Progress and confidence

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I feel a bit like I wrote my last post and it got a bit deep so I then dropped the mic and ran away. But hello! I am here.

 

And holy cow, it’s basically the end of February.  I knew 2015 would go by fast but it is disappearing in the blink of an eye. Tomorrow is 4 weeks until we fly to New Zealand and I suddenly feel the time crunch of it all – so much to do before the big day, but I know we’ll get there.

 

 

I’ve said it before, but I’ve had a bit of wedding dress body stress, and that has changed quite a lot since I last wrote about it.  My first dress fitting went really well, and the seamstress was fantastic and helpful and so, so cheap!  I almost fell off my bed when she told me how cheap it was going to be, and she had some excellent suggestions for amendments if I didn’t meet my fitness goals by the final fitting. I’ve got 11 days until the next fitting, but I’m feeling pretty happy with where I’m at so far. I’m still about 15-20lbs over where I (in a perfect world) thought I’d be on my wedding day, and about 25lbs over where I’d ideally like to be (which is actually lighter than I’ve been in geez, probably 15 years, so I’m just being pretty ambitious here), but since September I’ve lost nearly a stone (14lbs/6.5kg) and this year alone I’ve lost 8lbs, so I’m pretty stoked with that.

 

 

I know we’re all about not focusing on weight loss these days as a society, and accepting ourselves as we are, and I applaud that. But this to me was never about people thinking I was hot, or having a flat stomach, or buying into anything I’ve been told. It’s always been about my confidence level, and fitting into my clothes, and feeling healthy and strong.

 

 

The key to it for me has been diet (though yoga has been wonderfully beneficial as well) – once I started eating right, the cravings for stuff stopped, the self-control grew (like, I can have chocolate next to me and not eat the entire block, which a while ago was tough work) and I’ve become pretty obsessed with Nakd bars and stuff.  A huge help I’ve found has been not eating much at night/stopping eating before about 7pm – even when I’ve had an unhealthy day (cause, not gonna lie, there has been some fast food), I’ve managed to keep the weight loss going.

I also do a bit of 6:1/the occasional 5:2 and find that helpful too.  Not that common, though.  And more work to do!

 

 

Ultimately, it has been a huge boost to my confidence and to my happiness.  I still weigh so much more than I did 5 years ago, but my stomach is so much smaller, my thighs are awesome and I just feel good about my body for the first time in a long time.  Also, the yoga has contributed hugely to my mental health – my stress and anger levels have been pretty high over the last year, but they’re getting better.

 

 

I hope you’re all well and good!  I have some more posts planned for the next wee bit, so I’ll be back soon – especially to share some amazing shots I got while travelling last week.  And I’ve got my Edinburgh hen this weekend – super excited!

 

 

…xxx

swhite

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Around here lately.

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Yikes, where did the last 3 weeks go?  It doesn’t feel like that long since I’ve blogged, but whattayaknow, it is.

 

 

It’s been pretty cruisy around here lately. Since Brigadoon ended and March began, life has been pretty low-key.  I’ve spent a lot of time just chilling at home or with Dave, and it’s been kinda lovely. Reading, TV, cross-stitching… I just finished a weekend where apart from a trip to Tesco, I didn’t leave the house. And I kinda loved it. (Totally loved it).

 

 

I throw myself into projects so hard, that when they’re over, I take this recuperation time pretty seriously.  Unfortunately, I also threw my back out last week, and while it’s way better, I’m getting twinges from it today.  Behave, back!  It’s like it knew I’m almost 30. Sad.

 

 

We’re heading home to NZ in a few weeks (!) so I’m trying to be money-conscious and stay home like a Nana.  And despite all of my previous plans, I’ve failed on being any sort of exercise bunny in the lead up to it. I shouldn’t really worry that much, as it’ll only be family and close friends anyway, but I wish I looked my best. Ah well. I’ll get there.  My attempt to return to the gym last week was thwarted by my back issues, but I might still go along tonight and try and at least get some sort of fitness back.

