My Indian Adventure

I recently wrote about the Laws of Attraction and the overwhelming desire I have to visit India.

Well, I am beyond excited to let you, my readers, know, that I am making that dream a reality.

This Christmas, I fly out to Delhi for a 15 day trip to India.

Whilst there, I will visit Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Mumbai, and last but certainly not least, Goa.

I am travelling with a company who came highly recommended by a friend, and will meet my fellow travel companions on the day I arrive in Delhi.

The trip is basic, so rather than staying in modern westernised hotels, I wanted to do things the Indian way, to get a real sense of the country and Indian life. This means I’ll be staying in traditional Indian hotels (some without hot water!), taking traditional transport (including the odd rickshaw or two!) as well as eating with the locals.

In order to visit Mumbai and Goa, I’ll also be getting two overnight trains! What better way to mix with the locals and to get a real feel for Indian life!

Why am I going at Christmas I hear you ask?

I love Christmas. Or at least I used to. I loved the magic of it. Yet, the last couple of years, I feel as though I’ve lost my Christmas spirit. Part of me hopes that by escaping the chaos of a traditional western Christmas, my festive spirit will return home with me.

It’s also a great time to go from a work point of view. Our office closes down over the Christmas period, which means that for a 15 day trip I will only need to take around 5 days annual leave…

It’s also much cooler throughout India in December and January. With temperatures currently peaking at 48 degrees Celsius in parts of India, there is no way this gingernut would survive in those temperatures!

Although the trip feels a long way off with just over 6 months until I fly out there, I have a lot to organise before I leave.

With visa’s to arrange, travel insurance to buy, vaccinations to brave, a suitable Indian wardrobe to buy, and a home for my furry four legged friend whilst I am away (which isn’t going to be easy over Christmas!), there will be plenty to keep me busy over the next few months.

I still have another flight to book too! Whilst flying to Delhi is easy (a 8.5 hr direct flight from Heathrow), flying back from Goa is looking slightly more challenging, with no direct flights back to the UK.

Whilst I should probably get the return flight booked soon, there is a part of me that is far too excited about the thought of having a one way ticket to India…

This is by far the biggest adventure I will have been on.

It will certainly be a trip of firsts:

    My first group travel trip (there could be up to 15 other people on my trip)
    My first long haul flight on my own
    My first trip to India
    My first overnight train
    My first authentic Indian curry (I can’t wait for this!)
    The first time I will be sharing a room with a stranger (it was much cheaper to risk sharing with someone else on the trip than paying the single person supplement…and anyhow, part of the experience is about making new friends…)
    My first Christmas in another country, as well as my first New Year on foreign soil

I’m sure these won’t be the only firsts either.

My only hope is that I don’t become an India bore over the next few months (please tell me if I do!).

I’m looking forward to gaining a better understanding as to why India is pulling at me, and why everything seems to be leading me down this particular path…

I can’t wait to take you all on this Indian adventure with me 💕🇮🇳✨✈️

Old Fashioned Romance with a Modern Day Twist

I love being single, but that doesn’t stop me looking forward to being in love again. Although, I have to admit, and if you have read some of my earlier blog posts, you may have already worked out that I’m not actually too good at this love malarkey.

Falling for the wrong men is becoming quite the speciality of mine. From Nigerian con men, men who’s visas are about to expire, men posing online as soldiers from the US Army, men (some married, and some not) who want me as their naughty little secret or their bit of fun, and that’s not to mention the control freaks. Oh, and on top of that, there’s the best friend who I spent the best part of 4 years falling in and out of love with! You name it, I’ve done it and got the bloody T-shirt.

I’ve had my fair share of disastrous relationships.

Yet none of this has made me to give up on love.

I’m a hopeless romantic. A proper fictional romance book/rom com movie romantic.

Think Emma Thompson in Last Chance Harvey, Sandra Bullock in While you were Sleeping, Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding, or even Steve Carrell in Dan in Real Life.

Although, in reality, what I actually want is old fashioned romance with a modern day twist.

I’m definitely not a ball and chain kinda girl.

I’m too much of a free spirit these days for you to be able to chain me to the kitchen sink, or for you to expect me to do everything you want to do.

