12 von 12 or: A Day in the Life

Once again, it is the 12th of the month, which is asking for 12 pictures of it for my blog, and once again, it`s not exactly the ordinary day the project is calling for:

Bang on midnight, our plane (return from holiday) was landing in Manchester. Passport control is now electronic and no queues whatsoever! Flying away from Manchester, I had quite a funny experience involving my passport, when the young lady who checked in my luggage asked for my visa, because I was not a British citizen. I said I do not need a visa, because I am still an EU citizen (if anything she will need a visa soon, but I didn`t say that!), but she was obviously very new to the job and therefore very conscientious, so she phoned a colleague and asked advice with regards to a traveller with a Dutch passport. We interrupted at least twice, but she kept saying it, so when she hang up, I asked what made her think, I was Dutch. So she showed me the bit on my passport, which said: “Nationality: Deutsch”. Oh Dear…

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While we are sharing an overpriced, sugary lemonade from a vending machine (which was sooo good as ice cold and much craved!), for the first time in history, our suitcase came rolling out first:

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Our bus to the car park already stood waiting outside, and half an hour later, we were on the road, driving over four hours into the light:

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Just before 5am, we arrived to greet our two beautiful cats – here the last of many photos we received of them on WhatsApp:

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and an exceptionally beautiful note from our two cat sitters, who left us lots of food they brought, including some home made apple cake and a lovely yoghurt dip, which will be consumed at work tomorrow, as a salad dressing:

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I love my friends! ūüôā

Quick shower and hair wash, so I didn`t have to after getting up, and after only 2 more hours of sleep (managed to get about 1.5 hours in the car, which is a lot for me!!), I am afraid it was time to get ready for – WORK!!

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Don`t ask me what possessed me! Mobiles are banned, but here is a photo of my lunch which consisted of the aforementioned apple cake, the juiciest of apricots, which I only got the day before from tiny little shop selling absolutely everything in Sicily, and some salted sunflower seeds, which we also got in Sicily. Our chef managed to eat some together with cake icing and insisted that the sweet/salty combination was as alluring as salted caramel, but I think I`d rather die wondering…

After work, for an absolute beauty essential: Eye brow threading! Now that Leith Walk with its large Indian community is a bit out of my road, I go to the drug store. Glad this magnificant service is now so widely offered – not so many years ago, it was really only available in Indian beauty parlours.

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A quick visit to my favourite German discounter,

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neverending amusement about some of the headlines (bottom one!!!)

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I had to cook my own dinner again

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tidied away our luggage, and now I deserved some puter time ūüôā

Till the next time! ūüôā

on Cognitive Distortions and Hint Giving

A couple of years ago, I had a course of psychotherapy. After lostcountofhowmany let downs, disappointments, losses and betrayals I wasn`t coping at all with life in general and becoming increasingly paranoid, always expecting the worst. Never mind the stigma РI`ll be forever grateful that I chose therapy instead of medication (or alcohol, for that matter).

I learnt loads about cognitive distortions (great link Рcheck it out!!) and how to deal with them, and while I, of course, was able to practice this particularly well under the supervision of my therapist, I continued to apply my new skills after the sessions had finished.

One which is particularly relevant to me is reading too much into (interpersonal) things, then behaving as if my assumptions were true and thus creating a negative outcome that`s caused by my reaction rather than the initial situation. While I`m still tending to try too hard to make sense of other people`s behaviour, I`m now also able to pull myself back sometimes.

There was one particular situation where I had to work extremely hard at behaving not only as if my negative assumptions weren`t true but also as if I did not have them. In the end however, it turned out that what I was thinking had indeed been true on this occasion. Someone was throwing me (albeit weak and non-committal) hints, and I behaved as if I did not understand them, carrying on causing drama because I refused to see the signs.

“So did your therapy not cover that?” asked my husband later. “how to recover from the disappointment¬†of a real problem? How to deal with things when, by applying her techniques, you actually made it worse? For life isn`t always a bed of roses, and you cannot always influence other people!”

No, she never covered that. And I don`t think the problem was so much my own behaviour, but my (former) friend`s evasiveness. To most Brits, giving hints only seems kinder than being upfront (also to oneself, as you save yourself the discussion) about bad news, but you have to be clear that the hints are understood, or at least be clearer when asked.

Could I have influenced the situation? No. I`d have saved myself a lot of embarrassment (and maybe preserved a friendship that obviously wasn`t what I thought it was) if I had acted upon the hints, but I`d also forever have asked myself: And what if the assumption I was acting on was not true after all?

On Past Injuries II

Quite a while ago, I wrote about reacting to past injuries, and even though I know them so well, I was failing to name examples.

Ever since I wrote this blog, however, I started to pay attention, and I can now not only add examples but, much more importantly, discovered that I could heal from some.

