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Gratitude in lost times

I'm conscious of the fact that in my newsletter and on my blog recently I've probably seemed a little negative, and it's no secret that I've felt quite lost and not myself.  At the moment I'm spending a bit of time at my parents' house to get some rest and headspace and find my way back to being Rosie.

However - whilst it would be easy to write something long and waffle-y about how I feel (and God knows I've done enough of that in the past) I thought instead I would make a little list of things I'm grateful for at the moment, and things that are making the days easier.

001. Friends who check in regularly to see how you are
002. Ever so slightly, just a tiny bit lighter evenings
003. Beautiful sunrises like the one above I snapped on Friday morning (nature is amazing)
004. New slippers and pajamas
005. Baths before bedtime
006. Binge listening to podcasts on long drives to work
007. Finding quotes on Pinterest that make you feel instantly better
008. Feeling stronger in the gym and being able to lift heavier things
009. Long showers
010. Dog cuddles
011. Comfy jogging bottoms
012. Working from home days
013. Sitting by a cosy fire
014. Tattoo bookings and plans
015. Parents that put their arm around you when you need it
016. The first cup of green tea in the morning
017. Yummy burgers and milkshakes at Byron Burger
018. Friends who understand when you have to rearrange plans just because you're not up to doing anything but hiding under a duvet
019. My silk pillowcase
020. Having holiday plans (Brno in Czech Republic in March) and weekend away plans

What are you grateful for this week?

Life, lately - December 2016

Okay, full disclosure, this one might be one to enjoy with a cup of tea, or a snack.  It could be long. Sorrynotsorry, I've got a lot to tell you.

I always feel like my life is either a million social engagements in one week, furiously trying to catch just a second to myself - or weeks' worth of evenings and weekends at a time spent taking long baths and 8pm bedtimes.  I never seem to find balance.  December was definitely the former, having just arrived back from New York and diving straight into a week full of celebrations (not the chocolates, okay maybe the chocolates...) including my work Christmas party.  I know it was a good one as I have absolutely no photos from the evening whatsoever.  Well, except for this absolutely terrible iPhone photo from the hotel room when I was getting ready.  Not up to the usual standard of photography but I'm not usually seen in a party frock so I'll make an exception.  

A few days later I was lucky enough to spend some time away with my friend Fleur and her husband's band, Beartooth.  Fleur lives in Ohio so I don't get to see her very often so it was so good to spend some time hanging out.  We posed for photos in backstage rooms...

... watched their shows in Southampton, Dublin and Belfast...

... which meant exploring Belfast's beautiful Christmas Market and eating a pastry the size of my head....

... and eating the best (sourdough) doughnuts I have maybe ever had at The Rolling Donut in Dublin.  

There was also a lot of drinking vodka and lemon fanta, sleeping in a bunk on the tour bus, air drumming (which apparently I am not very good at), and wondering if I could go another day without having a shower.

We also got to watch them record for Radio One Live Lounge at Maida Vale Studios, which was so cool.  So amazing to think of how many legendary bands and artists have been there.

By the Sunday it was time to fly home from Belfast, but not before sitting in Belfast Airport for longer than we'd planned due to fog and resulting flight delays (hashtag mercury in retrograde).

As always after some time away, it was really nice to be home and to be able to dive into a Lush bubble bath and clean sheets.  I still wasn't feeling very Christmassy but we put the tree up and decorated the house - are you sick of seeing Christmas trees now? By this time I only had a few days before the big day to do my shopping, and I went into panic mode, frantically online shopping and spending my lunchbreaks fighting the crowd at West Quay shopping centre.

I finished work on the 23rd and was very ready for some time off (okay, apart from the time off I had with Fleur and Beartooth...).  My parents arrived at lunchtime on Christmas Eve - we had them and my brother staying in our little two-bedroom cottage, so it was a bit of a squeeze but a perfect, family shaped, happy squeeze (well, not sure my brother would agree as he had to sleep on an air bed in the lounge).  The next couple of days were bliss - drinking prosecco, playing board games (Linkee and Five Second Rule are particular favourites!), eating party food and watching rubbish TV.  I just love any time spent with my family and I'm always sad when they leave.

I've had a bit of a Christmas cold so I had to miss out on a few dog walks but we went on a really lovely walk on Boxing Day and spotted lots of Christmass-y houses.  Lymington is so pretty.  (That first picture is Henry dog worrying he was going to get left behind!)

In terms of presents I treated myself to a few books - that's how Christmas works right? I have been really into crime thrillers recently but I decided to pick up a few 'self-help' books to help me feel a little less lost in 2017.  I posted this on instagram and a few people asked for reviews so I'll definitely do that - I'm starting with Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell and I'm loving it so far.  Actually, Tom's parents' got me Carry On, Warrior so I'm not a complete self-present-buyer!

I did receive some lovely presents from other people too - a new bag for the gym, some Adidas NMDs I had had my eye on for ages, some new perfume and lots of other wonderful bits.  Sarah made me a jumper and a make-up bag and I'm totally in love with them both (can you imagine being that talented?)

