Hopes and dreams

The best and the worst of 2017

Twenty seventeen has been an incredible, wonderful and difficult year for me. There has been so much change, and though I value change and am cognisant of the benefits of not getting stuck in a rut in our lives, this year really was A LOT to take on. I’m going to share with you my best and worst. You should decide which way round you want to read it; I’m already worrying that putting all the worst bits in one place might freak me out!

2017, are you freaking kidding me, why are you being such an arsehole?

On January 2nd, Arijus left for his new job in The Hague, Holland. This goes in both best and worst. It’s here because this might have been one of the hardest experiences of our relationship. After seven and a half years together, we were living apart. This was so not the plan. I struggled to be at home without him, and felt myself slipping towards a darkness that I hadn’t experienced since we went through our (unsuccessful) fertility treatment. Even the hint of the possibility of being that depressed again sent my anxiety spiralling, and worst of all, my best friend, my confidant, therapist and sounding board, was not there to support me. It promoted a lot of introspection on my part, and feelings of failure that I was struggling so much, in comparison to Arijus, who (or so it seemed to me) had swanned off to his new job and environment full of enthusiasm. I may write about this in more detail at some point, but let’s go on. We’re only at the beginning of the year, and 2017 had more shit to throw at me.

In February, my dad, who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, was in an accident and broke his hip. The whole situation was complicated by his not having medical insurance to cover the bills. I think this may have been the first time my brother and I felt the dreaded reality of the mortality of our parents, and had to try and deal with something this complicated; involving finances, emotion and adulting – all from 11,722km away. We got through it and my dad is doing well, although I can’t say I’m convinced of his dedication to his physio exercises! One positive to come out of this was that I experienced the support of my brother in a new way, and it was very warm and reassuring.

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In August, my beautiful Morty had to have surgery to correct his hip dysplasia in both hips. It was very upsetting to discover the problem, and the surgery and recovery was, and is, a big deal. However, I will forever be grateful to the amazing Wilbury Vetinary surgery, and their fabulous staff. I cannot recommend them enough!

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The middle and latter part of the year were scattered with lovely things, so that leaves the packing up and moving – it’s THE WORST – and some crap I’ve had to deal with regarding businesses that just couldn’t give a hoot about their customers.

We made the decision to move to Holland in September, as Arijus is still enjoying his job here and I (well, both of us) were fed up of living apart. Maintaining separate lives was also a strain financially. I am happy with our decision, but I’m not over letting go of our lovely flat in Brighton. It was not only the nicest place we’d rented together, but also two of our close friends lived in the building, AND I’d only finally unpacked the last box since we moved in earlier this summer!!

The crap with the companies is not small fry crap, it’s big arse crap, involving money, lots of complaints letters, and my time, BUT it’s boring, so I won’t go into it! Just, you know, when you feel like it’s a pretty bad situation, but then when you share it with your friends, their response reflects that it’s much worse than you’re admitting to yourself!! Urgh.

Yaaasss, 2017, I can’t even with your awesomeness!!

I’m not going to write the best bits chronologically, because the very best thing has to be shared first!

WE GOT ENGAGED! For our eight-year anniversary, Arijus planned a surprise trip to Roma, Italia! Up to the point where we were at the airport and he checked in, I didn’t know where we were going. I hoped it was Italy. Our first holiday together was to Florence, and we both feel a strong draw to Italy; we love the food, the history, the scenery, and still have many parts of the country we hope to explore together.

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The holiday was incredible, and incredibly HOT! Rome was everything I hoped it would be, and on our anniversary (28th July) Arijus proposed, as we were about to leave the Colosseum. The proposal itself was sweet and short, prefaced by my criticism of Arijus’s socks (they were a horrendous yellow, that used to be bright, but were now dingy with age) which is funny because that is just so us! I swiftly followed my “YES” with, “Did you just propose without a ring?” – again, so me.

Instead of leaving, we wandered around the Colosseum again, talking about what being engaged meant for us, and what to do about not having a ring (this felt important to me; I know not everyone would feel the same). The situation was that Arijus had ordered a ring, but it had been delayed and he decided to go ahead with the proposal (good call).

