Tag Archives: review

Invest in What Rewards You

1 Oct

I suppose I shouldn’t start with the conclusion; but if your conclusion is also your beginning then maybe its the perfect place to start.


I arrived back from Spain yesterday.  There’d been pretty much a veto on getting leave through the normal holiday times, so more by luck than judgement I’d ended up with a three week block off in September.  A perfect chance to escape from normal life, just me and the dog, and head off to Spain.  I decided that as well as an opportunity to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a long time (far too long a time!) it was also a chance to step back and review my life and where it was going.  I knew I had some decisions to make; decisions I’d been ignoring or putting off either deliberately or just because it was easier to get caught up on a tide and go along with it without really thinking.  I knew I had to do something about this because I had that uncomfortable feeling that I get when I know deep down I’m not being true to me. That unease that feels like I’m watching myself from somewhere high up and want to shout at myself but instead I just carry on watching.

I’d just sorted some stuff out at work that had been causing me a lot of ‘aaarrgh’ (I really can’t think of a better word to describe it) and I’d put that to rest and made my peace.  However, I needed to work out where I go next and what I really want.  I also still have the spectre of marriage/divorce to sort out … i.e., I’m still married and I really shouldn’t be!  I’d started picking back up some bad habits from a previous lifetime and I really wasn’t sure why.  To top it all off – what to do with La Panaderia, my Spanish escape place but also the money pit.  So all in all, not the usual relaxing break.  Throw into that 2,500 miles of driving there and back and I was setting myself up for one helluva journey – physically and emotionally.

Now I’m back.   I’ve thought a lot; I’ve tidied up a lot – both physically and emotionally; I’ve laughed a lot; cried a bit; I’ve caught up with people I love and reflected on the values that I hold.

That’s what it comes back to, the values I hold and how I want to live my life.  I’ve sort of mentioned it before, I think, but I want a simple life.  I don’t want a big house or a fancy car or expensive clothes.  I want to be with people I love, doing things I enjoy.  I want to invest in the things that reward me.   That’s not just about financial investment, its about investment of time; emotion; thoughts; caring.  Investment of me.  Don’t get me wrong, the financial investment is a big one, try running two mortgages and you soon realise how much the simple life has to be lead as there isn’t the cash for anything else!!  But in this hectic world, its the investment of time and emotion that often have the highest cost and the lowest reward.

I also realised I had to stop judging myself through the imagined eyes of others.  Why am I not going for promotion when I’ve got the exam?  Why am I not in a relationship after a couple of years of being single?  Why am I not living a more exciting life and travelling more or going out more or staying in more or joining this club or doing this exercise or …. well you get the picture.  I’m not even sure that anyone is asking those questions.  I very much doubt they are because people generally are quite rightly caught up in their own lives and have no time to think about or judge other people’s lives.  Even if they are – who cares?  I’ve realised that just because people appear to have it all and that all is wonderful, that veneer is often very thin.  As though 60 Minute Makeover came in and slapped some paint over it all and installed a 72″ tv, but as soon as they go, the wallpaper is going to fall off and the tv will fuse the whole house.

So where next?  Investing in the things that reward me.  I realise that I’m lucky to do a job that pays me very well.  Its also a job that I have allowed to cause me a great deal of stress and distress in the past.  Possibly because I’ve invested too much of my heart into it.  So from now on, my investment will match the reward.  The reward is financial and therefore I will do what I need to do to justify that reward.  The other reward I get is working with some lovely people (don’t get me wrong, there are also some complete arseholes, but I can just deal with them in a professional manner and invest only the time that is absolutely required and no more.  I certainly won’t invest them with time in worrying about what they think or what they are doing or what their next plans might be!).  So to the lovely people, I will invest the care and time that I hope I always have.  But I won’t take the stress home with me and I will treat it only as a job and not a life.  If that means looking for promotion, then I’ll consider it, provided it still fits in with my values.  But it won’t be something I abandon important things to get, things like my values, my sanity and my life.

La Panaderia?  Ah, such a difficult one.  I love that house.  Its taken time, money, love, inspiration, dreams to make it what it is.  To take it from a wreck to a beautiful house.  So much investment.  But where is the reward?  I love to go there; I love that friends can visit and enjoy the place.  But it also holds sad memories and holds me to a life I should have left behind me totally by now.

