Saturday, 4 October 2014

#282: Ask someone out

Wow, this is a big one for me.  To be honest, I'm not sure it's something I've ever done before, because:
  1. I'd need to find someone intriguing enough to want to get to know better. 
  2. I'd need to know (hope) that they didn't have some habit that while fine/unnoticable in small doses ends up annoying when you spend more time together. (Don't get me wrong, I'm far from perfect and have many - MANY - annoying habits. I'm just looking for someone I enjoy spending a lot of time with, with foibles that don't totally drive me crazy.) 
  3. To ask someone out you have to be bold and strong enough to risk rejection. And until recently I didn't have the strength to take being rejected, but I felt I do now. 
Which is a good thing, because rejection is precisely what I got...and I'm happy to report that I was actually ok with it. While admittedly I was disappointed, I wasn't devastated, angry or hurt. On the contrary, it felt good to be honest and tell someone I liked them. Spending the last 6 months alone has taught me that I'm really happy in my own company and so I'm not going to fall apart just because someone I thought was interesting didn't feel the same way back. Of course it would have been nice to have had a yes, getting turned down was actually probably much better for two reasons. One, I'm not 100% sure I'm ready for a serious relationship (though that's jumping the gun quite a bit here). Dating, possibly, but serious relationship is something I think I should try to avoid for a little while longer. (I still have a goal of 1 year of no serious dating afterall.) Secondly, it was good for me to learn that I can ask someone out and they can reject me, and my world doesn't end. 

Someone, somewhere, sometime may say yes when (not if) I ask again. They may say no. Alternatively, they may even beat me to it and ask me out before I get a chance to ask them (a girl can dream after all!). But my life will go on either way. 
While I struck out on this occasion, it's good to know I have a few more at bats left in me yet. 


Photo credit: wavebreakmedia, bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock

Saturday, 27 September 2014

#280: Pay down my debt

One of the things I'm most proud of achieving in the aftermath of my break-up was that I was able to buy my Ex out of the home we bought jointly, renovated together and lived happily in for 5+ years. No relationship is perfect, and obviously ours had some fundamental problems (which I didn't see at the time), but despite all that I absolutely loved my life and my home was a big reason for that. One of the things that made the initial stages of our split so terrifying and awful was the prospect of not only losing my love, but also losing my home and daily habits associated with it and where I lived.

While I was able to scrimp and stretch every last cent, it also required me to take on more debt. This was an absolute necessity at the time, but the debt is at a level that, long term, I'm not comfortable with. So earlier this year I put a budget together to help keep me on track and start saving enough to pay down meaningful chunks of debt for the next 3 years. I have a long way to go before I'm debt free, but I've passed a significant milestone in reducing the debt load I'm carrying.


Photo credit: iQoncept, Creativa Images / Shutterstock

Saturday, 20 September 2014

#277: Be more active

Like a lot of people, as I've gotten older I've become less active than I was in my 20s. Having an office/desk job doesn't help, especially since I can't stand going to the gym.  I long ago realised that I'd be better off using dollar bills as kindling for a fireplace than to use them to pay for a gym membership. No matter what great intentions I had, I've learned that I just wont go regularly enough.

So it was me quite a challenge for me to find a way to tick this one off the list. I realised that the best way for me to start being a little bit more active was to understand how inactive I actually was. The experts recommend that people should take around 10,000 steps each day, so I needed to find out how far off that I was in my normal life.
So I got a fitbit, which is basically a pedometer that I wear on my wrist. I quickly realised that in an average day, if I didn't make any effort, I clocked up around 4500 steps a day -- or around half as many as I should. With this new found knowledge I then started looking at ways I could get more steps in: Getting off the tube a few stops early, walking the long way to meet a friend, parking in the most distant parking spot available, etc. I found that could get me to around 7-8k, but not to the desired 10,000 mark so I for the last 2 months I've been walking the 4.5 miles to or from work a couple of times a week, weather depending. At first it seemed like a really long way, but I've come to enjoy the time it takes me to cover the distance and I feel much better for having done it.



