Sunday, 30 November 2014

#176: Movie Night with Friends

This is something so simple and straight forward, but is something I talk about yet rarely do.

Friend: "Have you seen the trailer for that new movie?" 

Me: "Yes, looks great. Shall we go?"

Friend: "Yes, how about next week." 

Me: "Sounds good, except next week I'm pretty busy. Let me get back to you about the week after." 

And I never do.

Before I know it I'm seeing a commercial about how the movie has come out on DVD; I've missed yet another one.

Now that I'm dating someone, doing movie night with friends is even harder. Finding the right balance between time with friends and a new love interest can be challenging, but one of the lessons I learned from my break up is that I need to make more time for new and old friends. Happily I've managed to carve out two movie nights with friends recently. While the films haven't been great, the time spent with friends definitely has been.

Photo: photastic: Shutterstock

Saturday, 29 November 2014

#175: Black Tie at the Dorchester

The Dorchester is one of London's most famous and luxurious hotels. Located on Park Lane and overlooking Hyde Park, The Dorchester Ballroom is an art deco tour de force that holds up to 1,000 people and hosts some pretty glamorous evenings and events. Now I'm not really a fan of dressing up, but if I have to do it I'd rather go all out and it doesn't get much more fancy than Black tie at the Dorchester.
Attending something like this with strangers making small talk over dinner is not necessarily how I prefer to spend an evening frankly and certainly when I made my list at the start of the year the idea of being able to go out for a night without crying was daunting. But I'm glad to say I made it through the evening and people there would have no idea how hard it was for me. It almost looked as if I was enjoying myself. No mean feat.
Top photo credit: Sofia Andreevna, shutterstock

Friday, 28 November 2014

#174: Host Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving I was a sniffling crying wreck that could barely get myself dressed to go to work let alone host a festive and fun Thanksgiving. At the start of the year the idea of having to organise and cook for so many people was like staring at the top of Mount Everest from base camp knowing I had to hike it with no training. I could barely feed myself, so the idea of feeding so many people and enjoying it seemed out of the question...but something to aim for.
Like many Americans, Thanksgiving is the holiday I enjoy most. Many British people ask me about Thanksgiving, it's history, what and why we celebrate it. I say it's similar to a kind of Harvest festival and explain the history: how it started with the Pilgrims from the Mayflower making it through the first year and celebrating a bountiful harvest by inviting their Indian neighbors over for a feast and giving thanks.
For me Thanksgiving has the best bits of Christmas without the commerciality. Having friends and family around for a good meal to celebrate what we're thankful for is what the Christmas spirit is about, but with presents added in. But Thanksgiving is simple. It is literally a day off to give thanks. And eat.
Admittedly the last year has been a tough one for me, but I have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

#173: Visit Wales

For those who are unfamiliar with Wales, it is a separate country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is England's Western neighbour (Scotland being England's Northern neighbour) and is generally a forgotten bit of the UK as far as many oversees tourists are concerned. Many people will be familiar with the fact that Prince Charles has the title, the Prince of Waleswhich is a title traditionally granted to the heir of the English monarch since Edward III in the 1300s. Wales is considered one of the modern Celtic nations and the Welsh language is still used over English in many parts of the country. 

There is a real rivalry between the Welsh and English, sporting and otherwise. Kind of like the rivalry Canadians have of Americans (I'm sure that if Americans considered their Northern neighbors to be rivals in anything other than ice hockey that sentiment would be returned.) Regardless, there's a mutual tension between the English and Welsh. 

My Ex was not fond of the Welsh and therefore never wanted to go to Wales, even though there are many lovely places within 3-4 hours of London to visit and explore. Being freed from that restriction I am now free to visit the country unencumbered by centuries of embedded baggage. I'd like to say that I went to one of the lovely beaches and hiked the beautiful peaks of Snowdonia.  

That would be a lie however. I went to Cardiff. For work. For an afternoon.  Cardiff AfterDark is a sight to see. 

So the good news is I still have plenty more to see in Wales in 2014 and beyond.

Photo credits: stocker1970, eserfa : Shutterstock

Saturday, 22 November 2014

#172: Go to a rooftop Bar in London: The Paramount Bar

The Paramount Bar has long been on my cocktail bar wish list and not just because it has a reputation for good cocktails. At 31 stories high, it is in one of London's tallest buildings and has to be the best viewing point in all of central London. With 360 degree views, you can see most of London from Tower Bridge and St Paul's in the East to Westminster, Big Ben and the Wheel in the West.

And the cocktails weren't bad either.

Photo: Level 31 events

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

#171: Go to a live auction

We've all seen those programs on TV that show people buying things (a house, chair or lamp, for example) at auction. A packed room full of people, placards with numbers on them being repeatedly raised while someone who talks really fast says things that you don't really understand, followed by a few intelligible numbers. And *clack* with a bang, the hammer goes down and is sold to the lucky person with number 121 sign. 

Well, I thought it'd be fun to see what a live auction is like, just to see mind you, not with any intention of buying anything.

The atmosphere got to me however and I saw a lovely little chest of drawers that looked unloved...And like it'd go great in my living room. Unfortunately when it went up for bidding it wasn't nearly as unloved as I thought it might be, but in the end still managed to bring it home without going over my stated (and very limited) spend. 

It was an enjoyable afternoon and certainly a better way of getting furniture than from Ikea.

