‘I don’t want a safe life, I want a meaningful one’

When I came across these words on Not Without Salt:

I don’t want a safe life, I want a meaningful one

something clicked into place. I had to read the words again. And again. And then write them down. Because those words, they seemed to reveal something to me, about myself, that I just hadn’t quite figured out yet.

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Because my life is a thousand times more settled right now than it’s ever been. I have a good job, earn enough to be comfortable, live with my wonderful boyfriend in a lovely flat. On paper, I pretty much have everything I could ever have hoped for. My feet, finally, feel on solid ground.

And yet?

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Finding my tribe

When I first met Amber at a work event, I’m ashamed to admit I felt slightly intimidated by her. This beautiful, well-turned out girl who was definitely far too cool for me with my day old, melted-off face of make-up, scruffy hair and not so great dress sense.

I imagined we were worlds apart… Turns out I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Because despite not having known Amber all that long, it’s become very clear that this girl belongs very firmly in my ‘tribe’. Because she just gets it. She gets me. Our thoughts on life, who we are now and who we want to be, align in so many ways. We’re both grappling with out sense of self, striving to become our better selves; to become more than we are now.

And that feeling, that feeling of finding someone living life to the same beat as you – with the same questions and doubts and longings – is incredible. I grew up lost, lonely and confused, and  I definitely didn’t help myself much when I essentially withdrew from everyone and everything between the ages of 15 and 18. I also grew up wondering how anyone could like me, and that I needed to bury a lot of who I was in order to be accepted. But if I’ve learnt anything in my 20s, I’ve learnt the opposite is true  – that it’s through being 100% yourself that you will be accepted. Perhaps not by everyone, sure, but by the right people, the people who understand you, the people who’ll help you grow.

Getting to know Amber has made me less afraid, less lonely, and an altogether stronger, more passionate person. Because we come from the same place, fighting for the same things.  Because we can expose all our doubts and uncertainties to one another and be understood. Because we’re rooting for each other all the way, helping each other fit the puzzle pieces together.

Last week I added another friend to my little network of positive influencers. I don’t know him well, but I think he belongs here. He’s a photographer and film-maker, and through chatting to him about how I’d like to improve my photography, he has motivated me to keep practising. I even told him I used to write poetry (not something I admit freely) and he encouraged me to get back into it.

He’s a dream chaser, like Amber.

And I suppose that’s where the similarities stop. I don’t quite have a dream I’m chasing, and it’s a realisation I’ve started to feel crushing at my insides if I dwell on it, as if my chest is tight around the part of me that wants to be more, the part that’s beating hard inside me, ready to fly out and chase after something, something I haven’t quite figured out yet.

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In the meantime, I’ll reach out to those in my ‘tribe’. My new friends, and those who’ve know me since we were kids – the ones who truly understand where I’ve been and what I’ve come through. Because I know they’re the people who’ll help me become a better version of myself, who’ll inspire and encourage me, who’ll help guide me towards that dream, and cheer me on all the way, just as I’m cheering for them.

Lately…

A little list of things I’m loving lately….

Listening to the Serial podcast on my walks to and from work. Yes, I’m hooked too. And these 17 stages of Serial addiction are exactly the way it is…

Getting excited for the work Christmas party. And believe me when I say I never thought I’d come out with a statement like that. Big parties, with people I don’t know super well, always used to make me a little anxious and send my self-consciouness into overdrive. This year is an altogether different story.

Seeing photos by a friend who’s just moved to Florence to work. Isn’t that the most amazing thing!? I remember chatting to her when she was just starting to think about working abroad for a while, and now she’s doing it. And watching her chasing her dreams is just such an awesome thing to see. And in a way I guess I also feel proud in a ‘look at my friend, look what an awesome thing she’s doing’, kind of way.

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One beautiful weekend

Last weekend was the best in the longest time.

It started off, as every good weekend should, with post work drinks, the first with my work colleagues in months. After working flat out since summer, and finally seeing a slight reprieve in sight, I was so flipping ready for some wine.

We were also celebrating the launch of our Winter art installation

We were also celebrating the launch of our Winter art installation

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I could take photos of it for hours

I just want to take photos of it for hours

Pretty tipsy, I  trundled home to bake a cake for my friends’ visit to Cardiff for the weekend. Because drunk baking is, of course, an excellent idea. And I totally pulled it off.

My friends – school friends from Devon who I’ve know since I was 2 and 10 – arrived on the Saturday morning and we caught up over numerous cups of tea, cake, biscuits, crisps, sausage rolls (homemade, and incredible, if I’m allowed to praise my own baking that much?!) and salmon blinis.

And of course I forgot to take a photo of all the food…of course… Continue reading

On blogging, one month in

I’m one month in with this blog and I think it’s safe to say that quite a lot has changed as a result of starting it, from new habits I’ve picked up to the amount of sleep I get.

Here’s a round up of some of those things…

  1. I am forever compiling lists of blog post ideas on my phone, laptop, scraps of paper, hand.
  2. Only to discover that most of those ideas are awful…usually after I’ve spent an hour or two trying to mash them into something workable.
  3. I’ve started taking photos of almost everything, much to the annoyance of whoever I’m with.

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    Because everyone wants to see a photo of my paper cup from Pret, right?

