On living together: the good, the bad and the ugly.

I have to live with a boy!

“We really need to get out of this habit of just throwing things on the floor,” he said, picking up a pair of my carelessly strewn pyjama bottoms.

Oh dear. And so it begins.

Now, I may have flown across the world to experience my first time living with a boy, and living with another couple too makes it all feel a lot less grown up. But nevertheless, the same rules apply to the latest new experience of my twenties.

Weekly eagerly anticipated date nights are now, like, just every evening at the dinner table.

When we can afford date night out (apparently paying rent can put a little dent in the weekly dinner, cinema, drinks, clubbing fund) it’s usually a good chance to have a conversation about serious stuff, like money, or bills, or business plans or the future.

And when you just wanna let it all hang out? Well, you’ve just gotta do what a girls gotta do and hope for the best that you’ll still be loved through every single surprise revelation that you might not be quite as glamorous all the time as you might have been three times a week for evening dates and weekend sleepovers.

On living together: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good:

  • Before the day has even really started, you get to see a face you love, and that’s EVERY DAY!
  • You have someone to tell about your night full of crazy dreams without a) judgement, and b) the risk of being labelled as the office ‘most boring storyteller ever’.
  • You get to have a sleepover with your best friend every night!
  • There’s always someone there to listen to stories about your day.
  • There’s always someone there to complain to.
  • If you need a cuddle, you’ve got it. And if you really really don’t, that’s generally always fine too.
  • You share everything – secrets, in-jokes, tea-making, mutual hatred for the loud clattering of the postman, mutual love for watching hours of your current TV addiction.
  • There’s always someone to tell you that you look nice. With the correct prompting, obviously. (I.e. ‘Do I look nice? Insert wisest answer here [____]’)
  • If you forget to buy deodorant, there’s always back up.

The bad:

  • With mornings can come grumpy grunts and frowns, and that’s before the day has even started.
  • Someone might begin to realise how much you enjoy keeping your stuff where you can see it (i.e. all over the floor, desk, chair, bedside table etc..)
  • Someone might often complain about the above point by shouting ‘shit on the floor again!’ to which, any guests unaware of the context, are likely to presume that, (unless you have a dog, which we do not) you might have actually done a shit on the floor, again. And that’s never good.
  • Someone else’s hair joins yours around the sink.
  • You have to clean the bathroom that another human being has used.
  • Boys are smelly – will they ALWAYS think farts are hilarious?
  • You end up HAVING to share stuff (that incredibly expensive colour restore shampoo has been wasted wash after wash on a man that has never coloured his hair, nor has any desire in restoring it.)

The ugly:

Fights. Silly little bickery ‘can we just stop and listen to ourselves?!’ fights about mess and washing and cleaning and doing dishes and mattress toppers and early morning alarms that NEVER STOP and lights being left on and eating all the food shop on delivery day and who used the last of the milk and where did all the biscuits go and all the other things you’ve been fighting with your parents about for years, only to now realise, this shit never ends!

Like, ever.

But when it comes down to it, even through all the brand new grown up stuff that I never once dreamt I’d ever have to deal with, well it’s really very nice, this living together thing.

Snatched kisses in the kitchen, the LAUGHS that bubble out post-fight when we realise we’re arguing over whether to buy a fitted or a flat sheet, always thinking about someone else and knowing that they’re always thinking about you (sure, apart from when the football’s on, or being discussed, or being played, or being mentioned, or just existing), the sharing of the smallest most boring things like taking in the shopping or preparing a meal or doing the dishes feeling like you’re part of a mini team as you tackle this new grown up world together.

Those giggles, and that getting each other, and the comfort, and the listening and the believing in each other’s goals and plans and dreams. It all wins. The good stuff wins!

But the farts really do have to stop.

stop the fartsYou’re battling the twenties too, huh? The best way to win is to face it together! Get in touch: littleredfrench@gmail.com

Or leave me a comment below

 

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Feeling the fear and doing it anyway (with a little helping hand).

falls 8

The sensible side of my brain suggested I just ‘sit this one out’ as we pulled up for a swim at Josephine Falls in Cairns, Australia.

