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Posted in Project Discovery

The Subtle Art and Complicated Science of Not Planning 2: The 5 year half plan

After last week I was full of ideas of not planning.  I was going to take life as it came.  But instead, it is like someone turned on the light and I have found what I really want to work towards.  I also failed at bravery this week, which was a disappointment, but hey ho.  In my heart, the not brave decision was the better one and I stand by it.  What’s a girl to do?  And, I am making some lists, but these lists are about baby steps towards the life I really want.  I spent a lot of time listening to myself last weekend and this week.  In my heart I have always wanted one particular lifestyle but it is one that I was told I had too much potential for.  So, I changed what I wanted to fit this and I have spent a large amount of my time being unhappy.  So, I am now working out how I could get the life I wanted since I was about 18, in the next 5 years. They say (who ever they are) to live a life you do not want a vacation from.  I’m going for it.  We only have one life and I have wasted a ton of mine trying for things I should want or things that would please others.  Now I am going for the life I want.

This is going to sound silly and it feels silly to me, but here it is.  I was watching an episode of Househunters the other day and there was a woman on there who had the life I really wanted including a part of it I didn’t even realise I wanted. I had nibbled around the edges of it, but did not realise that it was a thing  you could actually be.  So, now I am investigating this additional part to see if I can be that.  I am excited and scared.  I think what I really want to do, I should have started when I was much younger and that scares me.  Let this be a lesson to all you 18 year olds out there, if you know your own truth and it isn’t something bad or illegal, just hard, go for it anyway, even if it is hard work.  Even if no one else understands what you want or why you want it.  Nothing in life is guaranteed and you need to spend it living the way you want, the way that makes you happy.

First things first though, I need to study up on how to achieve it.  This will involve reading blogs, books and articles and listening to podcasts.  This is a dipping my toe in the water exercise where I can see how feasible my dream really is.  At the moment, I am finishing a coaching course assignment.  Once that is completed, then I can begin my research.  Interestingly, coaching could fit in nicely to my overarching plans.  I hope it does because I really enjoy helping others find their own truths about themselves.  But my first year is going to be all about the research.  I want to know that my plans are solid and sound and then I will begin build a road map.

What has lifted my blinders?  Ironically, the decision to change my job.  It made me realise just how much of my own destiny is in my own hands and I can change it if I only try.  Nothing is so lost and so hopeless. It made me look forward to the future to some extent rather than just living in the past.  I have been more productive this weekend than any weekend in the past 2 years.  I was so consumed with stress in my current job that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.  I can now see what I want and my determination and drive are back.  I’ve missed them.  I can’t wait to take back my life.

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Posted in Project Discovery

The Subtle Art and Complicated Science of Not Planning

For years I have been a planner.  Hell, this blog was started as a plan to get my life back on track and to give me more control.  Other factors have intervened and have caused me to have a major re-think.  When I was younger, I had a plan.  I knew what I was working towards.  It changed several times and I am beginning to think I should have stuck with the original one.  But, there is no time for regrets in life.  I floated through life and then I began to feel this was no way to live.  I had a sense of urgency.  A sense that time was running out.  I felt that like all the things I wanted to do would never get done.  I would never be that idealised version of myself.  I was worried and concerned, panicky.  I wasn’t getting life right.  Sure, I moved to Europe but I wasn’t a success yet.  No one would envy my life.  And suddenly, it all hit me like a ton of bricks.  There were so many things I thought I wanted to do and so many things that I felt I should want to do.  I wanted to be spiritual.  I wanted to be an intellectual.  It never occurred to me to think, do I actually want to be those things or do I think I SHOULD want to be those things?  Will those things make me happy?  When am I happiest?  I am happiest when my husband and I settle in for a week of Christmas – where I am cooking and keeping up some of the little traditions that we have developed.  I am happiest when I am doing the simple things like gardening or when I am cooking.  I don’t care about intellectually stimulating books.  I like a good story.  I like anthropology and understanding the tapestry of a society, not the nitty gritty of the detail.  I realised that so many of my ‘desires’ were shoulds not actual wants.  It is impossible to maintain sanity trying to want the things you think you should want and not really listening to yourself.

