Perpetuum Mobile

Friday, 4 August 2017

If you read my last post, then poor you. Poor me, too. There's nothing sadder than a whole heap of wallowing self-pity. Thankfully, it was seemingly a blip and so, panic over. I'm 30 now and I feel pretty alright; mostly just bumbling around in awe of how I didn't self-implode in the lead up. However, numbers may change but some things remain the same, and anxiety reigns supreme in it's own little haphazard way. How is it August already? Where is the summer; why is it raining all of the time? (Oh Manchester, I do love you so, but you have got to sort your weather out.) What is my life and my place in the world? Why haven't I figured everything out yet?

Newsflash! It's okay to not have it all figured out yet. I'm here already and I'm waving, not drowning. So instead of focusing on what I haven't achieved (which my brain reads as FAILURE!) I'm going to focus on what I have achieved, and what I can possibly hope to achieve in the upcoming year.

Stuff to already be proud of:

01. My new-fangled money saving mentality. This sounds ridiculous but it has taken pretty much all of my adult life to become somewhat good with money. After years of payday pandemonium, which began to settle and slow down once I was past the flighty-nature of my mid-twenties It was only when I turned 29 and had to pay for car insurance, estate agent fees and an unexpected month's rent for an entire apartment, thus having to live on bread and oil for the rest of the month, (Note to my parents: this was an utter exaggeration) that I decided enough was enough and I had to completely re-jig the way that I looked at money. ....

02. My fantastic relationship with my parents. Alert, alert: you are about to be inundated with a whole lot of clichés. Otherwise known as Ma and Pa, my parents are more than absolute rocks: they are an island. Sure we've had our ups and downs over the years, as I'm sure every son and daughter of every age all across the world have done themselves. But as a trio we are more than aware of life complexities and know that most of life's trials and tribulations, however harsh they may seem at the time, are always just a drop in the ocean. It's taken me years and I wish I had matured sooner, but now that I am a Real Adult™ my relationship with my parents is at it's finest. They are more than just ancestors - they are true friends and there's pretty much nothing that I can't run by them or talk in-depth about, anymore. Considering I was the most rebellious teenager, and that most of my big life decisions have just been history repeating itself, to be able to hear my parents tell me how proud of me they are is jelly-knee-inducing. And to be able to have this relationship with them at all; I am very blessed indeed.

03. My assertiveness & ability to say no. In the past couple of years, I've slowly but surely learned that it's okay to take time for yourself, and to not be on-the-go all the time and that, while it's fun to say yes to everything, it's not the be-all-and-end-all to miss out on some of that fun here and there. In fact, there's nothing quite like sitting back and relaxing in your pyjamas in front of a good TV series, after a long hard day at work, in place of the pub. So basic, but always worth reinforcing.

What I hope to be proud of a year from now:

01. Read 20 books. I'll start with a little story that says it all. 2015 was my best reading year yet, if you picture it from only the summary. When you delve deeper into the analysis you will see that, out of a total of 18 books, half of those were read in the month of November, during time well spent on South Asian bus networks and beaches. In 2016, I read just three. Abysmal, entirely abysmal. What I find with reading is that it's just as easy to not find the time for reading, as it is to make time for reading. There's a few pages to be had in a 20 minute break, or that hour winding down before you drift off to sleep, book upon face. So I just need to attack this one with vigour, otherwise known as 'just getting on with it'. I ummed and ahhed over a number before I finally hit publish on this post but I knew I wanted it to be a greater amount than it ever has been, and with 18 currently topping the charts, I think 20 is a nice round number to bestow upon my 30th year.