Because ‘I had just washed my hair’ and ‘I’ll be damp for the rest of the car journey’ and ‘I have just gotten over a cold,’ as well as other things your mother might say.

But, as I’m all over this ‘living in the moment’ thing, off I went to give it a try.

I cautiously stumbled my way along the wet, slippery rocks and, after tripping over twice (gravity has a way of messing with me like that) I dipped my toes into the ice cold water before deciding that ‘nope, I don’t want to do this.’

Here I am, being helped across a rock. They were REALLY slippy, really!

Here I am, being helped across a rock. They were REALLY slippy, really!

I did not want to swim in the ice cold, not so clear, waters. I did not want to drag my so pale and cold it was nearly blue body any further than I’d already made it. And I sure as hell didn’t want to join those crazy kids whizzing down that collection of rocks and water that they were calling a slide.

The 'Slide'.

The ‘Slide’.

My boyfriend, my friends and every other tourist in the world hopped into the water, totally not phased, while I stood and wondered why an earth I was so worried?

Well, I was so worried because fear and anxiety have a way of catching you out like that. When you least expect it, they’ll just creep up on you and say ‘by the way, you’re not up for this!’ and there’s not much you can do, apart from maybe cry.

So yep, I was standing half-naked, clinging to a rock, in front of a bunch of happy splashy swimmers and my eyes began to fill with tears. (I did have to take another look around to confirm that, no, it was not 1995 and, no, I was not on a primary school swimming trip.)

A man’s persistent shout finally drew the ever-growing attention away from me. (OK, so the happy splashers were more interested in enjoying their holiday than in little miss weepy, but it felt like they were staring.)

“Violet!” he shouted, over and over again.

He was trying to coax his daughter down the ‘slide’.

She was five years old and she was scared too.

I could almost hear her thoughts as she sat at the top of the rocks looking around and assessing the situation.

What if those rocks fall on my head? What if I scrape my bum on the way down? What if I can’t swim once I reach the bottom? And how cold is it EXACTLY?

Violet looked over to her Mum to gain some sort of approval that this was OK to be doing (she’d obviously already worked out that Dad’s ideas were not always to be trusted) and Mum responded with a big thumbs up. (Note that Mum was intent however on not taking part in the sliding. I imagine it was something to do with the fact that she’d just washed her hair, or didn’t want to be damp in the car, or was just getting over a cold.)

But just as little still unconvinced five year old Violet was about to give up, to forget all about this silly idea and to spend the rest of her day warm and with freshly washed hair, her big sister stood close and held out her hand.

Violet took a long look at it, and then, just like that, she smiled, grasped it tightly and let her sister guide her to the starting point. And finally, off they went, hands entwined, giggling and squealing and spluttering with excitement all the way down.

“At last Violet!” I thought. And then I stopped, and took a long hard look at my 25 year old self.

And, as I continued to assess the entire situation, my lovely, patient (SO. VERY. PATIENT.) friends held their hands out to me too.

I grabbed them. They led the way to the top of the rocks and I grasped on tightly, screamed A LOT, and we all giggled and squealed and spluttered our way down with even more glee than the actual kids.

There I am at the back, screaming and clinging on for my life.

There I am at the back, screaming and clinging on for my life.

And it got me to thinking about the difference a helping hand or three can make when you’re feeling a bit wobbly.

Just knowing that someone gets your worry is big enough. But having a person, or even people(!), that are willing to grab you by the hand, to tell you it’ll all be OK, that you might even have some FUN, and even to drag you through the scary, slippy, rocky bits if they have to. Well, that’s bound to have you squealing and giggling with excitement once you make it out the other side!

So next time something, anything, (going down a slide for Christ sakes) makes you feel all swirly in the bottom of your tummy, and your brain tells you all the reasons why you shouldn’t: Grab hold of those precious helping hands and jump right in!

Start feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Take the plunge. Into the deep end. And make a splash.

You’ll be glad you did.

Splashing and I think...smiling!

Splashing and I think…smiling!

 

 

A revelation. (WARNING: it kinda hurts at first, but eventually it makes total sense.)

