Aw gee thanks…

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Thanks…Merci…..Danke…..Gracias

Thank You – two simple words that hold so much meaning.

Saying thank you is one of the easiest things in the world to say, most of us can say it in at least 3 other languages. We make a considered effort when travelling abroad to learn how to thank the locals. We regularly thank the person who makes our coffee, holds a door open for us or delivers our post.

But if we are all honest with ourselves, where we exceed at thanking strangers, we fail at thanking those closest to us. Usually these thank you’s are long overdue, much needed, and easily said.

So this post is all about that – me thanking people in my life, not for the obvious things but for the things that really matter to me, things that they do that improve my life.

The thought first came to me whilst watching a collection of talks on an online video site called TED it is mostly based the US but it has such fantastic videos, of people talking for around 20 minutes about everything from climate change, aids, technology and micro biology.

However the one that stuck out to me was a 3 minute one by a woman called Laura Trice – her 3 minute video is all about thank you – but not just the act of saying thank you, it urges us all to ask for the thanks we deserve. Be it a mother asking for thanks for all she does with the children, or a guy asking for thanks for the hours they work to earn for the family. We ask for so much in our lives, we ask for coffee the way we like it, we ask for things to be made to our exacting specifications, but most of us go through life wishing that those closest to us would thank us for the simple things, but we never voice it – if they don’t know we need thanks how can we scald them for not providing it?

So here are my thank you’s…….

Mum – thank you for standing resolutely by my side, for never questioning me, for being my greatest cheerleader.But mostly mum thank you for creating me, for nurturing me, I owe most of my personality to my dad, but I owe my ability to love completely to you. Thank you for doing my washing, for staying up for 30+ hours to help me finish an order, thank you for being at home whilst I was a kid, thank you for making my home and childhood one over filled with love and support. Thank you Mum

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Craig – thank you for helping my dad. thank you for talking to him about the reality of cancer, for being the most sane person in the room most of the time, for being T total and driving us around all the time, thank you for being there for my mum, thank you for loving Claire. Thank you for just being you.

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Amy – thank you for bringing Noah into my life, for letting me be a part of a small persons life as much as you do, thank you for helping me on the road to heal my broken heart. thank you for always having your front door open and rose in the fridge, thank you for marrying Kris meaning I have someone in my life who appreciates teaching a 2 year old to say boobies and boogies. But mostly thank you for making me believe in love again, to see that marriage and kids may in fact be what I want in life. Thank you for giving me hope back.

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Matt – thank you for being kind, thoughtful and always full of slightly awkward Facebook comments! Thank you for sticking around through all kinds, for always making me feel loved and valued. thank you for your tweets which make me laugh even when I am 4000 miles away and 5 hours behind.

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Claire – thank you for being there every single minute for me when my dad was dying, thank you for buying my mum Nero’s coffee cups to make her smile, thank you for being there even when I didn’t think I wanted you there. Thank you for always making an effort, always being the first to get in touch, always the one who is always thinking of others.

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So there you have it a little snippet of the “thank you’s” I am currently sending out – I don’t have enough space to put all of them in this post but I will be writing the rest in letters and sending them out to people. I will also be aware of how often I tell people thank you, and mean it.

Maybe take time to thank the people in your life who maybe you just accept for being there, and maybe don’t realise really would love to know they are appreciated and that you are thankful to have them in your life.

“Notice” the people in your life. Make sure they know you appreciate them.

Take care, and Thank You all for reading this blog and supporting me.

E x

Love?

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“it is better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all” or so said Alfred Lloyd Tennyson’s poem In Memorandum from 1850

However i can only imagine that he would not feel that way if he was a single guy dating in the year 2012.