02. Positivity in fitness and healthy living. You know, it's true what they say about your twenties in terms of body image - that you waste all your time worrying about what people think about your physical self. They also say that turning 30 changes everything, and I am here to quash that statement. I can honestly say exactly when I truly stopped caring what people thought about me: I was 28 and travelling solo for the first time in my life, all around South East Asia. For the first time in my life I didn't have to answer to anybody or be influenced into making decisions for myself by anybody else, and over 6,000 miles away from home I sure as hell wasn't surrounded by the people who had stuffed me full of self-doubt. It was also constantly pushing 35 degrees, and so I was fairly relaxed with the amount of clothing that I had on (when it was suitable to do so, of course). I don't think I was fully prepared for how mentally at-peace I would feel for the first time in forever and suddenly, I didn't care what anybody thought about my body. Because, suddenly, I realised something: that nobody was looking anyway, because nobody cared; because everybody else were probably too busy dealing with their own hang-ups to give me a second thought.
Mind. Blowing. I know. But it's so freeing, that awareness, when it finally hits you. And I am here to say that it doesn't hit you the minute you turn 30. It may take a little longer and that's okay... but it also may come sooner, which is fabulous. Just make sure you embrace it, and keep embracing it. My health journey is far from over: I have more hiccups than I care to remember, and that's just the stuff that I am directly responsible for. There's other stuff underlying, deep beneath that shiny new thick skin of mine, that needs professional dealing with sooner or later. There isn't even a proper plan in mind. But as vague notions go, I would say that this is a pretty good one to have. Just the knowledge that your mind, body and soul are all linked with what you choose to fuel it with is enough, and there is no need to put a label on anything. Also, good fuel input equals great energy output and I look forward to rinsing that energy to the max. More hiking, more cycling and getting back into running are all high on my list.

03. Make a step change, workwise. I am not saying that I want to change my job; but my role? Definitely. One cannot be an admin assistant forever. I know that I am meant for bigger and better things. Fueling my ever-growing ambition is the reassurance that the company I work for are willing to put a set amount of money towards training for each and every employee, as long as it will help themselves to grow within their job title. I am firm in the belief that some form of marketing would aid any role, and so it's part of a wider action plan that I am currently trying to settle on the most perfect Digital Marketing course for me. Will be handy for keeping the ol' brain cells alive too!

04. Complete the first draft of a novel. Something I endeavour to go into detail with at a later date, but I have been in the process of writing a novel for the past two years. Process is a very loose term, as progress hasn't exactly been booming. It's another one of those things that really took off when I had a lot of free time travelling in Asia, but has fallen by the wayside in the last year. Another of those things that I simply need to make the time for, no excuses.

05. Travel more. This is a very broad topic but I feel like it encapsulates so much more than just booking a bunch of flights to claim kudos-laden stamps in my passport. It's also about making the most of the country that I live in - that is the United Kingdom, just in case anybody was unsure - by way of daytrips, night drives, city-visits and Hooligan Hikes. If you're wondering what a Hooligan Hike is, fear not - it doesn't involve anything that would make the National Trust recoil in horror! Just see it as a rowdy group hike involving singalongs, way too many Instagram stops, a little alcohol and a lot of fun. I mean if the Hooligan part doesn't appeal to anybody, then general hiking will suffice, but then again, what's a hike without a random skinny dip at the end of it?

06. Invest more time in friendships & reconnect with people. It's hard not to hold yourself personally responsible for the dwindling of friendships in this journey called Life. However, we are all as equally culpable just as it seems to be one of those things. You spend a large deal of your mid-twenties ravaged with panic that so-and-so hasn't spoken to you for two days and perpetually wondering if you have said or done anything wrong. Another newsflash - you haven't. What happens is, you grow a little bit older and, much like how you shed the belief that everybody is staring at your stomach rolls, (recap: nobody CBA, okay?) you also shake off the false suspicions that all of your friends hate you. They don't have time to; they are only trying to get through their similarly obstacle-filled life just the same as you are. All I can say is, be available for them when they need you, and they will never let you down. Some of my best friendships are punctuated by several weeks of silent running and that's entirely okay. It's easy to pick up where we left off or begin an entirely new stream of conversation flow, and there's never any awkwardness because there isn't any expectation. Whoo, I think I've waxed lyrical about this point enough now!
That being said, while I am comfortable in the knowledge that all of my current friendships are weighted with quality, there are a few people who have touched upon my life in a variety of manners that I would love to reconnect with and strengthen the bonds between us. These include Gwen and Vicky, who I have known for about ten years and have both had babies since the last time I saw them, as well as my beautiful bridesmaid buddy Kerry who is actually my best friend's best friend and I would love to bond with more, and Grace, who I cannot describe more actually than "she is my sorta-soulmate" and it's plain silly that we have not made more happen. There are also new and growing friendships that I intend to strengthen, like Lauren and my current housemates.

07. Save XX amount of ££. I guess this completely tallies with what I have bigged-up above. It's going to be hard - I'm trying to have more of a life for the rest of this year and that involves plans and spends, naturally. But I'm completely determined to meet what I think is a realistic target of £2,500 saved by the end of the year.

