This Time Last Year + 40 Days and some

I’ve been hiding for a while because sometimes in this world… you just gotta hide! Nuff said.

So last year was such an experience!

I love looking back on it, remembering where I was at this exact time and seeing how far I have come. Especially since this is an amazing Lent story for me!

Remember that job I wrote about at Christmas time?

Well, I resented that I had to commute to North London every day when the job I had applied for was supposed to be just a 15 minute walk from my flat! They coaxed me in by saying “Oh just a couple weeks in North London while we get the Hammersmith site set up!” and then a couple weeks turned into 5 months. I almost quit the job but after having a rant to my employment adviser at the agency, then announcing my plans to move abroad she exclaimed how happy she was for me, and that it is probably best I just stay in the job she got me until it’s time to leave! Yea yea, it’s her job to say that but she really did cheer me up that day! What can I say?

So I reached February and it was Pancake Day, the day before Ash Wednesday. I got home after 7pm every day so was not sure how to go about asking my “temperamental” boss to let me leave early to go to church. I got to work and he was not in for the whole morning. I kind of resigned myself to just end up missing church on Ash Wednesday and finding a way to make up for it in my own small mind….

Then I hear some employees say “Code red from Hammersmith!” which basically means the guys at the Hammersmith office made sure to let us know that the boss was heading over to us and he was not happy!

I walked downstairs to get some tea and look who it is! The boss! He says “I’m moving up your date to start at Hammersmith.” I said “Oh really? To when?”

“How about tomorrow?”

Yessss!!! I moved to the Hammersmith office on Ash Wednesday and finished work with plenty of time to go get my ashes at church!

It felt sooo perfect! Waking up at the exact same time every day only to get home a whole 2 hours earlier! Walk 15 minutes to and from work, have lunch at home, return to day light… perfect!

And on the exact day that I started my secretarial work in Hammersmith my colleagues and my new boss start saying “you should apply for our architectural position!”

OMG!!

I had sent out at least 200 applications for architectural jobs and with no more than just one unsuccessful interview which I had managed to fail nearly 2 years before…. and now this opportunity just seemed to fall into my lap.

But remember, I had already made the plans to move abroad with my the boyfriend that year. Would he or any of his family expect me to stay true to my word if I take the job? But look how long and hard I had worked for it! Everything had come together for that exact moment!

And then I remembered:

It’s Ash Wednesday.

God had put me in the perfect position to go to church and get my Ashes exactly when I needed to, and then says… “So… here is your life. What’s it gonna be??”

I was at a fork in the road that began right on Ash Wednesday and went on for God knows how long, and I can’t say if the two paths would have ever merged again.

So I had to give up something right?

I remembered that God is Love, and went on with my life.

Here I am now :D

Happy Easter!!

(I know this is late… but it’s still the Easter season!)

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My First Grown Up Christmas :-D

* started writing this Christmas Eve… got half way then had to finish the rest today!

Our very full Christmas Tree!

Our very full Christmas Tree!

*Oh my gosh I have SOOOO much to rant talk about!!

But it’s Christmas Eve.

I have today off!

And everyone else has work :D so it’s just me, Bob Marley and my laptop :)

And rather than rant today it would probably be much better for me and my wonderful readers to reflect upon the importance of this season and what it means to me.

First of all, what this means to me :)

The first time I really discovered Bob Marley was Christmas time when I was about 15… So now Bob Marley never fails to put me into the Christmas spirit!! Is that weird?

Some other “Christmas” albums for me include:

Usher Raymond – 8701

Destinies Child – Survivor

Miseducations of Lauryn Hill

Wale – Ambition beautiful song, but I decided to link to a clean version for the sake of the internet!

J. Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story

Drake – Take Care

Note that the last three were all out before last Christmas and always take me back to my days sitting on the tube on the way to work in North London….. I know that NONE of these tracks actually have anything to do with Christmas!! But it’s the memories I associate with them! There’s more too but I guess these will do for now :)

My job in North London wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for as an architecture graduate. I was a site secretary (a.k.a. secretary in an office on a construction site) and there were many days that I really had to draaag myself out of bed and into the 75 minute commute to work. But in this world there is beauty that can be found in everything. Looking back I am VERY happy for my experience there and the many fun/different/annoying/happy characters I got to work with. Even my daily commute provided much needed time for prayer, contemplation, reflection, people watching, entertainment and observations. I tried to make sure I always had a rosary in my pocket :)

One moment of beauty was when I was sat on the tube and the last view I had before going underground was a wet and grey Hammersmith… then about an hour later I came out from the tunnel and was greeted by a wonderful snowy white view of the park, roof tops and trees! It brought a smile to my face, it was beautiful!

There were other funny/awkward memories, like when I was rushing into the next tube in the middle of my journey and was elated to find a carriage with THREE free seats all next to each other! So I rushed in and sat right in the middle, only to notice everyone nervously staring next to me. I looked to my right and, yep, I was sitting next to the crazy person! Changed carriages at the next stop :-p but not before he had time to stare in my face and proclaim to everyone that “she must be in love!!”

* So I have just spent my very first Christmas with the fiance.

He is amazing.

I really do miss my family a lot. They went to visit my Granny and Uncle in Wales, and are now in Switzerland for a week as has been the tradition for the past four years… I know… lalalaaa the life of an expat brat!

This is also the first Christmas I have not taken time off for. The office has been closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Today is a half day and tomorrow of course I have off again :) Last year I took two weeks off. The year before that I was free as a bird (a.k.a. unemployed/volunteering :P) and before that I was a student….

My first GROWN UP CHRISTMAS!!

And despite my little emotional outbreaks I get from time to time, especially when I miss my family but am trying very hard not to(!) my fiance has been wonderfully supportive and I am very happy to be with him this year.

This little reflection I am doing right now on where I was this time last year in relation to now is a wonderful perspective to view the past from… So although I have things to rant about at the moment and probably always will, a year from now these inner rantings will probably cherished memories. Why? Because it is all part of making me who I am… dare I say that in the past year I have (gasp) become me again?

I cherish the memories I have of being miserable on the tube for two-and-a-half-hours a day! It makes me appreciate my current position even more!

I wasn’t always, but I am now VERY grateful for all of it :)

Now on to the next part!

Christmas in this country is certainly different e.g. NO SNOW! It is warm and sunny at the moment, which kinda adds to the reason why it took me ages to realise we are actually in December. Christmas music is Parang (Spanish instrumentals, usually English lyrics these days) food is more ham and pastelles than turkey with brussel sprouts and yorkshire pudding… similar but different! No one really stays home either, everyone is driving around to say Merry Christmas to all the different family members and friends.

I think I’ve just given away where I am living with all of those links… oh shucks! Not writing it down here though!

As for the religious part… well this is a Catholic multi-religious/cultural society!

Lots of church! And lots of people proclaiming the joy of Christ without being afraid of sounding over religious or freaking out the secularists :P Haha!

I love it!!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

P.S. If anyone from work ever happens to stumble across this… don’t worry… I LOVED working with all of you!! I didn’t like the commute :P

Cute Angel!

Cute Angel!

Small Victories: Acting Out the Honour

So being engaged and all, I now have to open my self up to the responsibility of the vocation which I have to honour that is now staring me right in the face.

I knew it was coming, but it just wasn’t IN MY FACE like it is now!

I didn’t expect the “inmyface-ness” to be so intense, me and my fiance have been together for almost 10 years now. Yep! Our first date was one week before my 14th birthday :-) sweetness! So needless to say, we have had plenty of time to prepare.

I’ve been looking at bridal websites as that is how I do my research on how I’m supposed to plan a wedding, what the etiquette is etc. These websites also have a fun selection of quizzes and articles to help prepare us for married life… pssshhh! Right! These articles and quizzes have all become a big vague blur of shallow bullet points detailing top 10 date night ideas, what our sleeping style says about us, how to win over the in-laws bla bla bla.

Then there is the occasional emphasis on marriage being a lifelong commitment. Which is true. We know this already and we’ve heard it many times before! But that is all that is said. I don’t know why all these articles everywhere can state that “marriage is a lifelong commitment” but never actually dissect what it is they are really saying. It is just a blanket statement! What does this commitment entail? What is it made up of?

