A year of dating and what a gift it can be

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As you know Valentine’s Day (or singles-awareness day) recently just passed. In celebration of this I thought it would be nice if I shared with you the single best thing I have ever created. Okay, that’s excluding last years’ Secret Santa treasure hunt present I made for my boss and this one English assignment I did in Year 12.

Feeling inspired by an awesome idea created by the thinking closet (I take no credit whatsoever for this idea) I decided to come up with my own 12 Months of Pre-Planned dates. The general gist is I would pre-plan and book a unique date once a month and Matt and I would do it. In turn this would take the stress out of thinking of something to do and give us an adventure to always look forward to.

It was a really simple book made from 12 paper cutouts with each month and what we were going to do printed on it. These cutouts were then connected by a stolen ring binder. It took me longer to think of the escapades than it did to cut it all out and put it together. The hardest (but most fun) part of creating the book was balancing the expensive dates with the cheap ones and making all the seasons match up with what I had chosen to do. NO ONE wants to go on a picnic in February in England … NO ONE!

Despite being super excited to show Matt what I had done I decided to wait until we were our at dinner to give him the book. Once we had had a few drinks and were just past the entrée – bread and butter trump all giving of gifts – I handed over my crafty project like a proud child showing the shitty picture they drew at daycare to their parents.

As Matt flicked through the book he slowly realised what it was and his face said it all. He actually loved it. More than that, he said it was the best gift I had ever given him – even better than the expensive watch and nexus tablet I had bought him for previous birthdays. Can you believe it?

That night we had a ball going through the pages together and he got to listen to all the reasons I chose each date. It was the cherry on the top of a lovely evening and a gift that really keeps on giving. So here’s the part where I show you a few of our pre-planned dates and why I included them:

MARCH: FORTNIGHT
Build a fort. Rent a movie. Order a pizza.

Matt and I once did this on a whim in rebellion of being adults. There’s nothing quiet like getting comfy in your own personal fort that you can sleep in without getting into trouble. But then again nothing makes you feel more grown up that having to pack away your own fort.

APRIL: SUSHISAMBA
Get your glad rags on because this table is booked for (specific date – not telling because it’s impossible to get a table and I don’t want you to steal it!!)

Matt and I have been planning to eat here for a few years now and I keep getting invited to go with friends and work so he’s never actually been. This will be our chance finally to go together.

JULY: ROADTRIP
We don’t have to go far we just have to get out. How about a road trip to Oxford?
*** Ice cream is non-negotiable.

When we first got together we used to do a lot of road trips to the seaside so this is our chance to relive all those fun times as well as go somewhere we’ve never been.

OCTOBER: FOOD CRAWL
A pub crawl but better. Half the fun is planning this one together. THE RULES: All three courses must be in three different places and you cannot choose somewhere you’ve already been!

Because why not? I girls gotta eat.

JANUARY: YOUR TURN
This month Matt has to pick what we are doing. Pick a time and a place and it’s on. We don’t have to spend money, we just have to spend time.

I should get at least one month off right?

So there you have it. With just a little bit of time we now have a date a month to look forward to this year. I hope this inspires you to get your cheap skate on and make your special one something awesome like this too. Just a thought: this would probs be even better with your best friend.

Final note – Matt and I are not the beautiful couple featured at the top of this post. Below is a picture of us on our first date in the book in Copenhagen. We’re pretty drunk.

This is us - so pretty huh?

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I don’t know about you but …

I'm feeling 22

So yesterday I spent my last day ever as a 21 year old. I can now look back and go ‘oh, I wish I was 21 again’ like all my middle aged co-workers who are slightly nostalgic with a hint of jealous when the subject of my age comes up.

So what did being 21 have to offer me? I can tell you that 21 has really been a year of learning rather than doing. In the three years previous I finished high school, moved to the UK, met Matt, got engaged and did a lot of travelling in between. But this year, having slowed down I’ve had the opportunity to appreciate the small comforts that come with being still, content.