So, what now?  Well, first and most importantly, I am making some changes in my life.  I am changing my job.  I hope that a change in environment will help shake up my mindset.

Secondly, I am eliminating the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary.  Shoulds are a waste of time, particularly for free time.  With electronic devices and the internet, it can be hard to escape work and we can feel like we are always ‘on duty’.  So, why on earth would I introduce ‘shoulds’ into my precious time off?   There are musts like ‘I must go to work’ because I need a place to live and food.  But in time off, I am banning the shoulds and the musts – except bodily functions like eating, those have to stay.  But musts like I must read 30 books this year and I must learn a foreign language are banned.

Thirdly, I am going with my feeling. I have lists and lists of all the places I want to visit.  Many of those are ‘I shoulds’ because to be a world traveler, I should go to all the continents.  Well, fuck that.  Each trip, I will look at individually and decide what sounds good to me and the husband.  I know this is going back to what I said this year would be for me, but I am going with my gut more.  Letting go of the ‘should’ and just doing what sounds good and what I want.  So, if I don’t want to read the intellectually stimulating book, but want to binge watch Netflix, I’m doing it.  And, most importantly, I refuse to feel guilty about that.

Fourthly, letting go of being perfect.  It isn’t going to happen, ever.  I can’t be perfect, but I can be good.  So, I am going to aim for good.  I hold myself to such high standards and if I can’t be perfect, I decide to not do things.  But, I have to keep trying so I am aiming for good.  Persistence is the key to anything and when I want to and am really committed to something, I make it happen.  And I am not going to worry if I am doing it right.  Doing it is what is important. It doesn’t matter if I read all the right books. It doesn’t matter if I see every country in Europe.  It doesn’t matter if I have the perfect life.  Life is messy.

Fifthly, coming back to my mantra for this year about being brave, I am going to try to be braver.  This fits with the point above.  I need to bite the bullet sometimes and do things.  I need to be decisive.  My indecisiveness comes from fear of not getting it right and comes from not being perfect.  Perfection and bravery are tied up together.  I need to put myself out there again and find out what really makes me tick.  Find what I love and what lights me up.  I think I have changed in many ways over the past years.  In some ways, I have not.  As someone explained to me this week, experience changes us and I agree. But, I think our core stays pretty consistent unless we make a conscious effort to change it.  We just change the way we view things and our life.

So where does this leave me?  In the world of letting go all of the things I thought I loved, what do I actually love to do?  What makes me happy?  What should I dedicate my free time to?   Well, firstly, I have one more paper to write for some training I was undertaking and I need to have that finished by next month.  Once this is completed, and I finish at my current role, I have a week off.  A cleanse of the pallet if you like.  We are selecting where we would like to go for that week.  And then, it is going to be a total personal gut job.  I am stripping myself back to the basics.  I will get up, go to work, come home and decide what I would like to do.  In essence, I am going to just be.  I will try to only do those things that spark my interest.  I will work on myself and understanding myself, not through artificial goals, but by listening to myself.  My urges lately have been about getting back to nature and living a life closer to the earth.  I became interested in self-sufficiency in college, but was told that was not sustainable so I changed my interests but it never really went away.  I tried an allotment but I was not in the space to do that then.  I have now a few veggies growing on our patio.  I like watching shows about transforming houses and I have an urge to do a few projects around our house, but we’ll see if I am still feeling that way next month.  But, I think the first thing, is myself, friends who are around and about, and a night in the pub to dream a little.  But the most important thing, no more being hard on myself or giving myself something to do because I should.

Posted in Project Discovery

Finding Purpose?

