Life lessons

I had another cycling lesson tonight, and it was great. I spent the week dreaming that perhaps one lesson would be enough and that today I would just cycle off into the sunset, but I know it will take more work than that. Already I’ve learnt that good things are worth working for, and have certainly reinforced the old saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. I did well today, and still no injuries, but I do have a long way to go.

My cycling teacher said something tonight which really rang true, and I don’t know if she realised how deep and meaningful it was when she said it, or if she was simply offering me cycling advice. To paraphrase, she said, “It’s no good looking in one direction forever as you’ll only go that way. You have to remember to look where you want to go.”

Those are the words I’m going to take with me this week as I ride in to the second half of the year. I have a very different perspective on life now than I did when the year began, simply because I started looking in a different direction, towards where I wanted to go. I’m quite happy going the way I’m going at the moment, but I mustn’t forget to look around me too, and to keep my eyes open for all opportunities that come my way, whatever the direction.

Hello Kitty riding a bicycle

(Image source)

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Jubilee and FOMO

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a blight on London life. It is why your mate is checking his iPhone under the table every five seconds; it is why you agonise over what to have for dinner; it is probably why you have a Facebook account, too. In Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life (Hamish Hamilton) psychoanalyst Adam Phillips formulates an elegant argument about why what we don’t do is just as important as what we do do. Frustration is fundamental to satisfaction; regret is nourishing; not getting is good. I would have found it comforting if I didn’t have a hundred other books I could have been reading. (Richard Godwin, Evening Standard, 30th May 2012)

It was towards the end of last year when I first heard the term “FOMO”, or “fear of missing out”, and I’ve been meaning to write a post about it ever since. As soon as I heard the term I recognised it as the way I have been feeling not just since I’ve been back in London, but also while I was living in Japan. There’s just always so much going on, never enough time in the day, and no way I’ll be able to do everything no matter how organised I am and how many post-it notes I use (and believe me, my world is wallpapered with post-it notes!). Today, with the Jubilee weekend almost upon us, I seem more full of FOMO than ever.

In the same issue of the Evening Standard there was an article called Should I Stay or Should I Go? in which two writers were asked if the Jubilee holiday was a cause for celebration or a great chance for a four-day getaway.

Nirpal Dhaliwal responded saying that like many thousands of other Londoners he would be celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend. He pointed out that it was a good time to get to know your neighbours and have a street party, and to celebrate being British (something people often regard as “somehow backwards or even sinister”). I agree that it would be nice to know the names of the people on my street but, as far as I know, no one is planning a street party (we could actually, and it would be lovely, as I live on a dead end street). If there were a street party going on I would no doubt pop down and join in, but I somehow can’t see it happening.

The other side of the argument in the article comes from Jasmine Gardner, the “Jubilee Jetsetter” who has worked out that this Jubilee weekend offers a “17 for the price of nine annual leave deal”. She has no qualms about leaving all the bunting behind and going off on holiday somewhere fuss-free, and I can’t say I blame her. If I had the money, I would be packing my bags for the airport to catch a flight to anywhere-but-here.

Sadly, I don’t have the money, which leaves me in London for the weekend. I’m sure if I was abroad somewhere, a little part of me would be wondering what I was missing out on back home, but I would be too excited by being in another country to really care. However, I’m here in England with no real distractions, left with this feeling of obligation that, seeing as I’m here, I really ought to join in. If I don’t do something for the Jubilee, will I regret it on Wednesday morning when I get back to the office and everyone is talking about what a jolly good time they had with their families and friends, or how amazing the flotilla was, or how many cupcakes they ate in the vintage village fete they attended? Will it haunt me forever that I wasn’t part of this historical event?

The fear has set in. I’m scared I’ll miss out on something good if I don’t join in some jubilee shenanigans, but actually I would love to have a quiet weekend at home catching up on blogs, tidying my flat, uploading photos, etc.

The next hurdle I stumble at is, if I do go out and do something, what should I do? Squeeze in with the rest of London (and half of the rest of the world, or so it seems) to watch some boats go along the Thames and hope for a glimpse of the Queen. Surely I’d get a better view (without the leg cramp) if I watched it on telly. Have a picnic with my friends in Hyde Park and watch the concert on screens? Er… isn’t that just like watching telly in the park (and it will probably rain…). The only event that might actually tempt me out of my cynicism is the event at Boxpark in Shoreditch, but only if the weather’s nice.

So, what are you doing for the Jubilee weekend? Do you have your bunting and Pimms at the ready? Have you already left the country? Will you be down at the Thames or in Hyde Park? Or are you going to hide from it all and just watch a bit of telly at home? Do let me know… because I’d hate to miss out on what you’re doing too! 😉

Union flags for the Diamond Jubilee


Three-oh

The other day, I was reading an article in the Evening Standard called 30 things to do before you’re 30. The article referred to the now grinning with pride Beyoncé pictured below, and how she had managed to get pregnant just in time – she’s 29.

(Image source)

See how she glows? She’s glowing with relief because, at 29, she must be feeling the pressure. There are just so many things one must do before turning 30 – everybody says so.

