Tuesday, 26 July 2016

In Suspense

I HATE hanging around like this waiting for news.  Especially news that is life-changing.  I have enough trouble waiting for exam results and this is that same nervous flutter, except that this time there’s no studying or anything I can really do to improve my chances.  I guess I hate the feeling of powerlessness, and the spectre of potential failure, though in this case neither really reflect badly on me.

So, today I’m sitting with this nervousness, much as I’m trying to learn to sit with all those other uncomfortable feelings.

I want this house so much, and I’m also scared of the commitment at the same time.  I guess a house of my own feels like security and the start of a new phase in my life, so for me it represents so much more than just the literal bricks and mortar, and maybe that’s why this feels like such a pass or fail transition in my life – that it’s pass or fail moving to the next “level” of being an adult and successful.

In all honesty though, I love that damn house.  Something about it just called to me, I got that click when I went in.  And yes, it’s a standard 2 bed Victorian terrace, but I can see in my mind’s eye how cosy it could be, how me.  After 14 years of near constant moving I just want a home now – somewhere I can stop, settle and finally breathe out.

And so, even though I’m 90% expecting the call to tell me I haven’t got it, I suspect it’s still going to feel like a kick in the teeth.  I know, I know, that everyone keeps telling me that it’s only the third house I’ve seen, and by the 20th it won’t seem that special, but there are people I know like Hannah, who back me up that sometimes you just know.  And I’m sure there will be others out there, and that realistically that is the future I’m facing, that I will have to keep looking, but I know that aside from the practicalities of the constraints of my budget, this is somewhere I could be happy.

Sp please all cross your fingers and toes for me that this little dream could come true xx

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Dreaming About Jobs

I feel excited about my career prospects for the first time in a long time.  More specifically, since about this time 3 years ago when I first realised that maybe I could do something much more exciting with my job than purely sitting in a big office all day, and applied to be a resort accountant in an Alpine ski resort.  That fateful day, when I submitted my application, kicked off one of the most exciting adventures of my life – it led to me achieving several life list goals and spreading my wings, and was a chapter of my life that was one of the happiest I can remember.  I lived abroad, developed my language skills, learned that I have what it takes to successfully financially manage a small business, independently work on my own from home and adapt on the fly to a highly challenging environment.  And I loved it.

As I made that decision, I really wasn’t entirely sure it was a wise thing to do, but it felt right.  Logically speaking, I would earn much less money than my sensible, safe banking job.  I would have to turn my entire life upside down to move abroad for 6 months, including leaving the lovely, affordable home I had fortuitously found at the peak of my personal debt crisis, and indeed putting back the date of me finally repaying all that debt by another 6 months.  I would be moving to a place full of perfect strangers, and would be at least partially career-dependent on a bunch of potentially flaky teenagers and ski-bums.  On paper, it was a horrible choice for my career, and some people including my beloved Dad thought I was nuts and it was too risky.  But a surprising number of people expressed envy at the freedom of my choice, and I followed the excited, fizzing sensation in my gut and the swelling feeling in my heart that told me yes.

Several years on, things have changed somewhat but I’m still not fully satisfied.  I’ve done two winter seasons and they were great, but ultimately not the long term solution to my career I’d hoped for.  I’ve now swapped to contracting, which definitely ticks a few more boxes but it’s still not right.  I think for the longest time I’ve known I felt dissatisfaction with my career, but doing the work on dealing with my emotional eating has really bought it uncomfortably to the forefront.  The problem is I’ve had no idea what to do to solve it.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time visualising what my dream job would look like, and it looked awesome, but sadly not in any way realistic. I mean, I’m sure companies exist out there like it, but to find a job combining the qualities I’m looking for, a salary I can afford to live on now, and in Bristol because I don’t really want to move from here ... well, let’s just say my weekly single Euromillions Lucky Dip looks more promising.