As is always the way with these things, life is constantly moving.  Where am I at in my reprioritisation?  I hate to say it, but not too far along.  But a few things have made me realise that I am on the right path.  Firstly, I have learned about some of the pieces of work coming my way for the rest of the year.  There is at least one thing that I will struggle with.  Secondly, I was asked why I might want a different job at a different organisation.  I realised that I want to be a part of something that helps the communities that I live in.  That is important to me and part of what I want my legacy to be.  I think the second thing was I finally finished The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and one of the questions at the end was ‘what do you want your legacy to be’.  I want mine to be that I helped people and that I made my community better, stronger, and that I have enriched it in any way.

But, aside from that, we are coming to the end of a long running home project.  I have a potential change in my career, maybe.  We then have several sub-projects we need to do around our house to help make it a bit more presentable: change all the fencing, replace conservatory windows, hang our paintings, paint the bedroom, re-staining the shed, re-painting our front door, and clear out the house.  Before we can even begin those though, I have to finish my coaching qualification.  I have 1 paper and a bit of development on the other paper to go.  I just need to crack on and finish that qualification.

On the plus side, I am working on my veggie areas.  It looks like I will have some nice spring onions, some regular onions and tons of peas.  Sadly, my carrots seem to have not developed how I would have hoped.  Next year, I need to grow them in the conservatory or in a green house first to get them started.  Next year also, potatoes and a few more herbs.   And I need to cook more.  Cooking has not gone so well and I need to work harder on that.  Maybe I need to learn to bake bread next.

But, writing, well, I am working on my diary again after more than a month away.  And I am reading although, finding a book that was right for my current head space has been a challenge.  Light stories or interesting ones only haven’t quite fit.  So instead I am reading The Lakota Way: Stories and lessons for living.  I am only 2 lessons in but am finding it fascinating.  I picked up the book at the National Museum of the American Indian.  I had forgotten how much I love Folklore and how fascinated I had once been by Native American Folklore.  I am interested in it and struggle to put it down.  I think it is helping me understand my own purpose a little.  I have realised that I believe trying to find a purpose in life is sometimes a lost cause.  I often think that maybe there isn’t one and by creating one, we are only creating a false sense of life for ourselves.  Maybe I think too deeply.  Either way, I know what I want from life and deep down, I think that is what a purpose really is.

Posted in Project Discovery

Lessons from America

I don’t know if it is because I am from America, but every time I come back from there I make a big decision.  It is almost like the echos of what-ifs spur me into making some decisions.  Maybe it is because I see what my life could have been.  Maybe American culture makes me more decisive.  But, it seems like every time I come back from there, it is like my priorities are straight and I know what I want.  Sometimes, I think I would be a different person if we moved back, but then I had my first moment of being truly afraid in America.  We were sitting in a movie theatre watching Solo: A Star Wars Film, and I was scared that something could happen.  I have never been afraid like that in America.  It was like I finally saw the US through foreign eyes.  Despite leaving it 12 years ago, I always thought I could slip back in like no one would notice I was gone.  America wouldn’t notice I had been gone. But now, I was gone and gone too long to slip quietly back in whenever I wanted.  For the first time, I could honestly say it wasn’t my America. It was not the America I left behind.  That America is gone.

But, my holiday in my former homeland did give me something.  It gave me a solid dream to work towards and believe in.  It reminded me that work is not the be all and end all of my life (odd for America to teach me that).  But anyway, I figured out what I really wanted my life to be about and for the first time in a long time, I am excited about it.  Now, I just need to convince my husband.

So, here is my action plan.  And here are the tenets I will follow.  They will fit in with my overall ethos about being brave.  In fact, the whole plan will help me be brave.  It will help me find my feet and my future.

Actions

  1. Finish the coaching qualification that I am currently working on.
  2. Make a career change.
  3. Finish another big project that my husband and I have ongoing.
  4. Cultivate my small veggie areas.
  5. Continue to develop my culinary skills.
  6. Investigate options for my business plan.
  7. Continue to develop my own design skills.
  8. Write more and read more.