In the beginning I found this challenging as my wanderlust and natural aversion to sitting still started to niggle at me while I worked day to day in my life. But slowly I began to accept that for this time, in this season, I am here. In this job, with this man, in our house and in my packaging.

After I had come to accept these things, real change started to happen as I became more receptive and accepting to the moving forces around me. I reacted differently to change. Apologised more often. Exercised patience and forgiveness beyond the capacity I believed I had. Sought answers to difficult issues. Accepted situations I didn’t think I could and even learned to like people I didn’t think I would.

And now as I write this I kind of realise that you don’t have to going anywhere to get somewhere. I can see now that this year I have gotten to a higher place of self-assuredness + worldliness because I chose to grow. At 21, every day I chose to walk my own path and own it like a mother bitch.

So although I had a really kick ass year doing kick ass things I admit that the best thing that happened to me during the year of 21 was personal growth. And I hope I can look back at 22 through the same coloured glasses … jokes, I’m getting married next week so no doubt that’s going to be next years’ highlight.

Hollatcha gurl.

P.s. can’t stop singing this G-damn song!

The one article every 20-something year old MUST read

I am so about to get into a mini bitch fit. This week alone I have seen various friends sharing and liking articles from Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog that are peppered with 20-something year old women embarking on risqué activities like flashing their breasts in bikinis + jumping fences that say ‘no trespassing’. The article title is always something similar; ‘why 20-something women need to stop thinking like 30-something women, ‘Relax – you’re only 25′ and my personal favourite, ’10 reasons why getting married at 22 is like leaving the party at 9pm.’

It doesn’t take a genius to realise why these kind of articles get the bee under my bonnet buzzing. I always click on them because I would like to think I could relate to them being a 21 but I always get half way through and notice that they are geared towards two things; painting a carefree picture of 20-something year old life and avoiding monogamy like the plague.

One of the articles I read was just a giant list of why you shouldn’t even THINK about being in a relationship with someone when you are in your twenties because being in your twenties is for having fun and fun only. And everyone knows that being with someone means you aren’t having fun.

I feel these articles are created to make some girls feel good about their existence while victimising and ridiculing others. And it worked because for a split second it made me think; gosh I seem to have my shit pretty well put together … maybe I am missing out?

You see the effect of reading shit like this creates? It has the potential to be very destructive. For both types of women who read them. If you don’t have your shit together and are wandering around aimlessly these articles might serve as a reminder that you are doing everything you should be because you are 20-something. You don’t need to think of the future, have career prospects and you most definitely don’t need to be in a relationship because you should be sleeping around and binge drinking yourself into oblivion every Thursday night.

On the flip side if you do seem to be on a path that seems a little older than your age because life handed you lemons and you grabbed hold of them this article serves as a reminder that you might be too grown and out of touch for your age. You are missing out on all the fun because you are getting married and leaving the party at 9 whiles the rest of us just settling in.

I mean come on! Life isn’t made from a cookie-cutter and not everyone needs to have identical experiences in order to have lived. You may have travelled to Europe, got a degree, jumped out of a plane, paid into your pension, entered a wet T shirt competition, got engaged, bought a car, gone backpacking, moved out of home, discovered you were gay, started a cake business … all this stuff isn’t on some checklist that’s being held in the heavens for when you pass on into the next life. God isn’t going to be waiting for you at the pearly gates to tell you that you can’t come in because you didn’t tick donkey riding in Peru off ‘the life list.’

And doing any of these things out of the sociably acceptable sequence does not mean you are a success or failure. It means you did life the way it came to you. I mean, I was fortunate to have met Matt when I was 20 and I sure as hell wasn’t going to lose him because I was young and thought there was more to be done or had or tasted in the world.

These articles may seem harmless on the surface but they are just another way in which society is imparting its voice on who, what, when, where and how you should be. And in reading them we are choosing to accept these imposed rules.

I’m definitely not saying don’t read them, not by a long stretch. I know that it’s nice to feel connected particularly when you haven’t got your shit together. To know that perhaps someone out there doesn’t too and it’s okay and you’re not off track. I’m just saying, don’t mold your life around these ideals. You are a human and someone else’s idea of living doesn’t have to be your own.

