Getting Away

It’s been an exceptional year of holidays of all lengths and types.  We’ve managed short breaks as a couple, holidays with friends and family; activity holidays and chilled out breaks.

I have no idea why this year has been so holiday-focussed and can’t honestly say that it was intentional.  But it has been great fun.  We were in Edinburgh this weekend and spent a lot of time discussing how much we love trying out living in a new place.  Being a bit further away geographically enables me to take a bird’s eye view of life and to check all is well.  Somehow whilst living that life at home, I struggle to examine it.

Everywhere we go there is a conversation about whether we want to move there. It verges on obsessive.  I was slightly concerned that it’s a symptom of being unhappy where we live now, which we are definitely not. In reality, it’s a good way to reflect on what we could do better- maybe spend a bit more time lingering over coffee and newspapers in a local coffee shop, or mooching around excellent museums, or walking along rivers (or canals in Birmingham terms) to get a break from city architecture.  All of these are tiny tweaks of course.  More than that, it’s a great way to discuss everything we would miss too much about where we live – there is a lot.

Admittedly the idea of living in an amazing Georgian flat in a European capital city, spending the days walking for miles with pit stops at lovely independent coffee shops and evenings putting the world to right over excellent cocktails in interesting bars and great food in friendly local restaurants is hugely attractive.  Of course, I can’t actually afford that lifestyle for more than a few days.  And that’s ok – I am home again now in a house and community I love and back to the job I love, and starting the saving for the next holiday.

Arbitrary deadline

Today is my last working day of the year.  When I next sit at my desk it will be a new year, a new start and I will be a totally new person.  

I will be very efficient, there will not be a thousand emails in my inbox, my to do lists will be legible and realistic.  I will calmly prepare thoroughly for all meetings and ensure that I have read all the required papers and have done some extra research on all topics to be discussed. I will follow all meetings and events with timely feedback and follow up wherever necessary. I will be available for every colleague whenever they need me, answering every email, phone and skype call as they come in.  I will have reflection time every day to develop my work against my plans and priorities. I will reach every deadline with time to spare.  I will be happy and calm at all times.

Ah, just writing all of that is making me feel so much better, I am typing and giggling at myself, which does a power of good.  My personal need to leave the year in some sort of state of perfection is indeed funny, even if I have not been able to see that in the last couple of days.  

Mainly I am looking forward to a holiday and I need to be very self-aware and check this daft feeling that I need to leave my desk today with everything in order for the imaginary perfection to be possible in a fortnight’s time.  Especially as it would take me two weeks just to clear that inbox. 

Happy last working day of the year to you, whenever it may fall for you.

Letting go of disappointment

Disappointment is when there is a gap between what I expect and the actual reality of a situation. Life is filled with all levels of disappointments.  There are some major ones in my life which I interestingly, do not focus on at all. Too big and too painful togo there. The minor ones I work on dismissing all the time.  It seems to be the medium disappointments that take me down.

In this case a holiday that did not go to plan.  A conversation yesterday made me realise that I cannot let this one go.  This summer an idyllic week of relaxing and exploring with dear friends and spending a precious week catching up together turned into a tearful and stressful reaction to the sheer awfulness of Ryanair’s customer service.  Ryanair cancelling flights in what feels like an arbitrary manner and then offering no support or replacement flights to their customers meant we were left with a mere three days together.

And in case you were wondering, three days are not enough to recover from the stresses of daily life (which is the point of a holiday after all) let alone a hideous four days of trying to communicate with uncooperative customer services and trying to get a family to a holiday destination in order to make the best of a really bad job.

I know, first world problems and all that.  But Ryanair makes a huge amount of money from people having the first world desires to fly somewhere hot for a holiday.  It’s not ok to be so horrible in your business dealings.

Maybe that is why I cannot let this one go.  Being a horrible company when you are financially successful and have a captive market is unjust.   There are many issues with our capitalist society, treating your customers or your employees badly feels like the pits.

Somehow though, I need to stop being angry and work out how to carve out some more time with those lovely friends who bore the true brunt of the disappointment.  Because I suspect my disappointment is not going to change the behaviour of Ryanair, it just makes me feel grumpy.

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the pool waiting quietly for the holiday to begin properly

Miracle eyesight cure

I am slowing moving back into the word of social media and email … and blogging … after a break which I needed as I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed after a really busy period both at work and at home.  A period which required a lot of email, a lot of texts, and hours and hours of mindless scrolling through Facebook in a futile attempt to switch off my brain.

So a family holiday provided the opportunity to switch off the tech as well as the routine.  I did not leave my phone at home, that would have been inconvenient.  And I did have a lovely time reading blogs on my phone.  I read more books.  I stared into the distance a bit more.  But possibly not as much as I would have done had I not had access to the internet at all.  I still ended up down a few rabbit holes online (should I buy a jumpsuit?).

But most of all I checked email.  I couldn’t get to email, I had logged out, but I checked and checked and checked.  I am addicted to checking email and I had no idea.  I knew I was in gander of checking work email compulsively, so I just don’t have work email on my phone or personal laptop.  I thought I had didged the bullet.  But in week one of the holiday, I cannot tell you how many times I saw this screen as I clicked on the mail icon of my phone.

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Even knowing there was no email behind the icon did not stop me from compulsively tapping it.  I have now hidden the icon from its usual clickable place on my homescreen. Let’s see how long I can reduce that compulsion to check.  At least I now know it is a compulsion.

And it is a compulsion that I suspect is the one causing my headaches, neck ache, and my eyesight problems.  I have worn glasses for nearly forty years now.  My eyesight is rubbish and – despite the headline, it still is.  For the past year I have assumed that my glasses are just never going to correct my sight properly now that I am getting older, seeing into the distance has been a struggle, lots of blinking and squinting was happening.  Guess what – that compulsive looking at a small screen was stopping my eyes from focussing on things in the distance.  Several opticians have mentioned to me how bad our phones are for our eyes – not the phones themselves, but that compulsive need to keep staring at them when our eyes are supposed to be taking a break and staring into the distance.

Driving down a familiar route yesterday I was amazed to see landscape that has been slightly fuzzy for ages now.  Miraculous.  And hopefully a motivation to stop that compulsive email checking and just give my eyes a proper break.