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.

The Law of Attraction

Have you ever felt an overwhelming desire to go somewhere you have never been before?

Not just because it looks nice, but because you feel something else is pulling you there?

For several years, I have had this overwhelming feeling that I need to visit India.

The feeling has been so strong lately, that I haven’t been able to think of much else.

I’m not one for regrets. However, I knew that if I didn’t make plans to go soon, it could turn out to be the biggest regret of my life.

However, finances have been tight lately. Thoughts of my finances standing in the way of me and India, made my heart sad and my soul restless. There had to be a way of making this work.

Recently, I have been reading a book by the social media influencer, Vex King. In his book Good Vibes, Good Life, Vex talks about the Law of Attraction. This is the theory that you can attract things into your life by thinking about them.

By thinking positive thoughts about India and improving my finances, could I really find myself in a position with enough money to make this dream a reality?

I decided to give it a try.

It didn’t take long for my situation to start to change.

The first thing that happened, wasn’t a direct link to money.

I had been looking into several tour operators who run group trips to India. The one I had my eye on was a really good price, but I was struggling to find reviews from people who had been.

A few days later, I met up with a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. He was in London for the evening and suggested we meet up for dinner and drinks. During our evening together, we soon got talking about travel. I mentioned the company I was looking to travel to India with, and it turned out he had been on a number of trips with them, and highly recommended them. After that, I spoke to a few more people who had also heard positive things about the company.

So that made my mind up. Once I could afford to go, I at least knew which my preferred tour operator would be. It also meant I could start looking into the different tours they run. I had my heart set on at least doing the Golden Triangle.

Whilst on annual leave a couple of weeks ago, other positive things started to happen.

First, I received an email from an app I had signed up to. The app itself is linked to my phone bill, and by spending money on my credit card in certain shops, I receive money back to use for towards paying my phone bill. That week, I received an email from them letting me know that the travel company I was looking to use, was also now involved in their scheme. By booking through the company, I would receive 5% back to use towards my phone bill!

Secondly, after researching the travel company, I was really happy to see that on booking, I would only need to pay a deposit, with the balance not needing to be paid until 56 days prior to the trip. This was great news, as it meant it would be much easier to secure my trip over the next couple of months, and save up to pay the balance at a later date.

Following this great news, during the same week, I received a message from a colleague who confirmed that all staff would be receiving a pay increase, back dated to January! The pay increase was welcome news for many reasons, but with the backdated sum, this would enable me to pay for the deposit for my trip!

Further good news came last week when I spoke to a property developer who has been working on some new properties behind my flat. As a way of apologising for all the noise and disruptions the building work have caused, he said he has some money in the budget to compensate me! Definitely not taking this for granted (if he overspends on the development, the amount of compensation could be significantly reduced), but pretty good news however much it turns out to be!

Lastly, I had to resubmit my gas and electricity meter readings this week. Due to the building work out the back, I’ve been unable to submit accurate readings for a while. Simply by giving them accurate data, my gas and electricity bills have gone down by £20 per month, giving me a saving of £240 per year!

This may all be a coincidence of course, but I genuinely feel as though this is the result of the laws of attraction. By thinking positively, and believing that something is pulling me there (beyond the desire to just go to India on holiday), I have somehow been given the opportunity to travel to this wonderful place that has already captured my heart, with a much lesser financial burden than I had previously thought I would face.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing of course to get to this point. There have been days where I thought India would never happen. On those days, when I felt less positive, I really had to push myself to believe that I could make India a reality.

Without sounding like I’m crazy, I just can’t shake this feeling that i’m destined to go to India. I don’t know what to make of this, or why I need to go. But I do know that I need to go.

It’s time to step back out of my comfort zone, and throw myself into a magical Indian adventure.

Dreams

I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.

I’m not.

But, I’m not sitting around dreading it either.

I’ve never had a dream job. Even as a kid, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Whilst I was at school, trying to decide whether to go to university or not, I didn’t know what course I wanted to do, because I had no idea what I might want to do in the future. By the time I left university, I still had no idea.

