Wednesday, 31 December 2014

#196: Forgive myself

It is often said that it is harder to forgive yourself than someone else. I know I'm not perfect (far from it) and can be difficult at times. I've have spent a lot of time this year blaming myself and my foibles for the collapse of my relationship. How could I have been so trusting? How did I not see it coming? Why did I not stop them spending so much time together? Why did I let us drift so far apart? If only I had been nicer, lost weight sooner, wore trendier clothes, was funnier, paid more attention, was less serious, made more friends, laughed at the jokes more, laughed at the jokes harder, worked less, had a more trendy job, had better interests, made more money. If only my family didn't drive people nuts...if only, if only, if only.

I've spent the last year pinpointing my vast short comings and what I did to drive my Ex away. As any reader of this blog can see, I'm quite adept at coming up with lists and in this regard I excelled and surpassed myself with a never ending list of ways I came up short and ruined things. How it was really all my fault. I have an inner, and not very kind, voice in the back of my head that tells me I'm not good enough, pretty enough, nice enough, thin enough, etc for someone to love me, which was silenced (mostly) during the 9 years we were together. Having someone who knew me so well walk away, and with someone else, makes it difficult to believe it's not true; difficult to believe I didn't deserve it and somehow have it coming. That it was my fault. I have spent sleepness nights on the bathroom floor, at the kitchen table, or in bed crying over the myriad of ways I let my love and myself down.

Despite that, I'm learning to forgive myself for my many failings, even as I work hard to make sure I don't repeat my mistakes as I go forward. It takes two to make a relationship work, and a relationship is work sometimes. If only forgiving oneself was as easy as forgiving someone else, I'd be fine. I'm not sure I've entirely cracked this one, but I'm well on my way...

#195: Forgive my Ex

Wow, this is a big one to tick off. A few months ago, I was asked about forgiveness in an interview for the Huffington Post and whether I had forgiven my ex or not. I was not yet ready to forgive at that point, so I said the only thing that came to mind: "Forgiveness...that's tough. The other F word!" No matter how much I wanted to move on, forgive and forget, my heart wasn't ready then. I was still bitter, hurt and angry.
More time has past since then, however, and with time comes more distance and greater understanding. I still see my Ex fairly regularly, mostly to let my Ex see the cats. We are cordial, but reserved. I'll get the low down on what's going on in family and work life and hear the latest stories about my goddaughter, the niece. The new GF is never mentioned. I find it odd and somewhat confusing at times that my ex still ends most of our visits in tears, more than a year later. It was not my choice; this was what you supposedly wanted, I want to say, but I don't. I know in my heart that it is not me the tears are for but for our pets, the house and the life we had together. But not me. I may have helped build and provide that life, but it is not me that is missed. It is a very fine but important distinction.

My Ex was unhappy -- I thought with life. It turns out it was with both life and with me. I was a big part of my Ex's life so in retrospect I can now see how it seemed to make sense to cut me loose and start fresh. It was the one area of life my Ex had complete control over. There had been no premeditated plan to break up with me that morning, but when I unwittingly spoke those fateful, and fatal, words it opened a door for my Ex to walk out and make changes.

I have no doubt that my Ex would not have left me if the new girlfriend had not been lurking around.  Like a bad penny she was always showing up but I loved and trusted. They worked together and bonded over their mutual interest, but after 9 years I loved and trusted that was all there was to it. It was only in retrospect that the words my Ex uttered that morning made sense: "I love you. I'm not unhappy, it's just I think I could be happier with someone else." Looking back, that was why my Ex had no interest in trying to work things out, consciously or unconsciously. I'll never know what really happened between them and when. I had asked at the time if there was someone specific in mind and was told no...and I believed that.
What I do know is that they spent last Christmas, which was only a few weeks after we split, together with my Ex's family, and I was told by friends that they effectively had moved in together by January ... THAT and the lies surrounding it all have been the hardest to forgive. Break ups are not easy, but they happen.

