2017

Oh hi 2017. You’re going to be a important one for me, I can feel it in my lady-waters. 

2017 feels a little out of my control at the moment, mostly due to boring logistics and not knowing where we are going to be beyond the Summer. We’ve created an amazing life here, but I am manifesting hardcore for positive change if staying at Radley is not meant to be.

I want to reconnect to writing, singing and dancing. These have always been my therapy, and with the madness of the London grind I haven’t made them a priority. That ends in 2017. James and I have signed up to the Radley Choral Society (!) and I’m tentatively making plans for regular blog posts.

As always, the 6 month plan is in place, with long term targets and short term goals booked in. Having things to look forward to helps me keep my sparkle. This year, those goals have appeared in the form of a week off to drive along the west coast of Scotland with my beloved, and a trip to Bali with my gorgeous sister.

Arriving in Scotland always feels like coming home. There is something about the freshness of the air, the minxy accent and the way the sky holds the light that feels magical. We are going to cruise around the lochs, stay in bonkers B&Bs, and eat our body weights in haggis. Scotland is the only place that I would move to in a heartbeat (and hey, 2017, let’s not rule it out!) We’re going in Feb so the temp is going to be circa -1000 degrees, but it sets the scene for lots of roaring fires and wee drams. The bonnie lochs in Feb = the recipe for cold extremities and a warm heart.

As for Bali (BALI!) I am going because I want to see paradise. I need somewhere so removed from my desk and my commute and *wifi* that I can clear my head and breathe 1000 lungfuls of salty, unfamiliar air. So, off to the Gili Islands we go! Recommendations of any kind most welcome. Ahhhhhhhhhhh

With that kind of adventurous, spiritual nourishment lined up, anything is possible, and surmountable, this year.

So hola 2017. Let’s be a year of rolling with the punches and coming out stronger on the other side.

A Memo

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I’m writing this from the courtyard of the Summerhall in Edinburgh. The sun is shining, I have just devoured a 99 flake, I’ve seen some heartbreaking, potent, urgent theatre and it is only 2pm.

This afternoon, my lineup includes a show half in sign language and half in English, and a ballet production based on Shakespeare’s sonnets (FINALLY!) It is a fair assessment to say that I feel so fulfilled, loved and inspired that my heart could burst.

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It is important for me to write this down, in a permanent way, so that on the days when I’m catastrophizing, or my heart is threatening to break, there is a point of reference. A memo to my future self from my present self:

You see? 2015 started off so badly, you lost yourself. But, darling, look at what you have achieved! Look at how happy you were on 29th August, 2015! Whatever you are feeling now, you’ve conquered it before, and then some, and the result was beautiful.

I was sent an article by a friend a couple of years ago, and at the time I didn’t fully appreciate how insightful it was. My friend was extremely taken with it, and said it had really changed his perspective, and I couldn’t understand how something with such a simple premise could be so life changing. Essentially, the article argued that any action you take (wise or unwise) is either as a result of something that your past self has done, or that you are doing in order to benefit or hinder your future self.

You can only work with the minutes and seconds you have got, and the challenge is weighing up whether you want to help your future self to fly (in the form of sleep, good eating choices or leaving the job that makes you miserable), or whether you want to hinder your future self by making poor choices. When every decision you make is broken down in such a simple way, it makes it easier to practise self care, and also be grateful for the choices you have already made.

So here is a note to my future self, however she is feeling. As my mother would say, ‘chin up, babes. We’re doing ok.’

If you are having a day when your body feels too heavy for you to carry, just think back to where you were at 2pm on the 29th August, 2015.  

Am I a Londoner yet?

Coffee Cup Image Time to check in.

I’m kind of, sort of, a little bit of a Londoner now.

I have a life-consuming, brain-frazzling job in town, which makes me officially a commuter, and what my Nana refers to as a ‘career girl'(although I don’t think she means it as a compliment). Each Friday I am broken, but slightly less broken than the week before, so that’s progress. I can feel myself hardening and strengthening, as though these experiences are knocking the gentleness out of me between the hours of 7am and 7pm, and then once I am home, I thaw out, before the cycle begins again.