So, I’ve said my goodbyes.

With every box emptied and floor swept, I bid the house goodbye.  That’s all it is, bricks and mortar (or bricks and yeso, to be accurate).  Someone else will turn it into their dream.  This will let me cut ties that need cutting – and, importantly, free up cash each month that I can start investing in a new dream.  What that dream will be, I’m not totally sure yet, but that’s the good thing about dreams, they can appear when you least expect and they can change each time you open your mind.

The other parts:  I’ve reflected on paths I was starting to follow and decided to turn back around and take different ones.  Different paths that will give rewards I deserve, not shiny baubles that might be fun for a little while but have no substance. Like the Turkish Delight in Lion, Witch & Wardrobe – wonderful to indulge in, but at what cost?

All of this I could probably have worked out sitting at home.  But its the other things you realise on the physical journey that are important.  Like realising I could do it on my own and that it really wasn’t that big a deal.  Realising that on the bits that I really could have done with someone else there, I managed and that actually even in a couple I wouldn’t have necessarily been any better off!  Don’t get me wrong, it would have been lovely to share parts of the trip with someone, but it didn’t spoil the trip being on my own.  Realising that even the scary bits (like being completely lost and screaming at a satnav that didn’t understand I couldn’t drive through a statue; like sleeping in a service station car park curled up next to a dog that either barked or snored with equal loudness) I could cope with a find a way through.  Hell, give it a couple of days and I’ll have turned those into amusing anecdotes!

Now I’m back and my conclusion is now my new start.

In the short term there’s going to need to be investment in sorting out a lot of things that aren’t all within my control; but only if I start putting that investment in, will things move forward.  Like starting up a small business, its only by putting the work in early on that you get the rewards later.  So my life is a my small business for now.  A lot of work, a lot of time and effort and energy needed – but the rewards at the end of it will be worth it because from now on I’m only investing in the things that reward me.

Was going to say something comparing life to looking over a high wall at the future horizon; but actually its just a cute picture

Was going to say something comparing life to looking over a high wall at the future horizon; but actually its just a cute picture











PDR Time

6 Jan

Wine:  Come in, Sharon, and sit down

Me:  Thank you, may I say that you look particularly attractive this evening

Wine:  Flattery will not win you my attentions

Me:  You smell good too

Wine:  Lets move on, shall we.  So – lets look back over the last week and assess whether your bonus is due.  We shall consider the areas of resilience, personal responsibility, communication and decision making .  To begin, give me an example of when this week you have shown resilience.

Me:  err, well I have felt particularly unwell this week and whilst I did have to take one day off work to wallow on the sofa in a ball of snot, tissues and lemons, I did manage to get into work the next day.  More importantly, I pulled myself together, girded my loins – or at least GHD’d my hair and put on some slap – to go meet up with an old friend in the pub for a lovely catch up.

Wine:  that is excellent.  It is that sort of dedication to pub attendance, socialising and lipstick that we like in our line of business.  Now, what about personal responsibility.

Me:  hmm, this was potentially a difficult week for me.  Start of new year when everything is so different from how it was this time last year, I could have been tempted to call on your colleagues and just slump under the duvet and refuse to come out.  I couldn’t even run the crazy away (I refer you back to my being unwell).  Instead, I contacted some people and have started to deal with things more robustly.  I now choose to move forward.

Wine:  I am most impressed, though my colleagues were slightly disappointed to be ignored, particularly my Russian acquaintances  Absolut and Snow Leopard.

Me:  Oh I meant them no disrespect and I will surely avail of their services in the future, the near future.

Wine:  I am pleased to hear that, now – communication.  How have you performed in that area this week.

Me:  I was hindered in the later stages by a voice that sounds like Mariella Frostrup, if Mariella Frostrup gargled with gravel and then washed it down with JD and 30 Capstan.  However, I spent a week of meeting up with various friends and spending many happy hours chatting and planning and giggling and generally whiling away the time in pleasant conversation.

Wine:  It is looking very like you will be justly rewarded for such efforts you have put in this week.  But the most difficult part of the interview – decision making.

