New Year's resolution...two months in

On New Year's Eve I shared my resolution for 2012 -  

"I resolve to find something I am grateful for every single day.  It will be my first thought every morning."'s two months in now, and I haven't given up on it yet.  Which I think makes me significantly more successful than the majority of resolution-makers.  Yay go me!

However if I'm honest, I haven't remembered to make it my first thought every morning, and I haven't even remembered to do it every day, but I'm happy with that.  In fact not remembering to do it first thing is sometimes nice, as it jolts me back to a position of gratitude later in the day when I haven't done it.

Even on the days I do remember to do it as I wake up, I often find myself returning to the subject later in the day.  I like to think about the things I could maybe choose to be grateful for the next day.

I can appreciate that this may seem like a silly, pointless or a naive thing to do, but I honestly believe it is benefiting me.  I feel that little bit more in love with my life and the world around me, that little bit more grateful, that little bit happier.  And that, to me, is worth spending a few seconds of my day on.

The little things

I always always always think of dandelion clocks as the example when I begin to question my obsession with this world and my desire to explore.

Dandelions are weeds, they are tolerated at best.

No-one actually likes dandelions.  No-one would choose them as a gift, or for their wedding flowers.

They are utterly overlooked.

And yet just look at how beautiful their seed clocks are.  Just stop, take a breath, and look.

dandelion (by bonnevillekid)
They are stunning.  They are perfect.  And yet we see them as so insignificant.  This world is incredible, even in every forgotten corner, overlooked spot and unwanted place.  Just imagine how worth seeing the things out there in this big wild world will be.

How can I wait any longer...let's go take a look!

An actual email...oh my

So...a significant blogging first occurred for me the other day...I received my first ever reader email!  Of course I tried to act all cool and nonchalant when replying instead of instantly sending a "wowohwowohwowohwow you actually emailed ME" style response.  But secretly I was so excited! Fan mail.  Yeah I am that cool.

By the way, if you are reading this... (you know who you are)... you totally made my day :)

But anyway there is a point to this asides from encouraging all you other dear readers to send me emails...who am I kidding of course that's what I want you to do...and you can find my email address riiiiiiiiight over here.

And... the point is that inside this exciting email, along with the expected questions about the van and the budget and the Master Plan, there was a question which really made me stop and think.

"What exactly are you looking for in your travels?"

This seems like a simple enough question, but it completely threw me because the second I read it, it hit me like a lightning bolt.  I do not know exactly what I am looking for.

I could tell you what my plan is, why I want to travel or where I would like to go.  But exactly what I am looking for?  I'm not sure.  Is it really that sensible to build as big a dream as mine into reality if I don't even know what I am looking for!  To leave my job, my home, my family, my career...for what?

Of course it is.  I know I am looking for something.  I used to jokingly tell an old friend of mine that there were only three possible answers to the questions that really mattered - beauty, love and magic.  And if the answer could not be boiled down to one of these key concepts, then the question wasn't worth asking.  Very bohemian.  Maybe I should get better at following my own advice.  I do know that I am looking for something to devote myself to, something which satisfies, something worthwhile.  

To be exact, I am looking for a life I can be proud to have lived.

Is it a person, is it a place, is it a job, is it a lifestyle?  Is it across the oceans, wrapped in the grandest of Hollywood cliches or the darkest of despairs?  I don't know.  

So to be even more exact, I also have no idea what I am looking for.

And perhaps knowing what to look for is not really necessary, all that matters is I know I have to look.  

After all, if you don't know where you're going..."Then it doesn't matter which way you go...", said the Cat.

The light and the dark

In my previous post I wrote about the things I had learnt about love in my few years on this planet so far, but as I selected those things I realised that there were several I was unable to fully explain in the constrained structure of a list.  Some of them I had written longer posts on previously, so I didn't mind if the repeated rendition of them was incomplete, but it really irritated me that I couldn't fully explain the ones I had not directly addressed before.

So here I am, explaining myself.

I said that I have learnt that... "the pleasure is worth the pain, although the light and the dark are two sides of the same cannot be had without the other.  But never love less to protect yourself from heartache, love more to risk it all for the joy."

As I read back through my posts on love, I can see that this reconciliation of the light and the dark is something I have touched on again and again, without ever really stating it that clearly.