08. De-clutter my life/not own so much stuff. This is a Ronseal job, really. I am not utterly obsessed with having that elusive capsule wardrobe anymore, but at the same time I am not totally over it either. What I have hopefully found is a rare middle ground where I am organised and tidy and able to keep my wayward ways under wrap, but also where I am not afraid to satiate my magpie-eye from time to time.

09. Deal with my anxiety. Probably another something to go more in-detail about in the future but I feel like one of the pivotal points of this year gone past is just the understanding that yes, anxiety is something that I am actively dealing with. Just the realisation of that alone is an awfully big step and I know fully well that it will take time to understand more about why this is a part of my life, and how to handle it when it rears it's ugly head.

10. Visit Bee, Nick and Buttercup in Los Angeles. It's laughable; absurd; completely outrageous that my best girl and brain-twin, as well as her husband and pup, have lived in California for almost two years and I still am yet to make a visit to the place that they now call home. Outrageous! Nothing is set in stone but I know for a fact that this is likely to be one of the last tasks I can cross off of this list with certainty, as I hope to finally make that visit at the end of June next year. Obviously saving the best for last, aren't I?

11. Keep an ongoing record! Trust me, I don't need anybody to tell me that I am absolutely horrendous at sticking to anything. But until the clock strikes midnight on my 31st birthday next July, I am adamant that I will be able to look back on the year gone by in at least one fashion. Any of which are yet to be determined, by the way. However, I have a little notion lingering on the edge of my brain telling myself that I will try to blog once a week. And I really will try; it doesn't sound so impossible really, does it?

I will leave you with a song that signifies exactly what I wish to be: perpetually in motion. Always trying to achieve the best version of me. Never giving up; not even trying to. It fills me with hope and strength and ignites a fire in my to fulfill my dreams, big and small. And I think that you should listen to it too.

Could always do better

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

You know the routine. You feel a bit crap, you go through the motions, you begin to pick yourself up again and not only pledge to do better, but list in intricate detail every which way you are going to make this 'better' happen. You're a writer and with that comes avid list-making. So you open up your rusty blog, intrepidly excited at tapping out those black and white letters that should ultimately make these little life changes official.

Except your silly little cycle is interrupted with some painful realisations and a lot of cold, hard evidence. You haven't blogged in nine whole months; your last blog post was exactly the kind of declaration that you were hoping to make today and, as your eyes travel down that fateful list, you swallow whole every possibility that you hoped to achieve. Nine months and you have nothing to show for it. Well, guys, that's me all over in five short points:

Never did my vegan month.
   Didn't buy that Garmin.
     NaNoWriMo was more like NaNoWriNo.
       This is still the first time that I've written since that all-promising blog in October.
         And the biggie: I turn 30 in less than a week - and my '30 Before 30' list is less than half complete.

And *wham*, there comes the overwhelming feeling of abhorrence. There's no two ways about it. I feel like a total failure and I have let myself down to the max, because I doubtlessly know that I could do better. I could always do better - five little words that I have plucked from somewhere unknown, held close to my heart and lived my life with. At any other time, they would have been the positive driving force behind every one of my pledges and actions. But somewhere along the way, they seem to have fallen off the vehicle that is my life.

I've always dreamed big, but I am starting to realise that the certainty of my own ability is riddled with self-doubt. Already that is such a huge admission, that the prospect of going further from this point is dizzying. While I've always been independent and a boss-lady of my own life, I feel that I am beginning to regress ever so slightly: a smidgen of hand-holding seasoned with a little bit of opening up. I flit between feeling desperate to sell all my belongings and indulge a nomadic lifestyle, tied to absolutely nothing, and wanting to spend more and more time sleeping in my childhood bedroom. I'm not sure at which point I will stop, or settle. This is only just a small part of the never-ending fluttering of my thoughts - leapfrogging wildly until they hit stormy waters, a wee pause to ponder how to navigate further taking the well-trodden stepping stones back to shore, and repeat, and repeat.

And one thing I know for certain, is that I am not alone in this sentiment.

So no, this is not the most happy post that I have ever written, and it's perhaps a stark contrast to every other blog out there, but if there's one underlying theme it doesn't lack, it's positivity. An eagerness, not for a better life, but for an improved lifestyle. And that perhaps the most that I can promise right now is baby steps and hand-holding. But that's okay, isn't it? After all, it doesn't matter what journey we take to reach our destination, as long as we get there in the end.