On paper, this is my dream job. I never thought about how disorientating it would be to actually achieve it. I’ve always had an answer when my grandparents have asked me what I want to be when I grow up, and now I don’t know. Is it ungrateful to be living an exciting, stimulating, challenging existence that I have built for myself and yet still have days when I feel utterly lost? Probably.

One thing is for sure, the madness of the working week is helping me to appreciate a kind pair of eyes and a bubble bath when the weekend rolls around. The ultimate aim right now is to do fun things with people who make my heart sing. And, oh my, is my heart singing.

Goodness, I a lucky girl to have friends and family who can recognise my level of exhaustion and humour me when I say “YES, I’d love to go for a pint! I’m BRIMMING with energy from the buzz of my career and ALL OF THE SLEEP. In fact, let’s go dancing after and then maybe try a VINYASA-FLOW yoga class!” This is usually followed by an hour of slurred conversation and an early night. Better luck next time.

This Sunday, we are going to fly. the Carsten Holler exhibition has arrived at the Southbank Centre, featuring a flying machine, a giant mushroom and a slide. What’s not to love?

Tickets are still available, but only just! http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/carsten-höller-decision-91658

Cheers to an utterly mad, but ultimately restorative weekend.

Charmed – Lessons for Life?

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One day this week, something important happened.

I had meetings in London all day, which meant that I could leave the house 20 minutes later than I normally would. I gorged on those minutes by slowly and deliberately cutting up and eating an apple, while watching 20 minutes of an episode of Charmed.

Charmed.

My sister and I were obsessed with this programme when we were littles, and it occurred to me that it probably had more influence than I would like to admit on my exacting moral compass. Stay with me on this one.

1. A drinking game should be developed based around how many times the sisters mention ‘the greater good’ and ‘never giving in to demons/evil’. They make being a goody-two-shoes SASSY.

2. Piper falls in love with Leo before she knows he is a Whitelighter, when he is just a fit handyman. So not only do we learn to appreciate how love cuts through everything, we also don’t resent her when he goes on to have really sexy angel powers. A victory for one woman is a victory for all women.

3. ‘The power of three’ perfectly summarises how three women are always better than one, and that when we light our candles from each other, we can all see clearer. They push the importance of sisterhood to a whole new level. Just in case the message wasn’t completely clear, they are blood relations and ACTUALLY light a lot of candles, when they aren’t busy playing with crystals.

4. Magic or no magic, the Charmed Ones promote self-love and integrity at all times. In this particular episode, they were grappling with the decision of whether or not to hand over their powers to a demon in order to save an ‘innocent’, and I was surprised by how philosophical the conversation became. They questioned whether their powers were intrinsic parts of themselves, and distinguished between their powers and their desire to save innocents, deliberating over which should be sacrificed. I like to think that absorbing that level of intense self reflection as a self-conscious tween helped me to develop a strong moral grounding.

5. Charmed confronts betrayal early doors. The way that Cole manipulates Phoebe, and the dark, fine line that she treads between being ‘good, but jilted and heartbroken or ‘evil’ but with the man she loves, is authentic. As a tween and then a teenager, it brought to my attention how much of yourself it is possible to lose when you choose to identify as ‘with’ another person. The Halliwell sisters are complete as they are, they don’t need an ‘other half’ to be whole. They choose love because it augments their lives, rather than completing them. *EPHIPHANY KLAXON*

Needless to say, I have ordered the season 1 box set for some indulgent rainy day binging.

Progress Report & Losing it

IMG_1703I’ll admit it – I have been a fiery ball of crazy over the last few days. 50 Shades of get-the-hell-away-from-me-before-I-bite-your-face-off. I have lowered the self esteem of some grown men, and I’m still too angry to feel apologetic. Childishly, I’m waiting for them to apologise first.

I went to do a progress report and make a snagging list at the flat, and the first thing I saw was the ceramic house number that my Nana bought in Majorca, smashed on the pathway. Strike #1.

Walking through the flat, not a single wall has been plastered properly, with lumps sticking out of the wall and no skimming done. Strike #2.