 

 

It’s going to be really nice to see everyone and sort wedding stuff and just have some time off. We’ve both used a good chunk of leave on this trip, so we’re planning on really enjoying it!  I’m also, as previously said, turning 30, and my Dad is turning 60, and there’ll be much cause for celebration.  Dave hasn’t been back to NZ in over 3 years, so it’ll be really good for him to see people, too. Let’s hope my new passport gets delivered on time. I’m such a dick, ordering it so close to time, but my other one has a tear in it…

 

 

I also was freaking delighted to spend an overnight in London last week for a course, and despite my usual “ugh work trip to London” experience, I actually ended up having a really nice lunch at the airport, travelled to Victoria once I arrived in London, was given a free ticket to Wicked at the Apollo, had an amazing time at the show, got GBK on my way to my hotel, got up early and had a great day at an interesting conference (where I met some really nice people!) and then had a steak, cocktail and dessert before flying home.  It was the nicest work trip ever, and I felt like I had a mini London vacay. Swell.

 

 

I hope everything is going well for you all – I’ll post a few more times this week if I can, as I’ve got some good drafts sitting there to finish off.

 

 

…xxx

swhite

How To Be Happy #1: 11 Tips For Finding Happiness in Your New City

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In this half of 2012, at least 3 friends of mine moved to new cities (what is in the water?!)

Carly moved to Sydney from Perth, Ceilidh (Lili) moved to Denver after many years in Barcelona, and Wendy moved from London alllll the way to Auckland.

Two of them moved for their partner’s work, and one moved simply because they wanted the adventure. Well I know a lot about that!  And by email I have been trying to help ease things…

But then Lili asked me… “You seem actually happy. How the hell did you do it?”

In reality, I would say it took me 2 years to adjust and actually feel happy.  The first year we had no money and lived in a shoebox flat in a noisy building.  I had no piano, no real friends and found the climate and culture change more of a shock than I was expecting.  I let my environment hugely affect how I felt about things.  And then I decided to change.  And once we were both employed, I started to really love my new city.  My new country, even.

So.

 

 

1.       Stop comparing. I know, I know, it’s hard.  It’s now colder than your home.  Or windier.  You may find the people aren’t as friendly, or are more in-your-face friendly. Customer service might not be the same standard, the food may be unfamiliar and the television/media may feel alien and irritating.

But this is a different country, remember?  They may speak English, they may look the same as you, they may do many many things that you are used to, but it is not where you were brought up.  So stop thinking of it that way.  This is a new place, full of new experiences.

Think about how you felt when you first tasted your favourite food.  How amazing is it that you may get to have that initial feeling all over again, just by discovering something foreign and completely new in your life?  It could be a game-changer.

 

2.     Don’t recreate old environmentsThis is particularly tough for Aussies and Kiwis who move to London or Canada or ex-pat areas of Shanghai and Japan.  But why did you move to another country, if you are only going to spend time with Aussies, doing Aussie things in an Aussie part of Shanghai?  And London may be just “an experience” or “a platform to Europe”, and it feels a bit like home, right?

But it is still a foreign place.  There are so many amazing locals you can meet by living with locals, working/socialising with locals, and doing local things.  You may end up making friends with your own countrymen, anyway, but it’s worth a shot to get out there. Be the foreigner! (It gives you intrigue).

Even moving to Edinburgh to be with Dave, I’ve tried to avoid Kiwis.  Gosh, that sounds kinda mean.  Maybe not “avoid”, but I haven’t actively been seeking them out.  Why?  Well, I didn’t want my brother’s experience of the UK.  He lived in London with 5 other Kiwis in a Kiwi area, worked with Kiwis, socialised with Kiwis, and simply lived and worked in London so that he could visit Europe on long weekends.  I know he loved his time in London, but that’s not what I wanted, or who I am.  I am an immersive traveller.  I want to feel like I’ve really lived in a place, not just visited for a while.  And so…

 

 

3.     Stop thinking in temporary terms.  Even if you are going to be in your new city for 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, try to think of yourself as living thereBecause you are!  You didn’t move to the other side of the world to have a long holiday.  You moved to have new experiences, meet new people, travel, and/or be with the one you love.  Even for 6 months, you have a lease, right? You have a job and a whole new neighbourhood.  You have a new life.