And one thing's for sure - I am a pro at working things out along the way. So, we'll see how it goes.

Better November

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

In seemingly a common concept, I've had a bit of a weird summer. The kind that is built up like shaking a fizzy drinks bottle and letting somebody unwittingly open it; the spillage so vast and messy that it's kind of infected parts of my autumn too. Although I think the notion of autumn gets lost on Manchester, going from shorts and barbecues to Big Coat Weather pretty much overnight, which saddens my October-loving soul. Today is the first day I've resigned to digging out the aforementioned big coat, and I've expressed profusely about the temperature in dismay to just about everybody who greets me this morning. So typically British, I know. "It's only October!" I end every statement with, which is only so shocking to me because I am completely and utterly head over heels with October and it seems to have zipped past me in the blink of an eye.

Some people talk about firsts of the months or Mondays or New Year's Day with a focus and a fondness, as if this magical day that starts off a given period of time holds the golden key to beginning or stopping something, or changing something deep in your life. Thoughts like this bother me to the point of cynical laughter - surely there's no time like the present, and if you want to wait until Monday to make that adjustment, you're not ready at all? That being said, I always feel like it is time to refresh myself in October. The autumn to me is what spring is to other people: I yearn to deep clean and minimalise my life, change my wardrobe entirely, actually make an effort at being presentable for work, dedicate myself to the gym and better eating, read books, write my little heart out, make plenty of plans centered around all those autumnal events like Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes Night. I also like hibernating and procrastinating with Netflix boxsets, eating a twin-pack of sticky toffee puddings as I do, and sending unwanted scarves to the charity shop whilst buying double the amount more. We're all only human, right?

But I had a bit of a freak-out the other day, which set me off like a trail of dominoes. I accidentally ate chicken.

I love my job to the highest degree and I think it loves me too. but if there is anything I need to remind my team on the daily, it's that 1) my name is not Katie, and 2) I am vegetarian. I have been since the clock struck midnight and 2016 was underway, and for the most part - as in 98-99% of the time - I have stuck to my vegetarianism like glue. I'm reasonable though and I see it as a gradual thing; there have been a couple of times that I have eaten fish, but literally only a couple. And I have been known to accept a meal that has clearly been cooked within meat or poultry juices just to be polite. Sometimes, I'll even pick meat off of pizza. I clearly know that really, when it boils down to it, all of this means that I'm probably not a vegetarian at all. But I also think that it's not only hard for me to make that transition; it's the people around me too. Which is why, for now, I will always accept a meatified meal and just pick out and give somebody else the offending produce. I hate being fussy and I hate waste even more.

At work last week, at the beginning of the end of a long day of meetings, I was handed a gorgeously steaming slice of pizza by a colleague whilst I operated a PowerPoint presentation with one hand. Multitasking at its finest. I leaned over and asked, "Is this veggie?" to which they whispered back, "Yes." I trusted it and I took a bite. And after two or three more, I realised that it was in fact not veggie at all. I made eyes with a colleague across the room, whose own pair widened in horror in return and they immediately came over and swapped my half eaten slice for two actual real-life slices of vegetarian pizza. But after that, I could not eat. I didn't want to. I felt a bit sick, actually. And it was the first time in ten months that I had felt so adverse to meat, that I suddenly realised that I had changed somewhere along the way.

I went home in a bit of a frustrated heap and kept myself up until 2am watching YouTube videos about veganism and documentaries on the processing of animal produce and researched how I could turn my make-up bag completely cruelty-free, inexpensively (answer: it's difficult, but doable). Exhausted, I crashed into the land of nod and fully expected to wake up forgetting of that insatiable itch to change. Except I didn't. Granted, I may not have jumped out of bed and screamed, "VEGANISM YEAAAAH!" but I did wake up aching to make all these little adjustments to try and have a more positive introduction to winter.

So this is how it goes:

• From 26th October until 25th November, I am going vegan. I've time-limited this one. Purely because, I don't realistically think I could keep this up beyond a month, nor would I want to at this point in my life. I love cake and cheese too much, plus the Christmas Markets are coming to Manchester and I want to have a flat-out day of dairy-licious merry-making. But it's for more reasons than just my one-off, chicken-licking freak-out. My skin is terrible, and I want to cram in as many extra fruits and veggies as possible to give it a helping hand. I also seem to be sapped of energy at this moment in time and I think the lack of dairy for a little while will help give me a boost, which is oh-so important to me as I really want to get back to the gym in full. And also, you never know, there may be something in all that I omit from my diet for that month that cause my migraines. So it's a bit of an experiment really. I'll be sure to document it.