I have been single for 3 years, now most of the people in my life are in couples, my family, my close friends so to me being a part of a couple is the norm’. the thing that i find so strange about being single is not my thoughts on the matter but the amazing right others feel they have to inform me about how i should feel about it – any one who is single will join with me in the palpable hatred of sayings like “oh you will find someone” or “stop looking and he will turn up” or the worst of all comes from married couples usually and it goes a little like this “oh you are so lucky, what I wouldn’t give to be single again!” to the single girl in the room that seems as sincere as a lottery winner saying “urgh if only i could be skint again” sorry but just does not fly with me.

my last relationship, went pretty much as predicted. started off amazing, romance, flowers, dinners out and nights in….but then as is always the case with me things start to change, the balance shifts and in my case he cheated, i found out, he talked me out of leaving, he started lying, drinking and cheating more and finally one sunday dinner over a roast dinner i had spent hours making i realised i was 24 going on 54 looking after a grown man and his two children and completely neglecting myself.

now i love my friends and family dearly and they fiercely defended me and stood by me, told me how awful he was and most of the time i agreed – then i read an interesting article about adultery and how when couples are in therapy to deal with this, the therapist asks the individual who has been cheated on how “they are culpable in the situation” something that most people would not wish to answer. but as i sat there i really thought to myself “what did i do?” “how could i have changed things” this has in fact become a method i use in all kinds of scenarios now, from my friendships to my relationship with my mum. I have learned that I am responsible for my behaviour and how that affects others in my life. Now I am not saying that it is easy, but then nothing in life worth obtaining comes easily.

After 4 serious relationships and too many to mention flings ending & all of my ex’s going on into serious long term relationships, 3 of whom they are still with, it begs the question “whats wrong with me?” when i posed this question to my friends the responses ranged, although most of the time is “you’re just too great you intimidate them” now I love my friends but even I am aware this is bullshit!

If I, and they, were really honest then they & I would see that it is my doing that has lead me to the single life, I build walls up, I come across as brash and at worst rude. I expect the entire world from someone I date. Incredible looks, hugely intelligent, great job, great car, cool friends and all round perfection.

But who am I to ask for perfection in another when I am unwilling to search for perfection in myself? How can I expect to find the perfect mate, when I myself am not one to others? I have to really look at what I want from someone, but more than that I have to look to myself and say “what do I bring to the table”

So this has lead me to the “List” not a list of what I want or do not want in a mate, but what I do and don’t want in myself.

Rather than going through my dating life saying “he wasn’t right” I am exploring why “I” am not right.

Its not a matter of being down on myself or changing myself, it’s about highlighting the great parts of me (learning to spot them is tough at times for me) and learning to curb the less appealing attributes (and not beating myself up for having them) So although I won’t be listing them on here as such I have taken a picture of the list and here it is…. It isn’t exhaustive or set in stone but it’s a start.

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Oh and I lost another 4lbs so that’s 11lbs in 2 weeks! Yay me! Mini Mexican wave in celebration!

I continue to “notice” life I hope you do too

E x

Yoga mat & the mung bean burger

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Yoga mat and the mung bean burger

So as you all are very well aware I love my food, watching programmes about making food, treating others to food I make but most of all indulging in food myself. This is a necessity to me, eating is more than a physical act I attach so much emotion to, to the point I now have an unhealthy attachment to it.

I think it comes down to my childhood, as all these kind of things do. I have the most loving family, the way we like to show our love is making big family meals and all indulging together. I was taught to eat everything on my plate or no dessert. Unfortunately I think that has lead to an inane need to eat to reflect my mood. I turn to food like others turn to smoking, alcohol or drugs. Most would think of these options food is the least concerning.

I actually agree with the number of health geeks I know, that actually it’s one of the largest killers in the modern western world. We eat and eat and eat rather than talking, walking and exercising. We all do it though, attach emotions to our food, we celebrate with a meal out, after a tough week we treat ourselves to a take away, it’s the weekend so we have cake, Sunday so a massive roast with pudding. At this point I would like to say that is my heaven!

However after a horridly nasty health scare when I found out I have Tietze syndrome, a benign inflammation of one or more of the costal cartilages it stopped seemingly like heaven. Although it is not directly linked to being over weight, since I don’t smoke, drink excessively or take drugs it’s the one thing my (excruciatingly beautiful a&e) doctor told me would affect it.

It was in that moment with this beautiful stranger telling me that I need to get my weight in check did I have a bit of a breakdown. I really looked at myself in the mirror at home and realised the curves I was once known for are no longer there, in their place are podge and fat. I no longer love my body, in fact me and it are no longer on speaking terms. I have let myself down I’m afraid and mistreated a body that has always looked after me well.

