minute though, to remember people who won’t be spending time with people they love, for whatever reason. Maybe they’re away from home, or it’s people who are no longer with us, or people who don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with. It can be a hard time for them, so let’s not forget that. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the preparation and parties and stress (yep, all that Big Day good times, like a wedding, take a lot of Organising. People want it to be perfect, and so get stressed out.) that people can forget there are others for whom Christmas isn’t great, it’s actually a bit shit, and they want the whole thing to just be over. As quick as possible. If you know anyone where this might be the case, maybe just take a minute to check if they’re OK. See if they want to join in anything. Just say hello, it will mean something, trust me.

The other big thing about Christmas is Traditions. These are a big thing. For a lot of people, Christmas is Christmas because you do the same things every year. And every family has it’s own things. When you have lunch, or when you open presents, or what you do in the morning, or what you wear when opening presents, or where you open your presents. Or maybe what you leave out for Father Christmas. For me, I haven’t done the same thing each Christmas for years now, and so Christmas doesn’t really FEEL like Christmas any more. I could take or leave it in a way, although of course I love seeing friends and family and all the partying. But it’s not the same as years gone by. When I was little, I loved Christmas. I loved the whole Santa thing, but not necessarily for the presents, just because I loved the fact it was magic. Go to bed, leave a mince pie out and BOOM, stuff appeared in the house in the morning! In our house, me and my brother would always wake up really early and want to get up at about 4am, but we’d never know what time it was as we didn’t have any lights until my dad went to turn the generator on (we lived in the sticks and weren’t connected to mains electric until a few years after we moved in) so the parentals would always persuade us to go back to bed for a while until poor Dad was made to trudge outside across the yard in the cold to the Engine Shed to make electric happen. Then, that’s it, we were awake and no stopping us! Until the 8am slump when all presents were opened and we ran out of energy.

Then came another Papworth tradition which was my utter FAVOURITE. Dad’s infamous Treasure Hunt. I later learnt as an adult this was a cunning plan to keep us kids occupied for a bit and out of the way of the kitchen, but as a kid I didn’t care. In fact, I loved them so much that every year since I’ve looked for the tell tale first clue in an envelope in the Christmas Tree and if I didn’t find one, I’d be disappointed. So much so that Dad actually did a couple about 5 years ago for me, as a late-twentysomething adult. There was much excitement from me then, skipping around the house and outside in all the sheds and my Nan’s house following the trail of clues. They were a bit harder to figure out that first year, Dad had to dumb them down the year after, hahaha! Well, Latin references Dad? COME ON, you know we’re not that clever!!

We used to have everyone over to our house as it was the biggest. Not that we had a massive family though, but more than just the 4 of us. Cousins, Uncle, Grandparents. One year we had to eat around a table tennis table in the junk room that had no carpet and bare plaster walls because there was a big group of us. One year, we had a full house for about a week, and I hated it when everyone went home. Because I loved having so many people to talk to, and play games with. I’m a social, the more-the-merrier creature really.

We never played games that much as a family outside of Christmas, unless I badgered them on a Saturday night sometimes. My dad was normally outside in his workshop working until late so I guess the last thing he wanted to do was play Connect 4 or Kerplunk with me after being on his feet making stuff out of wood all day. Although the board game playing could get out of control sometimes, so maybe I don’t blame him. Like the time we were all playing Monopoly and I got in a mardy and had a massive tantrum and threw the board (and everything on it) in the air/on the floor. And that was only last year. Ha! Joke, I was about 7. And Matthew was cheating. And I was probably on a massive sugar comedown and shattered from waking up at 4am. Mum tells me after I’d thrown the board I crawled behind the sofa and fell asleep and was later taken to bed by Dad. I’m not competitive in the slightest any more.

This year is different again, I’m in a different place (Cheltenham) for the run up, but have kept up my tradition of filling December with partying and drinking, which has been much fun up to now. Just one more weekend of drinking to get through, then I can relax and have a detox (never really drink on The Big Day, surprisingly), starting with my tradition of a Christmas morning run and a day with the family. And then Boxing Day I will spend the day with Best Friend Laura and her family, but instead of getting a bit drunk and being a bit bonkers and entertaining (according to Laura’s sister Holly), I will remain sober as later that night I fly off to South Africa for 3 weeks. It will be different, but kind of the same. Or as they say in SE Asia, same same but different. Still, every year I remind myself just how lucky I am. I’m happy, healthy and have fab friends and family. That’s what matters.