Photo credit: Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

Sunday, 14 September 2014

#274: Understand Formula 1 Racing better


This is another strange one to have on the list, particularly because of the reason why. When my Ex and I were together certain 'in-laws' were huge fans of F1 racing, including my former mother-in-law. Now this woman was not the type I normally would have associated with being a petrol-head, more a rugby and grouse-shooting type than motorsport. The fact she loved it though intrigued me and made me think there must be something interesting about it.

My Ex didn't care for the sport so we didn't watch it much. We'd go for a walk or do something by ourselves.  So when there was a rare occasion when we did watch it, for the life of me I just didn't understand what the hell was going on. It just seemed like grown men going around a track at high speeds with not much happening. Oh how wrong I was.

A relatively new friend is a F1 fan and has had the patience to explain the rules and answer my dumb questions. Like 'What's the DR zone'? I can now appreciate some of the finer nuances and technicalities of the sport and have gotten to know the personalities of the drivers, teams and the drama of the points race.

While I'm unlikely to be glued to the TV for an entire weekend of racing, I can now appreciate the joys of a Sunday afternoon race.

Photo Credit: MrSegui / Shutterstock.com

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

#273: Behave like a 20 year old for a day

Ageing sucks. There I said it. Time has a cruel way of transforming a person from someone they were to someone they are, sometimes without them even realising the changes that take place. Day by day, month by month, year by year subtle changes result in you ending up somewhere you didn't expect. Once I was a young, somewhat irresponsible 20 year old, with my whole future and endless possibilities ahead of me. I blinked, time passed and I've become a (reasonably) responsible adult.

If you told my 20-year-old self what my life would be like now, I think I'd have wanted to shoot myself then and there, for I am generally a quite sensible and reliable adult. *Boring Klaxon* Coupled with a relatively demanding and stressful job, means I find myself refraining from doing things my younger self would have happily dove head first to do. So knowing this was on The List, I went for it and did something I normally would not have...and while I'm glad I did, it's not something I'm going to be making a habit of. There's fun and then there's knowing and being comfortable with oneself and one's situation in life.

I've realised I'm comfortable with who I am today and don't need to go chasing after my youth (too much).  I enjoyed my evening, but I don't want that to be my life. I've been there, done that, got the t-shirts...and long ago given them to good will when cleaning out my closets. I realise there's no need to go back. There was a reason I moved on to begin with.

There's something quite freeing and gratifying about that.

Photo: Dmitry Strizhakov / Shutterstock

Saturday, 6 September 2014

#272: Learn my Blood Type


I've long wanted to find out what my blood type is. It's admittedly a bit of a strange thing to want to do. But considering it's an important part of me, literally, I'm surprised I've made it as long as I have in complete ignorance (though it's not surprising really for my list of ignorances is long and distinguished!).

I have to say it's been surprisingly difficult for me to find out and tick this one off. I went to the Doctor last year for an unrelated matter and asked my GP what it was. Apparently they don't have it on record (um...slightly concerning, but that's a different matter). But because they only run blood tests when something is medically necessary, he couldn't help me. Thwarted, I thought I was going to have to wait until something was seriously wrong with me to find out...and so I was happy to stay in the dark as long as possible.

One thing I didn't realise, however, was that one of the benefits of signing up to be a blood donor is that they test you and give you a card with your name and blood type on it.

So a few weeks after I donated blood, I received my report and card in the mail. I got a B+, which I was slightly disappointed about because I thought with the extra effort I put in, I might have scored higher.  ;-) But I'm glad I passed the test. :-)


Photo credit: petr73, prixel creative / Shutterstock

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

#271: Join a book club / Literary Salon

I enjoy reading but as an adult I have found I rarely make the time to read books in my day to day life. I tend to bring a stack of books with me on holiday and binge read, only to come back to the real world and not pick up a book again until my next plane journey.  Th trouble is I can rarely commit to keep one day a week free as work, and other life, obligations often intrude and take precedent.