And so here I am in Florida – and I have had a huge shift in my diet, it wasn’t really intended, but I have learnt to eat breakfast, limit my coffee intake and eat fruit and herbal tea, dinner is full of bright coloured vegetables, salad and fresh local meat. No pudding (other than Lynn’s insane key lime pie) and I have a cup of tea at night, no diet coke…..I repeat NO DIET COKE! If you know me you know the shock this is to me!

So far on this trip I have eaten – tofu & a mung bean burger, vietnamese curry, rice noodle sunshine rolls, vegan ice cram and only been here 7 days! If I achieve nothing more from this trip I have broadened by mind to new foods, fresh, local and mostly raw.

I also went to yoga for the first time ever, with this crazy guy who looks like Santa on his summer holidays called Sidney – it was an hour of breathing and stretching but the thing that really resonated with me was the notion that you need to “notice” how your body reacts, a word he kept saying, notice your breathing, notice your posture, notice your body’s reactions.

So this days lesson has been to “notice” life more – notice the food I eat, notice the way I speak, notice how I am.

All of the above has lead to a very calm, content Emma. I haven’t been stressed once, worried once, I’ve not lost my temper, felt irritated or felt the need to complain at all.

I may not quite have found myself or inner peace, but dam sure I am on the right road.

I arrived in the states weighing 211 lbs which is 15st 7lbs – i weighed myself after yoga and i now weigh 15stone exactly :-) and that my dear readers is AWESOME! I’ve put a photo below of how I look at the moment and will update you as the food/exercise regime kicks in! I knowing sin black and white, not quite brave enough for full colour!

Until next time, look after yourselves and remember to “notice”

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Painfully honest

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I warn you this post is a little long and rambling but it explains what I am doing on this adventure

On the 7th of June 2010 I was laid on a sun lounger in a hugely opulent hotel in Dubai – I was waited on hand and foot. I have never felt such utter luxury ever before or since that trip. So as I laid there with the sun on my face, vodka&tonic in my hand it would be understandable to presume I was elated relaxed and generally on cloud 9. In fact quite the opposite.

20 days before I had held my fathers hand as he passed away, thus changing completely the course of the rest of my life in ways even to this day I am unaware of.

It is said that a mother is a daughters first friend and that a father is a daughters first love. In my case my dad was both. I couldn’t begin to tell you about him as there just are not enough words. But let it be said that his passing has scarred me so deeply that as I sit here on this beautifully magnificent Virgin 747 heading for an unknown adventure I feel I will never love again, truly laugh or find peace.

And so here I am sat drinking a vodka&tonic at 12.29pm on 7th June 2012 in a beautiful leather seat surrounded by holiday makers, people heading home and the odd business man.

Standing at the security gates saying good bye to my mum, knowing I won’t be seeing her for 3 months, brought back all those horrid feelings I felt holding my dads hand at the end. That overwhelming feeling that suddenly regardless of my 26 years I was once again an infant in inexplicable need of a parents love and support. It is a very foreign feeling to me, I am at best independent, at worst I lean painfully towards cold and distant.

I wasn’t always this way, if you found my teenage boyfriends they would I’m sure describe me as overtly romantic, needy and hugely dependant on the affections of others – quite a stark change to now.

I struggle watching anything romantic, I don’t read romance novels, not even funny ones. I love psychological thrillers and dark comedy with an air of cruelty. Don’t get me wrong its not that I am incapable of love, I adore my family, I have truly wonderful friends and a dog that is like a child to me. I’m not sure exactly when I lost my gentle exterior but since in its place seems to be a huge steel wall masked in barbed wire and surrounded by a festering moat.

As such I have been single since my dad passed away, I am sure a shrink would tell me that I am suffering from self doubt and that I am still moving through the 5 stages of grief. I think slightly differently, I think I am broken. Broken hearted girl with no idea how I could ever be mended.

So whilst running a successful cake company and shop, surrounded by loyal family and truly heart warmingly wonderful friends, I found myself for the first time painfully lonely. I think most would agree that being lonely alone is one thing but being encompassed in loneliness whilst surrounded by people who adore you is a whole other crazy barrel of fish.

