Done being sensible

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions or “new year, new me” mantras. But I do think it can be useful for people for motivation and some self-reflection.

I’ve definitely done a bit of self-reflection the past few weeks. There’s nothing like being single during Christmas that can make you think a bit more about yourself, I assure you.

In general, I’m quite a positive person. I don’t allow myself to wallow or sink into dark thoughts. I find other things to focus on and I have a solid family and friends unit who pick me up (or tell me to stop being so self-indulgent). I say this a lot and I truly believe it, I’m very lucky and have a fantastic life. I have a family who I can always fall back on emotionally and financially. My mum makes me feel beautiful, loved and boosts my self-esteem. My dad gives me sound advice, supports my crazy running adventures and will always be honest with me (he’s never afraid to tell me when I look rubbish, am being a pilock or need bringing back to earth). My sister is always there when I need those ‘girlie chats’ – boys, beauty and life, you know what I mean.

But I’m only human. Being single is pants. Granted, I haven’t made a huge amount of effort to “get out there”. I’m not a clubber, I don’t go to bars, I don’t use online the free dating apps and I’m not quite at the point to pay for the more “quality” ones. And in this day and age, you won’t bump into your soulmate at the supermarket. Sometimes in my lowest and most self-indulgent moments I wonder, “what’s wrong with me?”. I know, I know, it’s pathetic and I’m not asking for pity or people to say “oh but Anna you’re lovely!” like my mum would. I’m just genuinely reflecting on the fact that I’m not a complete mess of a person and have a solid life, yet I’m sat watching everyone around me jump on a train I don’t have a ticket for. I don’t even know how to buy the damn ticket.

So this year I’m going to become a bit more of a “yes person” and stop following the straight and narrow road.

Basically, I’m a sensible person. [I say “sensible” here but I know a lot of past events have shown I’m actually not that sensible because I’m quite the idiot. What I mean is I’m not a spontaneous person]. I don’t really do crazy things (New Year’s Day aside…). I work hard and I save, something I’m very lucky to be able to continue to do now I live at my parent’s and have rented my flat out despite being on a smaller salary. I have goals and plans for this year but mostly surrounding running (Dubai… New York… Jersey ;-)). But I think a lot before I plan on going anywhere and over-analyse everything to the nth degree. I cost everything up, I work it into my budget, put it in my spreadsheet, ponder and hesitate.

Above all, I make sure my savings remain solid. Other than my unruly leggings habit, I really hate spending money. My father would call me “tight” but being single means you are your own means. If I lost my job I lose my income (well, not strictly true now that I’m renting my flat out but you know what I mean). I know my parents are there for me, but having a large savings is my safety net and cotton wool.

But I’m fed up of doing everything by the book and being sensible. I need to go and do something a bit “non-Anna” and throw caution to the wind. I don’t mean spend all my money and live life without a thought for the future of course…but I also shouldn’t sit on a pile of money that is essentially doing nothing. I don’t have any plans to upgrade my flat or move out, buy a fancy car, have a baby.  Without getting too morbid here, I could die tomorrow. What am I waiting for? Clearly I have no ties, no children and am armed full of independence. The time is NOW.

Basically what I’m saying is, I want to stop waiting for something that might not happen and just go and live life to the full. On that note (and trying, but probably failing, not to be have a stereotypical “omg need to find myself” moment), I’m off to Bali in April. A non-running, chill my mind out kind of holiday. Go alone but with a group of strangers. Find a bit of peace in my buzzing brain without using running as a distraction. But in general, for this year, I intend to take each day as a precious gift that I’m alive and I’m a strong, independent woman. My life is now and I’m not waiting for anyone or anything.

*Cue Beyonce*

Have you ever felt a bit… lost?

Have you ever been to Bali?

Are you a saver or a spender?

A gentle nudge for parkrunners

As you may be well aware by now, I’m a huge parkrun fan. parkrun is a big hug in a mug for me. I love the concept (free 5k events all over the UK, and indeed the world!). I love the community. I love the non-competitive nature of it. It’s inclusiveness. I love the fact that you can go to different ones and almost “collect” them and build up your stats.

