Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Spring? Must be that time again...

...yes, that time when I don't bother putting my trainers away properly because they're constantly on my feet. The time when I become OBSESSED with my Runkeeper stats ('second fastest 5-7km run? What do you mean second fastest? Of course I wasn't faster back in summer 2013 when I'd just spent a week trekking on a mountain and then came down with gastroenteritis and lost several kilos...')

So yes, the London 10K is less than 3 weeks away. And naturally I would be eternally grateful for your support. More than that, so would everyone at the wonderful Promise to Amalia team who never, ever stop working to try and improve the lives of children in Sri Lanka -yes, really. Our latest venture is educational sponsorship to enable a child to complete their education when they might not otherwise be able to afford to. We are hopeful that it will make a HUGE difference to some smart kids who just need one chance.

Please click here. You know you want to. Please.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Ah non.

I feel like I need to start each and every blog post with an apology! I actually love writing. You’d be forgiven for not realising that, I don’t make it obvious do I? But I do. It’s just that sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Why aren’t there enough hours in the day?? Oh you know. Trying to manage a very demanding job (three actually), a lovely but time-consuming dad, friends and boyfriend…
Yes, he’s still on the scene. Very much so. And I am happy in a way I thought I never could be. I know I wrote this, but I’m not sure how much I ever believed it at the time. But –yes. I am. It’s different. The relationship is more challenging. I cry over things I NEVER expected to cry about. I laugh at the oddest things with him. It isn’t the ‘movie love’ I thought I had last time. It’s not shiny and glossy, it’s…a bit messy I suppose. But it’s amazing in its own way.



And so last month we went to Paris. And it was heaven. We ate croissants and LOTS of cheese. We went to some amazing museums. We wandered through the Tuileries Jardins. We drank wine at the top of the Tour Montparnasse as we watched the twinkling lights on the Tour Eiffel. He laughed at me photographing and rephotographing to get the perfect Art Deco street scene (that’s it down there. You better admire it).



And then we came home.

I guess if you spend Valentine’s day in the most romantic city in the world people are going to have preconceived notions –although actually, the reason we went that weekend was possibly the most unromantic one there has ever been – I had a free Eurostar ticket because of a previous delay and it needed using before it expired. I know, true love eh?? But despite that, I couldn’t believe how many people made assumptions.
‘How was Paris?’
‘Oh, it was amaaaaazing!’
‘And?’
‘And it was amaaaaaaaazing. What do you mean, and?.....Oh….you mean did he propose? No. NO HE DIDN’T AND I WOULDN’T HAVE WANTED HIM TO.’
And it’s true. Remember what I said above?? I am happy. Finally, at long last. I have been sad for such a long time and now, at last, things seem to be going in the right direction. Why would I want to do anything to change that?
It has been so hard to open up again, to trust again, to make myself vulnerable again. The thing that makes it possible is knowing that if it does all go wrong, I can put my life back to how it was before. It would be hard, but I’ve been through worse and survived. What I don’t want is to make changes that can’t be reversed. Or not without making me feel like the bottom has dropped out of my world, like it did back in 2011. 
He and I, we are on the same page. We have both been burnt and we both don’t want to make those mistakes again. When we see each other, it is a joy. When we say goodbye and go our separate ways, we look forward to next time with anticipation. I don’t understand why other people can’t feel the way we feel, why everyone feels that we have to ‘move on’. Move where?? I don’t want to move anywhere. I like it right where I am.
I daresay the time may come when I feel differently. When I want more, when I’m ready for more. And all I can say is…if and when that time comes, if he’s predictable enough to want to make it official in Paris on Valentine’s day, then he’s not the adorable, baffling, quirky man I think he is.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Good things come to those who wait

I don't expect you've realised I've been quiet of late. As in, even fewer posts than usual (hard to believe, isn't it??) There are a few reasons. I've been running, really quite a lot. Life has been busy in a general sort of way with friends, the boy, birthdays, hen dos and weddings. But most of all, I've been seriously thinking about my career and my future.
Sounds deep, doesn't it?? But it's not, not really. I started a new, supposedly permanent, job in October 2013 after only doing short term/temporary contracts for a few years. At the time, it seemed like a good opportunity to put roots in somewhere, work permanently in a team, start to feel like I really belonged somewhere and could use my skills and make changes. Those were the things that were promised to me when I started.
You probably don't need me to tell you that things didn't work out the way I wanted them to. Instead of feeling like I was part of a team, I felt like I was the person at the bottom of the pyramid, attempting to hold everything up while everyone around me messed around and eventually fell off. My skills, worked so hard for and cherished, weren't valued at all.
I knew I was unhappy within a few weeks of starting the role, despite trying to ignore my initial misgivings. But I tried to suppress those feelings. Doing what I do, selfishness isn't encouraged. It's not about you, it's about what you do for others. I focused on that. And I know I did it well. That's one thing about which I have no regrets.

