Honesty

A few months ago I wrote a blog post called Love or Loyalty? For me, without love, there is no purpose.

However, since writing the post, I have wondered if actually love and loyalty aren’t the most important thing in a relationship. Maybe the key to a happy, long lasting relationship is in fact honesty.

I recently started seeing someone. A couple of weeks ago after a beautiful morning together, I asked him a question. It was something that had been playing on my mind, but I could never find the right time to ask.

However, something about our perfectly beautiful morning together, gave me the courage I needed to ask.

I could see that my question had surprised him. He was unable to answer straight away (yet somehow this gave me my answer before he even spoke). He was clearly torn as to whether to be honest or whether to lie.

Thankfully he decided to be honest.

He knew that by being honest, I wouldn’t get the answer I wanted to hear. He didn’t want to upset me, or cause me any hurt, but I think he knew he needed to be honest with me.

He considered keeping the truth from me. I knew that from his initial silence, as well as the grown up conversation we had afterwards.

But, instead, he told me the truth. As slow, warm tears rolled down my cheeks, he immediately regretted telling the truth.

As much as it caused me some hurt that day, by the time evening came, I was pleased he had found the courage to tell me the truth. His honesty made my heart and soul much happier.

It had made him feel like shit, and I still had a decision to make, but at least I could do this with the facts laid out in front of me.

Had he not told me the truth, our beautiful bubble may not have burst. Yet if I had found out the truth much later on, this would’ve been far worse for our relationship.

Although our initial bubble burst, I decided that the information I now had, would not ruin what we had started. In some ways, his honesty brought us closer together, and made us both realise we had something that we wanted to fight for.

Which thankfully lead to a new bubble being created.

Recently, I went to a friends wedding. I spent most of the day talking to a couple I have known for a number of years, about the concept of love and loyalty.

It was my friends husband (D) who said it wasn’t love or loyalty that kept him and K together (although clearly they are still in love with each other, even after 20+ years of marriage!). He said that honesty was the key, and K agreed.

They have such a refreshing approach to their marriage and their relationship.

They openly admire other people in front of one another (even pointing out to each other when they see someone in the street the other might like!). Yet neither of them have strayed, or been tempted to stray. They have a refreshingly honest approach to their marriage, with K saying that if D ever strayed, she could never put the entire blame on him, taking the view that if he was ever tempted, then she would have no choice than to accept some share of the blame.

Social media does not help honesty in our relationships these days. With so many opportunities to misbehave behind peoples backs, it is easy to see why many people are becoming more and more disillusioned with love.

I have lost count of the number of men who appear to be happily married, who have sent me late night messages over the last 6 months! Two in particular were clearly going through difficult times at home. As much as I was flattered by the attention, nobody likes to be used when things get tough at home! It seems as if it is far easier these days to be unfaithful than it is to be honest with our nearest and dearest.

For me, lying is one of the worst offences you can commit in a relationship. Being honest with each other, even when you have done wrong, shows strength and courage. Yes, it might cause hurt and pain, and comes with great risk, but I would take that any day over lies

My advice for what it’s worth, is to let people know where they stand, so they can make their own choices.

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.

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.

Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve been thinking about mental health a lot this week. Particularly apt due to it being mental health awareness week.

Everywhere I’ve turned there have been reminders about looking after our mental health. Social media has been full of interesting quotes and articles, and celebrities as well as us ‘normal’ folk have been talking about our own mental health.

I had an interesting conversation with someone yesterday who said they feel as though everyone has mental health problems these days, and that sometimes it feels as though people are just ‘jumping on the bandwagon’.

Whilst I’m not sure people are ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, it certainly does feel as though more people have mental health problems these days. However, I’m not sure that this is true either.

What seems to be true, is that more people are opening up and talking about mental health.

Radio 1 have done a great job at allowing people to open up and talk about their mental health, frequently talking about different ways to cope, and just allowing people to air their problems.

Celebrities too have been opening up about their mental health experiences, which somehow makes it easier to discuss things. By opening up and telling us their stories, they are letting everyone know that it is ok to not be ok.

Workplaces too are taking a tougher stance on mental health, ensuring staff know what to do if they are experiencing problems, or by simply making staff more aware of the signs that one of their colleagues maybe struggling so they can help, or find someone who can.

I too created The Mindful Musings of a Gingernut as a way of managing my own mental health. I often struggle to put things into words when speaking out loud, but writing my blog helps me to have a voice, and to say the things I often wish I could say in person. It also helps me to reflect and to make sense of things.