Being left for another woman, however, is a different level of soul (and trust) destroying. Because of that, in some way, I will always probably hurt in some way. But they did what they needed to do. Even if I didn't understand it at the time, I can now appreciate the possibility that they did me a favour and spared me from spending the rest of my life as a safety net or consolation prize.
I am working hard to try to heal those wounds that have left my heart bruised, battered and torn apart. There were times this past year when I missed my friend, my love, my life, but I have had to let go and move on. To do that I had to learn to forgive, find some kind of peace and build a new life. Having The List certainly has helped as well.

I do hope that my Ex finds whatever happiness was missing from life when we were together. While our life was not perfect, I was pretty happy so if there's something even better, that's a pretty exciting prospect which gives me tremendous hope for my life to come.

Photo credits: Feng Yu, solominviktor, Marianne D : Shutterstock

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

#194: Stay employed

In this day and age, while it's difficult to get a job, it can be even more difficult at times to stay employed. I've been very lucky (and I have also worked very hard) throughout my life but these days that doesn't mean much when the bean counters want to make changes.

I work in a cut throat industry that is undergoing a lot of change and, while the company I work for is great, it's no exception. So not only has my personal life been in turmoil this year, my work life has been too.

While I was fortunate to be promoted in June, my company announced yet another restructure in September (the 3rd time in 18 months). My job is under threat yet again, but I've managed to last the year still employed.
I'm not sure how, as I have been admittedly focused on and distracted by my personal life. Some days I hated going to work and frankly am not sure how I made it through certain days in any functional way. But there were many other days that I was grateful for the distraction and for having something that kept me busy and gave me some means of support and pride.

I could have easily wasted the year cowering under my duvet feeling even more sorry for myself. While this has been a tough year, there are many people out there who aren't as fortunate. I know I am lucky and I am grateful to still be gainfully employed. Fingers crossed the new year doesn't end up with my head on the chopping block. But if it does, maybe I'd do something more with that book proposal.

Monday, 29 December 2014

#193: Write a book proposal

I had this on my list because I've often wondered if I could write a book. You know what they say, "Everyone has a book in them". When I started this year, I didn't really have any idea what this hypothetical fictional book would be about or if I even had a story in me that people would want to read. I worry that even if I do have a book in me, that that's where it should stay: within me.

Since I started writing this blog, however, I've had some amazing and humbling feedback including many suggestions that I turn it into a book or screenplay. I'm not sure it deserves that or even if I'd want to use something so personal as the basis for a story, if not the story, but it has given me some food for thought. My gut says I should just let sleeping dogs be, writing a book proposal is different from publishing a book.

Let me know if you think this is a good idea or not. Personally I'm on the fence...

Photo credit: bogdanhoda : Shutterstock

Sunday, 28 December 2014

#192: Go Ice Skating

Being born in Minnesota, I was on skates pretty much as soon as I could walk. I figure skated and played ice hockey and so spent a lot of time (months of the year!) in and around ice rinks growing up. I absolutely loved skating when I was younger.
There's always been something special about ice skating: the smell of a rink, the brisk coldness of the air and that special feel when your skate hits the ice for the first time. And also of course the Zamboni! Of all the words in the English language, I laugh almost every time I say the word Zamboni. It's just such a funny word to say, I love it. (For those of you who don't know what a Zamboni is, it's the machine that cleans and makes new ice).
A Zamboni. Photo credit: jessicakirsh /
Like many things on The List, I have not skated in years. Every winter, I would see the festive rinks open and think, 'I must go skating this year' but another year would pass without doing it. Despite it being something I once loved to do, I just didn't make time for it. Luckily in London I had a few different options for checking this off The List: The Natural History Museum, Tower of London, Winter Wonderland and of course the winner, picturesque Somerset House.

I was a bit worried that after so long I'd have forgotten how to balance and that in any attempt to try to regain the skills I once had would have me face down on the ice with a subsequent trip to A&E for broken wrist. So I didn't try any advanced moves and kept to the basics but I was beaming from ear to ear. I enjoyed it so much. Hopefully it won't be another 20 years before I'm back on the ice...