And then, that’s it, Christmas will be over for another year. And then comes New Year. I hate the whole NYE thing (this year will be a quiet affair in a pub in a small South African town), but I do love thinking about what I’ve done this year, and what might be to come next year. That’s another blog post but it’s been a bit of a whirlwind interesting year, and I don’t doubt that next year will be more of the same. I can let one little thing slip though, the Photo A Day Project, made famous in 2012, will be making a reappearance in 2016!

So until then, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the run up in my lovely little flat in Cheltenham, which is probably the cosiest, most ‘Christmassy’ (is that an actual word? Who cares.) place I’ve had. Easily my most favourite pad I’ve lived in so far. Happy happy days.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, whatever you are doing and whoever you are spending it with. And sending big hugs if you are finding it difficult, for whatever reason.

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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.

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

Brave or bold?

Have you ever done something brave? Or been called brave?

I did something yesterday and two separate people have told me it was a brave thing to do. It got me thinking what does brave actually mean? Dodging bullets? Jumping off a bridge? Fighting illness? Speaking out for something you believe in?

I didn’t do any of the above. Not yesterday anyway.

I don’t particularly think what I did was brave, but if I think about it, it did take a bit of courage. Getting out of the comfort zone. Putting yourself out there. Opening yourself up for judgement. Knowing that things would change forever, regardless of the outcome. Risking something that’s important, knowing there’s a chance you could lose it.

So why do it?

Because the opposite is staying still. Not seeing what’s out there. Because there could be something amazing that could happen. Because if you never try, you never know.

I’m not one for What If’s. I like to give things a go, see what happens. Even if things go wrong, it’s how you deal with it that’s important, not the outcome.

Maybe being brave is about taking a risk or a chance. Knowing there’s a risk or a chance, and doing it anyway. Standing up and saying “Fuck it, do it”. Following your heart, not knowing where it would lead, or knowing it will lead somewhere that’s not necessarily the norm.Taking that massive giant leap into the unknown.

What’s the worst that could happen? You grow as a person, in one way or another. And that’s no bad thing. Oh yeah, sometimes things don’t work out the way I’d like. And yes, there’s a couple of things in life I wish I’d never done, but I don’t dwell on them. All of it makes me who I am now, and I can’t rewrite the past. Just try to learn from it and make sure I don’t make that mistake again. I’m working on that.

I don’t think I’m brave, but a hell of a lot of people I know are. Everyone’s got their own challenges, struggles in life. I salute you all.

And to the people I know who are on the edge of that bridge at the moment wondering whether to jump off or not:

DO IT. There’s a bungee cord attached to your feet; it’s called YOU. You can make sure you’ll be ok, no matter what happens. There are always choices.

 

If you’ve got something to say.

Then say it. Been a while since I’ve blogged. Been busy and not had much that I’ve wanted to write about, and BOOM, all of a sudden it’s July. I’ve got loads of half finished blog posts, but somehow I can’t finish them. I write whatever comes out of my head you see, so I have to be in the right mood for writing. Then it just flows. So what I want to say tonight is about saying what you feel and being honest.

Last week I finally had a conversation with someone that we probably should have had quite a while ago. It was good, as I/we finally got Closure. But it made me realise that we should have talked about certain stuff earlier. But, I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to ask questions because I didn’t want to know the answers. I assumed some stuff, even though everyone else was telling me different. But I should have stopped assuming and asked the person in question.

Thing is, you never really know what’s going on in people’s heads. What they think or how they feel. OK, so I guess you can kind of tell by how they act, but I know that this isn’t always the case, for a variety of reasons. So asking a person, or talking to them about stuff is a better way to find out, the only way to know for sure. Unless they lie, or tell you something different but there’s not a lot you can do about that. And sometimes, if you don’t know, you project what you think they might be thinking or feeling onto them, and end up making things up in your own head.

Not sure of the exact point of this post. Maybe it’s that if I had had the earlier conversations then something might have been different now. Can’t think like that though. I don’t do What If’s. Generally think things are meant to be, and I know in this particular situation the way it’s turned out is right. But what I’ve learnt from this is that I’ll [try] to not assume things. And I WILL say things if I feel them or ask those questions. Because the other sad lesson I keep learning is that life is short. It can be very short. So, why hold off until tomorrow what you can do today? Because one day it might be too late. Why miss opportunities because you think there is all the time in the world? Especially if happiness is involved.

So even more so time now for me to think “fuck it, throw caution to the wind” and make opportunities, live life how I want and say how I feel. If I don’t like the answers, well that’s just tough. I’ll have to deal with them and move on.  After all life is:

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Follow the plan.