So what I want to emphasise today is this: Marriage is not just a “life long commitment”. Marriage is a responsibility and it is an honour. Honour is something that needs to be acted out. It needs to be lived. It is a continuous every day action.

I think this viewpoint is important because sometimes people can view the word “commitment” as simply implying that you are to stay with your spouse til death do you part. That’s not all there is and it’s not that simple!

Marriage is not just staying together.

The actions and responsibilities aren’t just that you do what you have to do just to be with your partner.

You do everything you can to grow together as a unit or a team.

Your partners growth is now not only their own responsibility, it is now yours too. Just as it is now their responsibility to help you in your own personal growth.

You are not there just for the sake of being there. You are there with a job to do! You are there to act as your partners rock, support and empowerment.

This is the action of honouring the vocation of marriage.

For example:

I know the cycles My Dark Side goes through. There are three or four, haven’t actually counted but anyway. I need to put little goals in my mind. This is a good thing because when I am working towards a goal I do my best to achieve it. I have on my best behaviour and I think everything out as best I can. The bad thing is that once I have reached that goal I stop. I feel like I have reached. I can afford to relax. I don’t need to put more effort in! I’ve done enough! So I stop thinking, stop trying, stop my positive actions. Then boom My Dark Side is back again. I slip up and didn’t even think it was that bad because “my previous good actions can make up for that! So I’m still good! I’ve done enough!!”

Then there’s the next cycle. Once I have realised the error I have made in the previous cycle of reaching a goal followed by a big lazy fall from grace, I am now aware of how bad it feels to fall from such a height. With the knowledge that it is human to fail, I become fearful of reaching such a height again due to the “inevitable” fall that will soon follow. So I enter into a cycle where I will follow a short burst of good actions by a self sabotaging burst of mess ups and failure. I know what I’m doing. I would just rather mess up now while both my partner and I anticipate it.

When you think it is O.K. to just be there with your partner for being there’s sake, this cycle is entirely possible. Because even though either of us can mess up and take our relationship for granted, at least we are there with each other and not moving!

But when you are engaged, when marriage is on the horizon, you are no longer just there to be there. You are there to honour your vocation to marriage.

Once again, you have a job to do!

So… when I hear My Dark Side begin to whisper in my ear at the beginning of any cycle it may be going through I have a new motivation to hold it off as long as I can. Yes, a fall from a great height may hurt much more than a shorter fall I chose for myself. But in the end the fall does not matter if I can climb back up again. And I know I can, I’ve already done it many times over the past 9.75 years! And even if the climbs get higher and the falls more so, isn’t that part of growing up? More responsibility? More honour?

And how do I hold off My Dark Side? Well this is just another small victory I have discovered. When I hear that whisper of My Dark Side I pause, nod, then get up and decidedly do something the complete opposite! I will do something nice for my fiance. Not just a hug or kiss because that would be for my own benefit. I get up and either pour him a drink, cook him lunch, massage his shoulders…. just something to say that this is my purpose, this is my vocation. Nothing else comes close!

So there we go, another small victory!

Purpose and Influence

So you can’t (or won’t) get away from negative influences?

The problem is what this does to your mind. More specifically, your thoughts.

Our minds are always buzzing with things, big or small. Whether it is your plan for the next 5 years or simply the show you are watching which you aren’t the least bit interested in. One of my favourite moments of “empty” mindedness is when I notice the pattern in which the couch fabric I am sitting on happens to be weaved, or the strokes of paint on the ceiling. This might make me sound very simple minded! ESPECIALLY when my fiance catches me staring and says “what are you thinking about?” as if I appear to be in deep thought, and all I can answer is: “well I noticed that the brush strokes on the ceiling have made an interesting pattern and I am watching it.”

If I dig deeper though and really feel like putting in the effort, I can then go on to explain that I stare at these things because I am a visual person. I dissect every day objects and patterns in my mind not only because I am an artist, but I like knowing how things are made and how they work. When I stare absent mindedly at the brush strokes of paint on the ceiling, I am visualising the order and flow of which the paint was applied onto the ceiling, where the brush was lifted up leaving tiny raised dots of paint where the bristles were pulled away, and where the more broken up strokes indicate that the painter might have been in a slight hurry or running out of paint near the end of the day.