Saturday, 27 December 2014

#191: Go to a strip club

I'm not sure why this is on my list. In fact if I thought about the negative social and ethical aspects around supporting this activity I definitely would not do this. I think it was on my list because I've long been curious what happens in these places and what it's really like and so when I put my list together I thought this was one of the things I doubted I'd ever be brave or bold enough to do.

When I lived in New York it was not uncommon for girls to join their male friends going to Scores or some other higher-end 'gentleman's club', but I was too much of a wimp and always made my way home instead. But that was before the days of Miley Cyrus twerking in prime time. Rightly or wrongly, sexy dancing/stripping has become main stream and so I thought that it was time to see what all the fuss is about.

I have to say that, while I had a fun evening, that was down to the company of the friends that joined me, not because I actually enjoyed the experience itself.

Anyway, it was certainly an experience.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

#189: Visit my parents for Christmas

Last year I spent Christmas at my place for the first time in my life. I was alone for most of the time, for obvious reasons. London was too far away for my ageing parents/family to travel to at short notice, which worked out because I couldn't have handled having guests anyway. As much as I love my family, it would have been too much. But nor could I go home, by myself, to the house I grew up in. I would have felt like even more of a failure than I already did to be showing up, by myself, like I did when I was 20 years old.  I imagined everyone thinking, "Oh look at her, single at Christmas time, and at her age. How sad."

I needed to be in the comfort of my own home, alone with my cats. (And get used to how I would likely spend the rest of my life: alone with the cats.) The house may have been a bit empty and lonely at times but it was a safe and comfortable place for me to cry and be sad, which was exactly what I needed at the time. Truth be told it was a very enjoyable Christmas for me all things considered. Simple, straight-forward with no entanglements, stressful travel or difficult relations to deal with. Nor did I have to explain myself or lack of partner to distant relatives or parental friends. I felt bad letting my parents down but I didn't need to make life any harder for myself than it already was.

However, I knew I shouldn't do that again and when I put my list together I hoped I'd be able to handle Christmas with family this year. So I braved the roads and airport, (even stealing a cheeky photo booth kiss in the process) and am happy to say that I have made it back to my childhood home this year for Christmas. And while I may have arrived on my own, I'm totally ok with that because I know there are people out there who care about, and even love, me.

Merry Christmas indeed.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

#188: Kiss in a photo booth

Childish I know. I’m a middle-aged woman for goodness sake. Still, there’s a naughty little teenager lurking underneath my respectable exterior.

Who says teenagers are the only ones who get to enjoy some cheeky fun anyway? (Of course I made sure that the curtains to the photo booth were both long and closed.)

It made saying goodbye at the airport much more enjoyable.

Photo: Tyler McKay, conrado / Shutterstock

Sunday, 21 December 2014

#187: Go to a Wine Tasting

Tis the season for celebrations so knowing I had this on my list, I decided to forgo my usual tipple and try the tasting/drinking menu. I had a tasting of 3 sparkling wines: A Champagne (French Sparkling), a Cava (Spanish Sparkling) and an English Sparkling (why hasn’t the British wine industry hasn’t come up with it’s own name, like prosecco, I don’t know.)

 I may not have made it down to an English vineyard this year (another item on my list), but I have to say the English sparkling was a lot better than I expected. Surprisingly, I preferred it to the cava.

English Wine: While Britain, particularly the southeastern parts of Sussex and Kent, has similar soil to that in Champagne region, Britain's cold and rainy weather has historically made it difficult to make good wine. Luckily, the warm weather of recent years has changed that. English Sparkling wine is leading the way and there was recently an English Sparkling that made it into the top 10 Sparkling wines in the world. I have to say I really enjoyed mine.