If you want to go on safari and live in a tent for the rest of your life … do it.

If you want to live in your home town & marry your high school sweet heart … do it.

If you want to dress up as the opposite sex and sing ‘I shot the sheriff’ … do it.
(please, I will pay to see.)

The only thing I ask is that you don’t ever put someone down for not walking in your shoes.

Don’t ever trust The Voice within – unless it truly loves you.

There’s cake in the office. It’s placed down beside me and one of my colleagues who is gluten and dairy intolerant. Judging from the rich smells exuding from said cake as everyone passes by it has gluten and dairy in it.

I’ve just eaten so I don’t fancy cake but that doesn’t stop my mouth salivating at the thought of taking a piece … or four. And then Voice kicks in and starts questioning me, why do you want the cake? I don’t. What are you feeling? Not much, I am full and contented. I’m about a 6 on the hunger scale so I’m good. Then why are you thinking about the cake? Because everyone is eating it. Am missing out on something … No, I’m not. It’s the same Sainsbury’s cake they bought in for Mark’s birthday. I’m good, I am not missing out because I’ve had that cake before.

I’m resolved. I don’t want cake.

Casually four or five people start swarming around the cake like locusts ready to feast. Idle chit chat ensues while they cut off a slab one by one and return to their desks. You can hear the odd mutter, ‘Mmmmm just what I needed’ and ‘this would go perfect with a cup of tea.’

And then The Voice starts again.

Are you sure you don’t want some cake? I’ve heard it’s delicious. No, no thank you. Nothing has changed since you first asked me. But Jess said it would go well with a cup of tea and you’re drinking a cup of tea? Yes, I heard her say that but this is green tea and I know chocolate cake doesn’t go well with green tea. Can you please be quiet I am trying to work and I don’t want to eat.

‘Hmmpphhh,’ says The Voice.

At this point I’m not fighting The Voice. This is what I would call a conversation between The Voice and myself (or my stomach). This isn’t like how it used to be. It used to be demanding and restrictive. The Voice now has my best interests at heart but is still primitive in the fact that she hoards food for times of famine and she genuinely believes that any time I am not eating is a time of famine.

And then everything changes.

One of the men in his Capri pants strolls over, takes a piece of the cake and says to me, ‘Isn’t this tempting? Aren’t you on a diet? I suppose you can’t have this?’ And right in that instant, I want cake.

Not because I fancy the cake. Not because The Voice convinced me it could go well with my tea. But because someone in the office came over and opened their big mouth. They ASSUMED I was on a diet and they ASSUMED I would be tempted by something so sinful and off limits.

I can feel my pride and ego burst through my conscious mind and flare up like fireworks on bonfire night because I am NOT on a diet, and I can eat the cake if I choose to!

Suddenly the once calmed Voice is in protest and wants to rebel against this persons passing comment because somewhere in the comment it believes that person was judging it. The Voice believes that this person wasn’t being considerate or concerning but rather judgemental and suggestive that I should be on a diet.

‘How dare he,’ my she shrieks. ‘I will show him, Marnie hand me the cake.’

At this point the stomach, although a little miffed is still in protest against eating.

‘Common, there’s no space in here. Gimme a break!’ he sighs.

‘A break? A break?! Didn’t you just hear him? He said you are fat and intolerable and should be on a diet. He said you can’t have cake! He said you shouldn’t have cake! GIVE ME THE CAKE BECAUSE I WANT TO PROVE THIS FUCKER WRONG,’ cries The Voice.

*****

HOLD UP!

Skip to 1:50 in this video

If you go back for a second and re read what was said you might notice a lot of what I heard was not actually said.

******

I can now see what’s happening so before it goes any further I ask The Voice a few questions.