Or not. If you know me, you’ll know I hate to plan. Which is a bit surprising coming from someone who used to be a Project Manager. But, as Matt (my old boss) will agree, I didn’t really like to do it/wasn’t that good at it back then either. I’m not sure I ever produced a Gantt chart in 4 years, haha.

I just can’t get my head around having stuff planned in, months in advance. Having things in the diary for next year. Next year? Because my main thought is that I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year. Mainly, that I don’t know where I will be, as I’ve spent the last 4 years all over the world, it’s now weird for me to think that I’ll be in one place for any length of time. Itchy feet syndrome if you will.

I wasn’t always like this. In my previous life I did plan. I had stuff planned in for the next year, sometimes even two years ahead. Back then, I didn’t think that I’d be doing something different or living in a different place. In fact, I had my whole life planned out. I knew where I’d be living, who I’d be living with, what I’d be doing and how my life would pan out over the next 20 years at least. Which, well, it just wasn’t me as it turns out. I gave it a go, but eventually I just couldn’t do it. I remember saying to my mum when I was about 19 that I didn’t want to get a mortgage because it would tie me down, and I didn’t want to be tied down. I felt back then similar to how I feel now, but without so much wanderlust. 3 years after that conversation I had a mortgage. My feelings hadn’t changed but I’d got onto the this-is-what-you-do-in-life treadmill with someone who didn’t have the same wanderlust and events just took over.

Now, well, ha, it’s a different story. Can’t do it. You ask me to do something next year? Forget it. Ask me nearer the time.

I love not having everything planned in and laid out. I like spontaneity. Opportunity. The chance to try new stuff.

I’ve found out that things happen off the back of other stuff. One door leads to another (and other wanky sayings). But it’s true. Keep your mind open, be curious and it can take you anywhere. If you’ve got a diary full with stuff you already do then where’s the chance to do something different? To say yes to random shit that might pop up? To quote Henry Ford (or Mark Twain, both are attributed to this saying) “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”. Which, if that’s what you want, then that’s fine. But it’s not what I want.

Someone mentioned it could be perceived as waiting to see if something better comes along. I thought about whether this was the case for me. But it’s not. For me it’s about running with the wind, following my heart. Doing what I feel like doing near the time, and not feeling obliged to do things. To do stuff on a whim or in a heartbeat. To be curious and see what’s round the next corner or over the hill. To never stop exploring and embrace the unknown.

I love, love, love the fact I have no idea what’s happening a few months down the line. Next year where will I be? No idea. It’s exciting.

People say to me, but don’t you like having stuff to look forward to? But I actually do, I tell them. I look forward to every day, because I spend my days doing shit I love to do (OK, so some days more than others but in general, every day is pretty groovy). Fuck spending your life doing stuff you don’t want to do. I don’t get it. Why spend 50 weeks of the year looking forward to 2 weeks (for example)?

And it’s not like I don’t have any plans. I’ve got loads of shit going on, all stuff that might lead to other stuff (irons in fires and all that) but all stuff that could take me down a few different paths. Because I’ve also learnt not to try to over analyse or narrow stuff down. So for example, if I want to do something in life I won’t have a specific goal in mind, more an area or an idea. And rather than having a narrow set of things to do to achieve it, I’ll just do lots of little things that might help me in that way. Because that way, I still keep options open but am still working towards going in the right direction. Because I also might change my mind. And that’s OK too.

I guess that’s why things with The Marine worked well, no commitment or expectation. And no long term plans. In fact I remember when he said in November about doing something in February and I was like “Woah, we don’t know where we’ll be then”. I guess it was inevitable it was the beginning of the end. I know my way of thinking isn’t for everyone, and I know it puts a lot of people off, as they’re after different things. It’s been the downfall of of a few potential relationships over the last couple of years. But it’s not to say I won’t commit to anyone, it’s just got to be right. And let’s face it, The Marine arrangement wouldn’t work with anyone else, it was a bit unique. One day I might meet someone that shares similar views. Or more importantly, doesn’t mind or actually embraces how I think or live. I’d like that. Just don’t ask me to live in a semi with a dog, spawn some kids and watch Eastenders with you.

It’s kind of trying to live for the moment too. Just enjoying the here and now and not looking forward or back too much. Easier said than done, I know. But, life is short and all that. So the small amount of plans I do have are all with some longer term ideas in mind. Some of them are written down, some of them are in my head. Some may happen, some won’t, and some might. It all depends on how I feel at the time, and which way the wind is blowing.

Right now I feel like shit with a cold, so the most I’m planning is to rest up and eat plenty of vegetables. That’ll do for now.

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