  4. I’ve built a rapidly growing list of blogs I follow on Bloglovin’.
  5. Started reading other blogs in an almost obsessive way for ideas, inspiration and to help build a sense of what I like most in a blog.
  6. Resulting in even less time to spend writing my own blog posts.
  7. Thought, ‘I suck, why would anyone want to read this post?’ midway through writing most posts.
  8. Then wondered, ‘am I just wasting my time here? Maybe I should quit?’
  9. Then reminded myself that I’d promised to try hard at this and to keep going; that it is not meant to be easy and that even though I might feel like I should give up, that doesn’t mean giving up is the right thing to do.

  10. Stopped cooking so much. Coming home and cooking something from scratch for dinner used to be my favourite part of the day. Now I’m coming home feeling exhausted and thinking…’I need to work on the blog, I’m so tired, and so hungry. What’s the quickest, least demanding thing I can cook?’  Our diet is increasingly becoming one of soup, fish fingers, baked beans and, at a stretch, pasta. And I do kind of feel a bit sad about this.

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    Because making your own potato wedges totally makes fish fingers, chips and beans grown-up food….

  11. Related, I’m not baking as much, which I also feel a little sad about.
  12. Wondered, does this just mean what I really need to be doing here is writing a food blog?
  13. Allowed myself to think ‘I’m just playing around right now trying to figure out what I enjoy writing about, and that’s ok.’
  14. Discovered that setting a posting schedule and vowing to stick to it is the most helpful thing for keeping going, no matter how hard it feels or how little time I feel I have.
  15. Felt even more tired, stressed and overwhelmed than before I started blogging.
  16. But also felt a sense of satisfaction in achieving my goal of twice weekly posting.
  17. Developed a desire to want to read more: books, blogs, online articles.IMG_1232
  18. Grew overwhelmed, almost daily, by the sense of their being so much out there I want to read but having neither the time nor brain capacity to digest allll those words!
  19. Felt guilty every time I spent an evening without devoting any of it to blogging.
  20. Started to analyse images more, trying to figure out what makes them work.
  21. Became a little bit obsessed with instagram.IMG_1536 (1)
  22. Had a lot of chats with my inner critic and decided I don’t like it all that much.
  23. Wanted to sleep more, drink more wine and eat more chocolate than ever before.

I’m conscious this list feels a little negative, as if more bad things have come out of starting blogging than good. But then, starting a blog and keeping it going with your self-doubt cranked up to high and when you know no one is really reading it yet is never going to be all that easy.

And at the end of the day, I’m writing again. I’m practising. That’s what I set out to achieve and I’m doing it.

And in my own small way I’m proud about that.

Eleven things I’ve learnt from my brother

Inspired by Lena Dunham’s lists: ’15 things I’ve learned from my mother’ and ’17 things I’ve learned from my father’, in her book ‘Not That Kind of Girl’, I thought I’d write my own list of things I’ve learnt from my younger brother.

(Grammar fact: writing this I’ve just learnt that learnt and learned are alternate forms of the past tense of to learn, but learnt is more common in British English and learned more common in American English – which is why I’ve ‘learnt  from’ but Lena’s ‘learned from’.)

The most recent photo of the two of us together – Cardiff, 2009. (Whoever said your skin gets clearer as you get older was telling a great fat lie…)

      1. Mixing together all the different types of cereal in the house into one bowl is the best way to enjoy cereal… Although you’ll probably end up eating too much and get bloated.
      2. The reason why I love custard is down to it’s ‘mouth-coating’ consistency, apparently.
      3. It’s not unusual for a girl not to be aaaaall that interested in sex (yes, this conversation really happened.)
      4. A lot of sciencey things about beer and coffee, which I promptly forgot again, because I’m really not much of beer / coffee fan.
      5. Related – it’s verging on criminal to add milk or sugar to good coffee.
      6. It’s possible laugh ice-cream out of your nose. Admittedly this only happened once, and unintentionally, but he at least proved that the human body is capable of such feats.
      7. It can become very frustrating when you don’t text people back, especially by the third or forth text. It becomes even more frustrating when you don’t pick up your phone when said texter tries calling instead. Try hard to remember to text people back. (Lesson learnt through my brother’s complete inability to text back).
      8. The concept of ‘the bubble’. My brother came up with the analogy of ‘getting into your bubble’ as a way of dealing with our Mum’s drinking habits. When you ‘get into your bubble’, you detach from the situation, accepting there is little you can do to change things and letting go of the negativity and frustration so you can get on with the things you need to do. It did take me a while to see this as essential self-preservation and not selfishness, though.
      9. Unconditional love is awesome. It’s great having a brother I am close to, can confide in, who will support me unconditionally and who shares the exact same frustration over the thick, frizzy hair type we share.
      10. Wearing a hat, even indoors, is one way to ‘manage’/hide said unruly hair type. Sadly I look foolish in hats.
      11. Knowing someone who ‘gets’ the way your mind works is the coolest.

 

A day trip to London

On Friday Pete had to go to London to get something signed, so we thought we’d use that as a good excuse to spend the rest of the day sight seeing.

On our way to London selfie

On our way to London selfie

We’ve talked about spending a day in London for years, especially since Pete’s parents live so close. We’d visit Madame Tussauds, go on the London Eye and all those other tourist highlights. Only on Friday we came without money to spend or much of a plan, perhaps somewhat foolishly thinking we’d make it up as we went along.

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Reading The Happiness Project with a latte while I wait for Pete

As we were nearby, we started with a quick trip to the Wellcome Collection to see the Institute of Sexology exhibition…interesting stuff!

We then hopped over to Covent Garden for a little wonder and some paella for lunch, then headed to the V&A for a look around a few exhibitions. I was in a little too much of a post-lunch slump to manage too many though.

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Next was an obligatory photo-stop outside the Houses of Parliament. Continue reading