Friday, 19 December 2014

#186: Get 10,000 Twitter followers

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd achieve this. I was lucky to be functioning enough to get out of bed in the morning, let alone actually write a blog/journal about what I was doing; a blog that was really only meant for me, to enable me to look back and see how far I'd come. I never really intended to reach that many people or for it to have much of an audience. But it seems like there are quite a few people out there who have liked what I've been doing. I've had some great feedback about the blog; it seems to have struck a cord and inspired a few people to start Lists of their own. I am humbled and grateful for the support.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

#185: Sell old stuff on ebay

Earlier this year I did a big clean out of both my and my ex's belongings. Some things I gave to charity, others I threw out, and still others I kept as I thought I might want/need in the future. Having a year's distance on my old life, however I've come to realise that there were a few things I was still literally holding onto that I needed to get rid of as they were clogging up not only my living room, but also my life. So bye bye old chair and sofa. So long the dress my ex liked but I thought was hideous. Adios fancy-brand notepad that serves no real purpose. I've decluttered further and earned a few bob at the same time.

Monday, 15 December 2014

#184: Go to Borough Market

Borough market is one of London's oldest food markets and while it is open to the trade 6 days a week, it is only open to the public Thursday-Saturday. It is a charming Victorian market that sells an eclectic mix of local staples and exotic food from Europe and beyond. It's a foodies paradise, though not somewhere to come with a thin wallet. The food is great, but it does come at a price. This is not your average weekly shop, so come hungry and you'll find a choice of food adventures to chose from.

Photo: Jermey Keith

Friday, 12 December 2014

#183: Go to a Christmas Carol Concert

This past weekend I went to see a celebrity reading of Dickens A Christmas Carol at Southbank Centre. When I originally booked this I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone, namely go to a book reading AND go to a Christmas concert. On reflection though I thought that was kind of cheating so I found a different book reading to go to. It had been a few years since I had heard the story of Scrooge and Marley, and I was pleasantly surprised that the tale of Tiny Tim's survival was just as heart warming as I remembered it being when I was a kid. I'll see your Bah Humbug and raise you a very 'Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!'

Photo: Southbank Centre

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

#182: Go to a Christmas Market

Another thing I like about living in a big city during the holidays is the choice of stores to go Christmas shopping in, from big brand name stores to mom and pop local shops. Top of my Christmas shopping to do list is to visit at least one Christmas Market.

I love these festive and crafty temporary stores which are geared to separating as many people as possible from their dosh in exchange for sometimes-questionable Christmas tat. For me nothing screams 'Christmas shopping' like people bundled up in winter coats and scarves, walking en mass as slowly as my (long dead) grandmother, craning to see whether the goods in the next stall are worth fighting against the stream of people, like a salmon swimming upstream, or whether to continue to follow the slow moving herd. Throw in some cold weather, mulled wine and under cooked bratwursts and you forget that in addition to presents for your loved ones you're pretty much guaranteed to bring a winter cold home as well.

Despite it all, I find Christmas Markets charming and a vital part of the season.

Photo: Southbank Centre

Monday, 8 December 2014

#181: Spend a morning lazily reading the Sunday papers

This was another one of my 'get out of jail free' cards when I originally made my list. Being somewhat lazy and intellectual by nature, I would regularly while away hours (days?) reading the papers on the sofa in my previous life. I put this on the list to give me an out and not feel guilty about doing something simple that I enjoy.
For me there is something soothing about reading an actual paper (as opposed to internet version). Flipping through the crisp new pages and throwing a now-crumpled section on the floor after reading it cover to cover.

Fast forward a year, however, and I actually have made very little time for such simple pleasures as I've been out and about doing more 'exciting' things. So this is one I’m happy to have made time for again.
Photo: Alistair Scott, Lightwavemedia: Shutterstock

Sunday, 7 December 2014

#180: Go to Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall is a grand Victorian concert hall that borders Hyde Park in the posh London borough of South Kensington. Known for hosting the annual summer Proms, a classical concert series that runs for 8 weeks every summer, The Albert Hall was built in 1851 as part of The Great Exhibition, and has continued to be a popular music and event venue ever since. The building's architecture is stunning and whether it's The Proms, Tennis, Cirque du Soleil, Choral performance or Rock concert, visitors are guaranteed a charming and unique setting.
On this occasion, I went to see an ATP Champions Tennis match, but one year I would like to make it to a Proms concert.

