Things Are Going To Change Around Here

You’re lying on a beach, the warm Mediterranean sun kissing your sun cream-sheen body. There’s a Pina Colada in hand (it could be the second or third, but who’s counting anyway?) And you think to yourself, “yes, this is pure bliss”. Suddenly, out of nowhere…

“Things are going to change around here!”

You’re sat in an English beer garden in summer, holding a pint of ale that comes recommended by the landlord himself. There’s a gentle breeze flowing through your hair as you idly watch dog walkers stroll by. It could just as easily be Devon or as it could be Suffolk (but who’s reading the map anyway?) And you think to yourself, “can’t go far wrong”. Then…

“Things are going to change around here!”

You’re stood by a roaring fire, munching down on festive treats. Outside it’s dark and cold, but inside you worship only the primitive flames. The wine is pouring a plenty and the boxes of mince pies are never ending. You don’t care much for the brand (who’s checking the price tag anyway?) And you soon find yourself curling up into a ball and drifting off by the glowing embers. As your eyelids slowly lower, with loving family all around, you think to yourself “life doesn’t get much better than this.”…

“Things are going to change around here!”

***

All three of the above are, give or take a few juicy words, all scenarios I’ve shared in the company of my beloved Papa Bennett. It’s basically a family tradition, when you reach a sweet spot in life he will almost always cry out those seven words. “Things are going to change around here!”

Usually the statement will be followed by something that he feels is currently out of balance. These fall into two categories and you can usually pin point what he’s going to say and when he’ll say it down to a T. For example, Christmas time after eating four mince pies in one sitting = health, three days into a beach holiday = work balance. And every time we tell him “work less hours!” Or “eat less junk!” all we get is a look of horror. “I couldn’t possibly do that!” he says.

Papa Bennett aside, used in the right way the statement does have weighting to it. I think to myself, wouldn’t it be better to, instead of pledging resolutions at New Year, instead say TAGTCAH? (Does that read like a Lord of the Rings character? Or a nasty throat infection?)

Without going into the potted year of the Alice Bennett show, 2017 has been so unbelievably busy. New house, new car, new job (and everything else in between). I’ve dealt with busy builders, evil energy suppliers and a mortgage provider who tried to fob me off with a blank cheque. Swindon stays the same, sure, but everything else has changed.

What’s going to change around here in 2018? Well, things I hope for:

Life to calm down (at least the things I can control)
I received a Christmas card this year with the added note “hoping 2018 is just as thrilling as the one before!” Well no, no I really hope it isn’t. I’ve invested enough time and money on the power three (house, car, job) in the past year, I welcome a break!

Stop worrying over the little things.
Recently someone gave me a piece of written feedback. I highly paraphrase, but it went something like “you’re doing great, but you’ve seriously got to stop worrying and overanalysing everything.” (So I’m going to stop fussing so much over the little things.)

Learn how to read electronic messages.
…My knee jerk reaction to the above email was to heavily defend why I cared so much about my job. I reread heir comments a week later and realised that I’d completely misread what they were trying to say. They’d written the comment in good humour as part of a longer email as a gentle nudge to relax a little. And yet I latched onto one slightly negative thing. That was silly and I wish I could take it back and not given out the Alice Bennett sob story. So as a writer I also need to learn how to read (hah, how ironic).

Stop overanalysing emails. (See above.) Because colleagues will think it weird and will be scared that they’ll appear on blogs, like they’re working with some kind of corporate Taylor Swift.

Write something awesome
Like truly awesome

Grow nails, preferably by finding something/one as actual motivation.
Because nothing else is working and I hate my hands and want nails so bad. I’m thinking like The Rock or Channing Tatum as personal trainers, Richard Branson staring me down from the other side of the office, and/or a naggy Martin Freeman? Not fussy, whichever comes easiest to hand (eh, see what I did there? Pun Goddess.)

Be you Alice because when you’re not spilling coffee everywhere you pass off for a decent human being. And you need to damn well appreciate it more.

IMG_8854
(Also because Oscar Wilde’s people called. Turns out he’s already taken.)

So there’s my ‘things are going to change around here’ list for 2018. Comment below any of yours, in the meantime I’m off to take on the new year.

Lets do this.

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My Housemate’s a Mermaid: 2016 in Review

Crikey is it that time of year again? Can it really be New Year’s Eve? With a backdrop of Homes Under the Hammer you wouldn’t think it. But then India is off at one of her multiple New Year’s Eve gatherings and Jools Holland has a prime time slot on the BBC, so it must be.

