Day #59 28.02.16

I’m not that young any more, which means that 3 nights of drinking is pretty hard going. So although it was a beautiful day today, the only sun I saw was the reflection on my walls in my flat. Most of this afternoon has been spent with my feet up on the sofa internetting. Today’s topic has been adventure researching. Yes, that is a map of the USA…

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Day #31 31.01.16

Sunday, the end of the week. Today I’ve mainly spent my time on the sofa feeling more and more crap. I have the lurgy (winter cold) which is extremely annoying as I felt so healthy, energetic, rested etc two weeks ago when I came back off holiday and now I feel ill, exhausted and run down. I thought I’d last a bit longer than this before sucumbing!

I’m also really tired as I’ve had a few late nights and early starts this week so tonight I was pretty pleased to get into my bed.

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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…

 

 

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.

Home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

*fishfinger sandwiches

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

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TPAD Day 2 – 2nd June 2013

Landed in Zambia today; I’ll be spending the next 4 weeks here on an Education and Rural Community internship. I’m in Livingstone, which is just up the road from the Victoria Falls (on the border with Zimbabwe). The internship starts tomorrow, so today has been spent getting here (didn’t arrive until lunchtime, after a decent flight but a long queue to get visas and a airport pickup that didn’t nearly happen), catching some rays and reading my book. I also went for a little wander to get a healthy, nutritious tea (egg sandwich, African-equivalent wotsits and some biscuits) and to see what’s about.

No surprises, it’s very African here. Dusty, hot, no proper roads, people (and sometimes animals) wandering around. I got stared at a lot and the usual hard sell to buy some local jewellery and I’d only got about 50 yards down the road. I better get used to it I guess, although I’m not quite comfortable with it yet. I’ve only been away two days but already I’ve had that, and a few people at the airports trying to ‘help’ me by either shoving me towards boarding gates or trying to get me to follow them so they can show me where I need to go. They’re only doing it for a few pennies but I told them I knew what I was doing ta very much.

Still feeling a bit shattered today, I think it’s all the travelling. Not much time difference (only an hour) but quite a few miles covered and I think it’s worn me out a bit. I’ve been a bit anti-social today, reading a book rather than speaking to people. Not so much effort that way. And besides, I’ll meet other volunteers tomorrow. Early night tonight I reckon. Rock n roll.

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Fitness frenzy.

Classes at the Sports Centre finished today for the summer, and I still had two passes left that I’d already paid for. So I decided to have a bit of a fitness frenzy and go for Boot Camp then Zumba back to back, after a short run with the ICT URC (ICT Unofficial Running Club). However, it didn’t quite work out like that. A meeting overran which mean URC never happened. So, I decided to go for a run after. But I got to the Sports Centre to find Boot Camp wasn’t on because there wasn’t enough people. So, I changed my mind and decided to do Zumba then a Spinning class. So I had a bit of time to kill, the rain was pouring so I decided to go on the treadmill in the gym to do a little run. BIG mistake. Oh my word running on a treadmill is SO BORING. The only time I’ve done it is when I used to go to the gym YEARS ago before I started running. I now know why I love running outdoors so much and why people call it the Dreadmill.

It’s DULL; there’s naff all to look at. It’s HOT; there must have been air con but I miss the breeze of outside on my face. There’s lots of people around and I don’t like just running next to someone and not talking. We were all plugged into the TV’s like robots. Erk. I’ll not be doing it again for a long while. Only if I really, really, really have to.

Zumba was fun but I don’t love it. I do it though, but I do it badly. I struggle to follow the steps because I have the co-ordination of a drunken sailor at the end of a weekend bender. I just can’t get my feet to move in the same way as the instructor, no matter how hard I try, and so most of the time I just end up doing my own thing, occasionally catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and trying not to cringe. I look BAD. I think I need to be drunk to have any kind of rhythm.

I love spinning though, I haven’t been enough this year. I’d not been to this particular instructor’s class before. It was hard, especially after having just knocked out a 5km run and an hour of Zumba. But it was good. I like hard things. Makes me work. What’s the point in doing exercise if you don’t push yourself. Like the people that go to the gym and leave looking exactly the same as when they went. I’m never going to pull at the gym because I tend to leave looking like a big red sweaty mess, but, let’s face it, that’s not why I go. As weird as it sounds, there’s something quite satisfying about feeling the sweat pouring off/down your body. To quote a well known phrase that I see all over the place; sweat is fat crying. I worked hard, take THAT body fat and stick it up your ****.

I think I might sleep well tonight.

Grumpy grouch.

I was grouchy today. Tired, fed up, no energy grouchy. Not much energy to even speak so sorry Jane for not being on top form this lunchtime. It’s not often I have these days but today was one. I think it’s a combination of being tired (not a great night’s sleep and a weird dream), being hungry, having a bit of PMT and it just being the last few weeks before I go. It’s starting to hit me I think. In a few weeks time I won’t be here.

People keep saying to me “Are you excited, looking forward to it, etc.”. Today the answer was No. That’s how grouchy I was. Not like me, oops. I’ve been asked the question so many times, especially over the last week or so it’s a bit repetitive. I’m pleased of course that people are interested. But I just feel shattered about it all. Of course I am excited and looking forward to it. But it still seems a bit unreal. I don’t feel like I’ve had a break for months. Constant stuff to do. Yep, I know I’ll soon have a year long break, I know. But. It’s exhausting.

I’ve also realised that these last few weeks feel a bit funny. I almost just want to go now. Right now. Skip the waiting, the goodbyes and just go. I feel like I’m sat here on a suitcase just waiting. Watching the clock. Wishing away the days and hours. I don’t want to, of course, I want to enjoy these last few weeks. Make the most of them. But I also realise it’s going to be a bit of a wrench. I’ve said goodbye to a couple of people already. I found it a bit difficult. I’m going to have to say goodbye to a lot more soon. I’m going to have to say goodbye to a couple of people that in all probability I might never see again. I‘m not looking forward to it. 

And yes, before you say it, I know it’s my choice to go and I have to deal with it. And I am. Please don’t think I’m ungrateful. It’s just a little bit hard. Harder than I thought it would be actually. I didn’t realise how much of my life is here. And how much of a new life I’d made in just over 18 months.

know I’ll be fine as soon as I get on that plane. Excitement will have kicked in. My adventure will have started. Thinking about all the things I’ll see, experience and all the new people I will meet. But until then I might get a bit more grouchy. Sorry about that, I’ll try not to.

I was cheered up a little bit by some pretty spring blossom and Film Club tonight though. Karl made us hot dogs. This was Good. 😀

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