Picking Up The Pieces

As this new year starts, I am very conscious of the person I want to become.  Having explored this arena for the last ten years, I feel I am finally getting closer, day by day.  

Having read an online excerpt of Matt Haig’s new book, Reasons To Stay Alive, I headed down to Waterstones one lunch break to buy it.  I have it in my bag this morning, but haven’t started reading yet.  I’m still floored by having finished Disclaimer, by Renée Knight, a recent debut chart topper.  With reviews comparing it to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynnn, another book that had a profound effect on me, I know I can write something like it, something clever.  My mind fails me with logic sometimes (I am, however, plentiful in Jodie Logic) but I can knit together the perfect tale in my mind.  

As I wait for the train to leave Gunnersbury, I think back to the reason for writing this post.   I think back to being in the car during the Christmas break, and hearing Jess Glynne’s Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself on the radio, and vowing that I would not be so hard on myself this year.  I am my own worst critic; I don’t publish blogs because I don’t believe they are good enough to read.  I start but quickly abandon any form of fictional writing because I just don’t believe I can get it out of my head and onto paper without it sounding stupid.  The minuscule amounts of creativity that bubble to my surface are quashed because I  just don’t believe in myself.  So when I say I can write like some of the current bestselling authors, I do believe I can; but there is that other part of me, the one that says no you can’t, don’t be so stupid!

Buying my soya latte this morning (a recent experiment to see if I was lactose intolerant which has really become a morning ritual), I decided to buy a gingerbread man (I do realise the epic faildom of screwing up my gluten-avoidance with this action by the way).  Anyway, the first gingerbread man I picked up and put down again, because I could see that his leg was broken off.  As I put the packet back and selected the perfect one behind it which was intact, I had second thoughts, and instead picked up the broken man I’d originally had in my hand.  

Don’t be so hard on yourself, I thought.  And don’t be so hard on broken gingerbread men.  They’ve done nothing wrong.  

  
Happy New Year everyone. 

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself – Jess Glynne (2015)

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TFIF Dress-Down Friday!

Thank flubalubs it’s finally Dress-Down Friday. Not just because Friday signals the end of the week, and in this case for us in the UK, a long weekend with Bank-Holiday Monday, but because I finally get to wear jeans to work.

After twelve and a half years working in the NHS, where jeans were not allowed, except for the once-yearly charity event, Jeans for Genes Day, the company I now work for has Dress-Down Friday each week as one of their benefits (wow. I now have a job with benefits!).

This may not seem like much to you, but years ago, before I entered the thirty-something crisis period, I would always say “I wish I had a job where I can wear jeans to work”, usually followed by a big sigh. Workers wearing jeans usually seemed more relaxed which I guess was the appeal for me.

While I only get to wear blue jeans to work, I can get away with black jeans the rest of the week, although I wear smarter dresses and skirts too, depending on my mood. If I feel like I need to be more confident, then a dress comes out and when I get to work I slip on my heels.

While this job may not be my dream job, I have acquired that which I had dreamt of years before. It’s a denim- clad step in the right direction.

Your Music Defines YOU!

Today’s Stylist magazine features the headline “Playlist stuck in a Timewarp?”. Then goes onto suggest 50 new tracks “every woman” should own.

As you know here on 33andlostinlife, I have a fervour for discovering, or rather rediscovering my old favourites. Gloria Estefan, Matchbox Twenty, Michael Jackson as recent examples. Right now my iPhone is playing non-stop INXS. And you know what? I love it.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I fall in love with a song from the Top 40 (today’s Top 40, that is). But on the whole I like the old stuff.

When I was at school, my favourite band was Mr. Big, long-haired rockers from the San Francisco Bay Area, and owners of 90s ballad, To Be With You. I was always ashamed to say this at school for fear of being bullied even more.

You know what my favourite band is now? Mr. Big.

DID YOU HEAR ME UNIVERSE? I SAID MR. BIG!!!!

By all means discover new artists and songs. But don’t forget the old stuff. When you find out what you like music-wise, it’s only a matter of time before you discover who YOU ARE, and can shout that from the rooftops.

The Truth? You Can’t Handle The Truth!

Today has seen me write two blogs, this being the third. For me it seems, writing a blog has a way of opening the floodgates to the truth; to allow those outside to see inside my soul. Writing allows me to expose my feelings and fears. To pinpoint where I am in life, where I want to go, who I want to be.

While it has taken me months to build up the confidence to press ‘Publish’ on a blog post (I have nine unpublished blogs in my draft folder, in varying states of completeness), the overwhelming response I have received from my friends and family has been great. Many have taken the time to give me advice, but mainly just to remind me they are there. I have been moved to tears by this, not that it takes much these days, but just to know that people have faith means a lot. Writing a blog is my way of saying that I have faith in myself, although it may not seem like it from some blog posts you may read. But writing is a release, and I know from personal experience that to keep the truth inside can only lead to an eruption of volcanic proportions, the consequences of such can be long-lasting; taking years to remove the lava and ash that cover everything in its path.