Photo: Robert Adrian Hillman / Shutterstock

Sunday, 16 November 2014

1 year on: The Betrayal

Finding out only weeks after we agreed to take time out that my ex was already 'seeing' a 'friend' sent me spinning even more than our shock separation. My world literally was turned upside down and I started looking back on everything I held most dear and wondered if this life I had loved had been true after all. Questions like: When had it really started? Those times I came home from work and saw them at the kitchen table, had it been going on in my house under my nose? (They swear, no. I'm not so sure.) How could I have let something like this happen? How had I totally missed the signs that my partner was that unhappy with me

Despite having a humorous facade, my ex is not generally a happy person and was not happy at the time we broke up. I knew that. It wasn't a secret. I didn't have my head THAT far in the sand. But having to close your own business and reevaluate what you do for a living is tough on anyone (and their family). I thought I had been very supportive and understanding throughout it all. I knew the pain of business failure because I'd been through similar with my own business a few years before. We had weathered that storm together so I figured we'd weather this one. In the meantime, I was working harder than ever at work to ensure I didn't lose my job and we didn't lose the house we loved. My ex seemed increasingly resentful and distant but I had (wrongly, and perhaps unfairly) chalked it up to seeing me busy and succeeding where my ex wasn't. Regardless, I had thought it was only a temporary blip and small price to pay for keeping a roof over our collective heads. We were partners after all and our happy times would resume once this storm had passed. No relationship is blissfully happy all the time after all. Life unfortunately sometimes gets in the way. 

On reflection, the real warning sign was that my ex was also having trouble adjusting to the idea of being middle aged. I noticed more frequent referencing of the joyous University and post Uni years: talking of drink and all nighters. The silly, irresponsible, fun nights that were had before I arrived on the scene and life became stable and boring. The fact that almost all friends associated with those days were married with steady jobs and multiple kids with changed lives of their own was conveniently forgotten. In retrospect it's so classic, it's a cliche. But being in the midst of it at the time, it wasn't so obvious what was happening. To start, you never think it's going to happen to you. Being left for another woman happens all the time, but to other people. We are different. We love each other. It won't happen to us, to me. 
My ex: 'diagnosed' with early-onset midlife crisis.

Except it did.

No amount of time passing will ever change that. It is something that still hurts incredibly deeply and I'm not sure I will ever completely recover from. But I'm trying...and hoping I can learn to love and trust again.  

Photo: blueskyimage / shutterstock

Monday, 10 November 2014

One year on...

It's now been a year since my old relationship broke down. A year ago, I was devastated and couldn't believe the life and relationship I loved for 9 years seemed to be ending. Only weeks before I was made goddaughter to the Niece (for life, right?) and we were talking about our would-be wedding guest list (NOT at my instigation, I might add. I was content as we were.) More than one set of friends said that they had always looked up to our relationship as both a great friendship and a model partnership and how utterly shocked and saddened they were to learn we had split. 

While I blame myself for a lot of things, over time I've realised that it takes two for a relationship to fail. Although I would have done whatever it took to make it work, my ex wasn't interested in even trying. 9 years literally were thrown away at the spur of the moment one morning before I went to work, when I casually said that I noticed that things were a bit distant and I wanted to work on getting closer again. (I thought it was jet lag, since we had just come back from a holiday in the US a few days wrong I was!) 

Sometimes I do wonder what would have happened had I never uttered those fateful words...If I'd just left the house that day without saying anything and just intending to make more of an effort myself. Would my ex ever have had the guts to bring it up or would we have coasted through that lull like we had at other times over the years and regained the closeness we had previously always found our way back to? While I know such questions are not particularly helpful for moving forward, I can't deny wondering how differently things might have played out had I not unwittingly opened the door for my ex to leave that morning. 

That was how quickly things ended. I woke up, grabbed a coffee and on the way out the door (my coat on) I bent down to kiss my love good bye and in addition to saying 'have a good day', also said: 'Things seem distant with us, I want to make an effort to get closer again.' The response of 'What's the point' was SO not what I expected back. And just like that, we were over. 9 years dismissed without even an argument. 5 mins of discussion, my ex made it clear that working through it wasn't an option; it would only be me trying. To say I was blindsided and shocked was an understatement. 

How I made it through work that day, that week and that month I don't know. 

That said, a year on, I'm happy to say that while I may miss parts of my old life, I don't miss my ex. The tears are rarer and further apart and I go days / weeks without thinking about my loss. I'm still working my way through The List, though at this point it's serving a different purpose than it did when I started the year. Whereas before it was something I was doing to keep busy and remind myself to enjoy life in the face of such pain, now it's something positive I do because I don't want to stop trying new things. I want to keep doing things that make me happy. 

One year on and I'm happy to say that I'm in a better place and am enjoying my new life more than I ever thought possible. 

Photos: Photo: Ragma Images, Michal Nowosielski, Pixelbliss / Shutterstock

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

#170: Kiss someone in Paris

The City of Lights and Romance. There is just something about Paris that makes you want to walk hand in hand, arm in arm. We spent a lovely day walking around the City and watched the sunset from The Trocadero. When the lights on the Eiffel Tower went on, it capped an amazing day. 

When I put my list together, this was one I never would have guessed I'd be able to do. I was daydreaming when I wrote it down, thinking about things I'd likely never do again. To be able to do so in such an authentic way this year is more than I could ever have asked or imagined. 

Kissing under the Eiffel Tower? Check! 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

#169: Go to a museum in Paris

One of the great benefits of living in London is how easy it is to travel. Being within 15 minutes of the Eurostar makes it even easier, though it's not something I do very often. Living in New York, a 3 hour train ride might get me to Boston or Washington D.C.  From London, I can get to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and many other places in between...assuming I actually plan ahead and book it. Going to a museum in Paris is on my list because it's one of the things I feel like I should eating my vegetables.