It’s taken 35 years for me to start figuring out what i’d really like to do.

Although, looking back, there were times when I toyed with the idea, I just didn’t know how to get there.

I guess part of me has always thought that a dream job, was just that. A dream. Not achievable for those of us who are just ‘ordinary’ people.

But why should it stay as a dream? Why not chase after it?

Whilst I was walking along one of the Algarve’s many beaches last week, it struck me that I finally know what I would like to do.

It may not happen over night. It may even come under a slightly different guise.

But what I do know, is that it feels right to chase after it. To throw (almost) everything into trying to achieve it.

It’s not going to be easy, as I still need to earn a wage while I’m chasing my dream. There will be some multi tasking, hard work and lot’s of juggling involved. But I need to make sure I dedicate some time to focus on my plan for the future.

However hard it might be to chase my dreams, everything seems to be pointing me in this direction. And the difference this time, is that I really do feel ready to work hard for it. I want to do something that gives my life more meaning. To wake up each morning looking forward to going to work. To look forward to going back to work after a week off.

So you may be asking yourself why I’m not dreading work tomorrow? And the answer? I have a plan. Which is ironic. Because I’m rubbish at planning anything outside of my occasional social life. I am slowly but surely, creating a plan, and starting to work towards achieving my dream.

And that makes going back to work tomorrow, all the more bearable.

Albufeira

Yesterday was my first full day in Portugal. I am staying around 4km outside of old town Albufeira but I was keen to go and see what the town had to offer.

Whilst there were the options of getting a bus from the hotel at 10am, or a local taxi, I decided to walk instead.

I often find that we are so busy focusing on where we want to end up, that we fail to notice what’s on our doorstep, or in the surrounding area (something that can be said in all areas of life, and not just during travel!). Walking gives us a real opportunity to see what’s around.

Having never been abroad in February before, it was hard to know what to expect weather wise, and equally hard knowing what to pack. Whilst the days can be warm in the February sun, the nights can still be quite cold.

The weather was looking great yesterday, so I headed out in a thin jumper, T-shirt and jeans.

The walk into Albufeira isn’t the prettiest, and whilst the road takes you close to the coastline, you can’t see the sea until you reach Albufeira itself.

However, it gave me the opportunity to see where the Albufeira ‘strip’ is (I don’t think it matters where in Europe you are, if you’ve seen one party area, you’ve seen them all!), and to be grateful that I wasn’t spending my week there. Don’t get me wrong, I love a night out, and maybe I’m being very stereotypical here, but they just seem to be tackier versions of the clubs we have back home, with the main aim being to get so drunk you are sick, and to end up in a bed that isn’t your own. Spending all that money doing what you could be doing back home, seems a bit daft to me, or perhaps it’s just me getting old!

It took me around 50 minutes to walk into town, and when I arrived, I wasn’t disappointed.

Albufeira Old Town – all photos in this blog post are my own
Albufeira Old Town
Albufeira Old Town

By this point the weather was really warming up. Off came the jumper, along with thoughts of, why didn’t I pack any lighter trousers!?!

I’ve barely seen a cloud in the sky so far, and when you’re in the sun, even at this time of year, it’s hot enough to make this gingernut start to change colour (of course I mean red rather than a nice glowing golden brown!).

Once I arrived, I decided to take a walk straight up into the old town. It wasn’t quite lunchtime, so I had some time to explore before I needed to start looking for a pit stop. As I walked into the old town, there were signs that read Miradouro, which means viewpoint in English. I began to follow these signs to see where they lead.

Once I reached the Miradouro, there were spectacular views that looked over the bay.

From the Miradouro, I could’ve taken the lift down to the beach. However, I decided to keep walking as I had spotted the signs for the marina ahead.

I was quite conscious as I walked towards the marina that there were fewer tourists along this route. So I made the decision to walk to the next Miradouro and then head back into the old town to find somewhere to grab some lunch.

On my way back, instead of walking through the old town, I headed down to the beach.