• As soon as I get paid in November, I'm buying myself a Garmin and running like the clappers. I have an end-goal in mind but I don't want to utter it just yet, for fear of a curse or heaping too much expectation on myself at such early days. I know running is something that I can do on the gym but I absolutely detest being confined to a treadmill and also, it's not representative of real-life running on the road either. I always find that with running outdoors I am way more focused and stronger and able to distract myself from wanting to stop and walk every three minutes, coaxing myself along to the next lamppost, and then the next, and then the next... I had a bit of a plough through my old Fetcheveryone account from years back and surprisingly reminded myself that I was frequently pacing between 9:45 and 10:15-minute miles. And I recall how disappointed with myself I was at the time, because all I ever wanted to do was go faster but I just couldn't push myself. Now, I scoff and wonder if I can get that speedy ever again. I know I can, I just need patience and a strong will to succeed. It all starts with one run.

• For the very first time, I am going to take part in NaNoWriMo. Otherwise known as 'National Novel Writing Month', NaNoWriMo is an online challenge whereupon amateur writers try to hit a total of 50,000 words in the month of November, or 1,667 words a day. The key to NaNoWriMo is writing every day, and I have needed this kick up the backside for a long time. Basically last year whilst I was travelling in South East Asia - in November, funnily enough - I started writing what had been an idea for a novel in my head for a very long time. One day, on a particularly long and brain-numbing bus journey through Thailand, I started jotting down all these little chunks of dialect and description that I had floating around at random, and turned it into prose. I managed to write 10,000 words of this story but while I had vowed to keep it up when I returned to the UK, when the reality of home occurred, life got in the way. And since then it has just sat there, gathering cobwebs, with not a single word added to it since then. In November, I'm dusting off that Word document and getting my writer head back on - with hopefully 50,000 extra words to show for it at the end of the month.

• I'm going to try my hardest to blog as much as I can. No promises, because you know what I'm like, and I know what I'm like. But I would like to think with this daily routine of writing that I may want to brain-dump here from time to time. So hopefully there will be a much more frequently updated blog not just in November, but as a continual thing. I think sometimes we adults grow out of our need to constantly document things but there are times that I want to blog to keep those memories fresh. And plenty has happened within the last year that I would STILL love to get written down: the rest of my SE Asia trip, for example, or the week I spent in Morocco, or why I would thoroughly recommend working for a charity, just to name a few. It would nice to have that distraction from fictional writing sometimes. So I'm going to work on that.

There are other mini-goals that I am working on too, such as sorting out my wardrobe and selling it off on eBay, and beginning to attend gym classes, and being a good daughter and actually phoning my Mum once a week; but these are the biggies. These are what I feel I need to do to get myself back on track and give myself the best possible chance of carving that path to get back to fully being me again. I have this autumn-born determination in me so, for once, I have faith that I can plough through this with a beaming smile on my face. Just wish me luck and think of me; after all, you all know how much I love both cheese and hibernating.

The ignition of restless wanderlove

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Three years ago today, I embarked on the trip that changed my outlook on everything.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I hadn't been anywhere already. After all, in my 26 years up until that point, I had seen more of the world than my parents had in their lifetime combined. I had done much of Europe - beginners skiing in the Alps in Austria, wild parties in Mallorca, sunset spying in Santorini and Ibiza, and citybreaking in various capitals across the continent. But I'd never travelled across the Atlantic, unless you count a dazzling Disney World trip when I was five years old - which I don't, because as badly as I want to remember it, the only memories I can pull up of Florida are of the balmy rain and the magnificent firework show of a night at the Epcot centre. And I had certainly never ventured alone, yet.

But on the 31st August 2013, everything changed. I had fidgeted with excitement for months with the anticipation of what was to come. I spent the entire month ferociously pawing through guidebook after guidebook, building up a repertoire of what to expect from my next big adventure. I bought myself a brand new backpack - 33 litres in deep plum purple from my local shopping centre's badly-stocked Trespass - and proceeded to fill it frantically with all the wrong things. I was so unprepared, but so amazingly ready to put one foot in front of the other with nobody else in tow. Nobody else but eleven perfect strangers, that is. And when the last day of the month rolled around, I took myself off to Heathrow Airport with a hop and a skip and boarded a flight to Vancouver, Canada.