I love spending time by myself.

I actually enjoy my own company (something my younger self would never have dreamt I would say!)

I love waking up at the weekend or on my days off, and doing what I want to do.

I love the freedom of being able to book holidays to far off places I want to visit, just because I have an itch that needs to be scratched.

When I fall in love again, I want it to be the kind of love where we share special times together, but equally lead our own separate lives, doing what makes us happy. Sometimes that might involve holidays together, other times it might mean travelling to places on our own, or with friends. Sometimes there will be weekends spent together, other times, it may not.

I’m done with claustrophobic love. The kinda love where you feel you have to spend every waking moment with someone. The kinda love where you do everything together, but end up with nothing to talk about because you have no new experiences to talk of, except for those you have shared together.

In my dream world, you might live next door to me, but not live with me.

It’s funny how as we get older our views on relationships change. Maybe as we get older we become more selfish. Or maybe we simply become more realistic.

Long gone are the days where I feel a relationship should complete me.

I had that all wrong.

What’s important is that you learn to love yourself.

To love your life.

So that when someone else does come along, they don’t take your life and your love for yourself away from you. Instead, they enhance you. They enhance your life.

My Blogging Rituals

A couple of months ago, my blogging rituals were posted on bloggersrequired.com.

For an insight into what my blogging process looks like, why not take a look at:

https://bloggersrequired.com/my-blogging-rituals-by-cherryredgirl/

Huge thanks to bloggersrequired.com for posting my rituals 💕✨

5 things i’ve done that make me feel proud of myself

If you’ve read my recent post, Turning 35, you will know that I recently celebrated my Birthday. And if you follow my Instagram account (@Themindfulgingernut) you will know that my lovely mum and dad brought me a book called ‘Self-Care for the Real World‘, by the fantastic Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips.

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One of the early challenges in the book is to write down five things you’ve done that make you feel proud of yourself. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the day to day that we forget to remind ourselves of our achievements. Other times, the Imposter Syndrome kicks in, and we simply can’t find our achievements for the grey cloud that surrounds us.

I wanted to share with you, the 5 things that make me feel proud of myself. It would be lovely to hear what your 5 things would be too, so please feel free to share your’s below.

5 things i’ve done that make me feel proud of myself

I have a degree in Geography and Third World Development

I also studied American Studies during my first year at the University of Northampton (or the University College of Northampton/UCN as it was known back then). I can’t believe it’s been 13 years since I graduated. Where has that time gone? It was never my intention to go to University. I loved school, and sixth form, but the thought of going away to uni and carrying on studying hadn’t really appealed. But as I got closer and closer to my final months in sixth form, I started to think that maybe I should go. After all, if I didn’t, what else was I going to do? I didn’t have a clue what job I wanted, so it only seemed right that I joined my friends, and started to look at university’s. I had a slight interest in charity work, and looked at courses that may help me to go and do charity work in far flung continents. It was then that I came across the subject that became my minor, Third World Development. Once I had decided to do this, it was all about finding a major to compliment this. Funnily enough, my ideal course was sitting in my home town of Northampton. So off I went in 2002, insanely shy, quiet me, signed up to do Geography and Third World Development at UCN. Unlike many local students, I managed to get into halls of residence so I could get the most out of my university experience. I met some lovely people, both students and tutors alike. I also got to travel to some incredible places, carrying out field trips in Majorca, Amsterdam, Valencia and South West America. I like to think I studied hard, but partied hard too. Shy little me was no more. I came out of university much more confident and outgoing than I had been when I walked in on that first day in 2002. I am proud that I achieved my degree, proud that I made the most of my time there, and proud of the new found confidence it gave me. I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone to university.

I completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge

In June 2006 me and my dad travelled up to Yorkshire to attempt the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. Dad, who worked for the Motor Neurone Disease Association at the time, often came home telling us about new challenges that the Charity were arranging. I can’t remember whether it was my idea or Dad’s to take up this challenge, but who ever’s it was, we knuckled down with a training plan, making sure we covered hills as well as distance. I have particular memories of us training in Derbyshire one weekend, climbing Mam Tor in the snow and ice and being up to at least our knees in snow drifts as we edged towards the top. In order to practice the distance we would need to cover for the Challenge, we also walked around Rutland Water, all 26 miles of it. 5 miles from the end,  just as the rain started to hammer down on us, I felt something pop in my calf. I managed to walk through the pain, and thankfully it was nothing more than a badly pulled muscle. But it was all good practice for the Challenge ahead. The Three Peaks Challenge consists of Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres), Whernside (736 metres) and Ingleborough (723 metres), and a distance of 24.5 miles (although I would debate this as my pedometre definitely clocked up more miles that day!). We woke up at the crack of dawn, met with our fellow walkers and started out on our challenge. The aim of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is to complete the peaks within 12 hours. It wasn’t an easy challenge. But thankfully with my dad by my side we coached each other on and ended up completing the challenge with 20 minutes to spare. I’m proud of myself and my dad for completing this challenge. Getting out and walking in the countryside truly is the best way to appreciate the landscape that surrounds us. I don’t think either of us could’ve achieved the challenge without the other being there. We knew we were physically ready for it due to the prep we had done beforehand, but how do you mentally prepare yourself for a challenge like this? You can’t. But we got through it together.

I moved to London

If I think back to where I was 10 years ago, I would’ve laughed my socks off at the thought of living and working in London. I was a complete and utter country bumpkin, who would come down to London once or twice a year to visit friends for the day, but would always be grateful to go home again to the fresh country air, and couldn’t really understand how or why people would want to live in the city. I’m now even more grateful of going back home to the fresh, country air every now and again, but moving to London 3 years ago, was possibly one of the best decisions I have ever made. And it was all on a bit of a whim. I didn’t know if it would work out. I had always been quite shy and wasn’t particularly adventurous, but I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. And here I am, over 3 years later. There have been times I could’ve thrown the towel in. Not because of the city, but mostly because of the stresses that have come with the job I am in. However, even in my darkest days, I knew that if I was to look for a new job, that too would be in London, the place I now call home. I am proud that I have stuck it out, proud that I have started to explore places off the tourist trails, proud to call London my home.

I’ve been on holiday on my own

Just over 2 years ago, upon realising that most of my friends were married and/or had children or both, as well as being single at the time, I had a dilemma on my hands. I was in desperate need of a holiday after a year living in London. I desperately needed some sun, and some R&R. I had two choices. To take another week off and stay in the UK visiting friends and family. Or get on a plane and take my first holiday on my own. And that’s just what I did. I was keen to go somewhere that wasn’t too exotic, where people would speak relatively good English (just in case I got in any bother), and to visit with a tour operator that would ensure I was in a reasonable hotel, with transfers thrown in. So off I flew in September 2016 to Puerto de le Cruz in Tenerife. I was nervous flying on my own as I wasn’t an experienced flyer. I only had a handful of flights to my name. I was also nervous about the transfers. How would I know what coach to get on? The flight and the transfers however were both fine. The only real shocks I got, were the lack of English speaking people both working and staying at the hotel (it appears that North Tenerife is where all the native’s go as opposed to the Brit’s), and the transfers coming home, which despite being on my booking form, were not coming to pick me up on the day of my departure! However, the rest of the holiday was fantastic. I met some lovely ladies on an excursion to Mount Teide, who were also travelling alone, and spent a lot of time walking around the town of Puerto de le Cruz, as well as relaxing by the pool, and working my way through a good number of chick lit. I could’ve so easily taken the easy option, and stayed home in the UK. But I am proud of myself for taking a leap of faith and getting on board that plane. I haven’t been on holiday alone since, but I know that will soon change, as I can feel that familiar pull telling me to just bloody do it! Where to next I wonder?