Good in Every Day

I’m having a rethink.

Because it just so happens that sometimes we take our little life and all its loveliness for granted.

I don’t think I’m alone when, if things don’t go quite the way I planned, it can feel as if the universe is spiting me on purpose, that the world is out to get me, that someone out there is watching and laughing at my daily mishaps – maybe they’re even making them happen?!

But, luckily, I learnt something about us all recently. It kinda hurts at first but eventually it makes total sense.

Are you ready?

It’s this: We’re not that special. (Ouch).

I mean, OF COURSE, to the people around us that we love and love us, yes, we are very very really very special. Obvs.

But I’m talking in the grand scheme of things, in the mega context of this gigantic Planet Earth that we all call home. Nope, it doesn’t think we’re special, in fact, it doesn’t give a damn. (Told you it hurts!)

See, I was having a crazy, pre-menstrual, overheated, emotional afternoon, and I really did feel like the world was against me. I was all ready to throw up my arms in defeat shouting ‘OK world, I surrender, you win!’ when all of a sudden it occurred to me, through the confused look of my pitying, slightly scared, boyfriend: good god I really MUST have a word with myself.

So I turned it around a little, and here’s me having a word with myself and getting a grip. (Just promise not to judge me and my pre-menstrual ways, it was one of those days OK!)

The world is against me:

Tossing and turning and sweating in a tiny top bunkbed covered in grains of sand in the middle of Australian summer – why did I leave my comfy, cosy, clean, fresh double bed at home for this?

Went and got a grip:

I’m in Australia! I’m on a permanent holiday! Go me! Thank you little hot sandy bunk bed for having me, as well as for making it difficult for potential spider shaped visitors to climb and join me.

The world is against me:

The brand new mug I’d been so looking forward to drinking a cup of tea from (as opposed to the tiny campervan teacups holding barely a gulp of tea I’d become accustom to) just cracked as soon as I put boiling water into it. Seriously!! No big mug of piping hot tea for me!

Went and got a grip:

But a lady did give me a FREE cup of coffee today. Not just any free coffee, but a filtered, frothy, caffeiney, sugary delicious free coffee. And did I mention it was FREE?! Thank you coffee lady, for that.

The world is against me:

Traipsing around for miles in the rain handing out application forms for jobs and apartments. (I’m soggy, I’m nackered, and I’d just really love a piping hot cuppa tea in my brand new mug. Oh, wait…)

Went and got a grip:

I haven’t exercised in weeks, so a speedy plod up and down the hilly streets of, again – AUSTRALIA – can only leave my thighs truly grateful. As for the rain, my sun scorched freckly shoulders could really do with a a day off. So thank you world, it’s as if you knew!

 

It’s funny when you think about it, how when anything bad or annoying or irritating happens throughout the day, boy do we remember it! But something nice? Well, it’s as if we’ve kind of come to expect it. And I’m not sure we should.

So let’s try and turn it around. Let’s remember the good stuff! All those little reasons to smile!

Think about it. What nice thing happened to you today? What made you smile this week?

Pull out a positive from that rotten Monday morning meeting (it did buy you more time for that report you haven’t finished, after all). Whip up a praise for your shouty boss (like, when she’s on your side and shouty, at least you know she’s got your back!) When it took you three hours to get your hair all bouncy on Saturday night and three minutes for the rain to stick it flat to your head? Ah, yeah, there’s no good way to look at that…

Write down all the good stuff and share it and treasure it. Let’s find all the reasons to say THANK YOU today.

Because the world doesn’t owe us a thing, you know. We owe it all to ourselves.

On getting lost: even when you know exactly where you are.

let's get lostSo I was standing in the middle of an Australian street, sweating in the 35 degree heat, with a map in my hand and a puzzled look on my face, when a lady – a total stranger – bothered to turn her car around in busy traffic, pull over beside me and ask where I was looking for.

Being a newbie to the country, I had no phone, no internet, and absolutely no sense of direction (though the last bit isn’t technically the fault of the whole new country thing.)

So, the lady – Cindy, FYI – googled the address on her phone for me. She even called the location to check the address details. And THEN she offered to drive me there.