Something cool is happening now though.  I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been thinking about it honestly, admitting my hopes and fears when it comes to my career, and being open to the possibilities, but I feel like one of those possibilities is growing into being Something.  Something that makes my insides fizz with excitement again and makes me shout a great big instinctual yes! inside. In fact, I feel a bit like a scientist that realises that they’ve been looking at the confusing evidence all wrong, and if they re-arrange it something startlingly clear and completely different emerges.  I’ve been looking at the problem from the conventional wisdom of seeking a single job to satisfy all of my needs.  What if the answer isn’t one single job.  What if it’s two (or more!) strands of what I’m good at, all woven together to make a flexible satisfying whole?

Even writing this down and putting it out there feels like a great big “eeeek”.  I mean what if it’s too much?  What if I freak out and retreat back into my shell and don’t believe I can do it?  What if it’s yet another thing that I get all excited about and then it all fizzles out?  But I do have two actual career strands in mind, one of which is a natural extension of what I’ve already been doing all my working life and the other is .... not.  The other is way out there, totally outside my comfort zone, but something that definitely intrigues me.  Something I would need to train and study for and make a real commitment to but I can very seriously imagine myself doing. Something that has ironically been suggested on every single personality or career test I’ve ever taken. 

The funny thing is it was the way-outside-the-comfort-zone strand that came to me first, but one of my biggest fears that has held me back has been stepping away completely from my financial career – I trained 4 years for it after all, and there are aspects of it I do still really enjoy, and what if I’m wrong and I can’t go back???  I’ve also worried that for every career I’ve thought of, I can’t imagine just doing that full time and feeling satisfied with it.  I don’t seem to have the commitment to do just one thing, all of the time.  But then the strangest, most reassuring thing occurred to me this week – why I can’t I be making money from more one than one thing at the same time?  Why can’t I utilise two completely different skill sets in parallel to earn my way in the world?  Hell, I might even find that some weird synergy ends up forming and I actually end up with a blended business coming into existence, or it might evolve into something completely different from my two potential starting points.

Even better, having two potential business plans to run side-by-side means I could potentially dip my toe into the pond gently, one thing at a time, and ease my way into it, rather than having to abandon my current career in one big, bold (terrifying) step.

For the first time in years, I feel like I have something I can aim for, and having the aim means I can start dissecting that down into A Plan.  I have things I can research (I loves me a bit of research) and baby steps I can start to take towards seeing if this is something that can truly work for me.  It feels both big and bold and ambitious, and yet totally more manageable and realistic than anything I’ve done yet.  And it combines elements of everything that I had in my Dream Job visualisation.  It feels true to me and deeply satisfying.

I couldn’t be more excited.*

*I apologise extensively for the vagueness of this post – even putting the basic concept out there and saying I want to do it feels like an almighty big first step. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Day To Day

Despite being super busy last night and getting finished late – it was one of those nights when all the errands just got blitzed in one go and I was feeling super efficient – I still went to the supermarket, bought fresh ingredients and went home and cooked up something fresh.  Hooorah!  I am proud of myself for making something fresh and homemade, for trying a new recipe, and for coming back from the supermarket with an alarmingly healthy set of food after a long day.

Yes – I think the re-balancing of my diet is finally on the way!  Whilst the food I bought was healthy and balanced, it was not standard, strict diet fare – there were little treats in there like fudge and pita chips and things I banned under Weightwatchers like juice and fresh coconut – but there was also vegetables and lean proteins .... basically my basket represented lots of fun, tasty whole foods and less processed stuff.  

One of the adjustments I’m making is to focus on more protein heavy breakfasts.  I suffer quite badly with the mid-morning munchies if I have carbs and sugar alone for breakfast, which is fine on the weekend when I’m up later and then usually less inclined to eat through boredom or anything else, but not so great for weekdays in the office.  This morning’s breakfast was scrambled egg with smoked salmon on a slice of seeded toast, some green juice and tea.    Not the strict diet fare from my Weightwatchers days, but proper tasty food – butter not margarine, proper bread not some wimpy diet excuse, whole eggs, juice!!  Weightwatchers caused me to shun all juice like it was the work of the devil, but I’ve been having a small glass of juice with breakfast recently and it’s delicious – this week’s juice has been apple, kale, lemon and ginger and is super refreshing.