Top Photo: Christapper / Shutterstock

Saturday, 6 December 2014

#179: Go to a Museum in London

Like my item go to a Museum in Paris, this is on my list as an item I feel like I should do rather than one I particularly wanted to do. One of the reasons I like living in a city like London (or New York) is the culture I can/could be exposed to. But like anything, being surrounded by great art and museums that I can go to at anytime means that I rarely actually go.

With the year getting short I was running out of time to tick this one off my list so when friends suggested we meet up for a drink at Late at the Tate it was the perfect meeting of going out with friends for the evening, with a bit of culture. Some art was seen on this occasion, though admittedly we saw more 'modern' art when we decamped to a bar in Soho.
Modern art: Barbie dolls on the ceiling at a bar in Soho
But a fun evening was had by all.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

#178: Go to an Ice Bar

One of the things some Europeans do at Christmas time is to go to Santa's Village in Lapland, visit Santa and his real reindeer, see the Northern Lights, go dog sledding and stay at the Ice Hotel, a hotel made entirely of ice, including the beds. Now I'm not a particular fan of being cold, so while that all sounds really romantic and cool (literally), in practice I'm not sure I'd actually like any of it.

But I do like my beverages cold so the idea of visiting an IceBar is something that I felt like I should try at least once in my life. I can report that my Amaretto did not need to be put on the rocks, as it was already -5C. And while I'm glad I tried this, I can say that I'm much more comfortable in heated surroundings with ice in my glass rather than ice FOR my glass.
Top Photo: Franco Caruzzo / Flickr

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

#177: Go to Winter Wonderland

Since 2005, a large area of Hyde Park off of Park Lane has been transformed into a whimsical Winter Wonderland, offering Christmas market stalls, food and drink stands, a circus, vast array of amusement park rides for young and old including a 53-metre tall Ferris wheel which dominates the winter skyline. I've been meaning to go to Winter Wonderland since it opened, but never quite got around to it and so was determined that I would venture into the park this year.

There's a real German Christmas market feel to the place which is helped by the Bavarian Village, Oktoberfest hall, live music and vendors selling bratwurst, pretzels beer and mulled wine. It was a great way to kick off the Christmas season.

Photo: David Burrows /

Sunday, 30 November 2014

#176: Movie Night with Friends

This is something so simple and straight forward, but is something I talk about yet rarely do.

Friend: "Have you seen the trailer for that new movie?" 

Me: "Yes, looks great. Shall we go?"

Friend: "Yes, how about next week." 

Me: "Sounds good, except next week I'm pretty busy. Let me get back to you about the week after." 

And I never do.

Before I know it I'm seeing a commercial about how the movie has come out on DVD; I've missed yet another one.

Now that I'm dating someone, doing movie night with friends is even harder. Finding the right balance between time with friends and a new love interest can be challenging, but one of the lessons I learned from my break up is that I need to make more time for new and old friends. Happily I've managed to carve out two movie nights with friends recently. While the films haven't been great, the time spent with friends definitely has been.