So I was really excited when a friend said she was organising a book club (technically she called it a 'literary salon', but close enough). I jumped at the chance, especially since the first book was Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe. It's a classic, but not one that I actually had read before. As a unique and complex book, it was fantastic to be able to dissect a text like I used to when I was at school...except this time wine was flowing as well as conversation.

Here's hoping I can continue to make time for it.

Friday, 29 August 2014

#270: Give Blood


Now this truly is something I've been meaning to do for years. I tried to give blood years ago in New York, but my iron levels were low on the day so I wasn't allowed. This time however, I'm happy to say I was successful! It so easy to do. Sign up today:
If you're in the UK: www.blood.co.uk.
If you're in the US: www.redcrossblood.org

Monday, 25 August 2014

#269: Get a fish tank

Why, you might ask? Why would a grown up get a fish tank? I don't know and am kind of asking myself the same question. All I know is that I've been thinking/talking about getting one for years, but my Ex was not interested...and if my Ex was not interested that meant that it didn't happen.

I had a fish tank when I was a kid and I liked it. Cleaning it was a bit of a faff, but I remember overall liking having the tank. Over the last few years I've been spending some time in places that have big fish tanks and I've been mesmerized. I've found the time spent really relaxing...and if I can be relaxed in my dentist's waiting room then surely that must mean I'd be even more relaxed in my own home. At least this is my hope.

Now I just need to wait 2 weeks to put the fish in.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

#268: Learn how to make a Martini

Readers of this blog will know that I enjoy a nice cocktail or two. As a consequence, I have a number of drink-related items on The List, from wine tasting to drinking at The Savoy, to having Martinis at The Dukes. I used to bartend to make extra cash when I was in college and I have been known to bring my cocktail shaker with me to a party to be able to make a cosmo, mojito, margarita and the like. I do enjoy a nice martini, but despite this bartending background, I'd never actually made a martini before. I always found them so mysterious: Dirty/Twist, Shaken/Stirred, Dry/Wet, Vodka/Gin...there are so many different variations I never really understood what it all meant before or how to make them.  I thought it was about time I learned.

So when I read about how the Royal Academy was holding a Martini exhibition, where you could have a martini masterclass/tasting after, I thought that was a perfect way to tick this off the list.
Our bartender Jon was amazing. He talked us through the history of the drink, described the different variations of martinis, and then gave us 3 rounds to try and taste: 1-Dry, Stirred. 2-Wet, Shaken. 3-Reverse Vesper, Shaken.

After the class we also tried a smokey martini, which is made with 15ml of Aldbeg whiskey. By that point in time I was feeling no pain and was wondering why my drink wasn't served in the larger glass on the bar...Thank goodness it wasn't or I may not have made it home!

Friday, 22 August 2014

#267: Not date for 6 months


Having achieved my goal of not dating for 3 months in June, I've now made it to 6 months without going on a single date. Not only have I not been looking to date, in the odd circumstance that someone has expressed an interest, I've politely declined. This is a very big step for me for a number of reasons.

First of all, I don't like saying no or letting people down and so I find it difficult to turn down a date because I worry I'm going to hurt someone's feelings. I can appreciate the courage it takes to admit to someone that you like them and/or want to get to know them better. I'm incredibly shy myself underneath it all and find it really difficult to ask someone out, so I do truly appreciate it when someone has the courage to ask me out. Also, I generally have pretty low self esteem. I don't understand why someone would like me and I'm SO NOT used to being liked and fancied, that as a result I sometimes end up spending too much time with the wrong people because I don't think anyone else would ever want me.

It's only taken me 40 years to realise that:
A) I can be genuinely flattered by being asked out, but also let someone down gently, at the same time.
B) I can be likeable at times (when I'm not being stubborn, difficult or generally a pain in the ass).
C) When I put some effort in, I have the potential to be attractive to a small subset of people occasionally.
D) I deserve to be with someone who treats me well, who loves me and who I'm madly in love with as well.

