Reflections On My Travels

So this is a long overdue post! I promised it a while ago and as per usual life got in the way and i lost motivation and time. So here it finally is, less of a story of my travels as much as it was planned to be, and more of a reflection on the last year of my life.

So lets flash back to the summer of 2016 when i quit my perfectly reasonable job in IT and decided to travel to the other side of the world, to what i expected would be the sunny, chilled and beautiful New Zealand. In reflection, only really one of those was the case and it certainly wasn’t the weather! I packed up my little life in London, dragged my boyfriend straight from finishing his masters degree and we took the grueling 24 hour trip to paradise.

We had a 2 day stop over in Hong Kong and met some incredible people who would stay with us throughout our trip. Hong Kong beautifully broke up the flights and was a lovely start to the adventure of a lifetime. I wish we had the money and sense to have done a similar stop over on the way home because 31 hours straight travel was ridiculous. Not impossible, obviously, but definitely not something i will be signing myself up for any time soon.

When we arrived in New Zealand, we were faced with a few things we hadn’t really considered. First and forever the most shocking was that it wasn’t always sunny and hot in New Zealand, in fact the weather is basically England on a much more extreme scale. We arrived in Auckland on a gloomy overcast day, to check into a dorm room in a hostel just off the main street. It didn’t occur to us that we would be in a dorm, or that obviously that’s what happens when  you stay in a hostel. So that was a travel shock, the reality of having to share every inch of space and time with strangers. We quickly moved to private rooms in hostels after leaving Auckland, to minimize the awkwardness for us and for everyone else.

So our travels really began when we boarded that bright green tour bus that would be our home away from home. We traveled north to the brighter bay of islands, where we got to see dolphins and sit on the beach and really experience those minutes of holiday and travel. Including the diabolical alcoholism and mischievous activities in the early hours, which made great conversation on the bus the next morning. We made our down the north island to wellington. We sand surfed, caved, luged, spent a night in a Maori village, sat in a natural hot pool on the beach and of course basically drank ourselves out of pocket.

We arrived in Wellington to pouring rain, and yet it felt like we had come home. We spent the night in a hostel before spending two weeks with a distant relative of mine, who became like our mum and took care of us when we needed someone. That will be one of the things i treasure, building that relationship and having that love of family even when you are as far away as you can get from home. Wellington is where we set up our lives, made friends, got jobs, moved into a little flat, really lived like the kiwis do. And it was one of the best experiences of my life. That little flat will forever remain in my heart, as will the people and those gorgeous streets and views as you walk through Wellington and along the harbor. There are some bad memories of there, but they are by far outshone by the joy and beauty of the city and of my time there.

So after several months, it was time to pack my bag and go solo for my adventure down south. So i said goodbye to my jobs, to my friends, to my boyfriend and boarded a ferry to the south island. It was, without a doubt the most amazing and important thing i have ever done. The amount i grew within myself is impossible to describe, the relationships and bonds you can create with people in such a short time is life changing. You will be pushed to truly do what you want, to be responsible for only you and to deal with the consequence of what you do and want. You will push yourself into doing things you would never have imagined you would do, like skydive or learn to surf or crawl into bed with people who you barely know but love.

So New Zealand, you were stunning, absolutely the most beautiful place i have ever been and think will ever go, photos of you don’t look real and i cannot describe your immense totally consuming beauty. You were a challenge for my heart and my head, but most of all my liver. You were completely and utterly the best decision of my life and i cannot thank you and everyone who made you what you were for me enough ❤

Home

So I have been home for almost 2 weeks now, and after months of pining to be back, I can’t wait to go again! 

The inevitable dread of starting back at work, at having to live at home with my parents again, of having to balance my social life and do all the other adult things is already wearing down on me! 

The only benefit: the fact it’s summer. The hot weather and promise of a holiday in a couple of days is the only thing dragging me through the harsh reality of being back from my travels.

Holiday blues are real, and they are punishing. 

Where have i been?