I created The Mindful Musings of a Gingernut

Earlier this year, I decided to start writing a blog. For me, my blog is my way of dealing with a whole load of crap that has festered in my mind for far too long. I am massively open and honest in my musings, which I know comes with it’s risks, but it is sometimes the only way I can voice my thoughts. I still keep a lot internalised, but I find writing incredibly therapeutic and calming. I have not created this blog to find fame and fortune. I have created this as a way of coming to terms with some of the things that have happened in my life. I also find great joy in writing. I had never thought about blogging before. But when it was suggested to me, I started to look into it immediately. It took me less than a month from thought to creation. I can’t begin to tell you how helpful blogging has been so far. And the great community that comes with it. I have met (in the online sense) some wonderful people who continue to inspire me on a daily basis. But in addition, people I have known for years are taking an interest, many of whom have taken me completely by surprise by reading my blogs, and letting me know how much they enjoy them. I’m proud that on another whim, I created my site, proud of having such wonderful online and offline friends who take the time to learn more about me, proud that I am helping others by writing about my experiences, and god damn relieved that this muddled mind of mine is finally freeing up some space to find time to reflect and to be proud of all that I have achieved so far.

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Patience, Fate & Saying Things Out Loud

One of the reasons I started The Mindful Musings of a Gingernut, was to offload some of the things in my mind, in the hope that it would free up some space, and in turn, help me to process some of my musings in a more productive way.

Since creating the blog, writing things down has certainly helped me to reflect and understand some of the jumbled chaos in my noddle.

However, I increasingly find that when my mind is in overdrive, I become too scared to put pen to paper.

Sometimes there are things going on in life that I so badly want to write about, but I fear that my openness will offend or upset people.

Yet, I know writing about them would help me to process what is going on and to move forwards with a much free’er, clearer mind.

I found a great quote the other day. I’m not sure who it’s by but it’s message really resonated with me:

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This message feels so close to my heart and soul right now. I have so much I want to say, but writing things down, or saying them out loud, that’s another story.

In some cases, it feels like the wrong time to say or do things.

But is there ever a right time?

One of my lovely Blogging friends, The Wellbeing Blogger, posted on Instagram this week about ‘Patience’ as part of her Free 7 day Mindfulness Training programme. Her words really struck me. “Sometimes things don’t go as we wish them too. Other times they happen in a different timeline…we need to have patience and we need to let things unfold in their own time…All that is meant to be will be”

Whilst in my mind, I know this to be true, it also made my heart thump against my chest in a moment of panic. What if whilst being patient, we miss an opportunity? What if the opportunity to say things out loud has been and gone? What if we were so busy being patient and waiting for the right moment, that we missed the moment?

Or, is that moment out of our hands? Maybe we don’t need to wait for the right moment to say something. Maybe other things will happen that will naturally lead us onto the right path?

That seems to put quite a lot in the hands of fate.

However, right now, taking a chance on fate, might just be the right thing to do.

Early Riser

I love being the first to wake up in my household, especially at the weekend.

That makes it sound as though there are more than two of us living here. There isn’t. It’s just me and Ali.

When we first moved in together, I would lie in bed reading or checking my social media on my phone until he woke up. He’s not an early morning person, so that would often mean I would vegetate in bed until midday waiting for him to wake.

Just thinking about this gives me a fuzzy head.

We would get up until around midday. We’d then get up, shower, eat and wouldn’t be out enjoying the weekend until perhaps 3pm in the afternoon. If we were night owls this might be more understandable. But we were going out for a couple of hours in the afternoon to grab what was left of the day, going home, eating, watching tv and then going back to bed again.

I soon became frustrated at the chunk of the day I was missing out on for not getting up early.

So I started to get up more or less when I woke. I might give myself half an hour extra in bed just to make sure I’m fully awake and to let my body and mind catch up with each other. But after that, I’m up.

There are so many things I love about being the first to get up.

I love that the flat is quiet, except for the creaking of the radiators as they warm up and, the sound of the early morning London traffic outside.

I love the short walk across my flat to the living room blinds, and being the first to let the daylight pour into the flat, come rain or shine.

I love to be the first to walk into the kitchen to switch the kettle on, followed by the first smells of either peppermint tea or as is the case this morning, camomile and spiced apple.

I love to hear the rest of the world stirring. The sound of people starting to go about their business just outside our flat. The local shopkeepers starting to arrive to open up there businesses for the day, the sound of the flats around us waking too.