Find a flat you really feel at home in.  Sometimes this is tough and takes some hunting, and you may have a less than ideal one first or even second time around, to get you started, but once you find somewhere you just love, with flatmates you really like (or on your own/in your couple if you can afford it), you’ll have a lot more enjoyable experience.  You may initially spend a lot of your time at home.  Don’t forget you don’t know many people yet!  And if you don’t spend much time at home? Then it’s still nice to come back somewhere that feels really comfortable.

And it’s yours, even for a little while.  So put down some roots, even if it just means putting your favourite art prints on the wall.  Everything can be shipped or kept or given away when/if you go back home.  Obviously, don’t buy a house or get a dog (unless you are loaded with cashola or there are very liberal quarantine regulations going on!), but once you start thinking “this is home”, you’ll start feeling “this is home”.

 

4.     Go on foot.  Go on, get lost!  Unless you have a job waiting in your new city for you to start straight away, spend as much time during your job searching days out of the house.  I used to job hunt in the mornings online for hours, then get on a bus and go into the city and wander around.  Or I’d go to one interview or meeting and take my time coming back from the city.

If you have a car, leave it at home (unless you’ve moved to Los Angeles or something).  Cars mean you bypass things very quickly.  Getting lost on foot makes you take the place in slower, and take strange turns you wouldn’t necessarily take in a car.  If you have to drive to get into town, park somewhere accessible and cheap and go back to your car later, even if it means walking a few blocks to get to civilisation.

Being in a city centre sucks when you’ve got no money, but getting lost wandering the strange stores and side streets is one of the best things to do in a new place.  You’ll start to get a feel of how the city all slots together, and where the small hidden places are.  Google Maps saved my bacon a few times when I got really lost, but you can always walk into a cafe or restaurant and ask for directions if you don’t have a phone.  Your foreign accent will help you feel less embarrassed asking (yes, even your Kiwi one in Sydney)!

Even if you just go get a coffee, you’ve been out and about.  And next time you go into town with your partner or for work, it’ll all feel much more familiar.  I still have “ahhhh” moments.  I realise one area I’m in all the time suddenly connects to another area I know, just by driving a different street over.  I feel so settled now, knowing the different areas better.

 

 

5.     Keep in touch.  Your family and friends at home are still super important, of course.  And thanks to the magical land of the internet, it’s so easy to keep in touch with them, even from thousands of miles away.

Embrace social media.  Even if you hate Facebook, get a Twitter account, get instagram, a blog;  whatever you choose will help your loved ones far away feel like they are still a part of your daily life.  I know my mother opens up her Instagram every morning and feels like she’s actually keeping up with my day.

This is not just for you.  Don’t forget your family and friends at home may suddenly feel a bit lost and detached from you, and want to see how your new adventure is going.  Having them asking and wanting to know what’s going on will drive you to remember to share your life online.  And it’s a great personal record to look back on:  “This is what my year in Shanghai was like!”

Skype saved our relationship.  Having a visual conversation rather than potentially misreading emails, or confusing the tone over the phone?   There are so many visual cues we give out when we are speaking in person with someone – so much of communication is actually unspoken.  Give Skype a go! It’s free!

 

 

6.     Develop a hobby.  Sounds really silly and a bit lame, right?  But about a year in to my time in Edinburgh, I thought I’d find a class to take.  Most cities that I have visited/lived in have an Adult Education Programme or if you like, an Adult Dance or Arts Centre.

I re-took up Ballet and American Jazz for the first time since childhood when I was in New York, then took Ballet again here in Edinburgh for a year before we hit financial issues.  I also enrolled in a Dressmaking course here for a long time, which was a completely new skill for me and while I’m rather rubbish at it, I felt a sense of accomplishment each time I made something new or learned a new stitch.

Lili’s new hobby is visiting all the museums she can in the wider Denver area, with her little boy (who is soon to have a little sister).  Carly is photographing all the street art and sculptures she can find in Sydney.  Wendy is taking a night class in Auckland in Mandarin!

Even if you don’t make any real friends to socialise with outside of your hobby, you’re getting out and doing something new.  And getting out means talking to people you wouldn’t have otherwise met, developing new skills, and feeling like your life is more than just going to work then going home.

 

 

7.     Ditch the bad stuff.  This is like a clean slate!  Gosh.  You can ditch that nickname you hate by never telling anyone about it.  You can make better impressions by learning from past mistakes.  You might be known as a bit of a slob at home, but you’ve decided to shape up and wow, who from your new city knows that you’ve not always been the most house-proud, tidiest person ever? (I’m still trying on this one).