Yes, I am a parkrun devotee. I love my home parkrun, Netley Abbey. OK the course can be tough; three laps meaning three inclines, the terrain can be tricky (compacted gravel and grass) and it can get a bit hairy when a lot of people show up (shouts of “keep right!” can be heard throughout). I’ve been going there now for a good number of years and I’ve become a fairly regular member of the set-up and close-down team for those years too. It’s a great way to volunteer and still be able to run. I love chatting and laughing with the crew and often feel guilty when I can’t make it because I’m heading off somewhere else that weekend.

Now, volunteering is a crucial part of making parkrun work. Without people giving up their time it wouldn’t work. People can volunteer and not be runners as well. It always amazes me when people become part of the parkrun community this way despite not wanting or being able to run. Run Directors, barcode scanners, course marshals, timekeepers etc., are all so integral to a Saturday’s parkrun.But often forgotten are the set-up and close-down crew. I obviously don’t know what happens in every parkrun, but at Netley we need to be there an hour before the 9am start. We need to get out the signs and parkrun paraphernalia from the store cupboard, which is  no where near the start (it’s the only safe place to store it on the park grounds) and then walk the course and set it up. I suppose at smaller parkruns or more obvious routes don’t require that many signs or that much walking in order to set the course up but for Netley we basically have to walk an entire lap (a mile). We usually don’t have enough people to make this process as efficient as possible. 
Now this is all fine and dandy during the summer months where it’s warm and sunny but when autumn and winter hit, it can be a rather miserable process. It sucks when you wake up for parkrun and see the weather outside. Rain battering against the window, frost, mist, COLD. It’s more of a struggle to get yourself to go. If you “just” run parkrun then you might hide in your car until the last possible minute and then dash off to the start at 8.55am. But the set-up crew have been out there for a good hour in that weather. I can’t speak for everyone else, but normally I’m rather cold, wet and a little grumpy. Peeling off my layers and heading to the start is a hideous process. I’m not overreacting when I say that during the winter I do tend to dread that hour before parkrun. We normally don’t get time to warm-up with a nice jaunty jog around the park.

OK I’m whining and moaning and this is out of the spirit of parkrun – of which, despite all this, I still adore. My moan is no one’s fault – it is what it is. We’ve tried to streamline things as much as possible of course but the weather and time of year can’t be helped.

So this year I’m going to take some time off at winter in setting the course up. It just wears down my love of parkrun and I don’t want that. I also want to explore other parkruns. I want a lazy Saturday morning, getting up at the last possible minute to race down to the start. To hibernate away in my car until the final second. Or have a bit of time to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing before I need to run.

What I will ask though please is when you’re next at parkrun, give a thought to how those signs were put there, who set the barcode table up, who placed each cone on the course, how the finish funnel is where it is…. parkrun fairies don’t exist. parkrun devotees and volunteers DO. Maybe consider giving up that extra time in bed and heading down to help them out. Or when you’re finished, how about clearing the course away instead of dashing home to the warmth or to the coffee shop for a post-run hot drink? It really does help.

Right, moan over!

Do you go to parkrun?

Do you volunteer?

Is your local parkrun course a simple set-up or more complicated?

Adulting fail once again

I should really write a book on all the idiotic things I manage to do. I never considered myself a disorganised or stupid person but it appears that is pretty much me. I’m very lucky I have a good network of intelligent people with lots of common sense around me…otherwise I’m not sure I would have survived to this grand old age of 29.

So asides from my latest Anna Idiot Moments of forgetting my bra when staying over my parent’s house and getting on the wrong train on the way back from London the other week, my latest adulting fail was rather more stressful.