Photo: photastic: Shutterstock

Saturday, 29 November 2014

#175: Black Tie at the Dorchester

The Dorchester is one of London's most famous and luxurious hotels. Located on Park Lane and overlooking Hyde Park, The Dorchester Ballroom is an art deco tour de force that holds up to 1,000 people and hosts some pretty glamorous evenings and events. Now I'm not really a fan of dressing up, but if I have to do it I'd rather go all out and it doesn't get much more fancy than Black tie at the Dorchester.
Attending something like this with strangers making small talk over dinner is not necessarily how I prefer to spend an evening frankly and certainly when I made my list at the start of the year the idea of being able to go out for a night without crying was daunting. But I'm glad to say I made it through the evening and people there would have no idea how hard it was for me. It almost looked as if I was enjoying myself. No mean feat.
Top photo credit: Sofia Andreevna, shutterstock

Friday, 28 November 2014

#174: Host Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving I was a sniffling crying wreck that could barely get myself dressed to go to work let alone host a festive and fun Thanksgiving. At the start of the year the idea of having to organise and cook for so many people was like staring at the top of Mount Everest from base camp knowing I had to hike it with no training. I could barely feed myself, so the idea of feeding so many people and enjoying it seemed out of the question...but something to aim for.
Like many Americans, Thanksgiving is the holiday I enjoy most. Many British people ask me about Thanksgiving, it's history, what and why we celebrate it. I say it's similar to a kind of Harvest festival and explain the history: how it started with the Pilgrims from the Mayflower making it through the first year and celebrating a bountiful harvest by inviting their Indian neighbors over for a feast and giving thanks.
For me Thanksgiving has the best bits of Christmas without the commerciality. Having friends and family around for a good meal to celebrate what we're thankful for is what the Christmas spirit is about, but with presents added in. But Thanksgiving is simple. It is literally a day off to give thanks. And eat.
Admittedly the last year has been a tough one for me, but I have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

#173: Visit Wales

For those who are unfamiliar with Wales, it is a separate country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is England's Western neighbour (Scotland being England's Northern neighbour) and is generally a forgotten bit of the UK as far as many oversees tourists are concerned. Many people will be familiar with the fact that Prince Charles has the title, the Prince of Waleswhich is a title traditionally granted to the heir of the English monarch since Edward III in the 1300s. Wales is considered one of the modern Celtic nations and the Welsh language is still used over English in many parts of the country. 

There is a real rivalry between the Welsh and English, sporting and otherwise. Kind of like the rivalry Canadians have of Americans (I'm sure that if Americans considered their Northern neighbors to be rivals in anything other than ice hockey that sentiment would be returned.) Regardless, there's a mutual tension between the English and Welsh. 

My Ex was not fond of the Welsh and therefore never wanted to go to Wales, even though there are many lovely places within 3-4 hours of London to visit and explore. Being freed from that restriction I am now free to visit the country unencumbered by centuries of embedded baggage. I'd like to say that I went to one of the lovely beaches and hiked the beautiful peaks of Snowdonia.  

That would be a lie however. I went to Cardiff. For work. For an afternoon.  Cardiff AfterDark is a sight to see. 

So the good news is I still have plenty more to see in Wales in 2014 and beyond.

Photo credits: stocker1970, eserfa : Shutterstock

Saturday, 22 November 2014

#172: Go to a rooftop Bar in London: The Paramount Bar

The Paramount Bar has long been on my cocktail bar wish list and not just because it has a reputation for good cocktails. At 31 stories high, it is in one of London's tallest buildings and has to be the best viewing point in all of central London. With 360 degree views, you can see most of London from Tower Bridge and St Paul's in the East to Westminster, Big Ben and the Wheel in the West.

And the cocktails weren't bad either.

Photo: Level 31 events

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

#171: Go to a live auction

We've all seen those programs on TV that show people buying things (a house, chair or lamp, for example) at auction. A packed room full of people, placards with numbers on them being repeatedly raised while someone who talks really fast says things that you don't really understand, followed by a few intelligible numbers. And *clack* with a bang, the hammer goes down and is sold to the lucky person with number 121 sign. 

Well, I thought it'd be fun to see what a live auction is like, just to see mind you, not with any intention of buying anything.

The atmosphere got to me however and I saw a lovely little chest of drawers that looked unloved...And like it'd go great in my living room. Unfortunately when it went up for bidding it wasn't nearly as unloved as I thought it might be, but in the end still managed to bring it home without going over my stated (and very limited) spend. 