It feels the world is a very much different place compared to this time last year (back in 2015). The world lost many great people including stars from music, television, film and the literary world. Just when it felt like we couldn’t lose anymore another one dropped down, taking the world by surprise and reasserting in the minds and Facebook statuses of millions that 2016 was one of the bleakest years in celebrity culture. Mind, according to a recent BBC report, the number of celebrity deaths in 2016 reached 32, whereas in 2015 there were 29 so perhaps not as extreme as we all think. Sorry to be a buzz kill on this, but with an ageing generation of celebrities and drug culture 2017 could easily match or surpass 2016 in respect of notable deaths.

There was also a lot of political upheaval around the world. Brexit, Trump, Syria to name but three. Alongside this there have been (what feels like) countless bombings and acts of terrorism around the world, all of which bringing trauma and misery to one extent or another. There was also the announcement that Toblerone’s were changing their shape. That scandalous story almost brought Britain to its knees I’m telling you. Do I honestly think the world and chocolate industry will see sense in 2017? Pfft, of course not!

Moving on to personal developments then. At the end of 2016 I can still lay claim to two parents, two cats and a sister. I still live in Swindon at 10 Starfish Road with four other housemates including that famous mermaid. Company I work for remains unchanged. Swindon 18-30 Professionals continues to go from strength to strength with ever increasing members and a new sponsor. Local coffee business Baila Coffee and Vinyl join our two pre existing sponsors, Baker Street Wine Bar and Club and The Royal Oak Gin and Oyster Bar. In addition, we also welcomed a new event organiser to the leadership team, taking number to four. Stratford and Evesham Social diversified by widening itself to include those aged in their 20s and 40s, and also welcomed a new event organiser, taking leadership team to three. The group is still searching for a sponsor but membership growth continues to steadily grow as word of mouth and online postings help to spread the word.

I suppose the real big, very much change to my lifestyle, news is that I’ve started seeing someone (alias ‘the tall, bearded, Scotsman’). This is admittedly new and exciting stuff. He gets me roses and stuff, spoils me rotten, cooks amazing food (protein deficiency is no longer a problem in my diet!) and makes me smile.

Flowers.png

In terms of New Year resolutions from 2016, results have been pretty hit and miss. (Resolutions in black, updates in red):

Personal goals (in no particular order)

  • Write 100 blog posts (this post is my 35th) –  Achieved! This is my 206th post (thanks chiefly to Nablopomo for upping the post numbers).
  • Learn how to apply make up without stabbing myself in the eye. Achieved! After a few mistakes, including the application of mascara to my arm, I finally got the hang of eye make up.
  • Learn how to look good in make up (“Alice, is that a black eye?” “It’s eyeshadow.” “Practising for Halloween?” “Err, yeah, sure.”) – Debateable success. Work in progress.
  • Get Swindon 18-30 Professionals up to 350 members (ambitious, we’re currently at 240) – Ambitious? As of 31st December 2016 membership stands at 455. Achieved and succeeded.
  • Get North Cotswold Young Professionals up off the ground – Work in progress. The group operates well, but needs an additional event organiser to get group fully self running.
  • Stop wallowing in self pity and actually grow my nails – Failed.
  • Write/make headway on getting a book written – Writing on a completely different book is underway.
  • Get more sleep – Limited success.
  • Attempt Spanish in some shape or form – Utter failure.
  • Keep up the hard work and stick with the gym – Achieved!

Mama/Papa Bennett’s goals for me (FYI – these are not confirmed)

  • Get a boyfriend – Achieved!
  • Preferably rich – Mind your own business.
  • And attractive – Achieved!
  • Who also has a liking for sailing (for common interest) and football (because papa Bennett has been wanting to get into it for years). – Never sailed and, owing to Scottish heritage, not a big football obsessive. Not that I mind in the slightest.
  • And takes a keen interest in TV shows such as Coast and period dramas. Failed, but then he is of the male variety.

India’s goals for me (again, TBC)

  • Stop being always right – Failed
  • Stop batting younger sisters with pillows – Failed
  • Stop forcing younger sisters to wear silly hats in public places – Failed
  • Accept that this run isn’t appropriate or normal:
Failed
  • And understand that certain older sisters will never become professional Strictly dancers while they call this “dancing”:

 

Failed

So overall some big successes and achievements and some missed targets. Also some goals made which I didn’t even set for myself, notably organising my first ever formal Summer Ball in August. An event that may have pushed me right to the very edge but in the end was one of my greatest achievements in recent years. I also have other things going on in the pipeline which at this time would take too long to go into detail over.
New Year’s Resolution 2017:
  • Don’t Jeff it all up
  • (Oh and grow my nails. Like, actually grow them.)
All in all, this year has been pretty decent for me. As I said this time last year:
Here’s hoping that next year will be more fabulous and amazing than 2015. I really have my fingers and toes crossed that it will be. I know I’ve sad it 15 odd times before, but I have a feeling 2016 is going to be a good year.
And you know what? I was right.
Happy New Year Everyone!