Cut and dye your hair, play with new fashion styles, grow a beard.  I’m not saying to fundamentally change who you are, but even if you haven’t left drama behind you, this is a fresh start, which could be just what you need.  Take some chances, use the opportunity and see what happens.

And moving countries can really make you clear out your clutter!

 

 

8.     Say yes more.  Maybe at home never in a million years would you:

–          Go speed-dating
–          Go on wine tastings
–          Take last-minute trips to places you’ve never heard of
–          Eat snails
–          Eat haggis
–          Drive on the other side of the road
–          Dye your hair purple
–          Climb a mountain
–          Run around in the snow in a bikini
–          Wear a bikini full stop! (who knows you, right?)
–          Get those tattoos you’ve been waiting for
–          Explore a [new] religion
–          Learn about local politics
–          Go to gigs by local musicians
–          Join a protest
–          Go on a game show
–          Start crossfit
–          Become a vegan for a while (or forever!)
–          Decide to stop speaking English entirely (when living in a foreign country, obviously!)
–          Completely change career
–          Run marathons

The possibilities are endless.  You might hate it, but hey, say yes!  If it doesn’t work for you, you never have to do it again.

 

 

9.     Let yourself be unhappy…  It’s totally okay to be unhappy. To hate your new city. To hate your job.  To hate the way they do things, because it’s not like you’re used to at home.

Being unhappy means you are trying.  You’ve got a job, you’ve explored the city, you’ve found somewhere to live.  You can’t be unhappy to start, because you’ve only just got there, right?  So the unhappiness generally sets in after you’ve secured these things.

And it’s just not the same.  I know.  It’s not home.  It doesn’t feel like home to you.  You don’t have many friends and you are miserable without those comforts you are used to.  Your partner doesn’t get it.

But telling yourself you “have to like it because [you’ve] moved allll this way” is just bullshit.  You shouldn’t give up easily, but you can have days where things are just not how you want them to be, and your life is not what you pictured when you decided to move.

So give yourself an end date.  Set some goals in place, put a date in place, and then forget about it.  Because if you tell yourself every day that this all has an expiry date?  All you’ll do is think about it.  Write “DECIDE” in big letters on a day in your diary 6 months ahead.  And when you reach that date and you’re still there?  DECIDE.  How do you feel? Is it going to get better?  Are there things worth staying for? Are the opportunities and experiences better at home?

Don’t forget: the grass is always greener.  Seriously.  It is all about perspective.  And money doesn’t matter.  You will get more later.  So if it costs a lot to throw in the towel but you still hate it?  Spend it.  Happiness is so much more important than a higher bank balance.

 

 

10.  …But then DECIDE not to be.  If you’ve decided to stay, then stay.  Put your back into it!  Throw yourself into this life you have chosen to have.  No one is forcing you to be far away from home or in a new city.

You either chose to be here, or you came because you love someone who chose to be here.  So try and love it!  You love him/her and this is where they want to be.  So find something that excites you, find a better flat, find new flatmates, find a new hobby.  Find something in this new life that makes it even more worthwhile to be there.

And then BE THERE.  Truly embrace it, or you will never be happy there.

 

 

11.  Stop complaining.  There is a point where those around you (yes, even those who love you the most) will want to say, “You know what? If it’s so bad here, well, leave, then!

Yes, bad days suck.  And bad days happen to everyone.  If you don’t have anyone to rant about these bad days to, then you need a blog to rant on.  Or you need a really good friend at home to email.  Write down your anger and your frustration or vent over drinks with a friend.

And then let it go.  You need to make a list of what’s not working and what you want to change, and start making steps to change things.  A new country can be an amazing, incredible, exciting, terrifying experience.  You may make some of the best friends you’ve ever had.  You may meet the one you want to spend the rest of your life with (and then struggle over which country to live in!).

But if you’re not willing to look past the bad?  Then maybe yes.  Maybe you need to go home.

This could be the kick up the ass you need to change things, improve your life and truly experience everything.  So go for it!

 
 
 
xxx
swhite

Hope.

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Well we’re two weeks in, but so far 2012 is pretty awesome.

