Thursday, 31 January 2013

Pay Attention

My least favorite month of the year is officially over and it's time to breath a sigh of relief. At least until Valentines Day. It's the little things in life that are really what keep me going when we enter this particular stretch of time. There's no Matt, no traveling and not much to enjoy but work which, at least, gets me out of the house.

One thing that January is good for though is thought. Deep thought. Well... deep-ish thought. Mostly I sit and daydream about next year and about past travels. In those daydreams, however, have highlighted a bit of a frustration.

Last week is a great example: As I was writing about exploring Washington D.C. with Matt, I realized that I was having to really sit and wrack my brain to remember exact moments. I'm not saying that I don't remember the trip or that I didn't have an amazing time, quite to the contrary. However, I didn't remember specific moments as vividly as I wish I did.

Honestly that's been happing a lot in the recent years. I look forward to something so much that I put such pressure on it that I can't enjoy it. Or I focus on how the moment can't last and it passes me by. That's why visits with Matt seem so short and the reason it can be so hard to write about our trips. This struggle to remember our trips brings it to a whole other level of frustrating. The point of travel is to experience another place, not go and sit and leave just to say you visited. Even worse, it makes me feel like Matt is making memories without me.

My father was always telling me to pay attention to my surroundings and it's high time to take his advice again, I know, but the question is how? With so many distractions and a world full of hyper-awareness of the wrong thing (i.e. everything that could ever go wrong) how am I supposed to retrain myself to focus?

Obviously I don't have answers. It's just something I have to work on. Hopefully, with every new event and trip I'll find a way to work it out.

Have a lovely weekend all. I hope you all can make some good memories. <3


Monday, 28 January 2013

Happy Monday!

A white rose from the Blenheim's Gardens
I do know that the words Happy and Monday don't actually make any sense together at all. However, in the vein of trying to look at this year as a new opportunity for growth, I'm trying to pretend like I'm happy it's Monday.

As I was perusing for my own purposes, I found that Vanity Fair has done a complete photo story about Blenheim Palace - FROM THE INSIDE! In case you've forgotten, I was properly chastised for trying to take a picture in the Great Hall so, I'm very excited that you can see how absolutely beautiful it is there.

Think of it as a small gift to you all to make your Monday a little brighter. Have a great rest of the week and I'll see you on Friday!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Travelling At Home

When Matt and I first met we never expected to see each other again. It wasn't until my summer plans fell through that we even talked about possible visits. Then of course possible visits became I really want to see you how long can you stay? 

When you're flying across the Atlantic there isn't a lot of money leftover for other things. As evidenced by our travels documented here, we haven't ventured too far out of London for anything yet. In some ways I used to look at this as unfortunate but after Matt's last vist (well, after really talking to him about his last visit) I've realized that it's given us a new special kind of skill: the ability to travel at home. 

Parliament and Big Ben from across the Thames <3

Friday, 18 January 2013

Being Open Minded - A Whole New Year

I'm deciding right now to look on this year as a gift. I used to think it was corny to think that way and I kind of still believe it is but a new year calls for a new way of thinking and I'm going to make this my first step.

I've decided on this following a very heated New Years Eve discussion with my boyfriend.

I'm always asking Matt if we can talk about the future. Living in a long distance relationship as we are, it can be very hard to see that little light at the end of the being-apart-all-the-time tunnel. I've applied to go to Graduate School in the same city as him - the absolute easiest way for a person of my age and finances to move anywhere overseas - but immigration laws in the UK will make it close to impossible for me to stay once that degree is finished.

Thoughts like these tend to weigh on me and make me feel panicky. Matt, however, is a problem solver.

On New Years Eve, we went for a walk in snowy, freezing New York, just to get some time on to ourselves. He, out of the blue, suggested that we look for a place in the world that wants people, has universities and teaching/working opportunities for me - Matt suggested we move to Kenya.

I automatically said no. I nearly screamed, I protested, I told him he could go by himself and I felt awful. I don't want him to go on adventures without me. I don't want to lose him to amazing experiences for two years while I sit at home. And the only thing that I can think of that made me act that way is fear.

The thing about travelling the world is I'm not very good at it. I'm a worrier. I can go from an amazingly confident woman in my own space to, quite frankly, a tragic wreck when I'm brought out of my comfort zone. I'm fully aware of that. I call my self The Unlikely Explorer for a reason. Over the course of this twenty minute conversation with Matt we went from my yelling and protesting (for seemingly no reason- to either of us) and Matt yelling at me for being prejudiced and me getting even more mad at the accusation to me finally admitting that he was right.

I'm not in anyway saying that I was raised to distrust other places, new places or any certain group of people. But I have grown up, most specifically in the last few years, exposed to the media's portrayal of the world and most stories you hear coming out of Africa are about poverty and war and sickness and that's terrifying to me. Which is something I'm not proud to admit.

Once I did admit that yes, I was being prejudiced, it was easy to finally see why we were fighting. It was also easier for me to say, maybe that can work. It's no use going through life letting our preconceptions (which can so often be misconceptions) govern how much we experience. We all do it (even you Matt <3) and it's not something that's right to do. This fear causes my stubbornness for no reason and, most awfully, it keeps me standing still.

The point of this all is not that I'm moving to Africa anytime soon. It turns out that Canada, amazingly, is more likely because of what it offers for schools and job opportunities in our fields - which is not the point either.
It's really about acknowledging that in life, when you let fears, small or big, take over your world view, you end up telling the man you love that he can go off alone while you sit bitterly at home. Or, if you must be less specific, you just miss out on so many experiences. There's a lot of things I would love to go back in time and do but I can't. All I can do is not let that stand in the way anymore. If nothing else, the need to make what is an amazing but sometimes inconvenient located love work, will be the first thing to bring me over those hurdles.

It's 2013. There's only one way to make it amazing... "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."

Here's to wild abandon and actually living <3
Happy New Year