Principles

  1. Define myself less by my job.
  2. Find more joy in the everyday of my life.
  3. Take my life less seriously.
  4. Be present during the day especially with my husband.
  5. Stop being afraid of big life decisions, try them and do them.  They can bring complications and joy. There will never be a right time.
Posted in Project Discovery, Project Discovery: Month 2

Are you sure you aren’t already happy?

This weekend for us was a weekend of friends.  First, we went out on Friday night with local friends and friends visiting over the Easter break.  On Saturday, we went to the next city over to spend time with a different set of friends.  Each set of these friends have two very different lifestyles, the first set have children and the second set are childless, but both are happy with their choices and the path their lives are taking.  Still, on our drive back, the husband and I began to talk about our own life, its direction, and our lifestyle.  What occurred to me during that drive for about the fourth time, is that I have all of the things that I said I would need to be happy, but I don’t always feel happy.  Part of that is some insecurity I am experiencing in my own life at the moment and how we have the lifestyle we wanted now and there is a risk that we may not have that soon.  The other part of it, which has been a slow-burn learn for me, is that I perhaps set my expectations too high for myself or that my expectations versus the effort I am willing to give are mismatched.  For this fuller realisation, I credit Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.   In the book, he talks at one point about wanting to be a musician and on stage with thousands of cheering fans, but he wasn’t willing to put in the effort.  Or, as he puts it, he didn’t enjoy the process enough and you have to enjoy the process.  It got me thinking about my own process and whether I really enjoy it.  The honest answer is I am not sure.

Where does this leave me then?  While there are some aspects of my process I am currently enjoying, there are some that I am not.  And I could be afraid of the insecurities that are currently plaguing my life, or I could step back and look at them as an opportunity whichever way it works out.  The first is an opportunity to continue enjoying my life as is.  The flip side is I have an opportunity to make changes and fine tune my process to make it even more enjoyable.  The most important thing I am going to do though is this, change my perception of myself and what I want.  In trying to get everything or have an enviable life, I think I lost what was really important to me.  But, in starting this project, I think I am working through what I really want and what is important to me and the lifestyle I really want.  I am clearing away with all the woulds and shoulds of my life and trying not to compare myself to others quite so much.  What I am trying to do is decide what and how I want my life to look like and then figuring out how to build that.

I think my first step to all of this is deciding what do I really want in life and answering some of those deeper questions like, if I don’t see everything in the world, will that be okay?  If I don’t have the big fancy house, will that be okay?  As an aside, I think I have already decided the answer to the house question which is, yes, I’m fine without a big house and a cleaner and a gardener.   It is easy to say you want a life that you don’t need to take a vacation from, but what does that look like?  At the moment, I still do need a vacation, so what do I need to tweak to solve that?  Or to consider it another way, what is the root cause of the tinge of unhappiness that I do have?  This is what I am beginning to work on and I am starting with what do I enjoy and what is stopping me from doing things I think I need to do?

Posted in Project Discovery: Month 1

The Bravery Push

If I had to label this week, it would be the week of unexpected news, one which is a positive step in making a brave decision and one which will push me to be brave before I am ready.  And weirdly, one is bad but could have been good if it came just a few months later.  Yes, I realise this is vague but both are not ready for public consumption and both have financial implications.  Either way, I am struggling with the big, momentous things happening in our lives at the moment.  While I am the driver for our biggest change, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t scare me.  Still, I was expecting 2018 to be my year and I have to admit, it has so far been bumpy.

Coming back to one of my favourite themes, when I get down, I go on the internet to try to find words of wisdom.  Something to hang my hat on.  Words to live by.  What I usually find, and this time is no exception, is that I am immediately turned off by the ‘you shoulds’ of it all.  I need to remember that one person’s life lessons may or may not be relevant to me.  Their way of living may not always be my way of living.  I think that is one of the things that I struggle with.  I cannot just follow someone else’s example to live.  I need to follow my own path.  That is what I find really hard.