Yet, I can’t help but feel a sense of bittersweetness when we talk about mental health.

In a couple of months time it will be the anniversary of my best friends suicide.

I often wonder, if there had been more publicity about mental health back then, if there had been easier access to information, support groups etc, whether she may still be here.

We’ll never know.

What I am grateful for, is the fact that times are changing.

Mental health has a growing voice.

Mental health is finally being listened to.

Amen to that!

🙏🏻

Time to unsubscribe

Over the last few weeks my emails have been mounting up.

Unusually, not my work ones, which finally seem to be under control after nearly 4 years into the job!

My personal emails however, have become ridiculous.

I have two email accounts. One which I’ve had for years, and one which I use for all things blogging.

Watching the number of unread emails slowly creep up to 100 was starting to make my head hurt.

Then when I checked this morning, I had around 130.

It was time to take action and de-clutter my inbox (and free up my mind as a result).

First of all I needed to decide whether to delete or unsubscribe from mailing lists. This was easier than I expected. After all, having let my emails go unread for so long would suggest that the emails weren’t that important.

So 135 emails later, I have now unsubscribed from around 15 mailing lists which made up around 85% of my emails.

The remaining 15% I have spent some time reading and actioning before deleting.

And now, I’m pleased to say, I have an empty inbox and a much happier mind!

Is self care easier if you’re single?

A few weeks ago, I attended a friends hen party. The hen party was fun. But something was troubling me.

I was staying in a hotel that night with another friend. While we were busy getting ready for the hen party, she started pouring her heart out to me. It appeared that her marriage was on the rocks. Whilst I was shocked to hear this, I was not entirely surprised.

As my friend continued to tell me her problems, it occurred to me that all she might actually need was a little bit of time out for herself. From where I was standing, the issues they faced as a couple were largely down to the fact that my friend did not take much time out for herself. Not only did she seem trapped by being mum to her two children, her vibrations also constantly seem to be low.

So I decided to try and talk her into creating some time for herself.

The trouble is, she wasn’t ready to hear what I had to say. She wanted to blame her husband for everything that was going wrong. She couldn’t see that by taking a little time out for herself, it might actually help her to look at things more rationally, and generally make her feel a lot happier.

This really got me thinking about self care. Does being single make it easier for me to ensure I spend time on my self care? Perhaps it is selfish of me to think that self care is possible for everyone to maintain. Perhaps it is harder for couples with children, and even more so for single parents.

I decided to explore these thoughts further. So after finding some willing friends, who are parents of children ranging from a few days old to 4 years old, I asked them some questions to get an understanding of how they feel about self care, and how they fit self care into their routines, if in fact they do.

What does self-care mean to you?

I thought it would be really good to understand my friends views on self care first of all.

Answers ranged from:

  • To stop overthinking about other people and carving out something just for you
  • Remembering you’re still a person with valid thoughts, desires, emotions and feelings, despite having children
  • Looking after yourself (d)
  • Taking time out to do things for me, to look after my physical and mental wellbeing (d)
  • Time to focus on myself to make sure I am ok (d)

What is reassuring in their responses is that whether they are male or female, they understand what self care is and the importance of it.

The interesting part for me is the different responses from the mums v the dads. The dad answers marked with a (d) come across as a lot more matter of fact, whereas the mum answers had much more of an emotional connection.

As a parent, how do you create time for self-care?

From experience, even as a singleton, self care doesn’t just happen. You have to create time for it. However, on the other hand, it also shouldn’t become a burden. It’s too easy sometimes, even for someone in my situation, not to bother. But it’ salvo really important not to beat ourselves up about it if life does get in the way. What’s important is when you do find time for self care, to store up those self care points to help get you through the days, weeks or even months when self care time just cannot be squeezed into busy lives.

Even for me, with working long, unsociable hours at times, keeping the flat clean, and trying to maintain some sort of social life outside of working hours, I sometimes have to force myself to check in to see how I am.

So how do my friends who juggle parenting on top of work, manage to create time for self-care?

  • With difficulty…snatched time
  • By sharing duties
  • By staying up later than my partner and watching tv
  • By scheduling it in
  • By being organised. Self-care can only really begin once our evening routine is complete. There’s usually a window once our son is in bed, where I can check in with myself to make sure I am ok.

The key point for me is having a healthy relationship with your partner. By understanding that you are not just parents, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to have time out from this role, hopefully goes some way to stop parents from feeling that guilt they so often endure for leaving their child in someone else’s care, so they can spend some time looking after themselves. Being a parent is one of the most important roles you will ever play. It’s really important therefore that you do create time for you and to recharge your batteries, so that you can give your children the time and energy that they too deserve.