We found a temporary ring, later that day, and I made Arijus propose again at the top of the Spanish Steps. Because, reasons.

It was a wonderfully romantic holiday, and we were both so happy. Sharing the news with friends and family was very special too.

The Ring finally arrived in August, and we set up the third proposal (well, I did wait EIGHT YEARS) in a pretty square in The Hague, near the Mauritshuis museum. I think that knowing The Ring was coming, but having the time to wonder what it was going to be like, was worse than having it presented at the moment of proposal! I was really worried that I wouldn’t like it, and clearly Arijus had put a lot of thought and effort into it, but what if he’d totally missed the mark?! Of course, I worried needlessly; it is just perfect. We even have a song for it.

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Another special time was Arijus’s 30th birthday, in June. I spent months planning a surprise birthday party (it really helped that he wasn’t living at home – see, positives!) with lots of our family and friends. I wrote about it here.

I was thoroughly spoilt with what felt like LOTS of holidays in 2017. It definitely helped balance out the difficult times. Throughout the year I visited: Lithuania, Italy, Gran Canaria, and Spain. I spent the first eight months going back and forth to Holland too, which involved sight seeing and having friends to visit.

Arijus getting his job in Holland was also one of the best things. It’s a great step for him in his career, and that benefits us both. It’s definitely shaken up our lives, and we needed that; we were a bit stuck, and didn’t know how we were going to move forward towards our life goals. And now here we are, on an exciting new adventure! (The kitties came too, obviously.)

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I’m pretty excited about what’s in store in 2018. There will probably be some wedding planning. It’s also my 40th next October, and we’ve got big plans for that too.

I’m looking back on 2017 and feeling grateful for the wonderful people we have in our lives. In the tricky times, it’s amazing to experience the support of your friends and family, perhaps from corners you might not have expected it. I definitely know this year would have been much, much harder without them. Thank you.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all xxx

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January

So, I’ve been quiet for a while. Sorry ’bout that. Busy times, lots of change. Plus, I don’t really go in for all the new year shenanigans. I really feel that January ought to be like a time out month. I always seem to need to hibernate, and by that I mean, avoid people, shops and so on and get lots of sleep! I need time to recover from the previous year and contemplate the year ahead. If I do have any moments of activity, I tend to direct them towards making my home a calm and lovely space, where I can do a bit of yoga and meditate (this can be quite a task given that the love of my life seems to be one of the most untidy people in the world*).

Of course, I can’t avoid reality completely, and this January has been a foray into a new era for me. I’ve started doing some supply work and it’s been mostly positive. There was one less than positive experience, but I’m not going to dwell on it. Sometimes negative experiences really are a reflection of the other people you’re interacting with. If you know you did your best, what more can you do? I’ve thought about this a bit recently, and it’s helped me calm down more than once in a less than ideal situation.

I’m still at the stage of seeing how the dust is going to settle. Routine is not entirely possible, as I might plan to do something and then get a call at 8am to go in and teach. But I’m ok with that for now. At least I’m one step closer to my goal.

*I’m allowed a small margin of exaggeration here.

What’s in your way, is your way.

The title of this post is a phrase that took me a while to understand. A very lovely yoga teacher who I follow the teachings of on Youtube uses it in one of her videos. At first I was at a loss to understand. And then one day the light bulb pinged on. And now I love it and use it as a mantra when I’m facing a tricky situation.

It has been a crazy few weeks! I won’t bore you with the minutiae but I’ve been swamped and struggling to find time for everything, even more than I usually do. Studying is not happening anywhere near as much as I’d like. I am definitely not on top of the laundry. The cats are neglected (well, neglected compared to their normal indulgences). But my main issue is a massive brick wall of apprehension due to a big career change step I am about to take.

I have been teaching for 12 years. Eek!! And for the most part of that time, I have had serious issues with the education system in this country. I’m not going to get into it now. That’s (possibly) for another post. I went into teaching because I love kids. I still love kids but it’s time for something new. So I’m taking steps towards another career.

So many difficult decisions. I need to maintain a reasonable income. I need to make enough time to study, so that my new career can begin asap. I need to move seamlessly from one career to the next, cutting back on teaching gradually to make way for the proofreading and editing.