My self-imposed moratorium on dating has also allowed me to make some great new friends and to build up a life outside of being in a couple. I feel like I'm in a great place where I have a good idea what I want and don't want, as well as what I deserve, and I don't want to get involved with someone unless it really feels right. Of course there's a danger that I'm going to be too cautious and see warning signs where none exist, but if that means I stay single for an extended period of time then I'm ok with that too.

Now that I've ticked this off the list, I may go on an occasional date -- after all there are some interesting and attractive people out there.  However, I'm not going out of my way for a date. I'll only go if it really feels right.

My next goal on this theme is to not get into a serious relationship for a year...so only 6 more months to go for that!

Photo credit: Manuel Fernandes / Shutterstock

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

#266: Play the Lottery

There are not many people in this world who wouldn't be happy to win the Lottery. The problem is so few people actually do win. Because the odds are not good, I have a better chance of being killed by lightening (not just merely being struck by lightening) than winning, I don't usually play on a regular basis. When the amount in question becomes so substantial that I and my extended family could live comfortably without having to work again (in non-charitable jobs at least) I will sometimes take a punt.

With this one on the list and the jackpot at £45m, I thought I'd give it a go. You have to be in it to win it, right?

As you can see by the circled numbers I matched, I obviously won't be quitting my job tomorrow. *Sigh* I guess I can console myself with stories about how winning the lottery ruined these people's lives...

Saturday, 16 August 2014

#265: Go to the Beach ... Camden Beach

For me, nothing beats hanging out in a beach chair, cocktail in hand relaxing with friends. It's a key part of summer that allows me to store up goodwill for the cold, rainy winter ahead. Living in a city sometimes means that certain rights of passage, like going to the beach, are missed however.

Not necessarily anymore. A few years ago a local venue, The Roundhouse, started turning it's parking lot into a makeshift beach, complete with deck chairs and tiki bars. While I've been before, I wanted to go back again. It was a really enjoyable time.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

#264: Walk 10 miles

Regular readers will understand how infrequently I 'properly' exercise. I've been able to keep the weight I've lost off for the most part, but it's a struggle. So I know I really need to actively work out more. I know, I know, I know...but I'm sorry Nike, I just don't do it.

In an effort to try to at least be more aware of how sedentary I can be, I got myself a wearable activity tracker...basically it's a pedometer built into a bracelet that wireless tracks and reports how many steps I do and how far I walk. After a few days of wearing it, I was shocked at how little I moved in a day. No wonder it took so long to tick this off the list!

But with my handy new gadget helping to spur me on, I was finally able to tick this one off. Next step(s) to run 10 miles...but that will take a lot more time and training.


Photo credit: Timothy Passmore / Shutterstock

Sunday, 10 August 2014

#263: Go to Selfridges' Roof Terrace

Selfridges is an iconic department store. Located in the heart of London it's rooftop garden boasts lovely views. During the summer they do something interesting with the space. A few years ago, they had a miniature golf course there...but that came and went before I had a chance to check it out.
So when summer rolled around this year I vowed I wouldn't let another summer go without seeing it.

This year they turned the space into a pop-up restaurant from my new favourite local restaurant, Q grill. American BBQ at it's London best, Q Grill opened in Camden in March 2014 and I fell in love with it. With Summer's end approaching surprisingly quickly I knew my window to do this one was closing fast. Unfortunately it was raining when I went (as usual for British summer) so the views weren't quite the same, but it was a fun evening.



Wednesday, 6 August 2014

#262: Rent out my spare room

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I really struggled to buy my Ex out of the house. At the time, the idea of losing my home as well as my love and my life was more than I thought I could handle. Luckily, I was able to arrange the financing required, but it wasn't without pain. While I do enjoy an occasional splurge, I've always been fairly frugal with money because I know how hard and long I work to earn it. Living without any safety net of savings makes me uncomfortable and so I wanted to find ways to top up the coffers a bit more quickly and efficiently.