Sky Pie Dreams

Here’s a blog post written in dedication to those pie in the sky dreams, those resolutions and ambitions we all have around this time of the year.

best-funny-new-years-resolutions-2015-memes-16

(Before you ask, yes I am aware that this post is coming 12 days too late and yes, I know Bob down the road gave up on his diet 7 days ago, but I have a life and have been far too busy doing this thing called a job and this other thing called sleeping. Sorry but not in the slightest bit sorry.)

Most people set only one New Year’s resolution, the majority of most people do not stick to this resolution. Quitting smoking, losing weight, at some point in their lives everyone will attempt one or both of these goals. Very noble aims, but also very predictable and targets that we are destined to almost certainly fail. Lets not kid outrselves, we are not these angelic spirits that can just give up a chunk of our life at the drop of a hat. We are human. We are needy, greedy, grabby little creatures, easily tempted to fall back into the trodden route we know best. We also fall into the trap of saying to ourselves that if we can’t fulfil our resolutions now then we may as well give up and bury our heads in the sand for another 11 months when we will then start the process of self loathing all over again.

I’ve decided to set myself a list of small resolutions, with the aim to complete most at least make good head way on it. By setting several goals that vary in achievability and differ from the usual, hopefully I’ll be able to finish the year and feel good about myself on some level (if I can’t achieve any of these I really need to rethink how I’m spending my evenings…)

Personal goals (in no particular order)

  • Write 100 blog posts (this post is my 35th)
  • Learn how to apply make up without stabbing myself in the eye
  • Learn how to look good in make up (“Alice, is that a black eye?” “It’s eyeshadow.” “Practising for Halloween?” “Err, yeah, sure.”)
  • Get Swindon 18-30 Professionals up to 350 members (ambitious, we’re currently at 240)
  • Get North Cotswold Young Professionals up off the ground
  • Stop wallowing in self pity and actually grow my nails
  • Write/make headway on getting a book written
  • Get more sleep
  • Attempt Spanish in some shape or form
  • Keep up the hard work and stick with the gym

Mama/Papa Bennett’s goals for me (FYI – these are not confirmed)

  • Get a boyfriend
  • Preferably rich
  • And attractive
  • Who also has a liking for sailing (for common interest) and football (because papa Bennett has been wanting to get into it for years)
  • And takes a keen interest in TV shows such as Coast and period dramas

India’s goals for me (again, TBC)

  • Stop being always right
  • Stop batting younger sisters with pillows
  • Stop forcing younger sisters to wear silly hats in public places
  • Accept that this run isn’t appropriate or normal
  • And understand that certain older sisters will never become professional Strictly dancers while they call this “dancing”:

 

Some New-ish Year resolutions to keep me going. I did consider to include some super health freak goal about eating more kale or building up more muscle mass, but then I thought those would be unrealistic given how much I was already investing in fitness. Besides, it you set yourself unrealistic aims you’re only setting a New Year’s unreolution where you spend the next month feeling negative and weak, (which kinda defeats how resolutions should make you feel). That and you’re gonna be the most hated person in the office. Just think it through:

January 4th: “Hey Karen, do you want some of my chocolate? It’s Christmas left over from the family but I felt we needed it here more than there!”

“No thanks, I’m eating my salad. Too many calories in one square of choc. Have as much as you want though. Doesn’t bother me.”

“Ok, your loss!”

January 12th: “Any plans for this weekend Karen?”

“I’m shopping for gym clothes. I’m going get something really expensive, so I look stylish when I’m at my fitness class. I be working out so much that I’ll wear it more than anything else I own.”

“Cool. I’m buying a pizza.”

January 21st: “Get anything nice in town?”

“Eggs and kale. Eggs and kale and bread.”

“To go with the fitness routine?”

“I must eat these because Davina says so.”

“O…k. I’m going to walk to the printer now…”

“I’m going to put them in a sandwich.”

“Bye Karen.”

“Or a PORTEIN SHAKE!!”

February 10th: “Hey there Tina. So, I’ve kinda given up on the health routine. Can I have some of your cake?”

“Sorry, can’t. You see, with winter here I need the extra f. Besides, this cake was a special investment, I’ll be wearing it more than anything else I own. Jog on K.”

 

If I can be bothered I may do a catch up post in six months to see where I’m at with these. I make no promises though.