Me:  Oh that’s easy, I had a choice of around 18 bottles of red, plus white in the shed or Snow Leopard pleading to be mixed with diet pepsi, but I assessed my options in a dynamic fashion and plumped for a South African Pinotage… which brings me back to, you do  look particularly attractive this evening…

Wine:  Well Ms Falconer, I am pleased to tell you that your account of your activities has been most acceptable, you have retained a strong commitment to your ‘happy’ and have engaged well with others to assist that.  You have earned your bonus and now I sacrifice myself to you.

Me:   mmmmmmmmmm

An inquisitive and fruity South African

A roaring fire …

4 Jan

Had to cheat a bit with today’s photo as it was tipping down with rain, also opportunity to take photo was bit limited, so I’ve blagged this from the website (normal service should resume tomorrow).  Today’s happy came from sitting on squishy sofas in a great pub, in front of a roaring fire (real, not gas assisted), catching up with a friend I haven’t seen for several years.  Sometimes dwelling on the past can be a bad thing and need to remember to move forward.  Other times, chatting about old acquaintances and catching up on what the years have brought is exactly what is needed.

A query though – I really can’t be old enough to have reached a stage in my career where people I knew as probationers are now Chief Inspectors and where the children of friends who were still at the santa and tooth fairy stage are now at university?  clearly there was some weird time warp where everyone else I know got older and I just stayed in suspended animation ready to be regenerated (have I just imagined myself as Dr Who?)?   That is the only explanation, isn’t it?

Saw a great saying the other day “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present” – which I do agree with, but sometimes its nice to give your past a hug.

Warning: may contains roaring fire, comfy sofas and chat


3 Jan

Tuhday’s happy idn’t so mutdch a ‘happy’ as a, shorry, ‘scuse me ……. cough, cough, sneeerrrrt, bruuummpph …. that’s better

Today’s happy isn’t so much a ‘happy’ as a ‘thank you for seeing me through and for that I am grateful’.  Woke up with very sore and swollen throat, which is appalling timing as have places to be and people to see tomorrow so CANNOT be ill.  I’ve been wrapped up on the sofa all day with furry throw and constant supply of hot drinks and soluble aspirin.  I will be well, because meeting up with an old friend I’ve not seen in years will not be done with snot streaming down my face and me coughing phleghm balls up.  I was aiming for glowing with the aid of Estee Lauder glimmer powder, not from a raging fever!

Wish me luck,  now, I’m off for another hot lemon and maybe some icecream (its medicine to soothe the throat, its not like I actually WANT to eat it).

must. get. better

A run in the sunshine

2 Jan

Unfortunately, not me running – a sore, swollen throat that came on this afternoon meant I had to put my run on hold.  The runner here was Ed.  The initial part of a walk with Ed is a great way to work on the bingo wings, as he still hasn’t got to grips with walking to heal.  In addition to pulling, he’s really taken against the halti, so adds in an odd ‘walk on three legs whilst the other leg rubs at my nose to try and get halti off’ dimension to the struggle.

The ‘happy’ came watching Ed belt around the riverside garden like an absolute loon, interspersed with him trying to decide if he was brave enough to take on swans (he wasn’t).  Since his accidental dipping while he was still a puppy – when the concept of water not being solid wasn’t something he knew about – he hasn’t gone fully in.  Instead he’ll get his front feet in and a bit of  ‘speed walking’ across the muddy reeds.  I don’t think we’re far away from a swim yet, so may need to invest in thigh high waders in case he decides the fields on the other side are a bigger lure than the bondage of his halti.  (to anyone who is here after googling  ‘thigh high’ and ‘bondage’  – my apologies that this may not bring the dogs you were expecting.)

Even Ed hitting me at full pelt and trying to take my achilles out couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as I watched him leaping all four feet in the air and bounding around like a hairy hare!  Is this what people feel like when they’re watching their kids take their first kicks of a football and playing in the park?  though hopefully most parents wouldn’t have the urge, as I did, to give a little bit of a push when Ed was trying to pull the giant stick out of the water … purely in the interests of a more humorous photo, its all about the art!   However, I can still add the ‘no animals were harmed in the making of this blog’ as I did hold back from the urge (for now, Ed, for now – mwhah hah hah hah ha!)

dog on the run

a little push and this would have been a great photo

contemplating the swans

Take me out dancing, dancing in the rain

30 Dec

Thought it might be a tough one today to find something that made me happy, as all I had lined up was a day at work.  But part way through the morning I got the offer of coffee with a lovely friend, and by early afternoon had an evening of wine and good company planned with another lovely friend.  The easy option in that gap in between several coffees and moving on to wine, would have been to batten down the hatches, stick on some music and kick back.  But unless things have changed, I think there are still only 7 days in a week – which meant with a parkrun planned for tomorrow morning, if I was to get in my four sessions of exercise per week I needed to get my arse out and hit the streets  – in a running way, not in a cheap hooker way.