I’ve also been playing with getting back in the kitchen and falling in love with cooking again.  Half the battle of eating good food, is having the energy to prepare and cook it in the first place.  In The Goddess Revolution the author wisely suggests making your kitchen somewhere you want to be – we decorate the rest of our rooms to appeal to ourselves but often skip the kitchen as it is the site for so many psychological battles during dieting.  She suggests making as much effort with the kitchen – get some tunes of your choice going on a cute radio, bring flowers and candles or photos into the kitchen, whatever your preference, to make it a fun, light pretty room.  Clear your kitchen of all the rubbish so you’ve got space to work and nice tools to work with.  She has a point.  

At last Monday’s impromptu dinner party I learnt to cook with lentils for the first time, and turned out a rather tasty cod wrapped in smoked ham accompanied by lentils with sage and onion.  It was so good I used the leftovers to cook it again later in the week.  Last night I tried a Thai sweet potato soup, inspired by one of the menus from my second ski season – it turned out to be super easy and incredibly tasty and now I’ve got three portions in the fridge and freezer.  I bought avocados last night.  Avocados!!  This might sound ridiculous but I’ve never used avocado at home before.  I didn’t think I liked it much until recently, but I’ve been having it in food when I’m out and have realised how nice it is, so thought it would be something good to play with adding to breakfasts.

I also bought myself some really awesome work trousers yesterday – following on from the clothing theme the other week when I realised I was beating myself up constantly by not allowing myself to think I’m worth clothes at my current weight.  Result – I feel comfortable and stylish today, not crammed into something that’s slightly too small.  Apparently, when I did my shopping for my work wardrobe revamp last summer I did my usual trick of buying things slightly on the tight side, assuming that “this time the diet would work” as I had just started Weightwatchers again after my second season.  As I’ve subsequently changed my approach, and am currently a couple of lbs heavier instead of lighter, that had resulted in several pairs of trousers that were cutting my circulation off to my lower body and making me feel miserable every time I considered wearing any of them.  Plain stupid.  I think, just maybe, I’m learning to love and respect myself a little.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Coaching Myself

I’ve started wondering about looking into life coaching.  Not just getting a life coach, which is something I have previously considered, but actually how to become one.  I’m fascinated by the coaching process (as you can tell by the number of books I’ve consumed on the journey to find peace with food), and there’s a small part of me that wonders if it’s something that I would be good at myself and could incorporate into creating my ideal life.  But there’s also a second big reason for my curiosity – reading books by coaches, and getting actual coaching sessions would be ace .... but what if I could take it one step further and learn how to coach myself??

It would give me constant access to the resources I need to improve myself, and in understanding the process behind it, maybe I can take it one step further and build it into a deeper way to constantly, gently, evolve my life.

My frustration with work is currently more obvious than ever.  Things annoy me more quickly and I can feel that I’m not quite taking it as seriously as I should for something that is such a big part of my life (like last week when I got warned by colleagues that my boss has been taking credit for my work and down-playing what I do, and I couldn’t help but laugh even though as a contractor life can be precarious).  As much as there are aspects of business that I love and really enjoy, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that I need something more in my career to keep me satisfied.  And what if coaching part-time could be an answer to that.  Creating my own coaching environment and space and getting the satisfaction of actually helping people in a tangible one-to-one way.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself and this will be another flash-in-the-pan idea that fizzles out just a few weeks down the line, but it’s an exciting possibility to follow, and the first time I’ve genuinely considered the prospect of doing something outside the financial sphere.

Eating-wise – it’s a bit blah right now.  I decided to do a weigh in this morning, and I was bit up.  I felt like I was a bit up before I stood on the scales so it came as no surprise, and curiously I didn’t feel guilty, or bad about it, or beat myself up.  I just accepted it.  Having put on another lb or two I’m probably the heaviest I’ve been for a good while – I think since 2009 when I first lost the weight, but I’m still a good 2 stone off where I started.  But also 2 stone up from my lightest now.  However, I’m also far more relaxed and accepting, and I feel like my eating is taking another change in direction.

Since I mentioned it last week, my inclination is definitely starting to come back round to more wholesome, properly cooked food.  I’m starting to crave soups and pasta, protein at breakfast and less bread.  Certain types of sugary food are starting to seem a lot less satisfying and I’m more conscious of what fuels me well, and what leaves me with a energy slump half an hour later.