The beaches here really are stunning. Everywhere I have been so far has been spotlessly clean. The sands are golden and pebble free, barely a sign of any rubbish or even seaweed lying strewn across the sands.

I wished I had worn my sandals instead of my trusted Nike trainers, so off they came, allowing my feet to breath and to enjoy the feeling of the sand between my toes.

As I got closer to the main hub of restaurants along the seafront, I decided to head off to find somewhere for lunch.

One of the many perks of holidaying in February means that it’s easy to get into restaurants at any time of day! I managed to get a table in the sunshine, in the first restaurant I stumbled upon. After an offer from the waiter to join me for lunch (I turned him down of course, but it was very flattering to get the offer), I settled down to look through the menu choices and to read my book.

Before coming to Portugal, I had read that they are big on their fish, especially sardines. I had never eaten fresh sardines before, but decided to give them a go. I hadn’t expected them to arrive with their heads on, and I had no idea which parts to eat, and what not to eat! But after a quick google, I tucked into them, loving every bite. Afterwards, I washed them down with one of my favourite cocktails, an icy cold Caipirinha.

After lunch, it was time to walk off those sardines with the walk back to my hotel, in time to spend a couple of hours by the pool and finishing the day off nicely in the indoor sun heated pool ☀️

Readjusting

After a wobbly start to the year, a weekend readjusting was much needed.

I took a brief trip to the lovely St. Albans on Saturday to meet up with my family. We’ve often suggested meeting half way between Northampton and London, but never actually done it. St. Albans is pretty much bang in the middle (time wise), taking each of us just over an hour to get there. We met at Verulamium Park for a lovey brunch in the cafe, and then walked up through the park to the Cathedral, and onwards to the shops.

None of us had ever been to St. Albans before, so except for the photo’s we had seen online before we met, we didn’t know what to expect. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place. Sadly, we didn’t have enough time to look around the cathedral, but we will definitely go back in the near future to have a proper mooch around to see what else St. Albans has to offer.

From there, I headed back to my London flat to start having a new year clear out and to settle into life as a singleton. Cupboards have been emptied, christmas presents taken out of their boxes, and christmas decorations put away for another year.

I still have no idea how I am going to get my Christmas tree out of my first floor flat without dropping its needles everywhere. I’ve attempted to wrap it in bin liners to make it easier, but it’s so big and heavy I have an awful feeling the only way to get it out is to slide it down the stairs…needless to say, the neighbours are going to love me when I try to get it out the front door this week!

The sort out has commenced, but I still have piles of things lying around the flat waiting to find their new homes, but I’m in no rush to finish sorting things out. It gives me a focus when I get home from work this week.

It’s been quite therapeutic changing things around though. It really is starting to feel like the fresh start I needed.

In addition to the big clear out, I have also managed to get out for a jog today. My second one this week. For those of you who read my blog New Year, New Goals, you will already be aware that one of my goals this year is to exercise more. For those who know me, you will know that I’m not a long distance runner. In school, I was a sprinter. In fact, I was the fastest girl in my school at one point in the 100m sprint. I have always been rubbish at running longer distances. But being surrounded by parks, and needing to save some money, jogging is my best option for now. Although it’s only the second time I’ve been out this week, I am already finding it really enjoyable. It’s very much walk, jog, walk, jog at the moment, but it’s already giving me more energy, despite the fact it has also made me realise just how unfit I am.

Another goal I have managed to stick to so far, is spending less time on social media. As the clock struck midnight on NYE, I deactivated my Facebook and Linkedin accounts, as well as one of my Instagram accounts. My social media time is already down by 9% this week. I haven’t missed Facebook and Linkedin at all yet. In fact, my mind feels more relaxed for not having them on my phone. Particularly with Linkedin. It’s so easy to get into the habit of working all day, and then reading work related material in the evening, which wasn’t giving my mind the break from work that in needs at the end of a long day.

I still need to work on my other goals, but there is no rush to achieve everything straight away.

To end the weekend, feeling energised after my jog, I managed to make a roast dinner for one, and have enjoyed some time chilling out in front of the tv with a glass of wine.

