New York, New York

As you may have gathered from my previous post, I have recently been to New York so it seemed rude not to post a little something about my trip.

What can I say? The city is HUGE and completely unlike any city I’ve ever been to before! All of the buildings are so tall that I don’t think you really appreciate how big they are until you come home and look at the tiddlers we have in the UK again.

Loads of people offered me hints and tips of places to go and things to see while I was there but even a week is barely enough to scratch the surface. I always recommend following your gut; if you think you’ll like it, go and if not, well don’t go.

On advice from a friend, we stayed out in Brooklyn, away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and I’d thoroughly recommend that. Try and get central Brooklyn though as there are loads of great bars and restaurants there. It means you have somewhere to explore if you fancy having a more relaxed brunch or a quiet(er) drink.

We also made it out to the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to watch an American football match. I really wanted to watch a sports match out there because I’d heard that they make a huge event of it and I wasn’t disappointed. American football is great if you’re not usually a sports fan because they play for a few seconds, then there’s a minute or so when you can chat and then the play resumes and so on. Ideal for short attention spans!

Overall though, my top tips are just these:

  1. You can never leave enough time to get somewhere in Manhattan, even on foot. Get to know and love the subway
  2. Do the Empire State Building – I know it’s cliché but it’s fantastic and try and get there for sunset because that is beautiful
  3. Department stores are huge, seriously enormous compared to what we have in the UK so allow loads of time for getting lost in them!

Right, now here are some photos!

New York 089

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree

New York 030

The Statue of Liberty – as seen from a helicopter…oh, didn’t I mention that!?!

New York 084

The stunning sunset we saw from the top of the Empire State

There’s so much to see and do in the city, I really just suggest you pick a little part of it that you think will suit you and start there.

Happy travels! x

Saying goodbye to my 20s

Yes, I know, I haven’t quite said goodbye to my 20s yet but I’m a mere week away from turning 30 now! Even as I write that, I feel a little anxious flutter at my core and what I can only describe as nervous anticipation. I think I’m going to do well at being in my 30s but I’m also terrified in case I spend the next decade making the same mistakes again.

30s.

Hmm…

Me, in my 30s. That’s a grown up age. Lots of people in their 30s are married with kids and the idea of doing those sorts of things is still TERRIFYING! If I think too much about the fact that I’ve just bought a house and have a dog I freak out, never mind actual lifetime commitments.

Anyway, the real purpose of this stream of consciousness spiel is to reflect on my 20s because I think it’s a difficult decade to get through. Some people sail through it and love it and the rest of us look on, wondering why our lives are a pile of poo by comparison. So if that’s you doing the wondering, don’t worry about it because I’m about to explain why that’s a good thing.

If I look at my 20s as a whole, there are just 3 main themes to the journey I took and the lessons I learned and the ratio isn’t great, 2 bad : 1 good. Here we go…

Theme 1 – Depression

I still can’t really admit that I have ever been depressed because my background tells me that depression leads to suicide, which leads to other depressed people and I refuse to accept that. What I can admit is that I spent months following this routine:

Wake up – cry – stare at the wall – go to work – hold back the tears – come home – cry – stare at the wall – cry – go to bed

I can also admit that when I managed to stop the staring at the wall behaviour, I still spent an inordinate amount of time crying. The reasons for the tears were varied, but in reality I had a huge sadness inside me that I couldn’t confront and it was ruling my life. This sadness sapped my confidence and stopped me doing and achieving as much as I wanted to but I realise now that it was a process I had to go through. It sounds so cliché to say this but I know now that it really doesn’t last forever, as long as you’re prepared to let the good stuff in.

So, if that’s you right now, let it happen. Sometimes the only way you can move on is to fully embrace the problem, let it flood your mind and then mop up the puddles slowly but surely.

Theme 2 – Debt

During those depressed years I racked up a heck of a lot of debt. Tens of thousands of pounds spent on utter shit that I didn’t need but which I thought might change my life and make me happy. A small portion of the debt was spent on fun, but it really was mainly on junk, oh and some bad car choices. (Never buy a used Corsa VXR!)

That level of debt when you’re on a relatively low salary is crippling, so what I did was bury my head in the sand and keep going. I’m hugely fortunate that I was dug out of the hole by a very generous inheritance, else I would still be in that hole now. It was a good lesson though and I’m glad I learned it at a young age. If you’re struggling with a similar situation, please seek help; just Google it and you’ll find places you can turn to for support.

I sound like an old person now, namely my father, when I say that money really isn’t everything and the stuff you think you need, it won’t make you happy. You’ll have the moment of joy looking at those new shoes but you’ll spend far longer worrying about how you’re going to pay off the cumulative sum of 10 new pairs!

Theme 3 – Good Times

Here’s where the biggest lesson lies for me…the good times are there, they are happening no matter what your situation is, it’s just up to you to decide whether or not you want to be part of them. I feel such gratitude toward all of the people who kept dragging me into the good times and showing me what I was missing. The people I feel this most strongly about are my parents who have been through some really tough times themselves in this last decade, but who remained strong enough to pick me up every time I fell, cuddle me and then invite me to start enjoying life again. Without them, I’d probably be rocking back and forward in the foetal position on my bed right now!

