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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Breath and Morning People

Holy crap, that was hard work! Why is it that one day I can run 8k and feel like I could have gone on, yet two days later barely getting around a 5k loop? It wasn’t even that I was getting out of breath, it was my legs getting tired and not feeling as strong as they normally do. Normally, it’s getting out of breath rather than getting sore muscles that stops me. Oh well. 5k is still good and I feel great now. I suppose it’s just like with the writing – some days it flows, others it’s hard work.

It has to be said though, that for a morning person I am a shockingly useless morning runner, which irritates me as I just LOVE mornings! I love to be out and about at 8am on a Saturday morning, when the world is just about waking up, and that would be the perfect time to run, but I’ve never been good at it. Today I went out just after 9am, but hadn’t eaten – I can’t eat first thing. I am usually up by 7am but rarely have breakfast before 10am, I just don’t get hungry until I’ve been up for a while. Perhaps that was part of it. Empty stomach and my body refusing to run at any time “a.m.” – perhaps I just need to make my peace with the fact that I’m an evening runner.

Episodes and Trumpets

I am a keen runner, but during the first year and a half with B I sort of abandoned it a bit in favour of Vin Blanc and Marlboro Menthols. Now, however, I am back into it and loving it. There are few better feelings than getting back home after a long run, feeling healthy and alive and buzzing with joyful endorphins. I always have music blasting in my ears, and my current playlist for running is one of the few I’ve managed to put together where I don’t skip any songs, as each one puts a spring in my step…

  • Nearly Lost You – Screaming Trees (let’s out the grungey teen in me once again – the one with the huge nose ring, yellow Doc Martens and hair dyed bright red)
  • The Next Episode – Dr Dre (we all need a bit of gangsta goin’ on)
  • Scream (Funk My Life Up) – Paolo Nutini (anything funk rocks my world and funks my life up, hahr)
  • Rumble and Sway – Jamie N Commons (can’t listen to this song in any situation without moving my body in one way or another, so absolutely perfect)
  • Trumpets – James Derulo (bit cheesy, but I kinda like it)
  • All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers (perfect rhythm for running)
  • Bright Lights Bigger City – Cee Lo Green (loving the bass line – I’m all about that bass, y’all)
  • Carousel Ride – Rubblebucket (if I’d skip any song in this list, this would be it – this one generally only works if I’m running downhill)
  • Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In a Small Town – Pearl Jam (another trip down my teenage memory lane, and Eddie Vedder’s lovely voice caressing my ears always works)
  • Flaws – Bastille (like Carousel Ride, I skip this one if I happen to be running up a hill, the beat is too ‘struggling’ to spur me on)
  • Hold On Me – Marlon Roudette (uphill, downhill, flat – perfect)
  • I Drove All Night – Roy Orbison (for the 50s chick in me)
  • Illusionist – Amanda Jenssen (she annoys me a bit, but this song is lovely)
  • It’s Your Thing – Jackson 5 (impossible not to love this song)
  • Let Your Love Flow – The Bellamy Brothers (Prozac for the soul)
  • Love Love Love – Avalanche City (more Prozac and the sweetest little song)
  • Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers (my inner hillbilly making herself known…)
  • Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran (cute and lovely, although the line “the taste of my love” strikes me as quite dirty)
  • Walk This Way – Aerosmith/Run DMC (works every time)

Good Days and Little Loops

What an amazingly good day today has been! Started with an interview for a lovely little role at a school here in Chiswick, then off to walk Bertie the Labdadoodle and clearing my buzzing interview head, and now just back after a run – it was one of those runs when I could just keep going, and did! Got back, after enjoying every part of it, and having added extra little loops to it as I throughout discovered I wasn’t anywhere near exhausted. 8k! Yippie! I am starting to feel as fit as I used to be, and running that distance without having to stop and walk at all, I feel amazing!

Now let’s hope this morning’s opportunity turns into an offer (I have a good feeling about it) and life will have a bit more structure again – I’m a big fan of routines, plus I enjoy working and have missed having a “day job” along with the writing, so this one would be perfect!

Space and Being the Girl

Deliciously exhausted after a 6k run and ironing the excessive amount of shirts B wanted to pack for his work trip – he is worse than most self respecting women, I swear I’ve never known anyone (myself included!) pack so much stuff. Seriously, any time we go away he takes EVERYTHING. When we went to Sweden for Christmas, I cunningly packed when he was at the gym the day before we flew out and put all his things on the bed. I deliberately put out way more than he’d need, yet he managed to sneak in another two pairs of shoes (that he never wore as it was -24 and lots of snow) and umpteen other bits, that, bingo, never even made it out of the suitcase in Scandiland. Funny.