One of those ways was to rent my spare/guest room out. So I finally arranged for someone to stay in my flat, for a limited amount of time, earning a bit of cash to put towards an emergency fund. I've had to make some costly repairs and other improvements before the place could be considered habitable for a paid renter, but I hope to be in a more comfortable financial position going forward.

Photo credit: Photpixel / Shutterstock

Sunday, 3 August 2014

#261: Catch up on latest TV series / Binge watch a Boxset

Sometimes when you're in a relationship, your other half isn't interested in watching the same kinds of things you are. This means there are whole series or sporting events that you miss. My Ex and I had pretty similar tastes in TV shows, to be fair, but there were still some notable exceptions. For my List, I had made a note to catch up on the key ones I missed over the years.

What I've found since making the List, however, is that there are also times when I intend to watch that new 'must-see' show but I've been so busy and otherwise engaged that I've just plain missed it on my own accord. Life gets in the way. As it should.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but being single I actually haven't been watching TV very much, if at all. This is a great thing, in theory, as I've been out enjoying and living life. Entire popular TV series have come (and many cases gone) without me seeing them: Mad Men to True Blood; Modern Family to Orange is the New Black; different X Factor, Great British Bake off and Real Housewives series.

While on the one hand this is laudable, I've found that there's only so long that I can be so disconnected from key cultural interests without the unintended consequence of actually feeling quite isolated from modern society. I've found watercooler moments and ice-breaking small talk are much harder without such common, safe topics of conversation. When my new friends and coworkers banter about this show or that, I have nothing to add to the conversation but blank stares and idle curiosity.
So with the aim to get through at least one of the key series everyone around me seems to be talking about, I packed myself away to binge-watch Orange is the New Black, and have been sucked into NetFlix as a result.

As the seasons turn and with Autumn and Winter on the horizon, I suspect I'll be able to tick off many more series in months to come.

Photo credit: Zastolskiy Victor / Shutterstock

Thursday, 31 July 2014

#259: Support local theatre

Not all theatre is put on in the West End. There is some interesting, if not flat out challenging, theatre being produced and shown at local theatres, spaces and warehouses across London every night of the week, of which I have until recently seen none. I'm usually too secluded in my own little bubble and generally don't have a clue about contemporary drama and visual arts. So with this on my list, I endeavoured to go to some more 'out there' things. I'm finding that generally I'm not a fan, but that's because I like what I'm familiar with. Attending out of the ordinary plays/drama/events, challenges me and my perception of what art is and while I may not like the play, I do like the challenge of it and feel better for having tried to push my boundaries so that next time it's not quite so unfamiliar.

Monday, 28 July 2014

#258: Go to Hampstead Ponds

Hampstead Heath Ponds are a series of three fresh water ponds (women's, men's and mixed) in the massive park that is Hampstead Heath. In the summer the ponds are a lovely way to relax and cool down when the weather is hot. It's been almost 10 years since I last visited the ponds. It felt almost like going to the beach, in the middle of a city. Since I live around the corner, there's no excuse for me not to come more often. I hope it won't be another 10 years before I return.


Saturday, 26 July 2014

#257: Do shots out of an ice sculpture

I know, I know, I know. This really is childish and must stop. Luckily, I've ticked this one off the list now so it doesn't have to be done again any time soon.

