Twenty Six

No one writes songs about being 26. We think of the milestone years – turning 18, 21 and then 30. Even 25 is earmarked as significant to some degree, as people remind you “you’re a quarter of a century old!” whilst you shovel in handfuls of birthday cake at the thought of not being 16 anymore. But 26? I’ve never heard anyone say “you’re a quarter of a century plus one year old”, and I doubt it’ll catch on. It’s that in between age that doesn’t seem particularly defining, right?

Today I turn 26. The birthday excitement depletes a little as each year goes by, and it’s instead replaced by a panicked thought, what am I doing with my life?

A very good question. Each year, I try to reflect on the 365 days between now and my previous birthday. More so than I do on New Year’s Day. Whilst I’d consider the previous two years as progress years towards the bigger picture, it was in this last year that the fruits of my labour came into their own. I finally bought my first home (what a ride that was!) and I started a new job. I love feeling challenged, and in an environment that encourages personal growth and to be the best version of yourself. I’m so happy I made the leap.

Two defining moments down, and naturally, I was ready to start working on my next big thing. I’m so, so close to finishing my first book draft, and even though there’s a heap of work I need to do once it’s finished, writing 30,000 words is no mean feat.

But, the intangible achievements are just as important as the tangible ones. On the wake of my last birthday, I was so incredibly unhappy in a situation that I couldn’t see myself escaping from. I was stuck in a rut, and if you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with, I didn’t want to be that average. Either through circumstance or choice, I Marie Kondo’ed my life from toxic people and relationships.

So, indeed, I worked on becoming a better person, for myself and for those around me. 25 was the year I pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone; I learnt that heading to a sports session or exercise class alone isn’t the least bit as scary as my brain tells me it’ll be, and I’ve grown physically stronger and made new friends as a result. I’m working on improving that average.

As I write a list of all the things I want to achieve as I head into this next year, I realise I’ve got plenty more fire in my belly to continue growing … and I can’t wait to share it with you. 26, I’m ready!

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Mercury in Retrograde

I didn’t understand the weight of those dreaded three words until a couple of years back when a friend expressed her thoughts about it on Instagram of all places. Suddenly the words Mercury in retrograde followed by the odd expletive were cropping up everywhere … well, mainly Twitter, but you get the gist. As a firm believer of creating our own luck, I took it with a pinch of salt.

But after one broken shower and a broken windscreen in the last couple of weeks, and I can definitely vouch for Mercury in retrograde being an absolute headache. I don’t think I’m the only one looking forward to normality to resume.

 

Things No One Tells You About Buying a House

Given that the last two weekends have been spent dealing with basic plumbing issues, it seems appropriate to speed write this, and bump it up on the scheduling priorities. Of course, the TL;DR is this: everything is more expensive than you think, things will go wrong, and everything is such a goddamn pain to fix.

Last week, John Lewis’ team had decided that the valve wasn’t working to install a washing machine, even though the valve is working perfectly fine, and this week, the valve in the shower caused the whole thing to leak constantly. At one point, I felt a bit like Rose from Titanic, but far less glamorous.

So, that’s where we’re at. A fully-functioning washing machine, but no shower. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

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You’ll be lucky to go on holiday in the first 12 months of purchasing a house… that is, if you want to decorate it, and need to furnish it too.

There’s something so wonderful about walking into *your* own space after work each evening, knowing that it’s yours. This is especially true after a long day.

Everything will break at the same time, and of course at the same time as your car MOT and insurance. This is what emergency funds are for, right?

You’ll constantly refer to the previous owner as the owner of the house, even though you’ve got that mortgage now, baby.

A basic course in plumbing isn’t essential, but desired.

You feel like you’re constantly apologising to your guests for not having a coffee table, a TV stand, or a side table yet. But, sofas cost how much?!

Talking of which, you’ll start treating furniture you bought with the utmost care in the world, too scared to get any marks on the sofa or the new side lamp. Because, sofas cost how much?!

Things no one tells you about living alone: how glorious it is to not have to speak to anyone. Seriously. It’s bliss.

It’s yours to do what you want. Enjoy your blank canvas, and turn your house into a home.

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The Highlight Reel | July 2017

How the hell are we at the end of July, already? After a turbulent June, I was ready to hit the ground running… quite literally. I finally plucked up the courage to don the trainers, and head out to discover my new neighbourhood. There’s a couple of A roads nearby, but I’m lucky enough to be on the side of the village that’s surrounded by vast greenery, and fields upon fields with a public footpath running along side it.

Here’s a few other things that have been tickling my pickle:

 

Operation “Back to Half-Marathon Pace”

That’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? But you get the gist. If I’m ever going to complete a marathon, I really need to up the fitness stakes. 2015 was my prime fitness wise (PB galore), but it’s now time to get back to that kind of running pace and become an even stronger runner. That brings me nicely onto…

The best money spent

Joining my local HIIT class is possibly the highlight of the month. I’m five sessions in – it’s a gruelling hour, and sometimes I feel like I’m going to throw up – my journey has only just started, but I can already notice a difference in my strength and mental wellbeing. Positivity is contagious!

Learning How to Be a Storyteller

At the beginning of the month, I started Laura Jane Williams’ Don’t Be a Writer, Be a Storyteller creative writing e-course … and what a joy it has been! Getting used to doing homework again has been a little odd, and sending it off for feedback is petrifying, but I really think I’ve grown into my writing just as children grow into hand-me-downs.

Sashaying Around in Maxi Skirts

I never thought maxi skirts were for me – I couldn’t find one that didn’t need altering in some way, and no girl has time for that. Plus, my usual out-of-work attire comprises of skinny jeans and feminine shorts (I like not having to think about whether I’m going to reveal the colour of my knickers to the world). That is until this Topshop number came into my life. And what do you know? It fits perfectly around the waist, and length-wise for little ol’ me.

Listening to Ludovico Einaudi

Does this even need an explanation? Ludovico Einaudi is my perfect accompaniment to writing, driving to work every day, and just about everything. This man is everything, he deserves all the heart-eyed emojis.

Current Mood: Ready to Conquer the World

Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?

I suppose that’s the only excuse I have for not writing as regularly as I should – or I feel I should. That’s a lie, I’m writing every week. Enrolling in writing summer school is probably one of my best decisions to date. Holding myself accountable, and experimenting with new concepts are just a few lessons I’ve learnt in the last four weeks … not forgetting how daunting it is to share my work with a published author every week!

Behind the scenes, I’ve also been working on a small project that’s currently buried somewhere in between my budget spreadsheet and CV in my Google Drive. I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world once it’s finished, and I’ve found the perfect platform to make it happen. It’s going to take a lot more work than I imagined but isn’t that the same with most things in life? ETA: the end of this year.

What else? I’ve finally found a fitness routine that works for me – it incorporates variety, strength training, and actual classes so I don’t feel like I’m constantly going at it alone. (As much as I love running, no one tells you how lonely it can be when you’re five miles in, and there’s no one to cheer you on your way).

All in all, I’m feeling really inspired as of late. World, I’m coming for you.