Knife crime, dirty laundry, and self care

The last couple of weeks have made me realise just how important it is to have a self care bank.

If I hadn’t been able to cash in on some of my self care reserves, I definitely wouldn’t have got through it as well as I have.

Most of the drama that has unfolded, has been out of my hands.

Sadly we’re living in a city where knife crime is a reality. It’s almost becoming the norm. Yet twice, in the space of just a few days, knife crime got closer to home.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s my country bumpkin background that makes me more shockable when these things happen.

The guys I know who have lived in and around London for most of their lives, tend to just shrug it off and tell me ‘that’s life’. I guess this isn’t the first time they have dealt with knife and gang crime. It’s not like it’s a new problem, but with the news and social media platforms we use these days, perhaps it just seems worse because it’s talked about more.

Whatever’s going on, when it impacts people you know, as well as the work you do, it starts to feel like it’s getting a bit too close for comfort.

I’ve also still been having problems with my ex. I’m not going to air my dirty laundry on here, but it’s something I could do without.

I’m also trying to spend some time forging new, exciting friendships/relationships with people. It was one of the things I wanted to accomplish this year. It’s early days, but it’s kinda fun wondering whether these people are here for a reason, here for a season, or here for a lifetime.

I haven’t even had time to head home lately. Weekends have been filled with hen parties, friends and family visiting, and work. And there’s still more busy weekends to come.

I’m certainly not complaining, but my body and mind are starting to tell me I need some R&R.

Today, I listened to my body and did bugger all. After working all day on Saturday, I needed some time to just vegetate today. I only left the house to grab some food for dinner, and barely left the sofa. I used to hate days doing nothing. But I’ve learnt that when my body says rest, I need to listen to it, otherwise I run the risk of burning out.

Heading into a new week, I need to make sure I focus on getting back outside for some exercise, as well as creating some time to bank some more self care points, in order to replace those I have used over the last couple of weeks.

Fingers crossed for a more peaceful week ahead…

Solo Traveller

When I first went on holiday on my own 3 years ago, I received a mixed reaction from friends and family. Some said good on you. Others thought I was crazy. Won’t you be lonely? Aren’t you scared going alone? Why don’t you find someone to go with?

The answers to those questions at the time were:

  • I don’t know, as I’ve never done it before
  • Yes
  • There aren’t many of us singletons left in my friendship circle, and why should no one wanting to leave their husbands, wives or their children, stop me from going to sunnier climes?

This time around, fewer people asked those questions. In fact, the comments I received were a lot more positive:

  • I wish I was brave enough to go away on my own
  • Have a great time

Perhaps people’s mindsets are changing. More and more people seem to be going off and doing their own thing, whether that’s because they are single, or simply because they want to visit places their partners don’t really fancy going to.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the easiest thing to do. It pushes me way out of my comfort zone. But I like to see how far I can push myself. Where are my limits?

When I arrived in Portugal this week, I asked myself the questions my friends had asked me 3 years ago. My answers this time were:

  • No, I now love my own company. Plus the beauty of the modern world, means I can stay in touch with friends and family back home, if I want to.
  • I am always a little apprehensive about travelling alone, but I try to avoid putting myself in the face of unnecessary risk. Plus, I have now been living in London for 3 years.
  • I didn’t even try to convince anyone to come with me this time. Well, ok, just the one, but I was truly looking forward to escaping, having some quiet time away from the madness of work and London, and spending some time working on where I want to be in the future, and the steps I can start taking to get me there

So here I am, in sunny Portugal, sitting on my balcony, alone, but not lonely, enjoying some time away from the rat race, relaxing and exploring, watching the sunset and wondering just how many trips I might be able to squeeze into this coming year ✈️☀️🏖

Albufeira – photo taken today by me

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)

As one chapter comes to an end, another begins

I feel kinda weird writing this post, but wanted to explain my absence over the last few weeks.

It’s been hard to find the right words so as not to cause any further hurt, but at the same time, since I started my blog, I have found it a really useful platform in dealing with my thoughts and find it better to get things out in the open, rather than internalising things.

I had known from the start of the year that 2018 was going to be a challenging time. It was going to test me and my relationship on every level.

They say that big events in life either make or break a couple. They bring you closer together, or you drift further apart.

This time, it sadly resulted in us drifting apart.

I hated having to have the conversation so close to Christmas. It’s one of my favourite times of year. I love the magic of Christmas. But this year, I was losing my spark. My festive spirit had gone, and it resulted me resenting my relationship even more because of it.

Christmas or not, I don’t think there is ever an easy time to finish something you know is not working. It was making me more and more miserable, and I knew that if I prolonged the inevitable even further, it was going to be harder to find happy me again.

It was hard leaving him in London as I travelled back to Northampton for Christmas. We had planned to spend time at my parents together. Instead he would now be spending Christmas alone in our flat whilst I travelled home to spend time with friends and family.