But, that isn’t going to deter me.  Instead, I am going to pick myself up from the bumps, dust myself off and keep going.  Tonight, instead of wallowing, I am risking my reputation as a decent cook by making chicken fricassee.  Was it any good?  Well, it was but it was not really worth the effort I needed to put into it.  But still, I know that Julia Child was looking down and probably judging me, if she was paying any attention at all.  And it was fun doing some creative cooking again.  It took me out of my doom and gloom.

The other thing that I am doing at the moment is picking at a story that is bubbling in my head.  It is a homage to one of my favourite books of all time and something that I really like the concept of.  Writing it however, is proving difficult.  I always struggle with writing.  It doesn’t flow for me like it did when I was a kid.  Back then I thought I could write but over the years my confidence has taken a few hits.  I think I need to get some deluded ‘rejections mean nothing’ type of confidence and just get determined.  People may love what I write, people may hate it, but hey, its mine.  I need to get better at taking the chances and taking a risk or two.  Especially if it doesn’t matter, like writing a terrible story.  Rewards only come if we risk and I hate risk.

Posted in Project Discovery: Month 1

Bad weeks and bravery wobbles

This week was a difficult one.  I had a tough week at work and  a few things that caused that were beyond my control which drives me crazy.  A few weeks ago I began, once again, to watch an all time favourite show in our household, Scrubs.  In one of the early episodes a character turns to her partner and says, ‘I can’t watch you get in your own way again.’  Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I just get in my own way.  As soon as I have this thought though, I begin to wonder how I am getting in my way and how I can get out of my own way.  So after a tough week, I used Friday night and Saturday to relax and catch up on some much missed sleep.  Today though, I began to think about how I could get in my own way, both professionally and in my free time.  Professionally, I am struggling to see how I would/am, but I think there must be a way that I am.  Also, I am pretty sure that when I worry about work and getting it wrong, that is me getting in my own way.

In terms of this project, I know exactly what is getting in my way.  Prioritising it.  I always prioritise everything else over this project.  I prioritise everything else over myself, both personally and professionally.  But saying that always make me sound big headed.  I am not.  But working hard to improve myself, I always struggle.  That is why this project is so important.  I think when it comes to my own self-improvement or improving my life, I am impatient.  I want it to happen now.  I also think that I probably give up too easily.  For example, I started reading a book but I became excited to read another book because the second one could help me develop an idea for my own writing.  I was never keen to read the first book and I haven’t read any of it this week.  I was only reading it because I loved the idea of it, not because I was interested in the subject matter.

I am a big believer of ‘you only have a limited time on this earth so do what makes you happy’ but here’s my problem when I try to do this myself.  I don’t want to work for it when it is easier to come home and watch television or when it involves a big piece of work to get there.  Consequently, I never feel like I will get out of a circumstance either.  Chicken and egg scenario?  I think so.  I can lie to myself and say that there was never anything I wanted badly enough to work for it, but that isn’t true.   The biggest question for myself is, am I afraid of getting what I want and life still not being perfect or am I just lazy?  If I am being totally honest, it could be either.  But, in an effort to get my life going again, put my money where my mouth is, and be brave, I am going to stop denying myself the things that I want to do.  I am going to go for it.  So many times in my life after one big, brave decision, I have denied myself and sometimes my husband, things we wanted because I was afraid of what ifs.  Now, I’m just going to try and go for it.  No more back burner, no more fear, just full speed ahead.  Like my favourite Churchill quote says, ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.’  I need to have the courage to get up, dust myself off, and try.  And if I can turn off the ‘you couldn’t possibly do that’ voice in my head, that would be amazing too.

Posted in Project Discovery, Project Discovery: Month 1

Week 1 of Being Brave

There are many things that I think make me brave.  Everyday I feel like I face fears and work really hard to overcome them.  I don’t know about anyone who might be reading this, but I feel like each day is full of decisions with consequences and little battles, whether they are internal or external.  I win some and I lose some, but either way, I wake up each morning to try and personally, I think that is what is important.