I had booked my trip with Trek America literally at the turn of midnight of the brand new year some months before, umm-ing and ahh-ing over the 'Confirm Booking' button before hitting it with a vengeance as Big Ben began to chime, like some dusty forgotten old cliché. It it without exaggeration that I credit this crazy whim, as it were at the time, as one of the best decisions I have ever made. Up until that point, I had never embarked on a travel solely for myself, always having to consider one or more people in tow. Parents, boyfriends, friends and future foes - they had all played a part in my postcards over space and time. But Canada was my thing. It almost felt like my baby, something that I could love and nurture and look after and I had grown it and even though it became a shared experience, it was mine and mine alone. Canada was the best thing that ever happened to me, even if I never considered it at the time.

canadaeh

There is a deeper appreciation to it now. The 31st August 2013 also happened to play host to the wedding of two of my oldest friends, which I never got to attend due to my wanderlusty ways. They knew; they understood. After all they had the vagabond bug within them too, having been to Vancouver not long before I had; having themselves become engaged while on a dreamy Pacific Coast Highway trip in California not two years before that. Their honeymoon carried them to far-flung islands in the Indian Ocean and they excitedly began to carve out a life together buying the house that they so wanted, planning whimsical bouts of globetrotting and to eventually bring brand new pretty faces into the world. Back then hashtags barely existed and there was no such saying as #relationshipgoals, but they certainly embodied it.

Fast forward three years later and much has changed; drastically and cruelly as it so often can be, and their story journeys on a different fork in the road to what everybody imagined. The groom was stolen away from this planet far too young. The bride keeps on walking that path and is indeed the strongest, most courageous person I have ever come to know. But all that inner strength that doesn't for one second justify having your every dream shattered, as it has been for her. How can you prepare yourself for the end of the world? You can't. You know it's happening, and you keep on walking.

Then suddenly, in the distance, there is a twinkling of sunlight. A new dawn, an awakening. A hard-hitting realisation that the notion of life is sweet, yet precious and fragile. But that thought alone is enough to rejuvenate any soul, even if the engine is shattered. For we are lucky to have the power and the motivation deep down within us. We are lucky to have access to so many personal goals if we work hard enough for them. We are lucky to ever know love and experience it so deeply, and we are lucky to have the world on our doorstep. We are lucky enough to have any life at all. But, we only have one life, and that is not luck but fact.

In crushing moments of self-doubt I remember my friend and all what he experienced, and all what he never got to. It drives me to not be so stagnant. It stops me from rooting myself to one spot forever, yet convinces me to make my mark wherever I am. It stops me from settling for second best, an pushes me to be a something somewhere with somebody someday. It might not be today or tomorrow, but it doesn't mean that you shouldn't enjoy each and every day like it's your last. What if it was? What would you look back on and be most proud of?

Canada. I credit much of what I am today to it. I was bold and therefore sold to a lifetime of wanting to explore every nook and cranny of this world. Every time I think it's time to stop, I find something that re-ignites that wanderlust - no, that wanderLOVE - even harder. Because wanderlust is not just about scratching out country outlines on a fancy map. It's about finding the real you. The best you. And that, my friends, is why my journey must continue. 'Til death do us part.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Let's begin at the beginning

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Oh, little blog. I forgot about you. I apologise profusely.

However it's not that I neglected to remember your existence, I just got a bit caught up. A tiny bit busy; swept away on a magic carpet ride. Which I guess is a metaphor for: I kind of got lost along the way.

The last six and a bit months have been all topsy-turvy. Not exactly a rollercoaster but definitely not plain sailing either. A myriad of celebrations and hardships, the biggest of which has been occurring recently. Now, you know me. I'm a dreamer; a wayward spirit with a sense of direction but no definite path. These aforementioned paths are many and plenty, stretching out before me in their hoards with no true way of knowing where they wind. I know they all lead to the same place, it's just the not knowing of where they'll take me along the way. And there's no certainty of which will be the easier route or what will take me to dark corners and beyond. It's a game of chance; a Russian Roulette with life as the gamble. But that's just life in general, isn't it?