According to the article, when people are faced with turning thirty, they think they ought to have bought a property, had a baby, co-habited, owned a designer handbag, written a book, dropped their last “e” (what?!), learnt a language and lived abroad. Phew. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Given that I only have just over 3 months before the big three-oh hits, I don’t think there’s much chance I’m going to cross everything off the list.

But, you know what, I don’t really care. 

I used to have this feeling that turning thirty was the be-all and end-all. I know people who still think this – friends who are getting their knickers in a twist because their birthdays are approaching and they’re not married/up the duff/living in their dream home/all of the above.

I had one goal this year – one “thing to do before I turn thirty”. It’s proving difficult, and I’m not sure if I’m going to have achieved it 100%, but my goal was to be financially independent by thirty. By “financially independent”, I mean that I don’t want to be taking any hand-outs and I don’t want to be relying on credit cards.

I’m living in a really shitty little flat at the moment. It’s worse than some of the places I lived in when I was a student. But, you know what, I can afford it. My salary is low, but I’m budgeting my living expenses to match. For once, I’m not living beyond my means.

My twenties have been about working out what I want from life. I hope my thirties will be about achieving those things. I don’t think I need a list though, do you?


It's rubbish…

I just moved into a new flat in London. It’s a teeny, tiny studio flat – basically a room above a shop with a small kitchen and small bathroom. I don’t mind that it’s teeny tiny – that’s not what’s rubbish. What’s rubbish, is the rubbish situation…

I can’t figure out where to put my rubbish. Before I moved in, I casually asked my letting agent as we were walking to the flat, and he pointed out an alley way. He told me to just put it in there, which seemed a bit strange to me.

Not sure about the alley way situation, I decided to email the council. They replied promptly and politely, and informed me that I should have a wheelie bin. They also told me that if I put my rubbish in the alley way it could be considered fly-tipping.

I have no wheelie bin.

I’ve looked around, and there isn’t even a place where wheelie bins for the five flats in this building could be. What’s more, the council website says that waste is collected every two weeks. So, does that mean I am supposed to store up my rubbish in my teeny tiny kitchen for two whole weeks until I can run outside and dump it in the alley way? If I dump it in the alley way before it’s due to be collected, foxes will probably open it up all over the street.

The council did very kindly provide me with a phone number which I could call to order a new wheelie bin. However, even if I did decide to splash out £15 for a bin, I would still be stuck for somewhere to put it.

On another rubbish-related point, I also asked the council what I should do about recycling. I was informed that, as I live in a flat, I am “not required to recycle“.

This was quite a shock to me. I thought we were supposed to be upping our environmental-consciousness and recycling more. I had already started separating out my paper from plastic, but no one cares – because I’m living in a flat.

Has anyone else in London experienced a similar problem? Can anyone offer a solution?

(Image Source)


Not enough time in the day…

I want to be the kind of person who wakes up early in the morning to practice tai chi, yoga, or meditation.

I want to travel, explore, take photos and write about it.

I want to have a high-flying career which I adore and am successful at.

I want to wine and dine with friends, family, someone special…

I want to cook, and invite people over for dinner.

I want to study languages. (I want to be fluent in Japanese.)

I want to take workshops and short courses and learn new skills.

I want to write.

I want to sleep.

I want to dream.

…but there’s not enough time in the day.

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"My Life List"

One rainy afternoon an inspired 15-year old boy named John Goddard sat down at his kitchen table in Los Angeles and wrote three words at the top of a yellow pad, “My Life List.” Under that heading he wrote down 127 goals.

These were not simple or easy goals. They included climbing the world’s major mountains, exploring from source to mouth the longest rivers of the world, piloting the world’s fastest aircraft, running a mile in five minutes and reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.

Now, a generation later, he has accomplished 109 of these quests, and has logged an impressive list of records in achieving them.

(Quote from: http://www.johngoddard.info)

Today I went to a meeting at my company’s head office.  Part of the meeting was about setting goals.  First, my trainer asked us “can you remember the goals you set when you first started at this company, on your very first day of training, when you had just arrived in Japan?”.  Only one of the ten or so people present could remember and actually had her list with her.  I made my list almost 22 months ago, and I have no idea what they were or where my list is.  I’m sure “improve my Japanese” would have been on there, though!

Next, my trainer said “reach as high as you can”.  We were sitting at this point, and I was the only person who stood up straight away (seemed obvious to me!).  Then he told us to try one more time, and then asked us “did you reach higher the second time?”.  We nodded.  “Why didn’t you reach that high the first time?  I told you to reach as high as you could”.  Interesting.

Then, my trainer told us about John Goddard, who I had never heard of before.  As you can see in the quote above, John started out as a 15-year old boy with big dreams.  Now, he is “the world’s greatest goal achiever”, and an actual paid adventurer!

You can see John’s list of 127 goals (of which he has achieved 109 so far) here: http://www.johngoddard.info/life_list.htm.  His goals are many and varied, but all thoroughly inspiring.  So inspiring, in fact, that I have decided to write my own list…

My list is here: http://muskett.wordpress.com/my-life-list/, and I will update it as and when I think of new goals (these 40 are just the first ones that spilled out of my head today!), and also when I have achieved goals I will cross them off and make a note in red.

I will aim to always reach as high as I possibly can! がんばります!:D