It was an enjoyable afternoon and certainly a better way of getting furniture than from Ikea.

Photo: Robert Adrian Hillman / Shutterstock

Sunday, 16 November 2014

1 year on: The Betrayal

Finding out only weeks after we agreed to take time out that my ex was already 'seeing' a 'friend' sent me spinning even more than our shock separation. My world literally was turned upside down and I started looking back on everything I held most dear and wondered if this life I had loved had been true after all. Questions like: When had it really started? Those times I came home from work and saw them at the kitchen table, had it been going on in my house under my nose? (They swear, no. I'm not so sure.) How could I have let something like this happen? How had I totally missed the signs that my partner was that unhappy with me

Despite having a humorous facade, my ex is not generally a happy person and was not happy at the time we broke up. I knew that. It wasn't a secret. I didn't have my head THAT far in the sand. But having to close your own business and reevaluate what you do for a living is tough on anyone (and their family). I thought I had been very supportive and understanding throughout it all. I knew the pain of business failure because I'd been through similar with my own business a few years before. We had weathered that storm together so I figured we'd weather this one. In the meantime, I was working harder than ever at work to ensure I didn't lose my job and we didn't lose the house we loved. My ex seemed increasingly resentful and distant but I had (wrongly, and perhaps unfairly) chalked it up to seeing me busy and succeeding where my ex wasn't. Regardless, I had thought it was only a temporary blip and small price to pay for keeping a roof over our collective heads. We were partners after all and our happy times would resume once this storm had passed. No relationship is blissfully happy all the time after all. Life unfortunately sometimes gets in the way. 

On reflection, the real warning sign was that my ex was also having trouble adjusting to the idea of being middle aged. I noticed more frequent referencing of the joyous University and post Uni years: talking of drink and all nighters. The silly, irresponsible, fun nights that were had before I arrived on the scene and life became stable and boring. The fact that almost all friends associated with those days were married with steady jobs and multiple kids with changed lives of their own was conveniently forgotten. In retrospect it's so classic, it's a cliche. But being in the midst of it at the time, it wasn't so obvious what was happening. To start, you never think it's going to happen to you. Being left for another woman happens all the time, but to other people. We are different. We love each other. It won't happen to us, to me. 
My ex: 'diagnosed' with early-onset midlife crisis.

Except it did.

No amount of time passing will ever change that. It is something that still hurts incredibly deeply and I'm not sure I will ever completely recover from. But I'm trying...and hoping I can learn to love and trust again.  

Photo: blueskyimage / shutterstock

Monday, 10 November 2014

One year on...

It's now been a year since my old relationship broke down. A year ago, I was devastated and couldn't believe the life and relationship I loved for 9 years seemed to be ending. Only weeks before I was made goddaughter to the Niece (for life, right?) and we were talking about our would-be wedding guest list (NOT at my instigation, I might add. I was content as we were.) More than one set of friends said that they had always looked up to our relationship as both a great friendship and a model partnership and how utterly shocked and saddened they were to learn we had split. 

While I blame myself for a lot of things, over time I've realised that it takes two for a relationship to fail. Although I would have done whatever it took to make it work, my ex wasn't interested in even trying. 9 years literally were thrown away at the spur of the moment one morning before I went to work, when I casually said that I noticed that things were a bit distant and I wanted to work on getting closer again. (I thought it was jet lag, since we had just come back from a holiday in the US a few days wrong I was!) 

Sometimes I do wonder what would have happened had I never uttered those fateful words...If I'd just left the house that day without saying anything and just intending to make more of an effort myself. Would my ex ever have had the guts to bring it up or would we have coasted through that lull like we had at other times over the years and regained the closeness we had previously always found our way back to? While I know such questions are not particularly helpful for moving forward, I can't deny wondering how differently things might have played out had I not unwittingly opened the door for my ex to leave that morning. 