I realise now, reading back to everything that I hoped to achieve at the beginning of this year, that I'm barely striking it at all. I ought to feel lazy or like a failure but truth is, I don't. Whether that's because I aimed too high like I always do or whether it's because I've mellowed out with age and know better than anybody that sometimes life just happens all by itself, I don't know. But I'm okay with it. I feel almost better with the uncertainty than I did with having a definite article - because sometimes, what we're familiar and comfortable with isn't always the best for us at all. When you're 22 or 23, this freaks you the fuck out. But when you're on the cusp of 29 - that final fling of a year before you hit the next crucial decade - suddenly it doesn't seem so bad after all.

I've made Big Life Changes. There's no tl;dr version of this. That's all you need to know.

What you do need to know - and indeed what I have to tell myself as a priority - is that I'm striving to be better for the sake my own damn self. The gym thing, it didn't happen at the beginning of the year like I promised it would. In fact, it only became a main player in my life this last week just gone and while I've faced interruptions with stupid broken migraine brain drain sickness, the feeling of tighter muscles in my tummy through fierceness and not fear asserts that this is going to become a stayer in my life. The thing with fitness is, it can be hard to drag yourself out of your pit every day and dedicate yourself to the cause. But soon, after you've pushed yourself and broken barriers, however banal they are, the gloriousness of endorphins and adrenaline kick in. You feel powerful. A good friend told me that the first month is always the hardest; you question why the hell you're putting yourself through this. But after that, you need it - even when you don't realise that you do. And a wise man once said it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. This is a habit I dearly want to make. Because it's not just about the body, it's about the mind too.

Back in May, I changed jobs. I guess that was a big one for piece of mind's sake. There are some things I miss about the coffee shop life though, as it differs greatly to an office environment. The social aspect is perhaps the biggest one for me - getting to know new people, building conversations and relationships with the ones you already know, even the being on your feet all day and having to plan with a moment's notice and very little information at all. Some of these things are transferrable to an office job, especially the last two points with the company I work for. I've become even more used to just going with the flow, taking all the changes with a pinch of salt and just getting on with it. The first month here was hard, I'm not going to lie. For days at a time I didn't know whether I was coming or going, and I went from having zero workload at all in the first week to furiously working at 100mph like an octopus without an instruction manual. By the fourth week though, I got into the swing of things. I moved from a dingy office all on my own and out onto the floor with the rest of the department. I began to make connections; those important first forays into establishing working relationships. I got more confident on the phone and again within myself to take a task in my own unique direction. So far, it appears to be going down a treat. They say that office jobs make you feel like you're in a cage but I actually feel quite liberated.

Writing, perhaps my dearest love (along with travel but we'll get onto that in a minute), has unfortunately taken a bit of a backseat. Timing is always an issue - time that I never seem to find or have enough of. I'm exploding with ideas but have nowhere to put them. No, that's a lie. I have many different avenues to adoringly and furiously write myself into, but it's inexplainable what holds me back. Confidence? Wanting to feel adequate? That stupid perfectionist streak in me, the one that doesn't feel up to the task unless I know I can offer it 110%? I'll never be sure. What I do know is that it's time to stop fucking around and procrastinating, and just give it my all. The songs I want to write, the journalistic articles that may never even see the light of day, that novel that I have a thousand and one scenes playing out in my head twenty-four-seven, even this blog. It's a pleasant form of escapism that needs to be revealed.

At the end of last year, I embarked and rolled off of the trip of my lifetime in just five short weeks. It was the first time I'd ever experienced true solo travel without the security of a group or even a concrete itinerary. I just went with the flow, seeing where each day took me, sometimes even changing my routes or destinations at a moment's notice. It drove my parents crazy and it drove me crazy too, yet in completely different ways. I was totally in my element and those furtive little feelings I had about being over and done with it all was the biggest lie I could have ever told myself. I will always want to see the world and there will always be corners to explore. I still dearly want to do 30 countries by the time I am 30, which means I have five flags to collect in the next year and two days. It's not impossible, or at least it shouldn't feel like it is.

So what now? After blabbing about a majority of the last six months in one little text box, what do I envision for the next six and a bit? I can't say. I'd love to tell you what my plans are or what may occur but truth be told, I have absolutely no bloody idea at all. And you know what? I kind of like it that way. It's redeeming. It's not aimless to have no expectations, oh no. In fact, isn't it just the total opposite? For expecting nothing means that everything else is an unconditional bonus. And when you feel like you're on the floor, well, every little magical perk counts.

It should go without saying. But I'm going to say it anyway. Because that's what I'm here to do.