What are you feeling? Angry, frustrated, annoyed, challenged, fat, unworthy, judged.
Why are you feeling that? Because I’ve changed and someone made judgements on my PREVIOUS eating habits. I did used to be on a diet and I did used to turn my nose up to treats in a bid to ‘be good’ but I don’t do that anymore!
Did this person know you had changed your eating habits? I don’t know. It’s possible they didn’t.
Did this person offend you? Yes.
Do you think they meant to offend you? No.
Do you think you took offense when it wasn’t intended? Maybe.

The Voice knows now that it is in the wrong.

For a second it was propelled back to when I was 12 standing on the patio eating sour cream and chive crisps while my Dad and his friend are having a beer. After a few large handfuls from the bowl my Dad stops mid conversation to focus on me. He says, ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough?’

I immediately reply, ‘No!’ and continue to shove crisps in my mouth except now I am not doing it because I am hungry and enjoying the crisps. I am eating out of rebellion and embarrassment at what my Dad has just asked. I was doing it because The Voice took offense to a comment that was never meant to be offensive had mirrored what I thought about myself in Dad’s words.

Nine years later and I know that my Dad would never have asked that question if he knew how much it would would have stuck with me. If he had known what it was like to be a young girl dealing with immense body issues and that one small statement could have the power to control his little girl for many years after. But the blame doesn’t lie with him and it certainly doesn’t lie with the man who had just asked a question about cake.

The blame lies with The Voice that never got past being an uncomfortable teenager who felt judged by her Dad. The same voice that spurs my ego to life like a peacock presenting its best tail feathers any time it feels challenged or judged. The Voice that still mirrors what it truly believes about me and my tendencies in the things other people say.

If The Voice truly loved me it may have heard my Dad say, ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough? Because your mother is cooking your favourite dinner and I know you won’t want to miss out.’ It might have also interpreted my co-workers comments to mean, ‘Geez sitting next to the cake area all the time would be so tempting if I was on a diet. I know I wouldn’t have your willpower.’

A week ago in my old food restricting ways I would have been able to see my reflection in this one small comment and I would have let it completely destroy me. The Voice would have given in the instant it felt challenged and eaten out of spite. I am sure the longing for more than one slice to numb the feeling of unworthiness would have grown too strong and I am sure it would have lead into a fully fledged binge. But that would have been me then, before I stopped restricting and counting calories and basing my worth around the numbers on the scale.

The me now has given up these things and is learning that past experiences really do have the power to affect you but only you can give them the power to control you. I feel so relieved to know this is one focal point in which I can work on to become one with The Voice. After all, my biggest critic (and I’m sure the same applies to you) is my own Voice. The one that acts on primitive instincts and tries to shield my feelings like an older brother to a sister.

In this instance I think all I need to remember is, at the end of the day people aren’t judging me half as much as I think they are and no one really cares if you eat cake.

beautifulmirror

NOTE- If someone is judging your food choices its either because they are concerned for your health or a fatist/health extremist who secretly despises you for eating the things they restrict in their diet.

I pretend to hate Mondays

How can anyone truly despise a day that signifies the chance to start new. A real beginning. An opportunity where everything has sort of renewed and headed back to the start.

I know the first day of the rest of your life can be any day of the week but Monday has a fresh feeling even when it’s raining. We dress smarter. Put classy shoes on. Bother with our hair a little longer. Start diets. Fail diets. Take sick days. We put the most effort into simple stuff that can be done everyday, on a Monday!

I believe the flow of Monday helps dictate the week to follow but more than that, your reaction to Monday dictates the flow of the rest of the week.

If you are able to feel grateful just for being able to return to your mundane job, school or existence on a Monday, particularly after an exciting weekend you are going to have a good week. Hell, if you do it every Monday you are going to have a good life.

There’s no real purpose to this post other than to offer food for thought.

I suggest trying a ‘no complain’ day next Monday or even tomorrow. Really strive to lose yourself to the reality of existing and actually live!

Be grateful for your tired eyes because you have two in which you can read from. Celebrate your legs for getting you to where you are because they are as much apart of you as your head. Give thanks to the universe (or God or no one) for your out of season clothes because you have them and they really aren’t that bad.

And smile because it’s Monday, you’re alive and everything is just as it should be.