The weekend was gloriously relaxing as I was in the Gower near beautiful Port Einon.  My friend Jo and I did a 10 mile walk along the cliffs from Rhosilli back to the house, marvelling at the scenery along the way and enjoying a picnic, cake and ice creams at various points.  We watched bits of the Euros and Wimbledon, played cards and pool at the house and sunbathed on the beach on Sunday .... it was heaven and such much-needed downtime after the last few weeks.  I’m also re-reading the Harry Potter series and I’m totally addicted again!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Breaking Up

I would love to tell you how much I weight right now, but I really can’t because I just don’t know.  My scales are right there in the bathroom, with batteries in and functional, but I haven’t weighed myself in about 2 weeks.  I’m in the process of breaking up with the scales.

I’ve tried this previously, but usually cave in and start panicking after a short period of time, but this time genuinely feels different.  I feel more at ease with the idea of not just not weighing myself, but letting my size settle where it will and putting more emphasis on being the best me and liking that, and not the size of my clothes or the number on the scales.

A couple of weeks ago, I read the latest in the series of books I’ve been devouring in my search for insight into my eating and finding peace – this time it was The Goddess Revolution.  This one is much less focused on the psychological emotional eating side of things, although it definitely touches on it and other disordered eating, and is much more about self-acceptance, a holistic approach to looking after yourself and learning to love you however you end up.  It talks about cutting out the constant quest to be someone else or a past version of yourself and working towards your best future self instead.  And do you know – I really enjoyed it and took note of a number of points the author made. Mel Wells talks about how to reconcile leaving the diets behind and loving yourself as you are with still wanting to lose weight and be healthy in a ... well, healthy ... way.  And a lot of what she says works for me.

Having said that, I’m still noticing organic changes happening in my eating and behaviours – I don’t really have to think about not finishing a plate because I’m full anymore – most of the time that just happens; cravings have faded and I’m much better at identifying times when I’m eating from fatigue or emotion (I’ve started to notice that fatigue is actually a huge driver for me to eat, and I’m getting better at persuading myself to take naps when I’m home) and coming up with a better solution than eating; and I think I’m finally starting to exit what one author refers to as the Donuts and Doritos phase.

I was seriously concerned a few weeks ago about the complete lack of fruit and veg I’ve been eating recently.  Whilst I got used to listening to what my mind wanted to eat and not feel guilty about it, although things plant-based kind of disappeared from my diet for a while.  I think this was maybe the backlash from so many years on the diet where I was not only forbidden all the naughty food, but when I had over-indulged I would eat all the “free” fruit and vegetables to try and make up ground.  I think I had started to associate them with the stick that I would beat myself with when I deviated from the diet.  But, slowly but surely, I’ve started to want a few again and have been picking a few items out of the fruit box at work and considering meal plans with some vegetable accompaniments.  I’ve been trying really hard to listen to not just my mind but my body – what makes me feel good and what leaves me with a food hangover, and as I catch up on everything that was off-limits and the sparkle and allure of it fades, it’s much easier to do that.  We had dinner out at The Burger Joint last week (a-mazing burgers if you’re ever in Bristol) but I felt horrible the next day – I’m learning.

Aside from all that, the world keeps turning.  The UK voted out of the EU in the referendum (nooooooooooo), we did horribly in the Euro 2016 football (mwah ha ha ha) and Wimbledon started on Monday (so that’s my tv for the next couple of weeks!).  I had a hideous deadline at work which I somehow delivered by the skin of my teeth.  And I’ve been off enjoying myself all over the place – we camped in Cornwall at the weekend and it was glorious, I saw Kaiser Chiefs at Westonbirt Arboretum and they were brilliant, I took my dad out for birthday lunch, had dinner with my friends from ski season, caught up with my old housemates, had a dinner party with friends from work and other things besides.  The last 2 weeks have been so jam-packed that I realised mid-way through last week that I was very much burning the candle at both ends and suffering for it.  So here’s to some quiet weeks ahead to catch up with myself, tidy my house, save some money and generally unwind.  Oh and it’s only 5 weeks until Borneo now!