But eventually, it wasn't enough. And just as I was coming to realise that, another opportunity presented itself. There is somewhere else where I worked for a year when I first moved to London, back at the beginning of 2012. I had a wonderful year working there but sadly the contract ended and there was no vacancy for me to stay there permanently. I hoped for a long time that something would come up there, but after almost 2 years of waiting and hoping nothing had and I started to think I shouldn't wait forever -hence why I took the other post last autumn.
But suddenly out of the blue a vacancy arose and I almost couldn't believe it. I spent long anxious evenings rewriting my CV, honing each sentence, asking people to read it and check it for me (and it still went in with a mistake on it! Typical). The interview was on the hottest day you can imagine in early June and I sat with my dress almost stuck to me with sweat, trying to give off the impression of someone cool, calm and collected who you'd desperately want as a colleague. And somehow, God only knows how, it worked and I got offered the post.

When I resigned from the other post, where I had done my very very best for 8 months, tried and tried and tried, one of my managers was devastated and told me she didn't know how they'd manage without me. The other one said 'ah well, we could never have competed with what your new post is offering you'. Which angered me beyond belief. The reason I am taking the new post, actually, is because they are offering me moral support, teamwork, a chance to grow and develop and learn and be the best I can be. You COULD have offered me that. I gave you plenty of opportunities to do so. You chose not to.

So I took control. And hopefully it will finally turn out the way I wished for. The new job starts at the beginning of August. Before that however, I am off to Sri Lanka for a much-needed holiday and also to see one of my best friends get married. See you on the flip side....

Monday, 19 May 2014

Shameless...

...that's me. Basically asking you (politely) to dig deep for a cause that is very, very important to me.

Disclaimer first: I am treasurer of this charity. But my belief and conviction in the charity's work is entirely selfless. I get no monetary gain from this job, the work I put in is entirely voluntary.

Promise to Amalia is a charity which was set up by my best friend and her husband. It was started in memory of their beautiful, tragically stillborn, baby girl, to bring something positive from the sadness. The charity aims to help deprived communities and families in a very poor area of Sri Lanka. A quick read of the website will show you how much they have achieved in a relatively short time.

And in case you weren't sure how much I believe in them, the proof is in the...running. I wouldn't run 10K for something I didn't truly feel passionately about (why cause myself that much pain?!) so the fact that I am doing the BUPA London 10K this Sunday (6 days!!!!!!) for Promise to Amalia must be a sign of how strongly I feel. Believe me when I say running does not come naturally to me, every step is a push. I am terrified of Sunday and what it will bring (and will I be the last runner over the line?!) I would be BEYOND grateful for your support, as would the fantastic Promise to Amalia team.

Please click here to donate. And thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Baby brain... As if.

Disclaimer: I shall not be apologising for anything I write in this blog post. This is MY space and these are MY views. If you don't like them, please feel free to go and find another blog which has a different viewpoint (there are lots of them, I can recommend some if you wish). 

So last weekend I went back oop north to visit friends. I always have mixed feelings about returning to the-city-I-never-called-home. I lived there for over 11 years, it's a huge chunk of my life. Going back brings back some amazing memories (that's the bar I drank in many times with my best friends!!) and some awful ones (that's the restaurant M and I ate in just before he told me he was going to leave me). Yet what it brought me this time was new. It brought me babies. 

Obviously not ME. That would be bad and weird. But of the 5 close girlfriends I saw over that weekend, 3 are pregnant. And I have also recently found out that L-the-ex-best-friend-who-married-M's-brother is also pregnant. I wish her no ill will, I hope they are happy. But it's just such a huge contrast between that and where I am. 