Reflecting back on what I did for me this week though, and figuring out who I am, while it may not seem like very much, like many things, I am firstly building a foundation.  The foundation building for this week involved, starting a new audiobook – Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier and picking back up the book ‘Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Postwar Britain‘ by Simon Garfield.  Both are interesting for different reasons.  Jamaica Inn is an adventure story based on the legends in Cornwall of smuggling.  The story itself is interesting and I do enjoy a good historic adventure story.  Our Hidden Lives is a straight up story of post-war Britain as described in the Mass Observation diaries of selected individuals.  Now, I can’t remember if I have shared my love for the idea of Mass Observation before, but frankly I think it is a genius thing.  People write about their lives against a backdrop of what is happening in the world.  Sometimes they ask a specific question related to events or people can just write about their lives.  I think these days though you have to be selected to be one of their diarists.  Anyway, I have a minor obsession with Mass Observation.

The other big thing I have done this week is to set up a blog for my photo of the day project and have started taking a photo each day.  They aren’t always creative but I am taking photos and that is the way to improve my skill.  I think next I want to get my big camera back out and start playing with that again.  I have read the first chapter of a book on growing my own in pots and had a go at planting some spring onions, however, I think after our snow this weekend, those probably won’t survive.  But, I have a few more seeds to sow and what I really need is more soil/compost.  We have also been sorting out the last few details for our trip to Washington D.C and Virginia.  It is going to involve a lot of history which will be amazing.  We are also set up to attend a jousting festival over the Easter weekend which will be a fun little nod to history.

In terms of cooking, well, we have tried a new pork casserole recipe which was interesting, but not quite what I expected.  I have to admit that it wasn’t exactly what I wanted when I first found the recipe.  This week is going to be a week of quick favourites featuring chicken tacos, Swedish meatballs and pulled pork.  It is always nice to have things that are easy to make and delicious for weeknight foods.  The final thing I have done today is started reading Tom Cox’s blog.  I find his way of life fascinating and would love to live that way myself.  Also, I’m excited about his ghost stories book as I love a good ghost story and what better than ghost stories from a plague village.  I am also jealous that he gets to live in a plague village.  One thing I really want to do for myself is try out more podcasts.  I am interested in this medium and wonder if I could do something with it? I am interested in ones around crime and history in particular I think.

And finally, we have taken a big step towards our ‘BIG IDEA’ and yes, I am probably going to keep referring to it that way.  I’ll write more about it once our plan becomes more formed and we have more certainty on some aspects of it, but at least now some aspects are in motion and frankly I am excited, although I should probably be concerned and worried about making it all work.  But forget that, I’m excited.

Posted in Project Discovery, Project Discovery: Month 1

Birthday, go day: Subtitle ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’

Today is my birthday and my official start to my next try at Project Discovery Me!  Here is the plan for this year.   My theme this year is to Be Brave.  As I was thinking about a  presentation I have to give at work, I was trying to think of how to explain a project that some may not like and one thought struck me both for the presentation and for this year’s Project Discovery, the old proverb, ‘Fortune Favours the Brave.’  My history interests kicked in and I realised just how true that actually is. Most of the historic biographies I read, the person had to be brave and take a risk at some point.  I need to be brave.  And for me, I need to be brave enough to let go of perfection.  Be brave and risk not being perfect, just do.  Since that thought hit me earlier in the week, I simply cannot get it out of my head.  So, I’m going to do the best I can, and damn well be brave trying.

How am I going to be brave you may ask?  Good question.  The honest answer is I don’t know yet.  It may be that I actually put my writing somewhere someone can see it.  It may be that I restart a public photography site.  I am not totally sure yet.  But what I have worked out as my starting points, well you can find these below.