Note: This would not have been the first choice of sculpture I'd have selected for this task...but it's not every day that the chance to do an ice sculpture shot comes around so I had to work with what I was given. Beggars can't be choosers. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

#256: Drive a Porsche

I've had my List going for a little while now and from the beginning this was one that had always been near the top of things I wanted to do. I have never driven a proper sports car before and for some reason I have had a real desire to see what driving a Porsche is like. I even went so far as to book one of those 'driving day experiences' last year to be able to tick this one off, but something came up and I wasn't able to attend in the end.
I was telling an acquaintance about my List and the dwindling items left on it for me to do and mentioned that driving a Porsche was still something I hadn't achieved. In a act of bravery (or stupidity), she kindly offered to let me drive her own Porsche! I did hesitate and originally turned the generous offer down as I was afraid I'd wreck the thing, but knowing this was a big one on my list that I didn't really have too many opportunities to do I had to say yes! It was just too good an opportunity to turn down. So down went the roof top, up went the music and off I went enjoying lovely summer weather in London in a very fine ride.

The verdict: It certainly was a lot of fun to drive and I'm very lucky to have even been able to sit behind the wheel let alone drive it, but driving on city roads it was hard to take full advantage of the power and speed. Frankly I came away very happy to have done it, but also happy with my 7 year old car...which I realised is perfect for me and my London lifestyle. So I came away happy and content on many levels after this one!


Sunday, 20 July 2014

#255: Wear an outrageous costume

Hell must have frozen over: I wore an 'Abba' metallic magenta onesie in public! Now, I'm normally a quiet, reserved person who does everything I can to avoid the limelight or being the centre of attention and in the aftermath of my breakup, or frankly even during the 9 years I was dating my Ex, I would NEVER have felt confident enough to do/wear something like this in private, let alone out in public. And even if I had, my Ex would have shamed me so much with 'not cool' looks and comments to wipe out any bit of fun I might have found dressing up so outlandishly. I've been working up to doing something like this for a little while, building my confidence bit by bit but there was really nothing I could do to truly prepare for being out in public other than just completely throw myself into the spirit and not care that I make an ass out of my myself. So doing this was a real departure for me and something that shows how seriously far I've come in my new life. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

#254: Be part of a Flash mob

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A friend had a birthday coming up and she has done a fair bit of flash mobbing herself...so what better way to tick this one off the list than by being in a surprise flashmob for her party? The rule was for everyone to party at the bar as usual until Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 came on. When it reached the chorus, everyone -- except the birthday girl -- would do a choreographed dance routine to surprise her. I'm not sure we were the slickest flashmob ever done, but it was a real laugh...and certainly surprised the birthday girl.

Photo credit: Elena Dijour / Shutterstock.com

Friday, 18 July 2014

#253: Eat a Twinkie

As a kid, I used to love Hostess Twinkies (and loved a Hostess Cupcake even more!). It's been years/decades since I last had one and I thought back on my childhood and things that I enjoyed and I wondered whether or not a Twinkie would still have the same effect on me. Living in London, it's impossible to find Twinkies (probably because they wouldn't qualify as real food product under UK regulations) so I was really lucky a friend gave me a package not just of Twinkies, but of other American snacks as well. I have to say, while there's nothing seemingly real about a Twinkie, eating one still brought me back to that childhood place and made me happy... 

...But then again that might have been the impact of the preservatives and sugar high from eating it. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

#252: Go to St Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral is one of London's most famous and historical landmarks. It was built by Sir Christopher Wren in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London and has dominated the London skyline for more than 300 years since. Climb the 259 steps up the dome and you will find the Whispering Gallery, which runs around the inside of the Dome. It gets its name from a charming quirk in its construction which makes a whisper against its walls audible on the opposite side.

While I work just down the road, the last time I was actually in the church was when I visited London with my family when I was 16, so this has been a long overdue item. I found a Women in Leadership event, which just happened to be held in St. Paul's, as you do. So when I found that out, I immediately signed up. As an American, certain things about London will always amaze me, and St Paul's is one of them.
As they say, when you're bored of London, you're bored of life.