So the last week has been one of the most stressful, full on and hellish weeks ever. So i quit my horrible job at the bakery 3 weeks ago but my last day was last Thursday. The relief to be done with them was overwhelming…but very short-lived.

Firstly; i didn’t get paid on the usual fortnightly date as they said they would pay it with my final pay packet. – Not immediately a problem, a bit annoying as i was out of pocket from travel costs, rent etc for the 3 weeks since our last pay came in. However had i known the shit storm to come i would have put up a much bigger fight about this.

Secondly; I only had to give a weeks notice, i ended up working 3 weeks as favour to them as i didn’t want to leave them without staff and struggling. – WHAT A MISTAKE THAT WAS. I went out of my way for them and they basically took the piss by making me work over time for those few weeks and treating me with their usual shit.

Thirdly; So after staying longer, working over time and training my replacement, none of which were contractual obligations, all of which i did because i am a good person, they go and royally screw me over. They take a deduction of $550 from my last paycheck. This was made worse by the fact it was made post tax, so of the $1400 they owed me, $300 went to the tax man, $550 went back into their pocket and a measly $620 made it into my account meaning my 76 hours of work came out to be worth just over $8 an hour, a lot lower than the $15 minimum wage and a hell of a lot lower than the $17 an hour they are usually worth.

This forced me to go and see a lawyer to see what could be done about the massive deduction and at that point the withholding of my pay. The lawyer unhelpfully told me that i did have a case but it would be a long and dirty fight. Considering that i am leaving the country in 35 days that wasn’t really an option for me, which my previous employers knew and took advantage of.

So i finished the week feeling deflated, taken advantage of and stupid for ever agreeing to work for those people and with very little options.

I made the decision not to pursue a law suit or hate campaign towards them… for the simple reason THEY ARE NOT WORTH IT. They are not a worth a single second more of my time, and after this post i will have blocked the numbers and started moving forward with my life having learned a big lesson and grown up a hell of a lot more than i realised i need to.

Stained

“You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress i can’t wear anymore”.

We have all had that one ex that was your everything, your all encompassing world and who broke your heart and left you lost and alone in a world you didn’t know, with a person that you didn’t even know existed without him.

Clean by Taylor Swift i think gives an interesting and relatable approach to what it feels like coming out the other end of that relationship. And i could do a thousands posts on him, and that relationship and the aftermath of it, but for now i don’t feel like this is the place to share that.

But i want to discuss one line in the song that has stuck with me. The idea that you continue to wear that person and that they still have a place and hold in your life. And me for one completely believe that to be true. They are your past, they defined you for a long time, and they helped to form you into the person you are today and truly without them you wouldn’t be you, even to this day. Which is not the most comforting reality for the majority of us, who like to cut them out of our lives and show how we have ‘moved on’. But i don’t think it necessarily has to be a bad thing, i think we should be proud to wear that stained dress, because that’s the newly tie-dyed better version of yourself that may no longer be in its purest form, but has the colour of life and learning and shows how far you have come.

So i don’t want to be clean. I want, just like in the immortal words of rocky horror and Christina Aguilera to get dirty.

I want to get stained by the people who have changed me, who have impacted my life for the better, or even for the worst, because where i stand today is only as a result of me and how i have overcome the hurdles they created. But a life without hurdles to climb would leave me lazy, lonely and boring… Which are not the words you would use to describe someone in a wine stained dress.

Little to Big

When i was little i wanted to be a Vet, and up until i was in year 9 and having to chose my options for GCSE i was pretty certain that is where my life was going go. I was going to be a vet, get married, have 5 children and live happily ever after. I am now 22, far from being or even wanting to be a vet, both wanting and being terrified of the prospect of children and almost completely lost to where my life is going or where i want it to go.

When you are young its very easy, you make a plan and there isn’t any life to get in the way of it, it all makes sense and sounds plausible and perfect and right. Then you sit down with that piece of paper at 14 and have to decide what subjects to drop and what dreams go out the window with them. For me, that was being a vet, i didn’t want to do triple science, something i was told would be essential for me to pursue being a vet as i would have to do at least one science for A-level in the years to come to be eligible to study veterinary science at uni. I wanted to do dance and drama… so being a vet fell to the wayside, and along with it my life plan and career goals.