We have continued to live together the past few weeks which has made things hard at times. I’d be lying if I said that heading to Northampton for the holidays hadn’t been needed. It seemed to take so long to get there, but I was so grateful to finally hit the motorway on Saturday. It’s been nice to get some space to reflect, remember the good times, but to also start rebuilding me, so that in the new year, I can start the next leg of my journey.

I’m not sure where things are going to take me yet. I am still taking one day at a time. My heart hasn’t been where it perhaps should’ve been for the last year, so now it’s time to start thinking about where my heart wants to be. But not just my heart. My head too. I know I still have a lot to learn about myself.

The last few months I have become more aware of the need to look after my mind. Self-care is becoming increasingly important to me, and certainly something I want to explore more in the year ahead.

I have no hard feelings towards him. Our relationship has simply run its course. I will continue to hope that he achieves all that he dreams of.

But for now, it’s time for me to strap in, and start preparing for the next chapter of my life.

2019 – I’m coming for you!

After months of waiting, we’re entering into the week of the dreaded Visa Appeal. I feel like the last year has been focused on this moment. And now it’s here, I’m not sure how I feel.

Going through the application process was hard enough. Finding out the application had been rejected was tough. But the thought of having to go through court proceedings in the hope that the rejection will be overturned, has been an experience that has quite frankly drained me on every level.

It’s not even my appeal.

I can’t begin to comprehend how Ali must feel.

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t impacted our relationship too.

Neither of us have been to court before. We have no idea what to expect on the day. I have never felt so underprepared for something in my life.

I have tried really hard to keep my emotions together over the last few months. I’m terrified that on the day I will become far from supportive and turn to a blubbering mess, when what I really need to do is to stay strong for Ali.

My family have been ridiculously supportive over it all, even offering to come down to support us on the day. But I know if they are there, all my emotions will come out and I will be no use to anyone.

Whatever happens this week I know I need to make some changes moving forwards.

Somewhere a long the way, a part of me has got lost. I need to go find that piece of me and get it back.

I also need to find my Christmas spirit! Normally I’m well on my way to feeling Christmassy by now. This year however, it doesn’t seem to matter how many festive markets I go to, I’m just not feeling it right now.

I need a holiday too. As soon as this week is out of the way I’m going to book myself a few days away at the start of the New Year. And a Spa Day.

I need to spend more time in my happy place too. I know where it is. Thankfully, it’s never gone away. It’s the one true place I can just be me.

 I’m going to make a commitment right here and now…

In 2019 – I’m going to focus on me. Not in a selfish way, but in a positive, much needed way. I need to spend some time focusing on what makes me happy. I need to get my energy for life back. I need to say yes to more exciting opportunities. And if I don’t?

Well, quite simply, there is no alternative. I am going to get me back. Whatever it takes. 2019, you better watch out…I’m coming for you!

Change (Part 2)

In Change (Part 1), I wrote about the importance of living life. How life was too precious and too short to plod along, and how sometimes it takes a life changing event to give us the wake up call we so badly need.

In Change (Part 2), I want to share with you, my readers, how a heartbreaking, life changing moment has lead to to so much positive change. I hope that the next time any one of us suffers heartache, that by reading this, it gives you hope that good things can, and will, happen to you again.

Losing B triggered so many changes in my life. As much as I hate not having her by my side, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gone through the heartache of losing her.

The key thing to note here, is that although I firmly know what my trigger to change was, I didn’t know that at the time. It was only when I looked back that I could see this. 

The first major change happened just over two years after B left us. My relationship with my then boyfriend had been deteriorating since B’s funeral. Shortly after we said our goodbyes to B, my now ex, asked me not to speak about her anymore. Needless to say, I was shocked and confused, especially as I was given no explanation at the time, other than ‘she’s gone and you need to move on’. Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t leave there and then, or at least to try to get a better understanding of what he meant by this, but I just remember feeling too drained to argue. It upset me deeply as I knew in my heart that I still had a lot of grieving to do, or at least to try to come to terms with my loss. I wanted to talk about B, the memories I had of her, and how I felt now that the one person I hoped would be with me for every major event in my life, was no longer going to be there.

I had to find another way to ‘get by’.

So instead, I found solace in spending time on my own, It was at this time that I found comfort in my garden. I had always loved gardening, but from that moment, I would spend hours pottering around outside, lost in my own thoughts. It helped a lot. I could go out there and spend hours thinking about nothing or everything. Finding so much therapy in my garden also lead me to consider a career change. Shortly after, I signed up to an evening class in Horticulture.  It was on this course that I met two of my dearest friends, Kim and Kelly, who played an instrumental part in making me realise how unhappy I was at home, and how much shit I was putting up with. Talking to them helped me find the strength and courage to realise that I deserved better.

