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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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.

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.

The Unknown

Having now turned the clocks back, and with November just around the corner, our uncertain future gets ever closer to becoming clearer.

When I met my boyfriend 2 years ago, I knew he was going to have to re-apply for his visa in order to stay here. What I hadn’t accounted for was how either one of us would deal with it.

In some ways I think he has dealt with it better than I have. He just seems to carry on, and talks positively about the future. But then he’s also not great at talking about his feelings and worries, even when I try to coax it out of him.

I definitely haven’t coped with it. In any way shape or form.

From the minute he started to re-apply (which was almost a year ago now), I’ve been an emotional wreck. My head has been all over the place.

He also finds this hard to deal with. I don’t think he really understands how it impacts me. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is a bigger deal for him. But it also impacts my future too.

In addition to the uncertainty, right now, we can’t plan anything. Christmas seems hard to plan, and on top of that our birthdays fall just before and just after the date his application is due to be considered by the courts…

My coping mechanism is also screwed. I know that on the days when I think less positively, I am pushing him away. That might seem weird and unsupportive. And it probably is, but for me it’s always been my way of coping. If I start to become less attached, then it won’t hurt as much if things don’t go to plan.

I also find myself working ridiculously long hours in order to block things out at home. Work is a distraction, and because my job is constantly busy, it’s very easy to bury myself in that, spending less time at home.

Somehow, I have resigned myself to the fact this won’t have a happy ending.

The time when he needs me most, I am struggling to be there for him.

For the next 4 weeks, I need to toughen up. Whatever happens at the end of November, we need to make the most of the time we have together.

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…