Maseratis and keeling over

My problem: unless I am under enormous pressure and have Satan breathing down my neck, I am the laziest and most unmotivated chick you’ll ever meet in your life. And this is just it – my life is too damn comfortable. It’s just too easy for me to bob along, have everything come easy, live the good life and just enjoy doing cool stuff with my husband and son. Don’t get me wrong – I am so happy it’s just… …STUPID. It’s really quite ridiculous. Then again, joy is my default setting, I get it from my dad I think (the guy is  unbearably cheerful) and it just seems to be my nature to look on the bright side of life. Now, that’s not a bad thing. I’m just saying.

So I wake up every morning feeling happiness and gratitude, and how could I not? I’m truly blessed. No, I haven’t bought a Maserati yet (a GranCabrio in midnight blue, per favore), nor do I own a holiday home on Waihi Beach (YET!) but that’s just a matter of time and until then I have everything I could ever possibly need or want as things stand. But what I have discovered is this: as wonderful as it is to be emotionally fulfilled and have these two (B and Monkey) along with living where we live, blessed with amazing friends and family and have the life that we do, I need something else to fire me up. Hence I have hit a point where I feel incredibly restless and a little flat. I need a focus, goals… ….what I need is PRESSURE! I want to achieve. It’s one thing to strive to be a good person (and for the large part I believe I am), to be kind and empathetic and so on, but I think we all to some extent want to do well beyond our personal qualities whether it be having expert knowledge in some field or coming home each day knowing we really made a difference somehow. Just be able to say: “I did that”!

Before I met B I spent some years as a single mother in this insanely expensive city that is Londinium, so I know what I can be and achieve when I’m under tremendous amounts of pressure and stress to make things work. I know that I am a BADASS when I have to be.

There it is! When I HAVE to be.

So, the time has come to set some goals and targets and form a plan for the near future. B and I have been together for four years and a few months (and yes, we still celebrate every month – we just celebrated 51 months – cheesy, eh) and so we are ready for the next stage. These first few years were building stones and we’re currently cruising on a comfortable plateau having last year bought a home and this year got hitched.

My goal: in two years from now make a nice little income from making jewellery (I will in three month’s time be able to call myself a silversmith, and after that a Diploma course awaits and progressing on to more precious metals and stones) and the rest of the time focus on writing. That should nicely bring me back into an existence where I once again feel productive, that I’m achieving and that I’m doing something really worthwhile. That and getting super fit! I think at 41 I’m still at a stage where I am probably able to achieve something pretty awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I like ME, but I’m curious to see if I could go a little drastic and tickle the fitness fanatic in me (if that fanatic exists – perhaps I’ll just discover that I just LIKE exercise but won’t LOVE massive amounts of it). I don’t intend to turn bodybuilder or aim for no body fat or be a size zero or anything stupid like that, but just see what I might be able to do within reasonable limits. After a summer spent celebrating, my first two runs this week felt like death. Actually, they were not as bad as I thought it’d be but death nonetheless. I know it won’t take long though and hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to run, say, 5k without keeling over. We’ll see. It’s a start.

Our goal: we’ve set up a budget, which was pretty scary as it showed not only how much we could (and should!) save without forsaking random trips, holidays, nice clothes and several date nights every month, it also showed how we fritter money away like it’s confetti. So a bit more focus and if we just hold back a LITTLE – honestly, there are no big changes required, just a few small adjustments – we should with good margin be able to buy a decent holiday home in Sweden within five years should we choose to. I’m more keen on NZ, but no need to decide. Who knows what, when or even if – all we know is that if we just keep to this little plan, the ‘how’ isn’t going to be an issue.

For now, I will continue to appreciate a lovely Plan B job that I do enjoy and that the people I work for are lovely so there is – as I said before – no reason for me to complain, I simply don’t have anything to complain about, but I just need stuff to happen! I’m no good at this cruising phase we find ourselves in. What to be careful about also is how fired up I get starting things off – I’m so awesome at that bit! What career would allow me to do that? Be the proverbial firestarter? Anyway, it’s applying the plan, follow it and stick at it I suck at. Feeling very, very determined so time will tell… It usually does.