And this time, he looked at me and asked if he’d packed too much. Er… Go wild, honey. I don’t need any space in the suitcase so if you want to go with your normal more-is-more approach, knock yourself out! No skin off my back, baby! No idea where this new let’s-pack-sparsely strategy came from, only I hope it surfaces again the next time I need space for my stuff in the bag too. I’m the girl, for God’s sake!

Not looking forward to the week ahead without my precious B. Normally, if he has to go away with work, it’s just for a couple of days and there’s only one night to get through, but those are bad enough. Just the thought of being in our bed and his long, lean, strong and toasty warm body not there when I reach over to hold him is awful. And as I always do, whenever he’s away, I know I’ll startle myself awake when in my sleep I roll over to hug him and snuggle up close to that gorgeous man beast. And now I have to get through FIVE of those nights.

Stoopid America, stealing my baby! Roll on Saturday.

Thankfully, I will have Monkey here with me. Both my boys away at the same time would have been shit beyond words.

Tacos and Marathons

…and so life starts to feel more normal. No nasty surprises (or the threat of such) hanging over us anymore, just a clean(er) slate from which to build and move forward, finally. A huge weight has been lifted and I feel a sense of calm I didn’t even realise I was missing. I thought life was sweet before, but now it truly is just wonderfully bright and hopeful. Nothing can put a dampener on things now, not that this was ever the case – we were always invincible, but now more so than ever.

A very tired and drained B came home last night with a card, a bunch of roses and a bottle of Champagne. Oh, I know, he’s a good’un! A keeper if ever there was one and I ain’t letting him go, this beautiful best friend I have been blessed with. After going through hell, B was truly exhausted, yet relieved and much happier than I’ve seen him in a while – the past few weeks leading up to yesterday were stressful, even more so than the two years of fighting over financial settlement of his divorce that came before yesterday’s day in court. Thank God it’s all done now. Sure, there are still hoops to jump through, but there is certainty and clarity now and we can once and for all toast to closing that chapter.

And toast we did. I’d had a bucket sized glass of wine by the time B got home, and broken my no-smoking rule. Add a couple of glasses of bubbly, several more cigarettes and a couple of glasses of wine on top of that, and my run this morning should have been super crappy, but as soon as I’d run up the first little hill without gasping for breath, I realised one night off the wagon didn’t cause as much harm as I thought it would have. Almost 5k later I got back home not having stopped to walk even once. OK, so it wasn’t as easy as the 6k of three days ago, but I got round it, damnit! And I wasn’t dying either. Ker-pow! Invincible was the word, right?

I felt rotten last night when we had that last cigarette, couldn’t understand even as I was smoking it why I bothered and brushed my teeth for what must have been at least three times longer than I normally would to get the rotten taste out of my mouth. Pointless and I’m glad to be rid of it. I’m sure I’ll smoke when there’s wine involved at other times, but never again will I go back to smoking smoking. Haven’t felt like having one once today. Quitting in the first place was a piece of cake (uhm, OK, so I was rather grouchy the first few days but not like I was struggling – I think B and Monkey suffered more having to be around me, to be honest) so I feel ridiculously confident.

Over the next week I intend to make a serious dent in the rewrites of Alice – I’ve set my goal to have a revised first draft by the end of February. By ‘revised’ I mean taking into account the changes and suggestions by the editor, I’m not expecting to have it polished and submission ready. That part will be a tough process in itself and I don’t want to set my sights further than these smaller part goals.

Writing is a little bit like running. A novel and a half marathon. Only I get struck down by fear and apathy if I think of it that way, and instead I’m taking baby steps. Knowing I have the plot and characters nailed and about half of it written is enough to keep me motivated, just like managing to run 5k is enough to boost my confidence as well as getting those endorphins going. Once you’ve made a start and have some strong chapters nailed, the rest flows more easily. Just like once you can run 5k, the build-up to over four times that isn’t anywhere NEAR as daunting as starting from scratch.

Hm… And now that life is so utterly sweet, my biggest problem is what to have for dinner! I’m one lucky chick – don’t think for a moment that I don’t know it. Monkey’s still has his friend B over, and my B just came back in with them after a kick-around in the garden. Once the little terror (oh, this kid is deliciously naughty, yet so smiley and cute I can’t disapprove) has left, I’m going to head to the shop and get supplies for tacos. Yes, tacos is what I fancy. Yummmmmmm…..

Credit and Weeks

VICTORY! And I totally credit the absence of cigarettes as my fitness levels can’t possibly have improved that drastically over just three weeks – I can suddenly run 6k again without stopping to walk! I can’t even describe how great that feels.

21 Jan 2015 pic