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….

Twitchy babbling blah.

I’m feeling twitchy this week. Like I have lots to do and I don’t know where to start. Like I have a million ideas and don’t know what to think about first. Which is kind of true and kind of not. I have a few things to do, yep, but nothing major. All of it can wait (what for, I don’t know). I have ideas but they’re all little ones that I’m not sure how to start developing. And I want to write. But I don’t know what about. I have about 5 blog posts in draft but none of them feel right yet. The words just don’t come. I have to be in the right mood for these words to get written down (which probably explains why a lot of my posts are perhaps rambly and babbly as it’s just what comes out of my brain with little filter). So I end up doing nothing. This is probably familar to a lot of people. Bloody procrastination.

I’m away with work so I’ve just been for a walk to look for a supermarket to buy Maltesers. Procrastination. Something to do. I didn’t even really want the Maltesters (although they’re tasting pretty damn good, and I’m sure they help me to write). What I should have done is just gone for a walk and got some fresh air. As when I was walking I realised I just needed to write something, and I have done for a while now. And so this is it. I just haven’t known what to write about. Nothing seemed right, or too negative, or not that interesting. But then that’s life though, isn’t it? The ups and downs, the good and the not-so-good. Not everyone can have the perfect life, all the time.

——–The Maltesers are all gone now. Writing will get shit.

Have you heard of #lifeunfiltered? It’s a hashtag that’s doing the rounds on social media to highlight the difference between what people post on social media and how life actually is. Because most people don’t want to post what a shitty time they’re having. They create this amazing life to portray to people. What they want people to see. So you see a smiling picture on Facebook and assume that everything’s OK, when actually it’s anything but.

OK, so no one wants to post the crappy mundane stuff. And in all likelihood no one probably wants to read about it either. But unless you ask, you’re unlikely to know if someone’s having a tough time. Or unless they tell you. Because that’s the other thing. People (and I’m aware I’m talking in general, but I’m kind of basing this on anecdotal evidence from conversations I’ve had with people and media articles – as always, please take with a pinch of salt and feel free to enter in a discussion with me) aren’t necessarily interacting as much anymore, because social media does it for you, right? You can see someone’s OK because they’ve posted a picture and liked your status. You don’t need to actually speak to them do you? Or even message them? I posted about this once when I was travelling. Because I found that because I was away, posting all my pictures and blogging about it, people stopped getting in touch. You know, saying hello or asking me how I was. Or telling me what they were up to. It’s just not the same, trust me.

“But I’m so busy.”

I’m sure everyone has heard or said that. Hell, I have said it. And only recently. And kind of why I’m writing this post. The last six weeks or so for me has been pretty tough and relentless. Some of it is my own doing, and some of it unfortunate circumstance or bad timing. Training for London to Paris as well as trying to foster a new social life in a place I’d just moved to, work a job that involves me being away from home most weeks and all the travel logistics that go with it, keep all the usual domestic stuff going with only the weekend to do it all, try and keep fit and healthy, a bereavement and being away from family, a birthday spent alone without any cards or phone calls and trying to not neglect existing friendships/social life. And frankly, I struggled. I’m still struggling.

But did I post about this on social media? No. (Well, unless you count this post, but I think this is different, I’m a bit back on track by now, although sorry to anyone I saw last weekend as I know I wasn’t quite myself.) Because the other thing is that it’s hard when people know you as a positive, sociable person who just gets on with things. They sometimes don’t know how to handle it. And as that person, it’s hard to tell people or ask for support. And sometimes when you do, and you don’t get it, that makes it twice as hard.

I’m normally busy, and I know so many people are but it’s about prioritising the things you enjoy rather than things that stress you out. For me, I like being busy with all the things I love doing (e.g. I don’t have any time to watch TV but I prefer to go running) but I don’t like having all my free time planned in. I need to be spontaneous to either do something or do nothing. I like to have the choice. And for me it’s important that I keep in touch with people outside of social media. Or, directly, rather than just liking a status etc. Because of the above. People are having crappy times but you’d never know. So maybe it’s time to ask them actually how they are, rather than taking their life as it is perceived through a collection of status, pictures and 140 character statements. Get involved.

I haven’t really looked at social media much recently, so if I haven’t liked your status or pictures it’s not because I’m being rude, it’s just had to take a back seat. Let’s try and talk about it instead eh? Talk about real life. #lifeunfiltered.

So here’s my #lifeunfiltered photo tonight. Think working away from home is exciting, glamorous and fun? Not always. The reality tonight – the unfiltered – is a box of Maltesers, a single bed, cups of tea made with UHT milk and writing this. I’m missing my flat, my own bed and my Kindle, which I forgot to bring with me. I miss cooking my own tea and having something healthy. I’m annoyed at myself for eating Maltesers, because I wouldn’t have done that at home tonight. Of course I could have gone and explored London and gone for a walk or a run by the river and it would have been amazing. But I’m shattered and my mojo’s on holiday for a bit.