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Henry VII and Scary Birds

It’s pretty hard to explain to anyone that when I appear to be staring into thin space, I am actually working really hard. Before I actually got my head down and started typing away, I had spent several weeks just thinking it all through, making notes and adding bits into a little notebook as more ideas came to me. I created a pinboard where I kept adding chapters and scenes on tiny notes, moving them around occasionally, taking some off as others were added. I’m sort of in that space again.

I’m not gonna lie. As ecstatic and excited as I am – never mind over joyed – at the feedback, the work ahead is both terrifying and daunting. I remember saying at the beginning of the process that, OK, of my first draft once it’s done, I’ll be happy if I can keep 50%. Turns out I was right. It’s about that much I probably have to cut, and that thought is disheartening. Not because I don’t agree with the editor – I 110% do – but because it gave me a confidence boost to get to that half way mark and now it sort of feels I’ve taken lots of steps back. Oh yes, as unbearably happy and positive as I am most of the time, I occasionally sink into a pit of pessimism too. Luckily I know myself and I won’t allow it to happen.

The good things to focus on, is that the story is so much richer now. Hand on heart, I did feel that the first few chapters were flat. I still sent them off, because I was raring to go. That’s something I would advise strongly against – only EVER submit stuff when it’s in top notch condition, and you know that from the first word you are grabbing any literary agent or publisher by the collar. I don’t practice what I preach, but that’s just how I roll. Sort of like how even the girl who took back a cheating boyfriend would with great conviction advise her friend in the same situation to dump his unfaithful ass. Something like that.

Well. Alice will have to wait until Monday anyway, because my little sister arrives this evening from Sweden, for a long weekend here in London. During the 20 years I’ve lived here, I have accumulated a little treasure chest of gems, and have of course lined some of these up for the Little One. Because I’m a generous soul, I’m happy to share them here too!

Regents Canal from Little Venice to Camden

Still reasonably undiscovered by tourists, this is a gorgeous walk. Little Venice is gorgeous in itself (as the name indeed suggests), and on this – hm, what can it be – 2-3 miles of walking the footpath alongside the canal, you are completely away from the hustle and bustle of London. Despite being right in the middle of it. You end up strolling past endless barges along the way, many used as permanent homes, and along one stretch the barge inhabitants have even created little gardens opposite where they have moored. Then, gasp at the huge mansions to your right that are owned by billionaires, just on the edge of Regents Park on the other side.  The canal also cuts through London Zoo – they don’t keep any interesting animals in the enclosures edging on to the canal, but you’ll see some wilderbeest and some scary, large birds. And then of course you eventually get to Camden, where on Thursday to Sunday there is a huge market. Don’t go if you don’t like crowds.

South Bank

Definitely very touristy, but well worth it – always something going on. I usually start at Tower Bridge and make my way down to Houses of Parliament. There’s a host of cosy pubs on the way – and Borough Market is always worth a visit (near London Bridge – cut down south, it’s signposted) – as well as the Tate, a quirky book market under Waterloo Bridge and usually lots going on in general. Beware the tourists. Oh, I know I’m an immigrant, but I’m a hypocrite and I huff, puff and roll my eyes every single time someone stops right in my way to photograph something.

Kew Royal Botanical Gardens

This is actually right on my doorstep. Not really the season to go, but worth a mention. Originally belonged to Henry VII, who used Richmond Palace as his base during the summer months, and just like Henry it’s rather large, so you’d need a good couple of hours to properly explore it. Has every tree, plant and flower you can think of, several exhibitions and plenty for kids too. Go in the summer though.

Foyles Book Store Cafe

Hm, yes, it gets crowded, but it’s on Charing Cross Road right near Oxford Street so you can’t really get around that to be honest. I like it for two reasons – great coffee, and DAHR! It’s a book store.

Plenty more (Primrose Hill and Colombia Road Flower Market are NOT to be forgotten, so looke those up if I fail to come back to this) so perhaps I’ll add further London gems another time – the timer just beeped and these are my morning pages, here to get me free writing rather than putting something great together…..