I wonder what the next 7 days will have in store…

(Photo’s from my trip to St. Albans. I can’t waiy to go back on a sunny day to take some more snaps)

Signing out of 2018

Well here we are, New Years Eve 2018. The last year has once again been full of highs and lows. There have been losses, heartache, a lot of soul searching, and a lot of self discovery. I may not be where I thought I would be at the beginning of 2018, but I sure know me better than I did 12 months ago.

If you read my last post New Year, New Goals,you will know that one of my goals for 2019 is to improve my wellbeing, and in particular my self care.

I am currently working my way through Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips book, ‘Self-care for the real world’. In the book, they talk about keeping a self-care bank of resources which is helpful for those days when everything seems to be running away from you, and those negative thoughts are creeping in. The purpose of the bank is to build up enough resources on your good days, when you have oodles of energy and motivation, to compensate for the days when quite frankly you feel a bit more out of sorts.

So, in my final post of 2018, I thought I would share with you the 5 resources I want to ‘bank up’ for those blergh days, to help see me through, and funnily enough, most of them seem to link in quite nicely to my aims and goals for 2019:

  1. To get outside and exercise. Being surrounded by beautiful parks, there are plenty of opportunites to get out there and get fit. I love being outdoors, so what better way to look after body and mind than to take a jog around the local park.
  2. To make time each week to reflect on my wellbeing, and noticing what my mind and body needs to help me get through the week. I’ve said it before, but the last few months have really opened my eyes to my wellbeing, and I am slowly getting better at identifying what my body and mind need at particular times.
  3. To make time each week to be sociable outside of work, spending time with those who make me laugh and bring the best out of me, but also to spend time with those who have similar interests. What’s better than spending time with those who make you have a good old belly laugh!
  4. To make sure I get enough sleep, ideally with my head hitting the pillow no later than 11pm. I need my sleep, and if I don’t get enough, I’m ratty. But equally, I hate to get up late. The key for me is getting between 7-8 hours sleep each night. So as long as I aim to sleep by 11pm on weekdays and middnight at weekends, by body should get all the rest it needs (with the occasional nap thrown in for good measure).
  5. To not take things personally. The days, weeks even, I have wasted on suffering with imposter syndrome due to one person’s stupid comments, when they have no idea of the way they have made me feel. We never really know what other people are going through and where their heads are at when they make comments to us, yet we can really let their comments affect us.

From the 1st January, I aim to bank as many of these resources as I can to ensure that I have a much happier, more balanced 2019.

As this is my last blog of 2018, I would like to thank all my followers, friends (old and new), and my family, for all your love and support in 2018. I am super excited to see what 2019 has to offer.

Happy New Year folks 🙂

See you on the other side!

Becky xx

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New Year, New Goals

It’s that time of year again when we take time to look back at the last 12 months and to look forward to the next.

I reflected on much of the last 12 months in a blog I wrote earlier this month called Turning 35, so now it’s time to focus on the next 12 months.

I’m  not one for making new years resolutions. Resolutions always sound like they should involve giving things up. I don’t feel the need to give anything up, so instead, what you will find below, are the 5 things I would either like to achieve, take a break from, or improve on in 2019:

  1. I will be cutting down on my social media time in 2019. Facebook, Twitter, 2 x Instagram accounts, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Why is it as human beings we have the inability to just click into one app and be done with it? Why does clicking into an app lead to us scrolling through the latest updates, and then moving onto the next app, and the next, and the next. Before we know it, at least an hour of our precious day is gone. Whilst there are some apps I couldn’t live without (Whatsapp for one, and my Mindful Gingernut Instagram profile which links in nicely with my blog), do I really need to use mindless apps such as Facebook? And I guess I question why I need 2 Instagram accounts? And Linkedin too. I struggle to ‘get’ Linkedin. Spending my limited free time browsing through posts from work colleagues old and new, is no longer appealing. I do know of people who have been headhunted through the app, but these are few and far between. This week alone, I have spent over 7 hrs on Facebook and Instagram, which is just ridiculous. I could’ve achieved so much more with those 7 wasted hours! So from the 1st January, I will be deactivating my Facebook account, taking a break from my personal instagram account for the first 6 months of the year, and will more than likely be taking a break from Linkedin. This should free up some time to focus on other things, such as reading more books, and joining some classes in order to meet new people and to make new friends. After 6 months, I will reflect back on whether I have missed either app, and if so, look at ways I can continue to use them but in a more mindful way.
  2.  In 2019 I want to find some more London friends. Ok, so I have been saying this for the last 3 years, but in 2019, I really need to get off my backside and do something about it. I love my friends dearly, but not many of them live close enough to pop in for a drink on a Friday night, or to grab dinner after work mid-week. I love spending time on my own, but likewise, I love to be sociable too. Just before Christmas this year, I went to a wreath making workshop. Whilst I didn’t exchange numbers with any of the ladies at the workshop, it did give me hope that I hadn’t lost the ability to talk to new people. So in 2019, I’m going to put myself out there. I’m going to enrol on some courses, learn some new skills, and hopefully, make some new friends.
  3. In 2019, I want to eat healthier and to exercise more. Whilst I wouldn’t say I have an awful diet, I have spent the last couple of years eating oily curries, bigger portions, and lots of naan bread. Now I will be cooking for one more often, I will have greater control over my diet. I want to eat a wider variety of foods, giving my plate more colour, trying out new dishes, and filling them with more vegetables. What i don’t plan to do is to give up my favourite foods however ‘bad’ they may be. What I am going to do though, is make sure I eat them in moderation. When it comes to exercise, I love walking, but struggle to fit this into the working week, especially during the dark evenings. I know once the nights get lighter I will get out and about more in the evenings, but I can’t put my fitness and health on hold until then. I live in between two of South West London’s biggest parks. There is absolutely no excuse for me not to take a run around either of the parks during my lunch break on the day I work from home and again at weekends. I do like to work out from home, and lift my weights and do some strength exercises at least 3 times a week, but I definitely need to do something that gets my heart racing. I would love to join the gym again, however, the nature of my day job stops me from doing anything on a regular basis at the moment, and for me, if I am going to join the gym, I need to be able to commit to a regular routine. So, for 2019, I aim to continue to work on my strength exercises from home, and to work up to jogging around one of the local parks 3 x per week. Although this will be one of the harder challenges I set myself, with a little bit of determination and motivation, with any luck, I will be jogging around those parks in no time.
  4. In 2019, I want to travel more. I have always longed to travel, but i’ve either never had the money or the courage to do it. Money is still tight especially as I face renting on my own for the first time. But what I do have is lot’s more courage. Ever since I took my first holiday alone in 2016, I have longed to take another trip. So yesterday, rather than wait for the new year to begin, I booked my first holiday of 2019, which will see me heading to the Algarve in February. Whilst it won’t be at it’s warmest in February, I’m looking forward to exploring somewhere new, taking my laptop and some books, and just spending a few days relaxing, reading, eating freshly caught fish, and writing more blogs. I hope this will be the first of a few breaks in 2019.
  5. Last but my no means least, I want to spend 2019 focusing on my wellbeing and self-care. It’s only in the last 6 months of 2018, that I have become more aware of the need to look after myself mentally as well as physically. There have been so many times over the last 3 years, where I have been so consumed by work, that I forgot to check in with myself to see how I am. Work has often left me with little free time to do the things I enjoy. It has left me exhausted and mentally drained. This has to change in 2019. In the last 6 months, I have learnt so much about myself as I begin to take greater control over my life and my mind. Yet there is still so much more to explore. I want to spend 2019 reading into and practicing different wellbeing, mindfulness and self-care techniques in order to find out what works best for me.

These goals shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve with a little bit of thought, motivation and determination, yet at the same time, if I get these right, they are things that could really change my life. So much of the last 3 years have been focused on work and other people. It’s time to shift the balance a little, so I can focus a little bit more on me and what I need in order to be a happier more balanced person.

What are your goals and aims for 2019?