People often ask me why I didn’t leave him sooner. And the truth? Part of me was wrapped up in that small town mentality of thinking that by my age I should be thinking about weddings and babies (because thats what everyone else was doing), and not starting again from scratch. The other part of me knows that I had to grieve for B before I could put my own relationship back onto the radar. It wasn’t until a year had passed since her death, that I finally started to refocus on my relationship, and I suddenly realised how selfish and controlling he had become.

Further to my new found friendship with Kim and Kelly, it was a chance encounter with someone I vaguely knew, that finally made me start to rebuild some of the self-confidence I had lost over the six years I had been with my ex. Not only did he make me realise I was good at my job, but he also made me realise that I was a lovely, caring person who had a lot going for her. He gave me my sparkle back.

So one morning, four years ago, I woke up and decided that enough was enough. On that very same day, I walked away from my ex, the house we had brought together and had lived in for the last 3 years, and temporarily, my beloved cat Wiggler.

It wasn’t plain sailing of course, but these things never are. And needless to say, things got much worse before they got better. But step by step, I started to rebuild myself, improving my self care, my self worth and rebuilding my confidence.

With new found confidence, I began throwing myself into work, improving my networks, and talking to people who genuinely cared about my wellbeing. With this new found confidence creeping in, I started to get recognised for my work, which then triggered another change…

6 months after I left my relationship, I started getting itchy feet at work. I loved my job, but there was no chance at that time of an internal promotion and as it was only a small organisation, there was nowhere else for me to go with the skillset I had.  So, I started looking around at other jobs with my industry. A chance phone call lead to me being informed that an opportunity had arisen in London, and would I fancy going there to fix some of their problems? I was terrified, but I had nothing to lose. Even if it didn’t work out, it was only an initial 6 month secondment…

A few months later, I found myself waving goodbye to my family and moving down to Surrey to begin with (the thought of commuting from Northampton to South West London on a daily basis did nothing for me, especially as back then I struggled to function until 11 in the morning! Some would argue that even after 11 was a challenge!), and another six months later, London itself.

I had never lived or worked outside of Northamptonshire. I had grown up there, gone to university there, and even brought my first home there. If truth be told, I had never really thought about leaving.

Yet, three years later, here I find myself, living and working in London, and loving every minute. Thankfully a decision I have never once regretted.

There were other life changing moments even further back that I am sure also contributed to my move to London.

I was in my mid 20s when I learnt to drive. However, being in a controlling relationship meant that I was not ‘trusted’ to drive. Because of this, I had never driven on the motorway and had become fearful of it. Once the relationship had ended, I started to panic about the fact I was restricting myself by not driving on the motorway. I gave into that panic, jumped in my car and drove myself and a friend to Birmingham to see a show. My friend commended me on my driving ability and this then gave me the courage to visit more places, forcing myself to drive on the motorway more often. This was only the start of my motorway journey. If I only I had known back then how useful the motorway would become over the next few years (with the exception of National Rail, the M25 and the M1 are my most direct roads back home to see my friends and family)…

Turning 30 had been another trigger for change. I had dreaded turning 30. I felt nowhere near ready to live a grown up life. I was nowhere near marriage, especially as a new singleton, and I couldn’t have found myself any further away from having kids.  I found myself putting so much pressure on myself to conform to the ‘norm’. Little did I know that my 30s would turn out to be a hell of a lot more liberating and exciting than I ever imagined it could be…

I hope this goes a little way to show how life changing moments can lead to positive change. Sometimes life changing moments are deemed as the norm, like learning to drive, or changing jobs. However, I think it is really important to recognise that positive life changes can also happen after loss. It can take a lot of time, self reflection, and a whole load of courage, but I truly believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

I am certain that if we hadn’t lost our B, that I may not have left my relationship when I did, which could’ve then altered the destinations I visited en-route to where I am today. And that my dear readers, is not something I would be too keen to change…

 

 

Family time

After a hectic week at work, I returned home this weekend to spend some much needed time with the family.

I love living in London, but I am slowly learning that I need to take regular breaks from the chaos that comes with living and working in the city.

As soon as I reach the M1 the air changes, as does the scenery. With that my mind clears, the stress lifts and I feel energised.

Although we are now in September, the weather was beautifully warm this weekend, which also meant getting lots of sunshine.

When I first used to return home after moving to London, I would pack my weekends full, catching up with friends as well as family. However as much as I want to see everyone, it just wasn’t physically sustainable. I would return to London feeling more tired than when I left. By the middle of the week I would be frazzled and felt far from rested. So now, as much as I still feel guilty at times, I try to have a weekend of seeing family or friends, rather than both.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to escape from the city this weekend. Sitting at home in my parents garden, I switched off from work and just enjoyed sitting in the garden, letting the sunshine soak into my skin, eating good food, and catching up with my family.

I felt truly relaxed, a feeling I haven’t enjoyed in weeks.

And now, sitting back in my London flat, enjoying a glass of wine, I feel rested and relaxed and ready to tackle the week ahead.

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