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The first situation where I realised that I was reacting to past injuries was my fierce hatred of Country music. It was the kind of music my dad liked (apart from a few other, for me equally unacceptable, genres), and he plaid it particularly often and particularly loud because he knew it grated on me. Long car journeys in particular Рanything I could not get away from. And when I complained, he laughed and turned the volume up. It was a power trip, and maybe a punishment to his teenager slagging his music, and it got me to hate it to this day (where it probably would have remained a simple dislike otherwise).

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Another example where I`m reacting to past injuries is my own birthday. I had 8 until I overheard my mum saying that she hated my birthdays with all the gifts, cakes, parties, children, grannies and merrymaking. I had 4 more (which I had ceased to enjoy) until my parents decided that I was too old, and that was fine with me.

Even when I was an adult and able to throw my own parties, I never did – there were half hearted gift exchanges with family, because it was the only way to for them to retain their own righ to receive, and that was it.

A couple of years ago, I turned 40, and I decided to celebrate it. At that point, I felt blessed with very many great people in my life, but only few of them had actually met. It was mainly meant to be an opportunity to bring the mall together – and I had such a ball!! And I celebrated the next, which was much smaller but an equally beautiful day, and when it came round again just recently, I got properly excited about it because people actually made a”deal” about it – mainly new ones, who didn`t know I disliked my birthday, and some others thought I had changed my mind. And I discovered that I probably did –¬†after skipping 28 of them because of what my parents said and did when I was a child…

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Another really important thing is perfume, and how it can remind me of the particular good or sad times when I was wearing it. I`ve been known to give perfumes away just because I couldn`t stand the memories I kept associating with the smell. (But this works vice versa, too – I know which one to wear if I want to wear confident or sexy or fresh or happy.)

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And then there are two… really silly things – the ones which actually inspired me to pick up this blog again.

I`m still too embarrassed to mention either in a public blog, but someone had hurt me very much, twice, with things which for others are probably absolute trivia.

One instance involved a particular brand of cosmetics. I was not using the brand myself at the time, but I was given them as a gift later and had to pass this on, as I was unable to use it without flashbacks (yeah, that`s probably the right word РI`m not just thinking of the injury, I`m having proper flashbacks which bring me so down that others actually comment on my low mood). The fact that I recently bought myself not one, but two, lipsticks from this make, shows me that I`m really and truely over the person who injured me. It`s one of those products which tingle on my lips and remind me that I have it on, and it`s nothing but a great feeling.

The other one involves a food. It was used to neglect, be stubborn towards and commit an act of absolute cruelty against me, or at least so I saw it at the time. I could no longer enjoy this kind of food. It had no taste whatsoever, just injury, fat and calories. Adn a whole 2 1/2 years later, there comes someone else and turns the whole thing round. Whatever happened back then, that person did the polar opposite. I feel healed, and I will never ever eat this kind of food again without this particular happy memory, which totally erased the other one (although the memory is still there, it no longer hurts).

And maybe that`s the secret. Rather than avoiding the triggers, re-expose myself in a pleasant situation and simply replace those memories with something upbeat.

I`ve got a candidate for that on my shoe shelf. Horrible memory, which I cannot summarise adequately in a three liner (I just tried). I never wore them again after that night. They are of cream suede, and they still bear the black marks of a drunk man`s shoes where he kicked them about in a night club.

I should wear them next week. I should plan a whole outfit around them and make them feel and look absolutely amazing – and then remember them for that…

about new shoes

My brown boots are getting worn, so I bought myself a new pair. I`m still not taking this for granted. I`ve also got a pair of tan boots, two pairs of black, one grey and one blue.

When I was still financially dependent on my parents, I had one pair, and there was no point in mentioning if they started looking shabby. If a hole appeared, or if the sole came of, I`d be careful not to wear them in the rain, but I still had to wear them for I didn`t have any others. Pumps. If it rained I`d just wear summer shoes so my feet didn`t get wet, even if it was February. Or my trainers, which were meant to be for PE only. If I wore those outside I could not let my mum catch me under any circumstances, for this was much worse than summer shoes in February or boots with the soles coming off.

I remember a horrible story from school in which I was slow getting dressed after PE and I had to run in my trainers to catch the bus. Back home, I noticed that I forgot my shoes, which were my only ones. The next morning, I went to the school secretary, and she said yes, they were found, but the cleaner has binned them because they are broken. She thought they were maybe left intentionally. I started to cry and said they are the only ones I`ve got, and I`ll not be getting new ones just because I`ve lost them. Miraculously, my plastic bag appeared from underneath her desk with my shoes inside. I can`t remember whether I was more grateful or more embarrassed, and I have no idea whether anyone has contacted my parents and what they would have said. It was a rather wealthy kids` school, and this was because we couldn`t afford the bus fare to go to the more mainstream one either.

When I started to earn my own money, I vowed never to wear old shoes again in my whole life, and I hope I`ll never have to.

Funnily enough, people who know me now think I look expensive. Because I moved to a new country, they don`t know how I grew up.