Wednesday last week I headed to the garage to get my car serviced. They handily gave me a hire car so they could do the service the next day. Unfortunately the hire car they gave me was HUGE. I could barely see over the steering wheel. A normal person would take their time aclimatising and adjusting but I felt like I needed to make a move or they’d think I was weird for just sitting there. So as I slowly navigated round the packed car park (lots of brand spanking shiny new cars about the place) I heard a noise and felt something knock into the side of the car. I only went bumped into one of their stupid signs. NIGHTMARE. I jumped out and see a small dent… nooo!

No one saw so I quickly drove off all flustered and panicked (the sign was fine by the way, of course). I notice that they’ve left me with no petrol as well, which further adds to my emotions of I HATE DRIVING. I survey the damage further at the petrol station (after putting a minimal amount in, God damn them). Yeah there’s definitely a dent. I take a photo of both sides to send to my dad later to see his opinion.I then arrive home and realise to my horror I’ve left my flat keys in my car back at the garage…and the garage is now closed. I also realise my parents don’t have their spare keys anymore as I got them to drop them off at the lettings agent ready for me moving out. WHY. WHY AM I SO STUPID.

I ring my mum and promptly burst into tears. It wouldn’t be so much of an issue as I could have just gone back to my parent’s but Alfie is inside the flat and I can’t leave him overnight alone! My mum, bless her, calms me down but ultimately can do nothing to help me. I accept defeat and ring a local locksmith who comes out and picks my lock for me. £78 later (ouch!) and I’m inside. Alfie has been asleep. He couldn’t care less.I spend that evening stressing about the car dent though… The next day when i drop the hire car back off I spend the entire time there sweating, waiting for them to check the car. In an amazing stroke of luck, the lovely guy that serves me doesn’t do any sort of hire car check (he didn’t do one before he handed the keys over to me the day before either…). I’m thinking this is a clearly a kink in their operation. Not that I’m complaining! I feel bad for him not checking as he might get a bit of a telling off about this but, at the same time, I can’t count my lucky stars quick enough as I (carefully) drive out of there in my shiny serviced NORMAL-sized Fiat.

So if anyone thinks that they haven’t got a grasp on life or they’d not a fully functioning adult, just look at me. I am regularly failing life. I do not have my shizz together. How the hell I think I can be a landlady for my flat, well I have no idea! If you want a laugh in life, just keep following what i get up to and I can reassure any doubts you have about how your life is doing. I wish I could learn from my mistakes but there are so many mistakes in life to make… But hey, you have to have a sense of humour about things. If I didn’t, I’d be a mess on the floor.

Have you had any recent adulting fails?

Do you like driving?

Not settling for mediocre

Another post around dating. I thought, why not as I have a few things on my mind.

I go through periods where I’m like “right, let’s do this!” and get really enthusiastic about going on dates and meeting new people. I re-install Plenty of Fish (*sighs*) on my phone and get about chatting to guys who’ve messaged me that don’t seem like a psycho/weirdo/offering a threesome.

I’ve been on some really lovely dates recently with a nice guy but sadly it just didn’t pan out. I’m not one for going into the nitty gritties as it’s hardly fair but I’ll just say he just wasn’t for me. This is much to my mother’s frustration because she couldn’t seem to understand why he wasn’t for me. Or why other dates weren’t for me. Or why men who she suggests aren’t for me.

In her eyes I’ve become too picky. I’m giving up on guys too quickly. I’m not trying hard enough. In fact this was something my friends mentioned to me the other day when I tried to explain why someone else I knew wasn’t for me despite being a) single b) around my age and c) a perfectly normal guy seemingly with his schizz together.

Before I delve too deeply into “becoming too picky” I will firstly mention that age (within reason) is actually not a barrier for me. I’m no spring chicken myself anymore and so can’t really afford to segment a good portion of the male species because they’re too old (or too young, but let’s be real here, I don’t think I’m going to attract many young’uns!).

Am I too picky though? Are my requirements for a partner too specific, too narrow and unrealistic? Maybe they are. But do you know what, why the hell shouldn’t they be? Why settle for a mediocre life? Why settle for “he’s nice” or “we seem to get on well”? Why can’t I have fireworks, explosions, rainbows and magic? Why can’t I have someone who I want to throw all my plans out the window for? Drive a million miles for? Ignore the alarm and miss the gym for?