I go into the spare room, which should have been completely finished, ready for me to steam off the wallpaper, and *CRACK* down falls the newly ‘fitted’ coving from the ceiling. At this point I see puce.

It is the most comforting, wonderful feeling in the world knowing that I am re-imagining the space where my Nana spent her happiest years, and where Emma and I spent every Tuesday evening eating fish fingers and slimy pudding and watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. There is, however, the flipside of that, which is IF YOU COME NEAR THIS BUILDING AGAIN WITH YOUR INCOMPETENT, FAT HANDS AND BUTCHER ANY PART OF IT I WILL LOSE MY SHIT.

And lose my shit I did. The most lovable part of me that my mumma affectionately refers to as my ‘rapier tongue’ was out in full force.

Let’s be clear, it isn’t like the contractor isn’t aware of the sentimental value associated with the flat. We have joked about the ugly light fittings that I have insisted on keeping, and they have helped me carry window boxes full of fresh herbs up the stairs.

Dealing with the disappointment of this week has been the biggest learning curve of this whole process, never mind solicitors and scary bank meetings. I HATE HATE HATE the fact that I have trusted these men with my home, and they have smiled and promised things and then bulldozed in there like a Tasmanian devil with a hammer. Sob.

CROSS EVERYTHING I’ve got a new team of super-duper carpenters to fit the kitchen this weekend, but I’ll believe it when I see it!

Hopefully this time next week I will have gorgeous progress photos of the fully fitted kitchen and some painted walls. Until then, just the one photo of the light in the living room!

I Just Don’t Know, You Know? | #AsktheQuestion

The wonderful Laura, writer and blogger over at Superlatively Rude, has launched her thought-provoking #AsktheQuestion initiative. Last week I wrote about bravery, and this week the topic is things that we don’t know. So here goes:

1. I don’t know what acupuncture feels like. Every person, professional or otherwise, who I have spoken to about my back pain has told me I need to have acupuncture, but I don’t go. The only reason I don’t go is because I am scared – and that is not good enough.

2. I don’t know how to cast wool on to a knitting needle, which means every time I want to knit something I have to ask my mum to cast on for me. A YouTube tutorial would solve this one. JUST TAKE THE TIME, WOMAN.

3. Do blonde’s actually have more fun?! (This one is being tested SOON. Buhbye reddish/brownish mop – hello sunkissed blonde a la Rosamund Pike).

4. I don’t know what it feels like not to be busy. Or if I do, I can’t remember.

I don’t know what would happen if I just… stopped. Stopped fitting so much into every hour/day/week, stopped pushing myself. I have a working theory that I might spiral into a sleepy inertia and gradually parts of me would just fade away until I was transparent.

…or I might just rekindle my love for the Sims and spend a lot of time in the bath.

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Happy Days & Remembering That People are Amazing

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I needed to talk – desperately.

I was feeling so giddy about what I had just witnessed that I could feel the excitement seeping out of my face. Juliet Stevenson’s Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days is one of the most triumphant performances I’ve ever seen, and I needed to talk about it with someone before the second half. This feeling is something I am getting used to, and the scariest bit is the ‘first move’. (This is the point when you say to yourself, what is the worst that can happen? They look at you like you are a lunatic and then you are still sat here with your book – get a grip).

As it happens, my bench neighbours – oh WOW the seating in the Young Vic is uncomfortable – Karen and Tom were amazing. She is at drama school, he is a paramedic and they met at an amateur dramatic society. We placed bets on which members of the audience were press, discussed Beckett’s work, whether Stevenson had to do weight training to keep her arms up for that long, and life in general. The interval wasn’t long enough, and we were cut off mid-sentence by the show starting again.

I didn’t ask if they wanted to stay for a cocktail in the bar after – I didn’t want to crash their date night. Next time maybe I will.

Happy Days is beyond brilliant, go and see it. I think it is all sold out but follow the Young Vic on Twitter and jump on returns. Its easy to forget, and a lesson that you need to learn over and over again, but meeting new people is fun. Sometimes they are amazing and teach you things, and just because you are happy reading your book on your own doesn’t mean you should.