Fast forward 8 years and i am still just as lost as i was sitting down with that piece of paper and changing the course of my life forever. Maybe i want to go back to uni and study social work? Maybe i want to travel more? Maybe i want to work in PR? Maybe i want to start to settle down? Maybe i am getting too old to have options? Maybe i am still really young and have time to mess around for a while?

Maybe i am stressing over nothing?

But right now, i feel lost and don’t know how to start to make decisions and create a new course for my life and in 6 months i will be back in the UK and the need to make a decision will be upon me.

Be My Valentine

On what a cliche of a day, and oh what a joy or torment it can be.

I am lucky to not have to spend it alone this year, and have the solid not presents rule, but just taking it as an excuse to treat ourselves and have some truly quality time together. Which is a shame, that it takes an almost made up holiday to stop you enough in your tracks to actually spend time and enjoy the company of your partner. Obviously it would be impossible to treat yourselves everyday, or spend that much quality time together that you wouldn’t kill one another or the specialness of it be significantly reduced. But, maybe it shouldn’t be a once in a blue moon affair, we need to take more time away from the screens, from work, from lovely but interfering friends and really work on the core relationship itself and that unique bond. Because sometimes if we don’t take a minute to check in and be present, we lose the time we have with that person and eventually them altogether, because no one can live just waiting for that one day a year that they become your priority.

Having said all that, i don’t necessarily think valentines day has to be about couples. It never was for me when i was a kid, my mum used to get me and my sisters a card and some chocolate every year just to show she loved us. It was an excuse to show love, in any form. This for me includes self love. The utter importance of showing yourself love, really taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and financially are the basis for a happy, secure and fulfilled life. Valentines day may just be that check in point early enough in the year to get you back on track from the faltering new years resolutions. So this year treat yourself and be your own valentine before you are anyone else’s. Take the time to have some ice cream, have a bath, watch a movie all snuggled up, have a takeaway or go out to eat, just refocus on you and binge because tomorrow will be a new day and maybe a good place to restart that new year kick up the ass!

34 Hours

What i learned from working 34 hours in 3 days, a lovely 4 am start to a 6pm finish.

  1.  You are more capable than you think
  2. You can survive on a lot less sleep
  3. The lack of sleep will catch up with for a solid 8pm bedtime
  4. Your patience will be tested
  5. You will eat less
  6. You will miss out on seeing loved ones
  7. Time will fly by
  8. You will have moments of doubt that its worth it
  9. You will have moments where you are finding it easy
  10. You will realise that things you dreamed of are a possibility but will require compromises you are unsure you are willing to make now faced with them
  11. You will make difficult choices
  12. You are terrible at saying no
  13. You did not pack appropriate clothing
  14. Or snacks
  15. Maybe you are not as unfit as you first thought
  16. It will end
  17. You will feel a tad lost when no longer at work
  18. You will create bonds
  19. You will gain confidence and reassurance and renewed sense of motivation
  20. You will let things like hygiene slide, because quite simply wearing the same top two days in a row isnt that bad and you are in no position to do laundry or care very much

FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out

FOMO used to be, and still on occasion is my own personal torture.

In a world that is telling you to say yes to more, to go and explore, to just leave the house. Sometimes you just want to say no. Sometimes you just want your duvet, not leave the house for a couple of days and live in total bliss that the rest of the world doesn’t exist and isn’t going on without you.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, that little luxury is very quickly killed by snapchats, tweets, instagram and the ease of communication. Because, of course, the one time you don’t go out will be the day they all take photos and put them up everywhere for the world to see how you aren’t there, how ‘lame’ and ‘not fun’ you are in comparison.

So, inevitably, you drag yourself out of bed, have the long over due shower and force some kind of clothing on to make yourself look photo ready. Because, god forbid, you miss out if you don’t.