I’d also promised myself that I’d do a hill session – see how I treat myself to the good things in life – and a hill session it would be.  So it was through the door, quick fuss of the dog (I mean Ed, that isn’t a euphamism) and kit on.  Wasn’t looking forward to it as it was absolutely tipping it down – still is in fact – and I suspected I may get interrupted on the run by a modern day Noah looking for wood for his Ark.  But while I was out I discovered a strange thing, something I’d not realised before – I like running in the rain.  Really liked it.  This is a good thing because:

  1. I don’t live on the west coast of America or New Zealand
  2. I do live in England
  3. It rains.
  4. It rains A LOT.

Whether this liking was because the coolness of the water helped counter the overheating of my system and took me to a non-spontaneous combustion risk level or whether its just because there is something odd in my head, but it felt great to be plodding along with the rain dripping down my face, my feet splashing in puddles, cars swooshing past with the passengers cocooned in their dry yet somehow dull insides.  I not only managed a hill session, but I added in an extra mile so did several climbs plus a final flat to cover 4 miles.

So today’s ‘things that make me happy’ is my soaking wet kit – not only for discovering my new love of running in the rain, but also because it shows my focus is coming back and instead of making excuses to sit and do nothing, I got out there and ran.

Now – bring on the wine!

Soggy Kit



Monday, Tuesday, happy days ….

29 Dec

Today’s ‘things that make me happy’ photo comes with a sub-category of ‘things that made me happy but I was going to fast and didn’t have my camera ready so couldn’t get a photo’ – though I’m not sure that will catch on as a title and TTMMHBIWGTFADHMCRSCGAP makes no sense whatsoever as an acronym.

So, I’ll leave you waiting a little longer for the official photo of ‘things that make me happy’ and cover TTMMHBIWGTFADHMCRSCGAP (still not sounding catchy?):  driving to Milton Keynes (Ikea, to replace the blinds that Ed ate – he did not make me happy that day and can thank his lucky stars that he’s so cute and could get away with it.  which makes me think – is that the same for humans and animals, that those who are cute can get away with more, hmmm, may have to store that as an idea for future blog … can someone keep track for me and remind me if I haven’t covered it by, say, June).  Anyway, driving to Milton Keynes and saw TWO TINY HORSES BEING WALKED ON LEADS.  They were probably the size of Ed if not shorter, but fatter, and were being walked along the side of the road.  Please don’t anyone burst this happiness bubble by pointing out they were probably on bridles and being taken to a different field.  It was tiny horses.  On leads.  Being walked.  End of.

A sighting of that happy-inducing event kind of makes the official photo seem slightly dull in comparison,but I didn’t get a photo, so it doesn’t count.  The rules are strict.  And, oh, who am I kidding, stationery can NEVER be dull, NEVER.  The hours of pleasure browsing around Staples (the shop, not the little metal clips, you can’t browse around them, they get stuck in your feet and hurt), the sigh as you get a new book, fresh and unwritten in, ready for your best handwriting on the first page.  This is something that other people who love stationery will understand – and if you love stationery you may also find that you are a carbohydrate addict.  I’m not sure whether correlation implies causation, but research was done that showed if you were drawn to fancy pens, post it holders in the shape of bags, paperclips in the shape of penguins (two addictions in one!) then you would also have a carb dependency.  Ask around, you’ll find it to be so.

But to get back to the point today’s ‘TTMMH’ is:  Sharpies in a range of colours and flip charts (with thanks to Pauline and Claire at planning session earlier today for giving me the excuse to bring in my set of pens – and my own flip chart – and for bearing with me as I scribbled and listed and drew flow charts from their ideas!)