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[Picture Credit: Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan Jessup, A Few Good Men, Dir. Rob Reiner, 1992]

I almost lost one of my closest friends shortly before I left my ex. We used to meet for lunch every few weeks, and she revealed to me after the eruption that was the end of my marriage that I seemed like a stranger. Having ignored her message two days ago until after I wrote Woe is Me, I know that I have been holding back the truth from my friends and family. The truth is, I have a lot of friends. I just don’t have a lot of friends here in London. But my friends, though they are scattered around the world, are always there for me. I know since I moved to London I have hidden away from them. London, and the events since last May have caused me to retreat into my Cancerian shell at an extreme pace. Blink and you’ll miss me.

I don’t know why I feel the need to do this. Perhaps it is because several of my friends from back in Lincoln have told me that it is ok to come home. It’s funny, because even though I was born in Lincoln, I never felt “at home” there. Never felt like I belonged. But then I haven’t felt that way anywhere else in the world either. London is the closest place I have felt that, and when I returned to London for the first time in a few years last October, it did feel like coming home.

For me, moving back to Lincoln is not an option. To do so would feel like going back with my tail between my legs, for the second time. It would feel like admitting defeat.

My FWB (Friend With Benefits) tells me that I should think about moving away from London, since I am obviously not happy here. But, I say to him, where do I go? I have never seen any other city in England as a possibility, and moving to somewhere hot with a beach seems, while tempting, very impossible.

For me, I can’t imagine that place where I want to put down roots. For that place waits for my roots to be entwined with another, before planting them in its fertile soil and building upon solid foundations. But it is very obvious right now that I have no guarantee of when that may happen.

On the tube, I read the adverts that offer fertility to the over 40s, and wonder if I will need it. While my 40th birthday is five years away, I think back five years and those years have flown by. Five years ago, I hadn’t even written anything. I had no idea that I had this ability inside me to pour out my heart and soul, and that people would actually want to read it.

I am grateful for my blog. For it allows me to communicate with those people I know (and those I don’t) about things I otherwise may not say. I am thankful to the family and friends who read and support me through the difficult times. To the new followers I have since I posted Woe Is Me at 9am this morning, welcome. While my blog may be the only way I communicate with some of you these days, know that I am eternally grateful that you are there.

As Yet Untitled…Like My Life

People have been asking me why I haven’t blogged for a long time.  For some of my friends, it was a way of keeping up with my life, and if I was blogging it would be obvious I had some kind of issue to talk about but at least they would know I was alive.  I recently had a message from a friend saying I had been quiet on Facebook and the blog, and was I OK?!

I am OK in the polite answer of the word.  But lately I have been suffering with that unsettled feeling I’ve had for so many years now, one which every so often builds itself up so great to leave me feeling lost.  And I haven’t even graduated yet.  But after this Wednesday, I shall officially have graduated from the University of Lincoln, with a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree in American Studies.  The problem is, what has that degree given me, except £18,000 of debt and a reluctance to go back to work?

I’ve been doing temp work in an office since June.  The work is almost identical to what I did for 10 years before I went to university, and I have taken a 25% drop in salary, despite my rent costs tripling.  Friday was the last day of my twelve-week contract, and due to red tape I have been told not to go into work on Monday morning, until my boss’ boss authorises and signs the additional costs that my recruitment agency now want to charge the company I work for (although I won’t get paid anything extra).  While I originally thought I would start on a salary slightly higher than I was on when I quit my job in September 2011, as a temp, it was £6,000 less.  Although I was then told I would get that after completing a three-month probationary period and being taken on permanently, I am now informed that it won’t be as much as that, although it should be more than what I’m on now.  Why don’t I just come out and say it: £16,000.  Gutting since I left London in 1998 having earned £14,000.

While life is not about the money, not having money does make things difficult.  And since I left London in August 1998, I have gained 14 years’ administrative experience, not to mention four years of university education (so good I took my final year twice).  I can’t help feeling that perhaps my expectations have been too high, and that perhaps I am not worthy of earning more/having a better job.

Although I hope that I will get the call on Monday to say that the additional costs have been authorised, I know that my timekeeping issues may have an effect on whether they truly wish to keep me on.

As well as struggling with work, I have been internet dating (yes, I know going by past experience that was probably a disaster waiting to happen).  I’ve been on several dates, met some nice guys as well as some very strange guys, but still struggle to read situations.  I have had two dates with the same guy now, although I do not know whether this will progress into a relationship; I am inclined to think not.

Thinking about that, my stomach feels knotted.  I go through phases of wanting to just have fun until Mr. Right comes along, followed by the desire to only find Mr. Right.  At this current moment, I think I am coming to the end of the having fun phase, after realising that maybe I cannot cope with just having fun after all.

Recently, I’ve had that desire I used to get over the last two years; the desire to jump on a plane and get the hell out of here.  But I wonder if I would have the guts to do that now.  I can’t help feeling that while I made a great leap moving to London, perhaps I have started to crawl back into my shell, leaving my confidence, my hope and worst of all, my writing pad, out of reach.

Because I have barely written since moving to London.  I know why this is; I am ashamed to admit that I am still as lost in life as I ever was.  What started out as positivity towards the future has become doubt, and I worry that I may never become that which I hope to be.

While this blog post is a step back in the right direction, it remains to be seen whether I can follow it up with another.  I guess this means we all have to wait and see…