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2013: The halfway point

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“Success  consists of going from failure to failure without loss of  enthusiasm.”
Winston  Churchill

The story so far….

  • 9 Bucket list items (at least 1 more planned)
  • 5 weekends at home
  • 23 weekends away
  • 5 countries visited
  • 2 continents visited

‘Can you believe we’re over halfway through the year?’ ‘I know!! How did that happen?!’ seems to be a conversation I’m hearing a lot recently. I still can’t quite grasp the concept of time and how it stretches and springs and never seems to pass in a uniform fashion, but having settled down to reflecting on the first half of 2013 it occurred to me that it may be the best year of my life so far… *touch wood I don’t jinx it!*

This time in 2012 I was heading back from Thailand wondering what on earth was going to happen next; having planned my great adventure for so long I struggled to think about option b when it didn’t work out, but I was determined to make the most of being home and to do all the things I’d previously not done. The plan was to generally live life in the here and now as much as possible, which meant making a new year’s resolution to say ‘yes’, acting first and thinking later and basically getting things done!

How’s that gone? Pretty well actually!

January was a bucket list whirlwind with visits to Hogwarts, Gallifrey and a myriad (I love that word) of other adventures. Since then I’ve attended birthday parties, hen do’s and weddings I’d otherwise have missed by being abroad. I’ve made new friends, called a new city home and taken holidays to places I’ve wanted to see for years; from world wonders to English houses and European capitals. I’ve caught up with travel buddies, revisited Glastonbury and landed a job I love in the area I want to gain experience in. I’ve climbed a mountain (several actually!), swum in a river and been on spontaneous weekends away. I’ve discovered British history with an American, stepped foot inside an Oxford college, photographed weddings, walked a mile to go on a single fairground ride for the hell of it and jumped on a plane to Switzerland simply to congratulate good friends on their engagement (and then subsequently for the wedding and baby shower too!).  For the first time in my life I’m financially stable (even contemplating (JUST contemplating) getting on the housing ladder) and everything just feels a bit, well, sorted!

I feel like fear of never topping last year, added to my new found love and respect for my home country and appreciation for friends and family has created a Katy who lives for the moment, seizes opportunities when they come along and is far more fun and fancy free as a result.

So, if you’re reading this I hope that maybe, just maybe you’re feeling a little bit inspired. Inspired to take risks, inspired to enjoy life. Not everything will go to plan, it didn’t for me, but there is opportunity in failure. Pick yourself up, lift that chin and move on; you never know what you’ll achieve once the dust settles unless you try!

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Bonfires, beach time and BBQ’s

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I was supposed to go to Bristol yesterday, but for one reason or another I didn’t go, meaning I was very much free when invited to the beach for a BBQ!

Top drawer – I haven’t laughed so much in ages! I forgot how much fun it is to be with people who don’t take life too seriously. No complications, no awkwardness, just good old fashioned family fun on a gorgeous beach with a roaring campfire, BBQ food and marshmallows. Bliss!

Not cricket – my lovely friend gave me some leggings as she never wears them and all mine seem to have gone missing. After kneeling on an ember they lasted precisely one outing…melted!! Oops!!!

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A truly coasterous day

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I’m quite ashamed of my worst part today. I was rude. Regardless of someone’s behaviour to you rudeness is not acceptable. You should rise above it, strive to be the better person. This is especially true today because despite the way it was put, the intentions of this communication were good. As Elsie De Wolfe said, ‘Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you’. Definite fail.

But after that rocky start, my day was so much fun! It was N2’s last day of primary school EVER so Big Sis arranged to take him and his class to see the new Ice Age film followed by a slap up meal, leaving N3 and I to entertain ourselves; which we did! As it miraculously wasn’t raining we headed to the beach for a few hours of climbing dunes, chasing waves and drawing sand pictures, followed by a trip to the park where there were forts to conquer and slides to, well, slide down! N3 was a bit scared of one of the big slides, so I sat on the wood next to him and we slid down together. He came off gigging while I ripped my leggings and am pretty sure gained a few splinters in the back of my leg! All in the name of Aunthood though, we had a real laugh. Arriving at home sandy and soaking after jumping in puddles. This evening the pair of us cuddled up on the sofa with MacDonalds to watch Rio, which I recommend if you haven’t seen it. All in all it was a really fun day…minus the splinters!

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Independence

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One of these days I’ll remember that the number of blogs correlate directly to the date and won’t have to count them all to realise which blog I’m on. Duh Kathryn!!