No sooner had my parents checked out of Casa Del Rosie, Tom's parents arrived for... you guessed it, prosecco, board games, dog walks and lots of eating! Well, when you've got Christmas nailed, you can't switch up the recipe.

After that we welcomed Sarah and her husband Gray to stay for a few days over New Years' Eve.  I want to tell you that we did something different than dog walks, prosecco and eating but.... we really didn't.  We went for a lovely walk around the harbour on New Year's Eve, and had to stop at the pub for some fizz and fishfinger sandwiches.

We went out to the pub in the evening but the pub we'd booked neglected to mention that they had a six course, £50 a head menu when we booked, which none of us liked the look of.  After a few dirty looks from a grumpy barmaid we ditched that and went to our local Chinese, where we ate our weight in Chinese food and then nipped home just in time for Jools Holland's New Year's Eve Hootenanny (accompanied by more prosecco, slippers, PJs and a roaring fire).

Today was spent with more PJ time (actually that was just me - everyone else got dressed....), watching Harry Potter, and generally lounging around and catching up.  They left this afternoon and the spare room is looking rather empty now! I'm back at work on Tuesday so tomorrow I'll be knee deep in ironing, washing, tidying and cleaning ready to return to the grind.

How was your December? Did you do anything eventful for New Year's Eve?

Goodbye 2016

I just don't know about this year.  I wouldn't pick it out, you know, if all of the years were spread in front of me and I could choose them, relive them, one by one.  I would go back further, before I chose this one.  But then, wouldn't everyone? Being 17 was always going to be better than being 32.  Most people are wistful for their early 20s long into their 30s and 40s.  The endless stretching years of abdication of responsibility laying out in front of you like a lifetime of indifference - interrupted briefly by wild nights, lost memories, fleeting loves and long lie-ins.

I know that it is 'de rigeuer' to hate 2016 anyway, but I never cried any tears for Bowie or Prince (sorry).  I cried salty, ugly tears for rainy holidays and suffocating overwhelm and torn muscles and missing people and injuring innocent things but I did not weep for fallen heroes (I'm far too self-centred, I think).  So if my year wasn't punctuated by their losses, then why am I watching the last dying embers of 2016 with a cautious eye ensuring they fully extinguish, rather than a feeling of fleeting loss?

Every year for the last few years has had a milestone moment.  Buying a house, getting engaged, moving workplaces and changing jobs, getting married, and this year another house move and another new job.  Changechangechangechange.  I'm kind of longing for a nothing year now, you know? I need some time to decompress.  I need some time to sleep.  This year we went to Mexico, France and New York.  I got a promotion and a job I have real passion for.  We bought a house with a roll top bath, tiled hallway and a brass door-knocker.  I love Bodhi dog more than I thought it was possible to love another thing.  I am so, so lucky that sometimes I just walk around my house and worry it will be taken away from me.  But.  But.  (Always with the but).

But 2016 has been filled with lots of days (and nights) when I have felt sad or lost.  It has been a year when I haven't felt truly myself and it's made me feel confused and stressed.  I've filled this year with either seeking out experiences and engagements to try and find what fits, or seeking out total solitude and looking inward.  I feel either exhausted, or bored.  I find myself constantly looking at other people's lives and wondering, is that what I should be doing? Is that the life I should have? I haven't written the novel yet, started the podcast, lived in a foreign country or run a half-marathon.  I haven't got a Master's Degree, learnt reflexology or seen the Northern Lights.  I've got a great job that's stable, flexible and uncomplicated but should I be doing something creative, pushing myself out of my comfort zone? I can't help but feel like 2016 wasn't the greatest because I fell a little behind. Got a little more lost. Spent too much time on the go, or mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and shopping for trainers.  Not enough time 'chasing my dreams'. (Or maybe that only exists on instagram, and why are they running away from me anyway?)

Ugh, instagram.  Okay, here is a thing.  Everyone's photos of babies in reindeer outfits and toddlers unwrapping presents is making me wonder if I want tiny people in my life.  But I don't know for sure about that either.  There's just so much I don't know, and that's been a theme for 2016.  I sought out some advice recently to help with this, and one of the things I took away is that sometimes I need to be more at peace with the 'not knowing'.  To get comfortable and sit in the indecision of not having the answers as to what I should be doing with my life - whether I should be I travelling, whether we should be starting a family, whether I should write the novel, keep the blog, join the football team, get the management qualification (etc).  I realised that some periods are about just 'being' rather than feeling the pressure of making decisions.  And I think that's my plan for 2017.  Not to beat myself up about knowing what the next steps are for me, but just to take my hands off the wheel a little and just 'be'.  I incite my own stress by telling myself to make more decisions, but maybe it's enough for now just to take more baths, get more sleep, smell more flowers and read more books.  Maybe 2017 will be a nothing year, and that is what I need.  Or maybe it will be a something year.  But for now, I'm just going to sit.  Bath running, fire roaring, an overflowing to-read pile and a snoozing dog.  Life is hidden in the small things.