Top Photo: QQ7 / Shutterstock

Saturday, 5 July 2014

#251: Do Jell-O shots

Jello Shots. Why are they on The List? This was one item on the list that firmly fell into the "Things I used to do when out having fun, but haven't done in a while' bucket. I'm sure it was the company more than the Jelly shots, but I certainly had a fun evening!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

10 things I learned from doing my Break Up Bucket List

Excerpt from the article I wrote for Tue Night:

In late 2012, I had a milestone birthday and my long-term relationship of nine years ended. I had met my ex within weeks of moving to London from New York and so most, if not all, of my life in London had revolved around my relationship. I loved my life and partner tremendously and was hit hard by the break up. Knowing I could easily spend years in bed wallowing over my loss, I realized that I needed to keep myself busy. Looking back on my own role in the failure of the relationship, I discovered that I had completely lost sight of who I was — separate from being in a couple — and vowed never to do that again.

I decided that I wanted to live the next stage of my life differently, so I made a list of things that I’d been meaning to do over the past few years but never quite found the time. Some were things that I’d never done, others were things that I hadn’t done in years and some were things I liked doing, period. 

After my brainstorm session, I had literally hundreds of possible things to choose from. I knew I couldn’t spend each day checking off a new item (I did have a job after all), but I decided to challenge myself to do 100 things over the next 12 months. This was my 2013 New Year’s resolution. People started asking me about my progress and what I had done so far, so I started tweeting @BreakupList and set up a blog, The Break Up List, where I wrote about what items I’d completed thus far.

A year and a half on, I feel like a completely different person. I no longer need My Break Up Bucket List to help me survive my break up, but I continue on with it because it helps me remember who I am, pushes me to try new things and enjoy life to the fullest.

Here are 10 important things I learned from doing My Break Up Bucket List: ...

Read rest of article at Tue Night

Saturday, 24 May 2014

#249: Not date for 3 months

In the immediate aftermath of my break up I was a wreck. I knew I shouldn't get involved with anyone and I tried really hard to not end up in a rebound relationship. Despite my best intentions, however, I did get involved with someone...and ended up hurting a lovely, caring person in the process.

I regret that deeply and sincerely. I wish I had been stronger and had held my boundaries more firm, but I was a shattered shell of a person at the time. In the face of being actively pursued, I wasn't strong enough to stand up for the space and time that, in retrospect, I needed to properly heal. I have to live with myself and the fact that I hurt someone that I care about but realised too late was not going to work out romantically long-term.

One of the lessons I've learned through this process is that if you want to go speed dating (item #20 on my list), or dating in general, do yourself and others a favour and wait until you have your shit sorted out before getting serious. You're only kidding yourself and setting up yourself and, more importantly, some innocent person for further heartbreak.

In my defence, I thought I would never meet anyone and when I did, didn't think it would get serious. But it did. I'm not proud of myself but everything I did I honestly did with the best of intentions...I just happened to be completely and utterly naive about how I would feel as my wounded heart healed.

It's been 3 months since I ended things with ex #2 and I'm making progress towards an even longer goal every day that passes.

The last 3 months have been a revelation. Without focusing on dating or meeting someone to date, I've freed my time to focus on making new friendships, having fun and building up a life for myself outside of being in a couple. Sure it's lonely sometimes, but I've come to remember how much I actually like my own company. I'm finding that I'm having to force myself out of the house to be social, rather than the other way around. That said it is taking a significant amount of willpower at times because there are some lovely people out there, but I know it's for the best. And since it's on The List, it's something I have to stick to.

I feel like I'm in a really good place now. A place where I know what I want and don't want, and I'm not going to get involved with someone unless it really feels right. It may take many months or many years, and possibly never, but I'm ok with just me if that's what it comes to. I've realised I'm not so bad to be around after all...

Photo: Bacho / Shutterstock

Saturday, 17 May 2014

#246: Help a friend

A new friend of mine was recently selected to stand for local council by one of the big 5 political parties. The race in question was not really suppose to be very competitive as it has always been won by one party, but nonetheless my friend was taking a stand for her beliefs and doing her part to participate in the democratic process. 

She needed help getting the word out about her candidacy and what she stood for.