That was how quickly things ended. I woke up, grabbed a coffee and on the way out the door (my coat on) I bent down to kiss my love good bye and in addition to saying 'have a good day', also said: 'Things seem distant with us, I want to make an effort to get closer again.' The response of 'What's the point' was SO not what I expected back. And just like that, we were over. 9 years dismissed without even an argument. 5 mins of discussion, my ex made it clear that working through it wasn't an option; it would only be me trying. To say I was blindsided and shocked was an understatement. 

How I made it through work that day, that week and that month I don't know. 

That said, a year on, I'm happy to say that while I may miss parts of my old life, I don't miss my ex. The tears are rarer and further apart and I go days / weeks without thinking about my loss. I'm still working my way through The List, though at this point it's serving a different purpose than it did when I started the year. Whereas before it was something I was doing to keep busy and remind myself to enjoy life in the face of such pain, now it's something positive I do because I don't want to stop trying new things. I want to keep doing things that make me happy. 

One year on and I'm happy to say that I'm in a better place and am enjoying my new life more than I ever thought possible. 

Photos: Photo: Ragma Images, Michal Nowosielski, Pixelbliss / Shutterstock

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

#170: Kiss someone in Paris

The City of Lights and Romance. There is just something about Paris that makes you want to walk hand in hand, arm in arm. We spent a lovely day walking around the City and watched the sunset from The Trocadero. When the lights on the Eiffel Tower went on, it capped an amazing day. 

When I put my list together, this was one I never would have guessed I'd be able to do. I was daydreaming when I wrote it down, thinking about things I'd likely never do again. To be able to do so in such an authentic way this year is more than I could ever have asked or imagined. 

Kissing under the Eiffel Tower? Check! 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

#169: Go to a museum in Paris

One of the great benefits of living in London is how easy it is to travel. Being within 15 minutes of the Eurostar makes it even easier, though it's not something I do very often. Living in New York, a 3 hour train ride might get me to Boston or Washington D.C.  From London, I can get to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and many other places in between...assuming I actually plan ahead and book it. Going to a museum in Paris is on my list because it's one of the things I feel like I should eating my vegetables. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

#168: Kiss in the rain

kiss me

There's something about kissing in the rain that's so romantic. Again, not something that I thought I'd do again.

Photo: bostankorkulugu / flickr

Saturday, 25 October 2014

#167: Go on holiday with someone special

Now you may have been wondering who the 'we' is I occasionally have mentioned. Well, I have a little confession to make: I met someone speed dating (see number 20) and while we've been taking things relatively slowly, we have been officially seeing each other since the spring. I haven't wanted to mention it on the blog because a) I don't want to jinx it and b) the blog is about the list not necessarily about my love life.

There are a few things I put on my list, like 'go away on holiday with someone special', that I honestly thought would never ever happen, ever again ... let alone in 2013. I was convinced when I wrote the list that this was one I would never cross off. That I was a dried-up, has-been destined for a life alone with my cats, going on holiday by myself for the rest of my life.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Bottom Photo: Alan Bailey / Shutterstock

Thursday, 23 October 2014

#166: Go Tubing

For those of you not familiar with tubing, it's quite simple: Blow up an inflatable tube and drag it (and multiple other ones) behind a speed boat at full speed. It's like water skiing except with other people along side ping ponging into you. You have to hold on tight to keep from being bounced overboard, though I found it helps if your backside is large enough to wedge yourself securely into the tube (like mine!). I think it was the first time in my life that I was thankful for having a bigger bum because I was firmly wedged in and not as likely to go flying.

But I still had to hold on tight when we went around the curves. It was like Newton's Cradle, smashing into another tube and sending it flying out across the wake only to have it return to hit you back out across the wake yourself. 
Newtons cradle
So much fun!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

#165: Go water skiing

Like sailing, I haven't been water skiing (or snow skiing for that matter) in some time. They say that once you've learned it's like riding a bike -- you get right up. I suppose it depends on what your definition of up is, as I face planted on my first attempt.

Ultimately I did get up on the skis and had so much fun I went again and again for the rest of the holiday.