No sooner had I hopped in, we’d arrived at my destination and she was wishing me ‘a great day!’ before smiling, pulling away, and continuing with the rest of her life.

My first thought: I hope she doesn’t notice that I sweated all over her seat.

My second thought: That would never happen in England!

But then, what if it would?

See, while I was praising the kindness of Australians (obviously this one kind act was a reflection of the entire population) and cursing my hometown for its apparent rudeness and ignorance, it got me to thinking that actually:

I’ve never let myself get lost enough to find out.

Back home, in my little town, in my little bubble, everything is in the same place it’s been for all of the other 25 years I’ve been there. My car would get me from A to B and sometimes C and then back to A again. And I’d never get to speak to strangers (mainly because that was the NUMBER ONE rule of life according to everything we were ever taught from ages 1-18), but also because everyone was so familiar, and I didn’t need to.

(OK, so there was this one time where I picked up a hitch hiker called Len because I was having a ‘why not’ moment. And, although Len was a very nice chap, with funny ‘on the road’ stories that he seemed delighted to share, it was such a spontaneous trip in such close proximity to a stranger that it turned out feeling more weird than exciting. And my friends and family have since informed me that it’s just not the done thing.)

BUT, how about, without necessarily having to let any strangers into any cars, we just start popping our little bubbles from time to time.

Why don’t we get a little bit lost, so we can discover the kind people or pretty places or quirky things we mightn’t have known otherwise…all the way back.

And who knows, you might even get to meet Len!

The best New Year’s resolution we can make.

I’ve given up on my usual New Year’s Resolutions, you know the ones: lose two stone, save money, be on time more, be tidier (it’s just not going to happen). And instead, I’ve started to focus on making my New Year, New! Doing new things, learning new stuff, seeing new places, meeting new people.

All the way back in 2013, I reflected on all the new things I’d done! I loved seeing them all written down in one place, a portfolio of every little experience that had changed me, grown me and sometimes thrown me that year. So, naturally, I pledged to have a year of newness in 2014 too. And here’s how it went:

January
I went to New York for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I’d always wanted to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree, to ice skate in Central Park and to watch the ball drop at midnight in Times Square, like they do in the movies.
So I did.Central Park Ice Skating

February
I joined a band. I said yes to becoming the lead female singer. And I loved it! I loved it so much. See, I’d always wanted to be in a band. So I joined one.

March
I booked a one way ticket! I wanted to leave on a jet plane and not know when I’d be back again. So I did.

April
I went glamping! I wanted to sleep under the stars in a warm, comfy, glamorous kinda way. So I did.

Glamping

May
I became a Manager. I know, right?! Little ol’ me in charge of people and projects and with responsibilities n’stuff! I always wanted to be a boss, so I worked my butt off and became one.

June
I sang in the street. Not just in a belting out a little tune at the end of my drive kinda way (cos that’s totally normal), but in a on a stage, at my village street fair, in front of friends and family and fellow villagers kinda way. I’d always wanted to be the talk of the town, and so I was (for 3 minutes approx).

Groby Street Fair 1

July
I had £10,000 in the bank. This has NEVER, EVER, happened before. And, unlikely to ever happen again. But I wanted to save my socks off for travelling and so, with the help of my soul-destroying, wardrobe minimising, utter snooze fest of a budget planner, I did. (Sidenote: on the off chance any potential online fraudster might be checking in, I can assure you, it didn’t last long).

August
I got interviewed on camera. My University wanted to know about my job as a PR Manager and Copywriter and how my Creative Writing course had helped, so they came into my work and filmed me chatting and working and even a bit of walking, and I felt all dead special! (P.S. you can watch the interview here.)

Filming

September
I said goodbye to my friends and family without knowing when I would see them again. I got on a plane and got off on the other side of the world. I marvelled at the beauty of New Zealand, I was astounded by the smiles and friendliness of the people in poverty in Fiji, oh, and I went white water rafting and, as I like to tell it, totes nearly drowned.

October
I fell from a height of 43m strapped to a harness and a wire, for fun! It was the Taupo bungee swing in New Zealand, and once I’d stopped fearing for my life, it was amazing!!