I’ve achieved some stuff too and I’ve managed to build up something of a career, even with a couple of redundancies along the way. I’ve just climbed onto the property ladder, I own my car outright (even if it is 12 years old),I have a beautiful dog, a wonderful boy and many friends. I’ve been on girly holidays, I’ve read loads of books, been out for unbelievably delicious dinners at lovely restaurants and generally smiled and laughed loads, all despite themes 1 and 2.

A huge number of the good times have been in the last 3 years, exactly coinciding with the time that I realised that I can’t find my own happiness in other people, it has to come from within. I can’t tell you how many times people said that to me and I poo-pooed their advice, thinking that I was sorted and other people were making me miserable. I was wrong. I was miserable and as soon as I fixed my own misery, my life transformed and I flipped the ratios:

Happy Days : Blue Days – Sam until age 27
1 : 10

Happy Days : Blue Days – Sam post age 27
10 : 1

Well, I think I have rambled on long enough now so I’ll leave this post where it is. Watch out for some interesting changes to the blog; I can’t be a 20something freak forever 🙂

30s – I’m comin’ to getcha!!! x

60 today

Well, that was a shock. Obviously I know it’s your birthday, I don’t think I will ever forget that, but this year I thought I’d leave the blog post out. I see so many posts on social media where people talk to or about the dearly departed who can’t even read what they’re writing and I’m very conscious of the fact that once a year, (twice if you count what happens in 10 days) I become that person.

And I am that person again right now.

The thing is though, it just hit me that you would have been 60 today. Bloody well 60! Firstly, that shocks the life out of me because I still associate being 60 with people who are the generation above you and secondly because you’re 30-and-a-bit years older than me. If you’re now 60, I’ll soon be 30. If I’m nearly 30, I’m almost the age you were when I was born. All of this is messing with my head. How has that happened?

If I’m brutally honest, I think I wrote this post mainly to express my disgust at how old we’ve become; I probably should wish you many happy returns but you can’t hear me so I’ll stick with the disgust. I would also like to ask why it is that I’ve morphed into you in the last year. Did that happen to you too? Did you suddenly scale up from a size 8 to a size 12 when you were in your late 20s? I know you were a 12 but you told me you used to be a 8. When did that change? Is it reversible? 

Anyway, I diverge. What I should have said is Happy Birthday. What I still mean is: fuck me, you’d be 60 if you were here!

Love you always xxx

Happy Birthday, Mum!

I’m not normally one for doing this and I’ll be completely honest and say that some years my mum’s birthday comes and goes without me really noticing, but this year is different. Although it’s been very nearly, (give it 10 days) 13 years since my mum died, I’ve missed her more than I usually do this last year. Lots of things have been changing and I think when that happens it can be easy to panic and revert back to the childhood longing for your mummy. That’s certainly what I’ve done anyway. I have a great substitute mummy in my step-mum but sometimes it would be just awesome if I could have both. Yes, I’m that greedy that I’d like two mothers!

So I thought this year I’d make it public and remind the world (and myself) that today is my mum’s birthday. It may be other things to other people but from where I stand, that’s the most important thing about today. My sister recently visited my mum’s grave and took this lovely picture so I’m stealing it and sharing it:

Mum

So here it is…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MUM!

I hope they have cake wherever you are now, but just in case they don’t I’ll eat double to cover your portion! xxx

26 and Counting…

Shock horror, today is my last day of being 26 so funnily enough, all of my thoughts have been focussed on the fact that tomorrow I am officially old! There’s just something I’m not loving about the number 27; it looks funny and it sounds way closer to the big 3…0… than 26 is.

However, looking back at being 26, was it all that great and would I want to repeat it? The answer is mixed to the first part and a definite no to the second part of that double question.

This time last year I was eating a super scrummy dinner in Reading’s number 1 restaurant (according to Trip Advisor). It was my last day in a job that I had worked really hard for before being made redundant and I was a smidgen panicked about my lack of job. Since then I have taken a Christmas temp job at Boots, a permanent HR role, a temporary, additional receptionist role and now a Sales role. I’ve been abroad twice, had 2 cars fall apart, split up with my bf who I lived with and quite frankly I’m pretty darned tired. It’s been one of those years of building the foundations for the future but boy am I hoping that 27 is a bit more relaxed!

On the one hand I feel like 27 could be a great year where I finally get closer to where I want to be; on the other hand I’m worried it’s going to be another year the same as 26 with everything up in the air the whole time and with a few too many new starts. How do I take control of this year and make sure it’s a winner? How do I learn my lesson and make sure I don’t spend any of my time in a relationship that’s meant to have ended already?  And… can I actually do this Sales thing and earn enough money to start making the debt figure go down rather than up?

So many questions and so much unknown, (365 days to be precise) for now all I can say is… Thank you 26, you weren’t what I expected you to be but you’ve definitely made me stronger and more ready to take on 27. Bring on the birthday!!! x