Two of the friends I spoke to, who are both married (not to each other!), have recognised that by sharing child duties as well as social time, helps matters. For Elaine, being in a 50/50 relationship , her and her husband spend an equal amount of time with their daughter, but also recognises when each of them needs a break from playing mum or dad. For Elaine, self-care can take as long or as little as it needs, in order to help remind her that she is still Elaine regardless of her role as Mum. Depending on her needs and the time she has, Elaine’s self-care can be as fun as a few drinks in the pub with friends, or as simple as relaxing in the bath bath and having an early night.

Lewis on the other hand, who is now a father of two, and shares childcare duties with his wife Jen, recognises the importance of scheduling self-care into busy days. Lewis told me that most of the time his self-care takes place at home after his boys are in bed. However, recognising that it is important for both him and his wife to still continue with their hobbies as well as time away from parenting duties, they also schedule in a weekday evening and a weekend morning each, that is allocated free time to themselves.

In the case of both Elaine and Lewis, it’s not just about finding self-care time for themselves, they also understand the importance of freeing up their partners time to look after their own self care too.

Do you have any self-care rituals you would care to share for other parents out there?

Whilst there were few self-care rituals people wanted to share, those that did, ranged from simply sitting down and having a cup of tea once the kids had been put down for a nap, to completing outstanding tasks for the day whilst carrying out some mindful thinking, and ending the day with toys being put away to allow for a fresh start in the morning.

However, Lewis may just’ve stumbled across the most fun self-care ritual I have certainly seen for parents to try. Incorporating self-care and time with the little people, Lewis has introduced his boys to the world of Cosmic Kids Yoga Videos. This great concept allows parents to carry out a quick yoga session whilst keeping the little folks entertained!

If you don’t have any self-care rituals, would it be something you would like to know more about?

As much as some of my friends find it hard to fit self care into their routines, they seemed to have a good understanding of what they can do, and where to find more information on self care, should spare time be created.

Do you think self-care is easier for women than men?

This was my final question to the group. Having reflected on whether self care is easier for singletons compared to parents, I then started to wonder whether men and women viewed self care differently.

The answers were varied, and again, there was quite a difference between the views of men and women, with the men’s answers appearing once again with a (d) next to them:

  • I don’t think it’s about gender. I think it’s about mindset (but being in a same sex relationship might give me a different perspective). I think it’s easy to put it down to gender but I see huge differences in our approaches to it in my relationship
  • I think self care is just as easy for women as it is for men, if you let it be. Too many women are martyrs who feel that it is their duty to care for their children and not themselves. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. There’s nothing wrong with sharing the load. There’s nothing wrong it’s looking after yourself.
  • It’s easier fo men because it’s often harder for women to admit they need time away from their child (d)
  • I think it’s down to the individual and their circumstances (d)
  • Honestly – I don’t know. Everyone had busy lives and finding time to make time for yourself is probably hard regardless of sex (d).

Conclusion

The purpose of asking these questions, hasn’t really been about finding the definitive answer to whether self care is easier if you are single.

It was an idea that got me thinking about self care and the difference of approach between a single 30 something (me) and my friends, who are all doing tremendous jobs as parents.

The process for me has been fascinating. Peoples opinions vary so much.

I think if anything, the men I spoke to have surprised me more. The support they give to their partners to allow them to create time to be themselves away from being mum or dad, as well as their matter of fact approach to self care, has been surprising, and lovely to hear.

I also want to give my friend Elaine a special mention too. The relationship she has with her husband is refreshing. Being able to recognise when your partner is struggling is not only difficult for many people to recognise, but when they do recognise it, they don’t know how to react to it. Elaine and her husband not only recognise when each other needs time out to be themselves, away from mum and dad duty, but also manage to maintain a 50/50 approach to bringing up their beautiful daughter. On top of that, Elaine gets that it’s ok to not be ok. That if she needs to ask for help, that that’s ok. That looking after yourself is key, not only to a happy marriage, but to happy parenting.

Self care may not be the glue my friend needs in order to keep her marriage together. However, I stand by the fact that with a little bit of time out for herself, she may start to feel better about herself and the situation she is in. With a little bit of self care, a sprinkling of self love and some time to think, I hope that she finds the answers she needs, whether that’s keeping her marriage alive, or simply, by learning to love herself a little bit more.