I kept saying last year that things had to change, and that 2012 had to be good for us, and so far we have had some really excellent developments. I’m being optimistic and hopeful that it continues.

Hope is a marvellous thing. Hope carries you through when you have nothing else, and when you’re scared that nothing you dream can possibly come true.  From 19th December, we had hope that Dave’s new job opportunity was closer and closer, and then when we had the date for his final interview (January 12th), everything worked towards it.  Suddenly things were happening.

And it feels different, too. We are not different people, but we have tried to form different habits and break bad ones. We have been better at keeping the house in order, I have been better at being creative and following through, and the life I want to be living is not just a possibility, but what we do day to day. Simple things like planning my work outfits, putting different workout schedules in place, planning my work day better, changing things that don’t work. And I’m carrying my moleskines around, using soundcloud to record ideas, and dedicating time to write.

I’ve got a list of lovely things, simple things that we need to make our home more.. homely. More us. One of our hopeful purchases for April is a new sofa, as our futon is great, and suits us for guests, but not having a comfy couch in the living room means we just don’t spend any time in there.  Dave sits in his alcove, I sit in or on the bed, and we never live in our living space.

I am clearing out clothes, shoes and things. I don’t need to keep everything. I will not wear that again, no matter how much I tell myself I might. I don’t need to keep the alarm clock that doesn’t work, just because I have a sentimental attachment to it. I hate those damn uncomfortable shoes.  The clearing out has been really cathartic. We just have so much crap. We don’t need all of this crap. We’ll buy new crap, but some room needs to be made. (Our paperwork still really needs to get in order, though. I was so good at filing it! and then I got lazy..)

Investigating car options has been exciting, and if Dave was successful we were thinking of buying a cheap used car on a payment plan. I’d take it to work, Dave’d take it to cricket, and during police training, I’d collect him from Tulliallan on Fridays and drop him back on Sundays. And we could take wee trips.

And then, Ann, Dave’s mother, offered us her car when she upgrades in April/May. Holy crap! Things like that just didn’t happen in 2011. 2011 sucked things away for us and bankrupted us both. 2012 gives us a car?  It has its problems, but nothing major, but it has space for cricket bats and pianos and all the other exciting things we need it for.  It’ll also come in handy for when my bestie and her adorable husband come to visit us in early May. Seriously looking forward to this!  It’s been a long time since we’ve had visitors and quite a while since I’ve seen Sarah-Rose, obviously, so it’s exciting stuff. We’re planning small trips and places in town we want to show them.

We had hope and plans for new things and some travel and some breathing space in the bank account for once. We had hope for wiping debt and going out for dinner every now and then and making our lives easier. We had hope that Dave would get into the career he wanted and even though that meant I would stay here longer than I ever planned to, that we would be set up for our future by giving him the experience he needs and us some financial stability.  My uncertainty about living in Scotland for such a long time was something I let drop away; I knew then, as I know now, that I love Dave and us enough (and funnily, Scotland enough) to stay.

Because I only have to look over at him as he cracks a smile at the book he is reading, or dances around as he cooks dinner, or come home to a clean house or a cup of tea or a bath run to know that I love him more than I thought I could. I love him more all the time. He surprises me more all the time. And I am so very, very happy. Staying here with him is a no-brainer.

So it’s lucky they said yes, right? It’s lucky they said they want him, and 2012 said, “Here. Stop freaking out.  Stop panicking. You’re going to have a new life.”  Because once that is all confirmed, our lives will change, we will struggle less, and things will just get better and better.

And that new hope is the best hope of all.

Things that make me happy today

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1. Finishing up my essay on time.
2. Being another .5kg down!
3. Paying only $3 for parking.
4. My new camera! Fujifilm Z10FD. Bought at $219 as it was ex-service (but barely even touched), and returned with the wrong manual.
5. Dropping my Rarotonga underwater films in finally.
7. My course folder being returned! In my letterbox today. My pretty, pretty black leather folder.
7. Researching tattoo ideas.
8. The adorable little Muslim girl on the Vespa scooter following me home.
9. Dave.
10. Making lemonade. My last week or two weren’t so great, but this one is going to be better. And after a gift of a bag of lemons, it’s lovely to now make lemonade, both literally and figuratively. Tasty, too.