So, independence (not independance as I’ve been spelling it, oops!), apparently this has always been a word to describe me. My parents say that even as a kid I knew what I wanted and would often try to achieve it alone before asking for help. I’ve always acted old for my age, wise beyond my years etc. In some families such a child would be labelled precocious, in my family I was just called Gran!

As an adult, independence manifests itself in a whole host of ways, some of them good, some bad, I’m still not sure when all is said and done which would outweigh the other. The good sides, perhaps would include the desire to try, you want to make it on your own, to prove you can do it, whatever ‘it’ is. I think there are far too many people willing to give up without trying these days, who won’t give something 50% let alone 100%. Another positive though is knowing yourself, when you haven’t been influenced by others and have learned your strengths and your limits by truly trying on your own then you’re far more likely to know when to cut and run and when something is worth the fight. You live, you learn.

On the flipside independence can be lonely, the desire to want to do things alone can lead you to alienate others, to keep them at arms length. I never really believed it when people said I wasn’t an affectionate person, not that huggy or whatever, but the more I think about it the more they have a point. It takes a very special person to be (I hate this phrase) ‘allowed in’. Mostly I don’t truly ‘know’ the people around me, I don’t ask enough questions and I don’t answer ones about myself. I won’t think anything of going weeks or months without speaking to people, even family and it takes a very special person to earn an ‘I miss you’. It’s not like I’ve been through a trauma which has made me this way, it’s just how I am. I’m sure if I were to be psychoanalysed then there would be some deeply embedded reasons, I’m almost sure I could guess one or two which would make the list. But regardless of the why’s, that’s me. There have been times I’ve regretted not taking more stock of my world, asked stupid questions which lead to funny answers, generally getting to know those I consider special. Often this happens when it’s completely too late, when I missed my chance and the person is gone. When I remember these times I try to make more effort, to contact friends, spend time with family, make more memories. Sometimes it’s rewarding, sometimes not. It’s a roll of the dice.

Most of the time though I focus on examples which just prove how completely not independent I am. Times when I have desperately needed people, friends, family, all those I hold dear. I think it is times of crises which bring out the real you. Sure for a time I might retreat, take stock of the situation and decide the best course of action but when push comes to shove if I decide I need help I’ll ask for it. How can you seek help if you’re alone? You can’t, so I must be dependent on some of you!

So, independence, I honestly couldn’t tell you whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing really, just that that’s how it is. Maybe now you’ll understand more about me, maybe this blog will make some of you realise just how important you must be. If I’ve told you I miss you, rung you ‘just because’ or ever sought your help then you’re in the inner sanctum my friend, a very elite club, congratulations. But whether you see it as a high or a low I have tried to offer a balanced view; the highs and lows of this part of me 🙂 make of it what you will!

Tomorrow is another day, the dailycoaster will continue. Till then, adieu.

Friday smiles! (14)

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Today’s smile is 150,000% dedicated to my family. They were off work and school enjoying the sun in the garden so when I got home last night I had a proper catch up with my mum, big sister and two youngest nephews. It’s been months since I’ve seen most of them and they’re just so silly! From N3 popping his head up and down like he was on a spring to hearing about N2’s homemade fishing rod and plans for my sisters wedding, it was a really good to just spend some time with them, allbeit from 8000 miles away.

‘Why aren’t youuuuu at school Teacher Katy??’ ‘Umm because it’s 10pm??’ ‘Ah…ok then!’

I have the best family ever, left me with a huge grin on my face!

Blogathon Day 48 – Come in (!) and know me better man!

Today Katy asked us to walk the path of Ebenezer Scrooge (from A Christmas Carol, if you don’t know that then FOR SHAME!) and visit the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future….here goes nothing!

Christmas Past – Maybe it’s the frame of mind I’m in, but the one Christmas standing out for me today is 2008. It was the last Christmas with my Grandad, and I’m really missing him today. I could use his advice. In 2009 I was living in Bristol, working at UWESU and also the Hippodrome as a Front of House Assistant, it was great fun, something I’d always wanted to do, but it meant I couldn’t get home for Christmas as early as I usually would. This was the year my sister and I went shopping on Christmas Eve (madness right?! Nope!! The shops were all empty and the sales had started, best Christmas shopping ever!), my grandparents came to stay and somehow everything just went right. There were no family fueds (a big deal I assure you), there was snow (!!) and therefore snowball fights and I just remember everything being, like Christmas should. Everyone seemed so happy, like something from a film, the perfect holiday season. We lost my Grandad in the February and family wise it’s all been a bit shit since. This is my fave photo of him, I feel like he’d just said something so cheeky, wish I could remember what it was…

 