I can remember with total clarity the moment when I realised I wasn't sure I ever want to have kids. M and I had been dating about 6 months and I knew I was head over heels in love with him but wasn't sure how he felt about me. We were having dinner at one of our favourite restaurants and out of nowhere, he said 'Babe... One day when we have a son, can we call him John after my dad?' Me 'er... #%*+\€$¥}>!!!!!!!' A feeling of total, unexpected panic started swirling around my brain.

Because of what I do I interact with children on a daily basis. It's the part of my job I find toughest. They're noisy and messy and smelly and before they can talk they're really frankly quite dull. 
The biggest factor though is how children would actually impact on my life. I am SELFISH. I like late nights and long lie ins and lazy Sunday mornings. I like being able to go to Asia for long trips, not spend a week in a cottage in Yorkshire (or worse, in a tent. After the Inca trail I swore blind I'd never sleep in a tent again. I intend to stick to that). 
I like drinking gin before spending the evening in the theatre. I like my shiny, glossy 1 bed Central London flat which is totally unsuited to a baby. Most of all I like the fact that after 10 years of studying and training to get to where I am in my career I'm finally financially stable and can afford to buy a new top or go out for dinner without stressing about it. Or in this context, without worrying if it'll mean I can't feed the baby this month.

Friends having babies is obviously wonderful for them. It goes without saying that I'm delighted for them. But it's weird when you realise how different your lives have become, that they're prepared to give up all that stuff for a tiny, dependant being and I'm just...not.

People keep telling me that that time will come, that I'll feel differently 'soon'. My manager at work says it all the time with a knowing smile on her face. I just smile politely back and say 'maybe'. Because actually, again doing what I do, I'm all too aware it might not be my decision anyway. I've never been pregnant, I might not even be able to get pregnant. But even if there's nothing medically wrong with me now... I turn 33 in 2 months exactly. By medical standards my ovaries are old and tired. They've been busy working for almost 20 years and soon it'll be time for them to start drawing their pension before finally stopping altogether.
At the moment, this concept doesn't actually bother me. If it never happens for me, that's fine. What I really hope doesn't happen, is that I'll feel like this for the next 5 years and then all of a sudden, BANG, the baby craving will hit me. And what if it's too late by then?? I have no answer to that one.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Sunscreen.

It's International Women's Day. And to celebrate that, the Any Other Woman  ladies asked for advice for the next generation of women.
I thought long and hard about what to write. So many thoughts flooded through my head. I have written divorce and bereavement to death. What else did I have? So I thought back to being 18, all those years ago. I remembered all that I thought I knew, and didn't know, about life. And I remembered this.
This song (poem? thing? call it what you will) was HUGE in the summer of 1999. If you were alive then, you will remember it (unless you were living under a rock). (And if you weren't alive then, what are you doing reading this?)
I left high school in the summer of 1999. I WAS the class of 99. And we thought this song was the bees knees. We thought it would give us all the wisdom we needed to get through our lives. It was even printed on the back cover of our yearbooks.
Well, nearly 15 years after leaving school, I can say that the Sunscreen song has not completely helped me avoid any pitfalls or sadness. I have learnt a lot of things myself. But the combination of it's advice and my own, I think, is a winner. At least for me.

http://anyotherwoman.com/2014/03/iwd2014-sunscreen/

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A letter to...

Yesterday the post on the fantastic Any Other Woman was about the Guardian series A Letter To, so I had a little browse. 

And I found this one.

I swear to God, it could have been written by me. 

M went on a date with someone else while we were still married, in the period when he told me he was moving out for a while because he needed a 'temporary break', before he had told me that it was over for good and we wouldn't be getting back together. I have no proof that he actually slept with anyone else though. Maybe others wouldn't see that as cheating. I do. 

This paragraph 'Three years ago, I decided I didn't want to turn into a bitter and vengeful person, so I've put a lot of work into trying to learn from this whole experience. I want to move on. I'm in a relationship now with a loving, honest and kind man. There are times when I feel like I can't trust him, yet he's never been untrustworthy. I realise that this is a legacy from you, a feeling I must shake off because it's unfair to him.' is exactly where I am right now. So true. The boy has thus far been remarkably tolerant despite my occasional episodes of letting-out-the-crazy. 

But despite all the bad, just as the end of the letter says, I feel like I just about retained my sanity and self respect at the end. Of that I am proud.