She asked for my and other friends' help. In addition to providing some social media and marketing advice, I also hit the streets going door-to-door leafletting. While my friend didn't win, her results were the second best in London for her party, which was significantly above expectations. While this was purely down to her, it was great to be able to lend my friend a hand when needed. 
Photos: Docstop media, BasPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Saturday, 10 May 2014

#245: Watch a debate in Parliament / House of Commons

My parents being in town meant that it was a perfect opportunity to tick this one off the List. I've been to the Parliament and the House of Commons before and, given my parents are political junkies back home, thought they'd like to see how things are done on this side of the pond. Besides, Americans love all that old building and tradition stuff...so my parents were both interested and impressed.

We went to the Vistor's Gallery, which is a balcony overlooking the main chamber, and heard a debate on whether private landlords should be required to have fire detectors or not. It wasn't necessarily a riveting, edge-of-your-seat debate, but it did give my parents (and me) a glimpse into the nuances and reality of actual governance.

Another one I'm glad was on the list because I don't think I would have done this otherwise.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

#244: Take my parents to Paris

I continue to try to make good on resolution 168: See my parents more, and being on gardening leave I invited my mom and dad for a visit. For 10 days. In my small place.

*record scratch*

As soon as the invite was accepted I realised I really needed to make this list item happen or else we were all going to get on each other's nerves by the end of their trip. I'm so glad I did because I can honestly say I've never had such an enjoyable time with my parents.

It was a fun, and funny, trip. Americans in Paris=Many cringeworthy Griswold moments, like this:
 
But it was a trip that none of us will ever forget. I'm so glad and lucky to have been able to do this with my parents.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

#242: Give someone my phone number when/if asked

Ok, I should clarify this by saying I'm not out there just handing my number out to anyone that will take it, like a street 'chugger' handing out fundraising flyers. I'm talking about the 'being out at a party/bar/restaurant and talking to someone who seems normal' kind of number sharing.

Don't get me wrong, I don't get asked for my details often but on the odd occasion when I do, I revert back to adolescent behaviour. My first response is to panic and think of a way out of giving my details...because the person in question obviously has a screw loose to even consider wanting to speak to me again! It's my own take on that famous Groucho Marx saying, "I don't want to belong to a club that will accept me as a member." I realise however that not wanting to date or be friends with someone that's interested in me will doom me to being alone forever so I've vowed to try to fight this inclination.

The awkward surprise stage follows shortly behind the panic stage, where I bumble and mumble something all the while trying to bide precious seconds to think about whether I really want to see this person again. My default is generally 'no freaking way' and then go grade-school on the poor soul by giving them numbers but messing up one or two digits.
Times have changed since I was last dating/meeting new people, however, and I've learned that Facebook and cell phones/text make this 'trick' obsolete. Which is a good thing because I should really act like the grown woman I am and not the 16 year old I sometimes feel like.

Appreciation stage follows, as I realise I should be incredibly grateful that someone had both the interest and courage to ask.

In the instance in question, my gut response was to not give out my details, but I knew that was no way to meet new friends and interesting people so knowing this was on the list I shared my actual number. I'm only looking for friendship at the moment and that was cool with them so we have agreed to meet up with that in mind.

With this one down, the next step is for me to ask for someone's number.

I'm not holding my breath... that one could take a while.

Photos: Shutterstock/cartoonresource, BWFalsome

Monday, 28 April 2014

#239: Go to a fancy dress party

Otherwise known as a costume party, fancy dress parties are much more common in the UK than in the US, at least amongst my circle of friends. Over here, people are known to have fancy dress boxes and even whole sections of a wardrobe dedicated to various fun fancy dress outfits, wigs, glasses, hats, etc worn over the years. And unlike Americans, the English don't take themselves too seriously when doing it either. Americans tend to like to look smart and/or sexy. The British don't care about how they look, they just want a good costume and to make sure they aren't the only one dressing up.

I went as a 60's Hippy in this costume: (Note: This is not me)
 Photo credit: Top: Shutterstock