Yet, despite the sound of the city coming to life, my morning world feels calm, allowing me time to think if I chose to, giving me the opportunity to reflect on the working week thats just come to an end, or to contemplate the opportunities that may arise from the day ahead.

I also find it the best time to write. I will quite often sit and write a couple of blogs before Ali even begins to stir.

It would be nice to wake up together sometimes, but I just can’t lie in bed all morning waiting for that to happen.

Happy Saturday all x

To Plan or Not to Plan?

I’ve never been very good at making plans.

Ok, so that’s not entirely true. I think I’m actually pretty decent at making plans, and usually stick to them. That’s if you take social plans, holiday plans, day to day plans into consideration.

Why is it then that I find it ridiculously difficult to make life plans and career plans?

I guess first of all we should unpick what I mean by life plans.

What I mean by this is, and I’ll refer to one of my dearest friends, who has always known what she wanted from life. All she ever dreamt of was finding a husband, buying a house, getting married and having children. And she’s achieved that.

I got as far as buying a house once. With my ex. We broke up. He brought me out. And I no longer own a house.

I’m actually quite comfortable with not having achieved the things my friend has achieved. What’s right for her, isn’t going to be right for everyone. But I guess my point is, she had life goals. She knew what she wanted, when she wanted to achieve each of these goals, and she’s just cracked on and done it. Job done.

My current life plans go as far as supporting my boyfriend through the visa process. But after that? Who knows! You could say its hard to make plans when we don’t know what’s going to happen later this month with his visa application. But the realistic part of me knows that this would just be an excuse. In reality, I am confident I wouldn’t have a plan regardless of the circumstances.

I have no plans to get married yet, and as you may’ve read in my previous blog ‘Kids’ I’m not desperate to have those either.

However, I don’t just bumble around aimlessly either. I like to visit new places, try new things, meet new people. I’m just not very good at planning these things. And maybe that’s ok.

My working life is similar. I have never had the desire to be a career person. All I ever wanted was enough money to live and enjoy the odd holiday.

Even as far back as my school days, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and which direction to go in. Up until 6 months before my A Level results, I had no desire to go to university. But I didn’t know what job I wanted to do either. So I decided that maybe I would go to university as that might help me to decide. Choosing the subjects to study was easy. I loved Human Geography and I had an interest in Africa.

So a few months later, I found myself standing at the entrance to the University of Northampton (or the University College of Northampton – UCN – as it was known back then) registering for a BA Course in Geography and Third World Development. I loved everything about my University experience. I developed an even greater love for Geography and the Third World, but I knew that my career choices in these fields were limited. It was either continue to study and become a teacher, go and work for the local council (who were making hundreds of job cuts at the time), or go and work for a third world charity. None of which set my world on fire.

Whilst at University, I had a part time job working for a gift card shop in the town centre. I loved my time there, but there was little money in it (not that I was money orientated. I’m still not today, but there were things I couldn’t do if I didn’t look for something that was a bit better paid). I increased my hours slightly after Uni, and also gained further responsibility moving up from Supervisor to Assistant Manager. Whilst there, I saw an advert in my local newspaper for a job in sport. I applied, interviewed and was called back within half an hour to say I had got the job!

I stayed with the company for 9 years, before I made the move to London. Even that move wasn’t planned. I had been comfortable in my job, but there was little opportunity for growth or promotion. So when I was effectively head hunted for the London opportunity, I grasped it with both hands.

I worked with some great people in that 9 year period. I remember one lady saying to me that if I got too comfortable there, I would never leave. I was comfortable there. 9 years comfortable.

I get a weird sense of enjoyment out of proving people wrong though.

Although I don’t have a career plan, what I do have is a burning ambition to do well in all that I do. I am constantly seeking ways to improve myself. Whether it was when I had my first ever part-time job in a supermarket, my part-time job in the card shop, or my job in sport, I have always pushed myself to learn as much as I can, so I can do the best possible job in the role I am in.

I guess my next question is, do you really need a plan to be successful?

I don’t have the answer to this question, but I would love to get your thoughts on this.

What I do know, is that for someone who had/has no plan, I seem to be doing alright at this career malarkey.