In one of these particularly low ebb moments and email appeared in my mail box. An offer. From a stranger. An offer to buy my business – something I had never dreamed of doing. But in what can only be described as a lightening bolt moment I realised I was staring at the ultimate opportunity. Sell my business, make a profit and in the nicest way possible “fuck off” on an adventure. So with that in mind I replied and just simply said yes. The ball started rolling and 14 weeks later here I sit on the first day of what I hope will be a process of healing. Not just my physical health issues but the start of an inner peace, a search for a quiet that I am comfortable with.

I over heard a friend recently taking about me, describing me to a complete stranger, she said

“oh you’ll love Emma shes got a wicked dark sense of humour but be warned she is like a speeding train you either need to be ready to jump on board & hold on for dear life or you need to get the hell out of her way”

It’s strange whilst listening to her I saw myself how others see me, as someone with all the answers, so cock sure of what she wants in life. A woman who sets her sights on something and stops at nothing to get it. I realised that the reason people saw me like that, I made them see that. We all have our insecurities that we learn to mask, or divert attention from. I am loud and some might say brash, but I am hugely insecure and have been known not to leave the house simply because I feel safer inside.

In therapy they teach you to look within to your hearts feelings, to learn to settle you heart and head, rather than being pulled apart by them.

I am not one for talking to strangers (other than this blog…oh the joys of relative anonymity) so I decided I would start reading therapy books, on grief, on death on everything to date I have read 14 in the space of 14 weeks. Devoured them some would say, searching like a lunatic for the answers, a way to fix myself, a way to be “better”

Of course what I actually found is that there is no cure for life, simply lessons to be learnt and paths to find and follow.

Whilst wasting hours online is fell upon a quote and it’s really stuck with me was from George Bernard Shaw it goes a little like this. ” life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself” and thus I am, “creating” myself. On a journey of fun, freedom and full disclosure.
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Slightly stressful arrival but I’m here!

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Well it's been 16 weeks in the planning and finally on 7th June 2012 I touched down in Miami

After the most relaxing massage and pedicure in the executive lounge at Heathrow where I was waited on hand and foot whilst being served perfectly chilled Verve Clicquot made my way to departure gate 18 terminal 3 and boarded the Virgin Atlantic 747 to Miami flight vs5. Plan of action for the flight went a little like this….. Vodka&Tonic, lunch, movie, sleep – perfect – but clearly deluded! It was mostly vodka&tonic and movies, no sleep and awful food :-(

I really want to tell you that my arrival sparked a love affair between the city and I, sadly that was far from the case!

I appreciate how important customs and security is in the states but wow any one heard of air con! Standing in the queue for over an hour, exhausted and hotter than hell on earth I felt my bad mood rapidly approaching – that and the two women in front of me on the plane who were like witches round a cauldron!

Once through the emotionless customs it was baggage time and then a good solid 5 hour wait for my greyhound bus to Gainesville.

Now, I think of myself as a reasonably brave person, happy to travel and blend in, not your typical tourist. Today I was the extreme opposite. I arrived at the greyhound terminal, having been informed that they no longer picked up from the airport, to what can only be described as a scene from a bad horror movie. You know that point at the beginning where you shouting at the screen "give up now! If you think this is bad you have no idea!"

As I pushed open the door practically hanging off its hinges and drag my case to the counter I am informed that the next bus to Gainesville is not until 11am the next day! Which meant a 16 hour wait in the most soulless tin can.

At this point my usually hidden middle class white girl kicked in and the tears began to fall, "that's it" I decide I'm just going to go home! I've tried, no one can say I haven't tried but it's not for me!

As I stared at the departure boards for the next flight back to the UK, I spotted a flight to Gainesville, and as a huge fate devotee I reasoned that I was meant to stay and brave out my adventure.

After that it was plane (excuse the pun) sailing – a tiny plane with no more than 40 people on board the American Eagle ER4. As a less than keen flyer the thoughts running through my mind were, "holy crap I'm going to die" but as I promised myself I had to learn to be brave I strapped myself into the window seat and forced myself to enjoy and boy did I – with some of the most breathtaking views over the lakes and glades I was suddenly calmed and can honestly say loved the 49 minute journey.

Seeing my cousin stood at arrivals in the tiny but perfectly formed Gainesville Airport I suddenly realised that all the drama was behind me and I was at the beginning of the greatest adventure…..

Gonna go now, start making memories, oh and get some food!

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