Christmas Present – I have no idea, haven’t even worked out where I’m going to be or what I’m buying people. I feel so disorganised this year. 2011 has been an odd year, feel kind of adrift at the moment, though I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever I do and wherever I end up I’m going to try and really enjoy it, soak up the atmosphere and make as many good memories as possible. Two definites so far; our annual Christmas Eve dinner is moving out…we’re off to a restaurant rather than having the traditional supper at home. This means all usual tasks (i.e. I dress the table, my sister brings the pud etc) are out of the window, it’s going to be a year for all things new! Then on the 27th we’re all off to Gloucester to see the cousins. Julie, Andrew and Georgie throw a Christmas bash every year for around 30 members of family and friends. They have a HUGE table, cook masses of food (we bring the cheese and crackers, bet Katy would love that!) and then we all play pictionary on a white board, who’s in the bag and in 2009 a real life version of Chairs. Great fun!

Christmas Future – Before I start, why is this ghost…nevermind, just realised the answer to my own question! In A Christmas Carol, and A Muppets Christmas Carol the ghost of Christmas Future is always the scariest….why? Is it perhaps fear of the unknown? Nope, it’s because Scrooge, being a miser, has nothing to look forward to. In my head my ghost of Christmas Future is far more jolly. Something like this chappy…

Christmas Future, now there’s an exciting thought, where will I beeee? Who will I be with? What will I be doing? Who knows! I am quite looking forward to having a Christmas for myself though. I love my family, but me being me I end up feeling guilty that I am with Mum rather than Dad, or that Nan is on her own, but then when Dad and I went to Nans in 2009 I just wanted to be having my normal Christmas…which then made me feel bad about being selfish.  Guuuuilt trips everywhere. Nothing you can do about it, tis just the way my head works. At the same time though, Christmas is a time for family right? Without traditions, is it still Christmas, really? I have no idea, but I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Blogathon Day 31 – Tra la la la la, la la, la la!

For those who know me, try not to faint; I’m about to discuss Christmas, despite it definitely not being December. Fiona wants to hear about our family traditions, what’s a girl to do?

Christmas (Peg I hope you know how hard it is to even write that, I usually call it ‘Mid December’ at least until I have my advent calendar!) for my family always arrives after mums birthday (technically it arrives at the same time for every family, but you know what I mean!). She was born on the 16th December and it’s very rare indeed for decorations, trees or anything else to get a look in at our house before that. Quite right too in my adult opinion! As a kid however, the wait was torture! We have a few family traditions I suppose, things I took as normal until others told me they were odd. Having dinner on Christmas Eve for example is quite standard in our house.; a few years ago it was decreed that spending most of the big day slaving away in the kitchen sucked, so we have our big dinner the day before. Usually around 14 descend upon my parents house, where either mum or Col will have barricaded themselves in the kitchen (baby gates can be useful things) to cook the feast. By this point the trees (yup, multiple, one in the kitchen and one in the lounge) are up, candles lit and the whole house has that piney, spicy smell which only comes with Christmas. For the past few years it has been my job to ‘set the table’, ever so much fun! I’ve made table cloths and runners, bought new placemats and love choosing the colour scheme, decorations and seating arrangements for the meal.

Sadly the effect kind of gets lost once all the plates are put out!

Last year we were all also instructed to make our own hats, the results of this exercise can be seen above. My ‘hat’ was a sprig of holly attached to a hair band with some festive wire. Before you tell me off for making such little effort may I say that holly is very prickly and my head quite sensitive. Lesson learned!

Before bed the kids (that’s me and my siblings, not the actual kids) each get a present, usually something small or silly, but it sets the mood. Last year we also tracked Santa using an app on my phone which was VERY exciting, it even had a little notice for when children should head to bed so as not to be caught up too late when old St Nick arrived. Ace!

Christmas morning very much depends on the company, some years it is a leisurely adult affair, with bucks fizz, salmon and scrambled egg breakfasts while we wait for the youngens to arrive. Other years they are already there, so the lounge is often hidden under piles of wrapping paper before 8am. Either way there are always lots of hugs, oo’s, aah’s and chocolate for ‘pre’ breakfast (the bucks fizz et al occurs either way). I’m trying to think of what else there is to it really, with most of the ‘traditions’ over before midday on Dec 25th everyone just tends to relax until the Doctor Who Christmas Special (no Queen’s speech I’m afraid, unless Matt Smith is involved!). We play games with the kids, listen to new cd’s, try out new gadgets, maybe go for a walk to the beach (one year all the boys got kites), all the standard things which happen when you get an influx of new stuff to entertain you. It’s just fun, relaxed and friendly. All in all a jolly good day.

This post is part of the Twitter Blogathon.