Valentine`s Day

Every year on this day, I inevitably think of a poem I found on Gumtree (…) a few years ago. It wasn`t until some 2 months later that I found it, but it was written on Valentine`s Day my first day in my new job¬†14 February. It wasn`t particulary well written, which added to its charme, but it was the content that struck a cord:

It was from a guy who had a secret crush at work, and he was tormented by the fact that he didn`t manage to tell her (Oh yes, he did. On my leaving night. Drunk.). She didn`t seem to notice him at all, and if she at all did, he was worried that she would think of him as a guy who didn`t care, for that`s how he acted. Now, she had just left for another job, without ever getting to know.

Life is funny sometimes and the move only internal. Fast forward – the same guy (don`t ask… there were a couple of very… identifying bits in it),¬†was working side by side with me again. Nothing was ever said, and then it was him who was about to leave. He was still there, when our temp, totally out of the blue, asked me if I liked him.

I think the world of him, I said.

And have you ever told him?

No.

Why not?

Why should I? It`s not something you generally say at work, and he should know by my actions, anyway.

Maybe, she said. But sometimes, it`s good to hear, too.

And so I went and told him. I said I think the world of you, and I`ll miss you very much.

It felt good.

 

Redundancy: One Year After

One year ago today, I wrote this blog here: After some 2 months of pondering and then waiting, I was formally offered voluntary redundancy.

The decision of putting myself forward in the first place was a very intense process, but once I had made up my mind, I could not wait to go and was, in fact, terrified of being refused.

After 11 years` service, I was granted voluntary redundancy on 3 December 2015, and I left on the 9th Рclutching the last belongings I hadn`t taken home yet, I walked into the unknown, partly sad, but above all, I remember feeling an incredible sense of relief. I felt like a beautiful butterfly who had finally managed to crack its caterpillar skin and was now spreading its wings to fly into freedom.

A year later, I`m gratefully looking back on all the beautiful things which came with something that so many would be terrified of:

I left on a Wednesday. I got offered a new job¬†the Monday after, and it was¬†part time. While not being out of work,¬†I slept in every day with my newly retired husband, watched our kittens growing up, spent more time with friends, got long overdue¬†home projects done, fully enjoyed the very brief Scottish summer…

…¬†and started to study towards a Degree in Business Management. Absolutely love it!! It`s interesting, I learn a lot and passed my first module with distinction. I`m currently studying statistics and¬†accounts, which will both be adding to my CV. I also formed a lovely friendship with a fellow student.

I learnt lessons about work friendships – a few surprises about who did and who did not keep in touch. One particular person was a beautiful surprise, and another an especially bitter disappointment, but also an eye opener about what our relationship was really all about.

I re-thought the meaning and spending of money. I never bought so few clothes in a single year, and I don`t miss them at all.

There was a lot of emphasis on how you look and what you wore in my old work. Now, with most of my colleagues wearing shrubs, superficialities like that don`t matter.

I could reinvent myself in other ways, too. For example, I no longer befriend current work colleagues on Facebook and no longer have certain problems which others keep offloading about.

I love working in a care home. Among other things, it makes me even more appreciating of and grateful for my husband`s and family`s excellent state of health.

It however quickly became clear that this job was not especially fulfilling. Here, I started properly looking for a job and was overwhelmed by all the things that were available to me. I was with my last employer for 11 years, and at times thinking I wasn`t capable of anything else. Just looking proved otherwise.

In September, I took the fantastic job I’m in now. It`s exactly what I was wanting from the start. I love the environment (another care home :-)), the challenges and achievements,¬†I have good managers and supportive colleagues… Can`t help thinking why I haven`t left my old job sooner, but aware I was just too comfy and needed pushed.

Every now and then, I hear stories of my old work. It`s becoming increasingly intolerable, and many more people left, even though they stopped paying the package.

While between jobs, I went to Israel. Yes, really. I`ve been wanting to go there since such a long time, but I`m confident I still wouldn`t have gone otherwise. It was as incredible as I imagined, and I have, of course, been blogging about this fantastic experience separately.

My priorities shifted. I no longer give work so much headspace and importance. I don’t think I`ll ever hesitate again to leave a job I dislike, and I got to know myself better – I had, for example, planned to¬†go to the gym¬†more while working less, but I didn`t, and I finally concluded that I don`t really like exercising, and¬†lack of time¬†was just an excuse.

I feel I grew up a lot (at least on the outside).

More headspace for other, mainly creative, things.

I remember wondering last year where would I be in a year`s time. Just by leaving my work, I have moved on so much in many, many areas of my life, and I`m aware that that`s a privilege of (relative) financial freedom. If I hadn`t been there for so long, I would have had a much lesser package. And would I have gone?

Today is “in a year`s time”, and I`m grateful for everything, almost including the things which made me consider leaving in the first place.

¬†THANK YOU ūüôā