Posts tagged ‘life’

February 2, 2014

Photo of my week #3

This week has been all about planning. I’ve made blogging plans, travel plans, business plans, life plans.

Here’s to a week of putting those plans into action…

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May 21, 2012

One Night Away.

Occasionally I have to travel with my job and stay overnight in a hotel. Never fancy (and rightly so, I’m not on holiday!) the hotels are always clean, safe, centrally located and very, very anonymous. The kind of hotel where you could be anywhere. This anonymity extends to the bedrooms, which have usually got very little to tell you where in the country you are and instead focus your attention on the giant bed, small kettle and free wifi.

And I love it.

My own life is chaotic, filled with people, meetings, events, obligations, projects and people. I barely know what I’m doing from one day to the next. My house reflects that too. It’s really small and filled to the rafters with stuff. I’m often on the hunt for something that I put somewhere ‘really safe’ that has immediately gone missing and the clutter makes it an absolute haven for dust, which I never feel in the mood to deal with. As I sit here, in my bed, I can see a giant pile of laundry, a gift that needs wrapping, a stack of old magazines that I need to recycle, a pile of boxed chocolate eggs left over from Easter, a discarded trail of toys and my husband’s new road bike, which has been leaning against our bedroom wall since it arrived because he’s been waiting for cleats. I’m sure you can begin to see why that anonymous hotel room looks like a blessed retreat.

But for one night every few months, I get to stay in complete calm with only a handful of routinely organised possessions. Clothes on hangers, toiletries lined up as though a row of soldiers in the bathroom, and a book by my bed. Nothing else. It is heaven, even though either side of this hotel stay will have been back-to-back meetings; the reason I’m away in the first place. (As an aside, packing to go away overnight always makes me feel like Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. Remember, she had that skull-print vanity case? I love that film…)

Coming home, I almost feel refreshed, yet there is nothing like staying in a hotel to make me see my own house in a new light. It is small and cluttered. We do need to do some work to it, and I really, really need to deal with my magazine buying habit, because there are  high-rise piles of them all over the place, like some kind of paper city.

However, the main reason our house is cluttered is also the main reason I could never stay in a hotel for more than one night at a time. My children. They have a lot of stuff. From the contents of Christmas crackers to the free gifts on the covers of Cbeebies magazine, my daughter has amassed a remarkable assortment of small plastic bits of rubbish and my son is intent on filling the house with Thomas the Tank Engine toys. Not to mention the amounts of laundry they generate, food they drop everywhere and the art gallery’s worth of paintings adorning the kitchen wall. They’re a pair of professional mess-makers!

When I came home from work yesterday after my overnight stay away, my lovely son ran up to me in his t-shirt and pants (we’re potty training) and one sock, shouting ‘Mummy!’ and gave me a giant cuddle. After which he demanded ice cream and wandered off to play. At bed time, my wonderful daughter and I spent a long time talking about ‘nice things’ while I stroked her hair, before she went off to sleep.

I think perhaps I like the occasional hotel stay precisely because it is so different to my usual life. It offers a glimpse into what life might be like if I’d made different choices, reined in some of my own clutter creating tendencies, or not had my children. I get to lie on the bed and not see lot of stuff littering the room, or even go to the bathroom without someone hammering on the door! Not that I’m saying I’d be decorating my home like a hotel chain, but it is a more simplistic and organised feeling. But the truth is, that after one night of it, I would be bored. I’d miss my family too much and I’d miss my clutter!

Some of the clutter exists because of our projects, plans, hopes and dreams. It’s not all just old supermarket receipts and things that haven’t quite made it to the bin. Some of it is more important. It’s paintings the children did that will be framed and put on the wall. It’s travel brochures for places I long to visit. It’s my husband’s new bike that he will ride every Sunday morning, for his own version of freedom. It is our life.

A hotel room may be calm and tidy. But it is not a home…

March 2, 2012

Life: The Bucket List

There is a danger that this post is going to disintegrate into one long cliché. I want you to know now, right at the start, that if it does, it is not merely through laziness or an inability to form an opinion. It is because clichés are rolled out all the time because they are true. Often there is just no better way of putting it.

Here’s one: Life is Short.  Although we all plan to be around a really long time, we just never know what might happen; what tomorrow might bring. Recent events have made this painfully clear. I lost a friend recently. Not a hugely close friend, but someone who always arrived with a smile. Someone I was always pleased to see and who had shared one of my happiest days, my wedding day, with me. The funeral was yesterday. I was saddened most of all to finally meet her son, of whom she was so very, very proud, on one of the worst days of his life.

One of the things that I always loved and admired about my friend was the way in which she threw herself into her life with such commitment, passion, dedication. In work and in play, she followed her dreams and ambitions, completing a degree whilst working and raising her son. Learning to dance and dancing all around the world.

I have a Bucket List. We all do, don’t we? Written down or in our heads, it’s the thing to have. I wrote mine down years ago. Every so often I get it out of the drawer in which it sits, take a look at it, confirm that yes, these are the things I want to do before I die. Then I carefully put it back in the drawer again. Then…nothing. I do nothing about it. Nothing to move forward on any of my plans, my big dreams. I know that some of them are not possible for the moment. I cannot imagine taking the kids on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Mongolia so I can say in a ger and see Prezwalski’s Horse in the wild. But not everything on the list is so difficult.

Doing my 35:35 Challenge and completing several smaller challenges, has begun to change my mind-set into one of doing and less of thinking and (if I’m really honest) of making excuses and procrastinating. Now I need to take that approach with the bigger things I want to do. Learn to say ‘yes’ more often instead of ‘no’. Learn to be creative, to find ways of doing what I want and dream of doing, whilst at the same time keeping my lovely family happy too. Being a scanner means having such a giant list of things that I want to achieve that it becomes all too easy to freeze with indecision because you really don’t know where to start and get worried that by taking one course of action, you immediately close off another. This doesn’t have to be the case. Movement is good.

I’m going to take my Bucket List out of the drawer and to look at each thing on it. Then I’m going to work out whether it’s something that I can do now, or something that will need to happen later. For the ones that feel more achievable now, I am going to take the first step on each. Lesley Garner once wrote a brilliant article called ‘Stepping Stones’ in which she describes how we can get anywhere and do anything with stepping stones. I think that the Impossible League feels the same. Take your first step towards the impossible and then the second…

So, my message to you is this. Life is Short. Please make sure you live it the way you really want to. Take that first step to achieving your dreams. Follow what really makes you happy, not what you think should make you happy. Because you really, really never know what tomorrow might bring.