Taupo Bungee SwingTaupo Bungee Swing 2

November
I landed in a foreign country and didn’t have a plan. With my boyfriend and two friends by my side, and not much money left in the bank, we hopped in a campervan and muddled our way up the East Coast of Australia, then muddled our way back down again. We spent a night in a car, three weeks in a camper and a month in a cabin, and finally, we found a permanent place to stay for the year. And, I must say, it was SO worth the blood, sweat and excess rice consumption!

December
I experienced a hot Christmas! Pimms, paddling pools, sun cream, bikinis – the lot! We were so generously invited to the home of a fabulously fun and friendly family who treated us like their own. And we ate an enormous Christmas dinner, outside!

Aussie Christmas 1

pimms

paddling pools

Another year and another load of lovely new stuff to reflect on. Just writing it down and looking back on it makes me feel like I’m already better for it, a little bit wiser, a little bit happier and a little bit braver, even though at some points I was really freakin’ scared. And I’m proud of that.

In fact, I think it might be the best New Years resolution we can ever make, to give ourselves constant reasons to be proud, and more importantly, taking that time out to be proud, to reflect, to celebrate.

Even just with little things.

That recipe you’ve been meaning to try? Do it. The yoga class you keep planning to join? Go for it. That job that looks perfect but you’re sure you don’t have the right skills for? Give it a try. The old friend you’ve been wanting to get in touch with? Why not! That person you know you love? Tell them.

Push yourself this year. Say yes. Make you proud.

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I linked to this post over on the lovely blog below, go see what they’re up to!

Blogger Goals 2015

Note to self: have a little faith in your decisions. Because, WHAT IF?!

I’ve been busy getting lost..but now I’m back!

And have I got some stories to tell you?!

It’s been a crazy, gorgeous, wild few months full of adventure and LOADSA COOL NEW STUFF! There’s so much to say, and, luckily, I’ve left months worth of absent blog space to fill you in on. So, I’ll start from the top.

Remember when I said I was going to give up my job and jump on a plane to the other side of the world and see what happens?

Well, I did it! I mean, I’m doing it! Right now! Hello, here I am, doing the big huge thing I said I would.

Bon Voyage

And as much as I wish wish wish I’d have blogged about all the cool stuff I was up to along the way when I first set off, to be totally, brutally, honest: I was too shit scared that it all just wouldn’t work out. So I kept quiet. Just. In. Case.

I created an imaginary story in my head A LOT about how terribly wrong it might go. A story where my boyfriend had to drag me to the airport while I screeched ‘don’t let them take me’ over and over again. A story where I’d have an imaginary breakdown on the plane because it turned out that I did want a desk job and a routine and security after all. A big fat made up story where I imaginary wailed that I’d be stuck with a boy for too long (and he with me, finding out how actually awful and unbearable I really am) and we’d have an imaginary break up and he’d send me straight home, which in fact was fine because I was imaginary guaranteed to hate every second of the trip anyway.

My cheeks physically flushed when I imagined that after all the ‘guess what I’m doing’ facebrags, Twitter announcements and smug conversations, that I’d have to report back that: hey guys, I’m home, I lasted three days.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as always. Because I now know that even if my year long plan I’d smugly told the world about time and time again did go tits up and fail, there’d always be something to learn from it, something to laugh about, a great story to tell.

But, guess what: it didn’t fail! That’s right, I’m still here, on the other side of the world, and I’m only bloody loving life!

In fact, I’ve been so busy loving life that I’ve not given myself any time to reflect on it or to think about what I’ve learnt, or to tell you about it.

So, now I’m all kinda settled in my new little life by the beach with my boyfriend and my friends and a new job and a new apartment and not a sign of failure in sight, it’s time I started telling you about all THE STUFF!

About the people and the feelings and the friends and the changes and the newness and the world and and and..

But, in the meantime, a little reminder to myself, and to anyone else who needs it: have a little faith in your decisions.

Because the only way to know is to give it a go. And what if, WHAT IF, it turns out to be the best decision you ever made?

What if I fall?