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I’m not sure what the conclusion of this post is. Think this is one of those posts that’s probably been more helpful to me to write than for anyone to read. But maybe the moral is to not take everything at social media face value. Don’t use it like a spy hole into people’s lives, as it’s probably not real; interact with people as well. Don’t assume that everyone is doing OK. Some people might need a bit of support. And that support might be something as simple as asking how they are.

 

Great things.

Over the time I’ve been away I’ve been pondering the things that I think are great about travelling.

The main one is time. Having loads of it. It’s not until I started travelling that I realised how much time is taken up by work, having a house and other general life stuff. Although, I’m a person that generally likes to be busy. It’s not that I can’t be (remember my 10 day silent retreat in India?) but it’s just how I like my life. So, when you have all the time in the world, sometimes it’s hard to fill it, or feel guilty at just having so much time to relax. But, it’s something I know is precious, and I know I’m lucky to have the chance to experience it, so I’m making the most of it while I have it.

Then of course there’s the obvious. No having to work! No having to get up at a certain time every day and put on those clothes that define you as being part of the corporate rat race. No having to deal with office life, politics or just the mundane day-to-day. No bits of challenging stuff to think about or have to deal with and no stuff to get stressed over. OK, granted, travel brings it’s own challenges and stresses but, well, they just don’t feel like work. Oh, and yes, no work does also mean no money but can’t have one without the other…!

So no work generally means no routine, as I guess so much of daily life is structured around work. What time you get up, what time you have your lunch, what time you go home etc. Travelling means you can pretty much do what you want when you want. All the time. Maybe not when there is a bus/plane/rickshaw to catch, or an event to go see though 😉

One of the best things for me is to not have an alarm clock. I can probably count on one hand (OK, maybe two) the amount of times I’ve had to set my alarm. The rest of the time, I just wake up when I wake up. Do not underestimate how great this is. It means that generally, even if I’ve had a crappy nights sleep (which, is most nights – I can’t actually remember the last night that I slept the whole way through without waking up) I wake up feeling quite refreshed, and don’t really get that mega-tired feeling during the day. Must be because I don’t wake up during a deep sleep cycle. And of course hand in hand with this is the fact that when travelling, you can always have an afternoon nap if you want (circumstances permitting). Not that I do very often, but every now and then, usually after either a night out or a particularly shit nights sleep.

Freedom and flexibility. When you travel you have it in spades. Especially when travelling alone. If I want to do something, I do it. If I want to change my plans, I do it. If I want to spend all day surfing the internet eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon then I can do it.*

Doing/seeing/experiencing Cool Stuff. Well, goes without saying really. And by this I mean generally everything. The sights, the people and the little things. Pretty much everything is Cool Stuff when you’re travelling. You have time to really see and experience it all. So, from the big sights like the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal, to the people watching in a coffee shop in suburban Melbourne. Or the cooking with a local family in India, and experiencing life with a local family in rural Zambia.

The people. I can’t not mention the people, because that’s made a lot of my trip. All the people I’ve met along the way. From the brief encounters to the friendships made, they’re all great. Even just people watching. Watching how they interact with each other, watching how real life is lived right in front of your eyes. I think I’m a naturally chatty people person, so for me it’s been awesome to meet all these wonderful people and see what life is like in so many different places. It’s opened up my mind and I’ve seen how other people live, which has inspired me and made me think about how I want to live my life. And yes, it’s not quite the same as before.

And last for now, but not least, there’s the education. I’ve learnt so much in these last 9 months than I have over god knows how many years before. About so many different things. About history, war, culture, religion, countries and people. About myself, who I am, how I deal with things and how I view life. I’ve learnt about life and living in general, sport, nature, children, kindness and generosity.  Whoever said that travel was the best life education was spot on. At least for me. I could never have learnt these things from books or TV or the internet.

There’s probably loads more great things, in fact I know there is, but these the main ones on my mind right now. I really didn’t know what to expect when I started my trip. I’d read travel blogs, and read posts similar to what I’ve just written, but it’s hard to relate if you hadn’t done it yourself. And now I have. And now I agree. But everyone will be different.

And yes, of course there are downsides to travel. It can be stressful and a hassle. Busy and exhausting. Hot and grubby. There are times when I miss home, friends and family. But they’re few and far between. The great things rule above all.

I wouldn’t change this experience for the world. I can safely say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve only got a couple of months left now, and I’m going to make the most of it. Make the most of all these great things.

But one last thing. By writing all the above, I don’t mean that there aren’t great things about not travelling. Life, however it is lived, is by it’s very nature, great. So, when I get back and settle in one place once again, I still will have a life filled with Great Things. They might not be the same, but I know that however I live my life, it will be awesome. Because I will make it so.

 

 

*Not that this actually happened, oh no