I'd been saying I'd like to go to again for the best part of two, maybe even three years.
I'd accrued some loyalty points through online shopping with British Airways and had earned enough to get an entrance ticket for free.
I booked a random date for the week I had off over Christmas and I went.
Not the most exciting bit of prose to start a blog post with, but have a look at another pretty photo and stay with me.
The trip was marvellous. Just me, my thoughts and my camera in the fresh air and Wintery sunlight. I walked around, got hella steps in on my fitbit that day, thought about my hopes, prayers and intentions for the year ahead. It was really great time to focus and enjoy that smagical still time that seems to exist between the end of one year and the start of another.
I want to get better at photography, so I took my camera with me and snapped away. I'm still getting there with understanding all of the technical terms, but I'm just going with the have camera, will snap mantra at the moment. And there lies the lesson.
The thing we need to understand is that as adults we'll hardly ever have large pockets of time to dedicate to passions, hobbies, learning new skills, trips. It just doesn't happen. We may dream of throwing the towel in and travelling round the world for a couple of months, but hello? Bills, responsibilities, work, family? If you want to go somewhere, book a date and make everything else work round it. Otherwise, you'll spend three years "planning" to go to Kew Gardens. Not even leaving the country, you know! But literally, that's how ridiculous it can get if you don't JFDI.
If you want to be something, then do something.
One small thing. One small action.
Pick up the camera and start snapping. Even if you don't know what all the buttons do.
Start the blog post. Bake the cake.
Start the blog post. Bake the cake.
Want to be a dancer? Book a dance class. Go. And boom, wouldn't you know it? You're a dancer. You may not be a great dancer, but you're a dancer, twinkle toes.
Want to get fitter? Find a class that interests you. Give it a go. Give another one a go. Go to the gym. Guess what? Those few hours were better spent shaking your butt instead of sitting on it. You're now well on your way to being fitter.
Forget the planning. The maybes. The one days and some days.
Ditch the wishing, the pinning and the planning. Which, might I add, as a massive planner, is completely against my nature for me to say. You'll never be ready. You'll always be scared. Why are we always so ready to fail, but so scared to try? If you don't like it, at least you silenced your inner fearmonger and procrastinator.
And if you like it? Great. Now go be greater.
And if you like it? Great. Now go be greater.
I used to write these posts called streams of consciousness. Quickly typed, in the moment, not obsessed over and edited for days, for fear of wanting it to be just right.
It's 9.19pm, I've just finished episode one of The Replacement and if you've seen this instagram snap, the mother of all KFC meals. Out of shot was an additional piece of chicken and gravy #sorrynotsorry. I just felt the urge like I used to have for those posts, to fire up the laptop and type some words. Though I haven't got long, because I've left the flat to do so, and my laptop battery is hella low (well done Sasha).
I feel quite pumped at the moment. I'm finding myself very taken with the phrase 'yolo.' Not in a, 'chuck a holiday to New York on a credit card and worry about it later' kinda way, but feeling the true depths of the phrase that we only get one shot at life. I don't want to wait until someone dies or some other time-limiting factor surrounds me to jolt me awake. I'm trying to be live woke all day, err'day. Perhaps that's why I've found myself blogging tonight. Writing is one of my true passions, and this blog isn't gonna write itself. I have to take the time to hone my craft, show up, be consistent, make time for the things I want to be larger in my life.
I fell in love with my old school friend's flat over the weekend. She lives in Crystal Palace, in a dream pad, the likes of which you see on Pinterest and Air BnB. I used to think that home ownership was out of my reach, but you can't really doubt it when you're literally standing in the centrefold of Living Etc. magazine. aka, old friends Scandi living room of dreams.
Here's my friend, living her Pinterest dream IRL. Someone I went to school with, that's my age, doing it. I've long known that while the odds aren't necessarily in my favour when it comes to home ownership, it's not impossible, and that actually, I need to face up to the fact that I haven't been putting my all into saving up for it, because I didn't make it a priority.
Problem with me though, is that once I decide something is a priority, I want it right there and then. Cue my bank account lol-ing loudly at me. "Um darling, the resources to go with that pipe dream?" And the forethought that should accompany that has been running on some serious BPT (black people timing), just strolling to the party five years late. So the long slog starts now. But I have that flat etched in my mind to visualise and keep the momentum going.
At 31, I feel quite clear in my mind about what I want for my life now. I've not had that up to this point.
Maybe it's becoming more acutely aware of time that's driving me. Whatever it is, I'm taking it and running with it. But right now, it's time for me to get back to episode two of The Replacement. Gotta give it up for BBC drama right now. Shows like this almost make the TV licence worth it. Almost.
I had a training day today.
I was super thankful to have it to break up the week. I've booked off that ultimate holiday hack of 18 for the price of 9 annual leave days, but there's still six and a half weeks for me to get through until I get there.
I had exchanges with some of the speakers at the conference, bumped into an old colleague, and a friend stopped in quickly to have some photos taken for work. I've spoken to people, I've interacted. So why do I feel so lonely?
It's been palpable this evening. And that's okay. And what's even more okay, is admitting it. Admitting that today I did nothing but surface chat to the people I came across, while my thoughts were silently screaming to an audience of one. It's interesting, and scary, that we can put on that "I'm fine" face and fool the world, and still feel a bit empty inside.
I'm used to being on my own. I'm an only child, and actually I seek out solace a lot of the time, but there's a difference in choosing to be alone and feeling lonely.
There's no conclusion, just the acknowledgement of a feeling, the knowledge that it's okay to not feel 100% all the time, a hot shower and an early night tbh.
I was trying to think of some delightfully empowering words to accompany these photos.
These photos.... they weren't planned.
It was Friday night. I had just taken my braids out and washed my hair and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and felt a smile curl on my lips. This woman with curves, wobbly bits, afro hair that she doesn't really know what to do with, strong calves and muscular thighs: I like her. No, I love her.
It's something I have practised every day for the last seven, going on eight months. And on Friday night, while simply washing my hair, I had a moment. I recognised a milestone that has been reached. That all of that daily talk and practise has become a learned language of self-love that comes really rather easily now.
Some photos are under-exposed, over-exposed, out of focus. All imperfect, yet beautiful. And similarly, in each moment of each day, whether filtered or unfiltered, weak or strong, ready to runway walk, or with headscarf-wrapped hair and not a scrap of make up on - us, just as we are: we slay.
I wrote a poem about a month ago. Something quite unusual for me. And when I was thinking about some words to accompany these photos, I thought these might fit quite well.
Not good enough
Not tall enough
Not slim enough
Not tough enough
Not clever enough
Not rich enough
Not normal enough
Not black enough
Not British enough
Too well spoken
Not confident enough
Not far enough
Down the path you think I should walk -
Let me tell you
I’ve had enough
And today I declare
I AM ENOUGH.