Tag Archives: travel

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











New & Improved: Progress Report

22 Jun

Come in & sit down, this review seems a little overdue.  Care to explain?

Sorry about that, after coming back from Spain I was a bit up and down. Was very conscious of not wanting to review while I was feeling negative – though in hindsight maybe that’s a good time to do it as it will help monitor improvement.   Difficult to write then, tho (& possibly a little dull as the pity train has uncomfortable seats, no free wifi & a crappy buffet that sells stale gingerbread & coffee that’s replaced flavour with therms-nuclear temperature.  And nobody likes that.)  Today, however, I’ve just been with a friend to pick up her new puppy – hello Artie – & noone can be down when they’ve been smothered in puppies (insert own joke if you must).

So, getting back on track (track, pity train, get it?  get it?  no?!  ok *sniff*):  how was Spain, and more to the point, how did it fit with your aims and objectives?

Spain was ok.  Got lots done, decluttered the house so that it can be rented out for holiday visitors, got some revision done (sat alongside a rather beautiful pool), ate some delicious tapas and didn’t kill the ex.  Even saved him from potential death or at least a rather nasty feeling of unwellness!  that’s got to earn me karma points, surely.  Nothing to do with me poisoning him either.  Moving some bits and pieces in one of the rooms we discovered a snake sleeping under a blanket.  A rather large snake (well, about 5 or 6 foot).  I’ve kept snakes as pets, but am by no means an expert, so couldn’t say what breed it was or whether it was poisonous.  But I do know enough to leave alone.  Ex-H came up with the cunning plan of popping it under a glass with a bit of card.  In the manner of catching a spider.  Tempted as I was to let him try this, I pointed out that it was a 5 to 6 foot snake, and that unless he had a very large glass and the ability to make sure the card (wtf, anyway?!) completely against the glass as he transported it, the snake would get out and he’d be faced with a rather angry snake in his hand, or up his arm (or round his neck …..).  Second plan, lets catch it on a dustpan on a stick.   At this point I saw money making potential (another one of my objectives being to get financially stable!) and asked if he’d wait til I got the video running so that I could fully capture the moment the snake did what snakes do, and coiled itself up and around the pole of the dustpan and towards his arm (or neck …..).   In the end he decided that my solution of moving everything the snake could hide under, leaving door open and leaving the room so the snake could just go out on his own and get some peace, was probably the best solution.  It was and snake was last seen heading under the wood pile.  (though when the mouse ran across my bedroom floor I’d have been quite glad for that snake, although then I’d need a mongoose for the snake and after that I’ve no idea what gets rid of a mongoose.  A tiger?  An elephant? )

All sounds very positive.  How about the exercise and healthy eating, how’s that going?

Despite the heat in Spain, I did get out for a 5k run.  There is something rejuvenating about running with a warm breeze in your face and the smell of jasmine wafting on the air.   The house is at altitude and amongst hills/mountains, so whichever direction you run there are always hills to tackle.  Was pleased that with the triple whammy of height, heat and hills I still managed 5k in about 37 minutes.  Still slower than I used to be, but I got out there and I did it, when I could have just sat in the sun.   I kept drinking to a minimum and only had a couple of alcohol nights (or in one case an alcohol afternoon and night…. with drunken tweets to show for it.   My ‘imaginary conversations I had with Princess Di’ came back to me the next day as sense crept back in over the haze of sangria).  

As soon as I got back to uk, I nipped up to London to meet up with friends and run the Race for Life in Battersea Park.   Fantastic atmosphere, great goody bags and a minute off my last parkrun time.  Next race is nearly here – 10k Race for Life in Bedford, so will be doing a 5 miler at the weekend.

And career wise – how’s the revision going?

Hmm, I’ve bought the latest books if that counts?  Having the books in the house means the information is absorbed by osmosis, doesn’t it?  No??  Perhaps not the best revision plan then.   I started work while away, but since being back I haven’t done much more than attend a seminar put on to help with the studying.   I will be setting up my revision corner this weekend though, planning a time table and getting stuck into it properly.

Now the one I know you struggle with, confidence – how are you feeling about you?

Can we skip that one?  No?  Really?  Ok, I’m still trying.  Reading comment that someone put on my last post they said I didn’t sound like the person they used to know.  I suppose to a large degree, I’m not that person any more.  I feel like I’ve had that person kicked out of me.  But slowly they are creeping back.   At the end of the holiday, the Ex-H commented that they hadn’t laughed so much in ages.  Now, ignoring the question of ‘how come you are laughing more with me than with the girlfriend you now claim is love of your life’, I’ll look on it that if I can put the effort in to be witty and charming and entertaining in front of a man I care nothing about, I sure as hell can drag that out in the company of potentially eligible men!  (before the question – no, I wasn’t doing it because I want him back, I just wasn’t going to let him see me down and I wanted to remind him of what he was missing!).  Up in London, friend and I ended up drinking and chatting with group of really great guys she was working with.  Because there was no pressure and I knew they were all married, I could be the old me.  The response part way through the banter and laughing was ‘I like her, she’s good’ (trust me, from old lag officers who probably still believe women shouldn’t be allowed away from the kitchen sink unless its to pander to them in the bedroom, that is a helluva compliment!!).   The problem comes if I like the look of someone.  At that point I barely dare look at them, let alone talk to them.  The voice in my head goes through a complicated process of “don’t dare talk to them, then they might think that you like them and then they’ll think who is she to think she is good enough to even think about talking to me and expecting me to talk to them in return, let alone ever think she is good enough to think I might like her”.  Like I said, its a weird world in my head.   But, I’m trying.  That trying involves going into camouflage.  Hair has been considerably lightened on a ‘you’re three cuts away’ journey to blonde, I’m sporting bright red nail varnish on the nails I’ve now managed to stop biting, eyelash extensions have been applied and tonight I’m determined to wear a dress and heels rather than my usual jeans.   Its all a bit of a front, but is it a bad thing to have something to hide behind?  At the moment, to quote or misquote Wizard of Oz, ignore the woman behind the curtain.  Instead look at the glitz, shine and smile that’s presented to the public.  Eventually, that smile will be real.