To put it simply, I believe that the pain that we so often experience through love, be that love for a child, a friend or a lover, is neither avoidable nor unwanted.  It is part of love, and the more we love, the more it hurts.  It is so easy to turn away from the negative emotion as the pain builds to the point of heartbreak, but in doing this we are also turning away from the flip side of the coin, the intensifying, building, purifying love.

So much love is lost because people are scared of getting hurt.

My dog Floss was put to sleep a week ago, I spent the entire weekend before she died in her company.  Most of it I spent crying, not wailing and sobbing, just gently overflowing with tears.  And yes, it was painful.  I was, and still am, sad that her life was at an end.  But that weekend, the strongest emotion I felt was love.  My eyes were overflowing with tears not because I didn't want her to die, but because I loved her while she lived.

There is nothing to be gained from grieving over a separation, a loss.  Grieve over the living flesh, be open to the pain that love brings as it unifies and you may just learn something.

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Mother Teresa

What I've learnt about love

Apparently it's Valentines Day, and the done thing is to think incessantly about love.  Why fight the is the tip of the vast iceberg of facts (perhaps) that I have learnt about love.

  1. It is possible to cry so much that you give yourself two black eyes.
  2. There are as many lovers, loves and relationship possibilities as there are stars in the sky.  Build a love without limits
  3. The pleasure is worth the pain, although the light and the dark are two sides of the same cannot be had without the other.  But never love less to protect yourself from heartache, love more to risk it all for the joy. 
  4. Time changes everything.  Don't look for that which is eternal, but seek that which will be continuously renewed.
  5. I will forever know nothing about love. 
"let it be your aim always to love more than the other"

Why I don't want a smartphone

I know, I know, I know...I work for a mobile phone software company - so surely I should have the latest whizziest most fabulous handset that hasn't even hit the market yet?

Wrong.  I have a rubbish old Nokia, no internet, no GPS, no MP3 player...nothing.

Why?  Well until recently I told myself it was because all I ever used my phone for was calls and texts, so why spend money on an expensive contract to get internet and a flashy phone when I spend about £5 a month on the stuff I actually need to use the phone for.  This was a great logical reason for why I don't have a smartphone, but it doesn't explain why I don't want one.

And then I had to set an iPhone up with my email account etc so I could take it with me for a work meeting in London.  I loved it, email, Facebook, news, at my fingertips.  Constantly.  When I came home I kept hold of this phone for about a week because I loved having easy access to all this connectivity and social goodies.  Loved it.

But then it hit me.  This phone, with all of its' fancy features, was making me so disconnected.  I would walk around the house with it glued to my hand, completely oblivious to what was around me.  I would check the news in bed at night before I went to sleep, time I would usually spend snuggling with Sally dog.  

Now don't get me wrong, I am not some pious tech-avoiding time-optimiser.  I have my laptop and the TV on most of the time.  But this iPhone business took it to a whole new level of detachment.

Not acceptable.  iPhone, you are lovely.  But I do not want you.  I want the world, not a glowing screen.

The "What if..." plans

One of the things which has been slowly rising up my "To-Do Before I Leave" list is preparing my emergency information to be left with my Mum when I go.

There is all the things I am perfectly alright with preparing... like photocopies of passport, driving licence, vehicle documents.  Information on bank accounts, email account logins, etc etc.

Then there is the stuff I am not alright with.  The what to do if Anna goes missing list... the what to do if Anna dies list.

It would be so easy to ignore these lists, to just not write them.  But that would be too selfish of me.  I wouldn't consider leaving without having written these emergency backup plans.

I am already choosing a lifestyle which is probably higher risk than my Mum would ideally like, but she accepts that.  The least I can do in return for her acceptance is make sure that if anything were to happen, I make it as easy as possible for her to handle.  And making the necessary information readily available to her is basically the only thing I can do.

But it is heartbreaking.  Writing things like that down is heartbreaking.  I cried and I cried and I cried.

Not because I am afraid of dying, but because I am afraid of being responsible for putting myself into situations which will break my Mum's heart.

Baking is my comfort

When some people have a bad day, they drink.  Some people punch walls.  Some people go for a run.  Some people bury themselves in their work.

Not I.

This world does not drive me to drink and drugs.

Not me.

This world drives me to baking.

Floss dog is dying.

And so...and so...I bake.

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