Am I so far past it, so far gone, that I should just settle for who’s available who kind of ticks the right boxes because I won’t find better. Because I don’t deserve better.

Absolutely not. I REFUSE to settle.

Let’s be clear here. I’m not unhappy. My life is not empty. I may be alone but I am not lonely. I have a life full of excitement, full of plans, goals and ambitions. I have a fantastic network of friends and family. I actually love my life.

I am a whole person and don’t need someone else to complete me. I am not a puzzle with a missing piece. I am bloody good puzzle with all the pieces already stuck together and it looks pretty damn awesome. There may be that someone special and amazing out there for me but I’m not hunting them down and I’m not sat in a tower waiting for them to rescue me. I’m living my life exactly how I want to and if I happen to bump into “Mr Right” then fantastic. But until then, I won’t be settling.

Dating, what’s been your experience?

Am I being unrealistic?

Big changes ahead

I had quite a few different titles in my head for this post. Things like…. Have I failed? Two steps backwards to move forwards. Adulting is hard. Nearly 30 and starting again…things like that.

All the options were things that have gone through my head and in some ways make sense to the action I’m going to take. There are big changes ahead for me indeed. So the Cliff Notes version is: I’m moving back home with my parents. Yep.

I’ll start from the beginning. Towards the end of last year I was feeling really fed up, mainly with my job. As I’ve said before, I just wasn’t feeling that it was something I wanted to do for the foreseeable future. I was coasting along, getting my job done but getting more and more down. I was spending a good portion of my life at work but living for the weekends when I could do what I actually wanted to do. Not to mention the draining, long commute there and back every day.

I had no desire or ambition. Gone was the girl who left university ready to take on the world. Instead I was dreaming of the holidays and marathons I could run and justifying the rest of my time, where I was sad and bored, as a way to fund the more fun times in my life. So what my job wasn’t my passion? I could afford to go on cool holidays, go out for dinner all the time and buy unlimited pairs of leggings. I was living the dream.

But no I wasn’t. And it soon became very clear that the benefit of the solid paycheck wasn’t enough to keep me from sinking into a despondent, unmotivated and sad person. A few holidays a year doesn’t make up for the fact that the majority of my week I was spent unhappy.

So earlier this year I decided to look for another job that would be more in line with what I wanted to do. Something I had a genuine interest in. Having spent a good portion of my career in a quite different field, however, I quickly realised I had very limited experience. Searching for a job with a similar salary was laughable. I hadn’t a chance in hell. So I started looking for jobs from the bottom up. Grass roots’ positions where I could learn and hopefully work my way up. And this was obviously going to be reflected in the pay.

And so I took that pay cut. I could carry on living in my flat with my new job but I would be living hand to mouth every month, and that makes me very nervous. Yes I have savings behind me but I want them to remain there and not be eaten into if I fancy going on holiday or splurging on a trip.

Instead, after long chats with my parents and careful consideration, I decided the best decision would be to rent out my flat and move back home. Long story short, I’ll be moving in September (hopefully) and the money I’ll save will basically bump up my earnings back to a happy place.

I’m obviously extremely grateful to have parents that are so supportive and willing to have me come back home (*cough* my mum is ecstatic). As you’re probably aware, I have a very good relationship with both my parents so hopefully it won’t be a painful experience for anyone. I’ll have my space, they’ll have theirs.

Alfie will obviously be joining me (again, my mum is ecstatic). My parents already have three dogs and he gets on fine with them (though he’ll still sleep with me as he always does when I stay over). It also gives me a bit of freedom (ironically) because I don’t have to rush home all the time to make sure Alfie isn’t alone for too long. My parents have a lovely garden and he’ll be well looked after if I decide to go on a date, a spontaneous work thing or stay out late with friends.

So, a big change for me. For how long, I don’t know…

Have you ever moved back home with your parents?

Would you ever consider something like this?

Do you get on with your parents?