I am very lucky to have such a wonderful, supportive man in my life, who doesn’t hold me back from following my dreams. But that doesn’t change how scary this decision is, or that I’m the one who has to stand in front of someone and say, ‘I’m handing in my notice’. And always, in my weaker moments, the question; is this the right decision?

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So I started this post a week ago, and I have had a deadline bear down on me like a freight train since then, along with a massive kick up the backside (which I needed) and finally, the deed is done. I’m feeling relieved, apprehensive and emotional. I went from thinking about making this change three months ago, and feeling really positive it was the right decision, to feeling full of self-doubt. I needed the positive, certain me but she’s been hiding for a few weeks, so I had to tell the small, insecure, little girl me to get with the programme and step up.

Following my dreams has led me to much greater sources of happiness and contentment in the past. Of course there are little sadnesses in this instance, like saying goodbye to some amazing children who I’m honoured to work with, but in the end, I believe this is right for me. I’m finding my way.

I carried a watermelon.

Well, I didn’t. But dancing was how I met the love of my life. Salsa, to begin with, although we have done a little bachata, tried the tango (so dramatic!), the jive and ballroom. That was about seven years ago – when we met.

It is quite a story and enough time has passed that I can look back now and see what a jumbled mess I was making of my life, but that was my journey and I accept it. To give you the gist of it, I was engaged to be married and had just bought a house with my fiancee. Big boxes on my life ‘to do’ list were being ticked off. However, in my denial that things were not quite as good as they looked on paper, I found a hobby that made me happy: dancing.

I love dancing. Salsa is great. Not Cuban style. I learnt LA or cross body style salsa, and that is what I’ve stuck with. It may be just me, but in trying to be good at that style I find it really confusing to do a similar-but-not-the-same dance! Cuban is gorgeous to watch but personally I prefer LA, it is more formal, Cuban is more earthy. I guess the more formal style suits me.

So after a few weeks, I met my lovely man. I immediately felt comfortable dancing with him in class and, being nervous of dancing with strangers, that meant we danced together fairly regularly after class. Long story short: lots of dancing, friendship develops, more dancing, fall head over dance shoes in love.

Dancing, especially with him, became a joyful freedom from the stress of my mind trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. In the time we spent together when we weren’t dancing, I found he was discovering and more importantly, understanding, pieces of me that had been tucked away many years ago. Pieces of me that I liked, but that hadn’t fitted in the relationship I was trying to make work.

Unfortunately, I held on to my denial for a bit too long and I married my fiancee before acknowledging that I’d made a big mess. It was not pretty, as I’m sure you can imagine, and at the time I remember thinking: how is this my life?! I felt like I was in a bad Eastenders storyline. This was a point in my life where I became aware that firstly, cliche sayings really are rooted in truth, and secondly, if anyone else quoted one at me, I was likely to punch their face.

Well, time really does heal, yada yada, and here we are, years later, happy and still very much in love. Of course, nothing is perfect and other challenges we have had to face have meant that we don’t dance regularly anymore. I am trying to get us back into a routine, but it’s really tricky to find decent LA salsa teaching here in Brighton. Sadly, the club we started at closed, and since then the Cuban scene has held court, with all the good LA teachers seemingly keeping to the London area. But I will persevere, for several reasons, not least because it is so special to us and one day, at our wedding, this is the dance we are going to dance.

I wanted to share my story, even though parts of it are difficult to share. Many people make decisions that lead them to difficult places, yet when that person is you, you feel so totally alone. And people judge you, it’s in their nature, and it hurts. I learnt A LOT about myself and my past choices, and what and who I wanted in my life. And I learnt a lot about my friends. Some of them still are, and some of them are not. Follow your heart, and you’ll find your way *shields face* 😉

Change is a comin’


“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” 
― Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book

 

I’m studying. I’m blogging. I’m excited about the future. This is good. Ain’t no point moaning about not liking what you’re doing, or where you are in life unless you’re prepared to make some changes. Well, that’s what I finally got round to realising. So I’m working on it. Because I want to wake up every day and be excited about what I’m doing.