  1. Writing – I have started a sister blog for this one and I have a few ideas to start writing some short stories and perhaps a novel.
  2. Photography – After a random comment from my husband along the lines of ‘I miss your photo of the day thing’ I am restarting my photo of the day.  For now, I think I might put them on my private Instagram account, but I am thinking about this.
  3. Reading – While I was out the other day I picked up a few books to read (as you may have gathered from yesterday’s blog).  I will be starting to read again!  I have so many interesting things to read.  Plus, I received audible credits for my birthday! SO. MANY. STORIES.
  4. Cooking – I have already started this.  I can make bolognese sauce which is something I didn’t think I would crack.  The other day we started watching Ugly Delicious, which is an interesting show telling the stories of the people who make different types of food – like tacos or pizza.   A comment the host made though completely summed up my favourite type of food to make.  He called home cooking ‘Ugly Delicious’ food because when you cook at home, you don’t have to present the food in a ‘pretty’ way like he does in his restaurant.  I love to make ugly delicious food that warms my soul.
  5. History – Well, we signed up to the local museums’ trust and I am hoping that means we will go do historic things a bit more.  We are also members of the National Trust.  We need to use that.
  6. Container gardening – I am giving this a go to see if I have any kind of green fingers at all.  I once had an allotment but that was quite a lot of work and I could not devote that amount of time to it, so I had to give it up.  I am hoping container gardening will be a good compromise.  Our yard is very shady so it may not work, but I’ll try.
  7. Travel – We have booked our first trip of the year to Washington DC.  I haven’t been there since I was a child.  We will see if it lives up to my memories of it.
  8. Interior Design – We will be doing something with our bedroom this year – probably over Easter.  We first need to fill in a few areas where the previous owner glued art to the wall (yes, you read that correctly, glued) and then we will need to paint.
  9. Spiritual side & Intuition – Apart from trusting my gut, I am not really doing anything much with this at the moment.  I am thinking about ways I can develop this more.
  10. Astronomy – The same, not a lot at the moment, but I am formulating some ideas.
  11. Horesback riding – I am still waiting for my car to be fixed so I can drive to the stables without concerns about getting there and back before I re-start my lessons.

Will I get anywhere with this or not?  Tune in for a weekly round up as I try to learn a few things before my next birthday.

Posted in Project Discovery

An ode to the humble bookstore

Yesterday we were out with friends in the morning and early afternoon, and as we had tickets to see Guys and Dolls that evening, and a pre-theatre dinner reservation, it was not worth a 40 minute bus ride home to turn around and come back to town.  Instead, we spent the rest of the afternoon slouching around town and going into one of my favourite places, Waterstones.  There are few places in this world that I feel completely happy and at home, but a bookstore is one of them.  Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know.  I have a few guesses though.  Most of these relate to being a child and on Friday nights we would go for Chinese food at our favourite restaurant and then we would spend something like 3 hours wandering Borders.  We would each pick out a book to buy and then we would go home and dad and I would watch Doctor Who on PBS.  After that, I would start reading my book.  I have the warmest memories of those Friday nights.  I am sure they were not all Friday nights, but still, they stick in my memory with a rosy glow.

And now, whenever I walk into a bookstore, I can immediately feel the anxieties and weight of the world slip from my shoulders.  I feel strangely alive and engaged.  There are so many things I want to read, so much I want to learn about.  It’s amazing I don’t become overwhelmed and shut down, but I don’t.  I feel encapsulated in a happy bubble.  None of my worries or cares can break through.  When I am in a bookstore, nothing else matters. What is perhaps most interesting is that I am a slow reader who often gets frustrated.  This is why audible is a godsend to me.  I love stories, but get frustrated by reading.  And yet, bookstores still make me happy and I absolutely love wandering around them and looking at all the knowledge, stories, advice, guidance and lives lived.  Yesterday, I came away with 3 new books after at least an hour of wandering and browsing.  When bookstores finally disappear, I don’t know what I will do.  I do know, a piece of my heart will carry a hole where bookstores lived.  This leads me to wonder where other people’s happy places are? Where do they go to reduce anxiety and get away from the world when it feels like things are closing in?