The reasons to drag yourself out when you just aren’t feeling it are countless… more than likely you will enjoy yourself when you get there, you rarely have the chance to see everyone in one go, you haven’t been out in ages. Unfortunately, we all know the real reason we are putting ourselves through this torture is because we don’t want our friends to think we are boring.

And we need to get over that. Our friends are our friends for a reason, and that won’t change just because we don’t want to go to the club this Friday night. They won’t think you are boring if you take the occasional night to yourself, although they may tease you are getting old, or some other rubbish in a last ditch attempt to drag you out.

We have created a culture that doesn’t allow you to just fancy some time at home, but instead guilt trips us into not allowing it for the literal fear of the social ramifications. Those social ramifications meaning you can’t join in that story, that something big might happen and you’ll be the last to know and worst of all you won’t be in the group shot that everyone has as their cover photo. Maybe i am getting old and boring, but, i am just sort of sick of the ridiculous amount of pressure i put on myself to go to things i just don’t want to do. I know i can just message my friends another day for dinner or to come round for a movie night, or something that just feels better for me. And that’s how i want my friendships to be, on a mutual happy little level where i don’t feel like i have to do anything or go anywhere to avoid judgement and loneliness.

So screw the FOMO, if i miss out, i miss out. At least i will wake up to hear plenty of gossip, of which none will be about me, I still have the killer group shot from last time to have as my cover photo and i know i will hear the story enough times that i will basically feel like i was there anyways. So yes, life might be about making memories and the big moments, but its mostly made up of small ones and boring mundane nights in, and you know what, that makes a pretty cracking life all on its own.

 

Success For A Woman

Many people have spoken about success and what it means to be successful, and most of them have been men, because for a long time, only men had the opportunity to achieve it. If you will, they had a monopoly on success, not only as an idea, but also in practice.

The door is opening for women to come forth and be more present in not only this discussion but also in this practice of achieving success.

But again, how do we measure it, what does it look like, how do we achieve it?

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence” – Colin Powell

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come” – Dwayne Johnson

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” – Mark Twain

But what is it that makes you successful, that lines you up for success? Is it ignorance, consistency, perfection, enthusiasm? Or is it something else?

I don’t believe there is one way to measure success, one recipe for making it, one way to celebrate it. It is a personal struggle and a personal achievement that to me equates success. Only you can measure yourself and how far you’ve come and how far you have to go, if anywhere. That’s why i believe you can find no simple answer for what success looks like or what it is the measure of.

So i can’t give you something to work on, or look at, or ponder, or in fact any answers at all. But i can let some very important women give you some wisdom, that you never know, might just inspire you to find what will make you the most successful you that you never knew you already were.

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” – Anne Sweeney

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” – Sara Blakely

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Michelle Obama

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

This is my take on success, and one womans voice in this great debate.

1 Week Down

So my little blog has been alive for a week, this will mark the 7th post on the 7th day. And in all honesty i am thoroughly enjoying it. Although, out of pure fear that i wont be able to keep it up and write about things i truly want to write about i think i am going to post more on a 2 times a week basis. On a Monday and Thursday i think, just to break it up a little and allow for me to work when i finally find another job.

I have been temping with Sunglass Hut which i have absolutely adored, but now that the Christmas period is over they no longer need me, as obviously its much less busy. So i am back on the job hunt!

So this is my disclaimer, just in case it looks like i have abandoned it already, i haven’t, i will just be scribbling behind the scenes and letting it out into the world on a more regulated basis.

So what have i learnt from a week of blogging:

  • Getting a single view on my page is the most thrilling and reaffirming feeling
  • That i miss writing
  • That i know more about things, just from living and doing than i ever thought i did or could
  • That i like pretty pictures just as much as pretty words
  • That there are people and pages that speak to me better than i can express myself
  • That i can be proud of something and feel a sense of achievement even if nobody ever sees it
  • That i am not ready to share this with real world people in my life and i am not sure why
  • That i have a lot of ideas, thoughts, feelings and thing i want to share