The point I am making is how the tiniest details can be pulled apart into a million pieces and into a million further thoughts. Small things can become bigger. We may not even notice. I often don’t notice when my mind has become lost in the weave of a basket, but it happens! Before I know it I am thinking about making my own basket, then about home decor, then about paint, then paint fumes and then health.

So anyway. We can’t turn away from negative influences without replacing them with a positive influence. And if we won’t turn away from our negative influences, then we can’t discard the negative thoughts that result without choosing to divert our attention to a positive thought.

The incentive to control our thoughts is nil unless we have a goal or a purpose to direct our thoughts to.

We need a long term goal. I don’t want to say we need several long term goals because they will end up conflicting with each other and when that happens we need to find a way to prioritise which one will be the winner. We need to figure out our one overall ultimate long term purpose in life.

If you can’t figure out what your purpose is just yet, then make that your number one goal for now: to find out what your purpose is!

When we have found that purpose, that number one priority, it simplifies your life! As you go over the decisions of your day, ask yourself “will this bring me closer to fulfilling my purpose in life?” It can take a lot of discipline to answer this to yourself honestly but it reminds you of your priorities and how the actions you make affect each of them.

Why has God given you life and put you in this world?

What did He envision you doing to contribute to this world which He made?

It could appear big or small to others but this is only about you. No one else.

I know mine would actually seem quite small in many peoples eyes, but I know it’s worth and if I manage to live it out until the day I leave this world then I will be as happy and content as I ever could be.

Sincerely

Smileyface :)

P.S. I wrote this while listening to Alicia Keys. Her music has been a positive influence for the past 10 or so years of my life!

New new new!!

So as mentioned in my first post I was moving abroad IMMINENTLY. Well that was referring to YESTERDAY.

I am now in my new home! In reality, this country isn’t that new to me :-p. I spent a very large chunk of my formative years here before leaving to start university a whole 6 years ago.

But nonetheless, this chapter of life is still new!

There are a few differences this time around as opposed to when I last lived here as well.

For one thing, my family no longer live here.

Neither do many of my friends although I know they will be back regularly :)

I am now here living with my fiance and his family (parents, aunties, uncles etc.) which is a blessing!

It is beautiful, and although I do have to fit in all the business of new job, new bank account, new phone bills, new stuff (bla bla bla!) all I really want to do is take a nice long walk in the rain forest/beach/town and soak it all in. Note my little clues I’m dropping as to where in the world I am right now! So far: rain forest, beach and town!

I know that this blog is meant to be focused on My Dark Side. But I don’t think she deserves that amount of attention right now.

Of course moving has always been filled with all sorts of drama, EMOTIONS, worries and complications which are littered with all sorts of opportunities for any Dark Side to grab on to and hump away at :-s …. For anyone concerned with the Dark implications of moving, I may delve into those a little later in this blog.

Overall though, I am happy to turn over a new leaf and I am especially happy that for once I really did manage to keep it all under control despite all the opportunities My Dark Side has had over this past couple of weeks. It wasn’t easy but I really do hope I can keep this up!

Anyway, I think I will end this one for now with a key word that I find has been a lot of help to me throughout all the little challenges and successes throughout my life:-

PERSEVERANCE.

Think about it!

Until the next time…

Smileyface!

A beautiful photo my Dad took the last time we all lived here!

Allow me to elaborate…

I am new to this.

I have been toying with the idea of creating a blog for months now, but have this problem where my mind is FULL OF IDEAS until I see a blank page in front of me. Then my mind seems to just follow suit and go blank.

But my little sister (who is an amazing writer soon to start her 2nd year at university! So proud!) has told me that until I get used to writing again I should just accept that what comes out will sometimes be crap! So here we are :) smileyface!

I Am:

  • a 23 year old girl/woman (depending on my mood)
  • newly betrothed!
  • Catholic
  • previously Muslim
  • of multi-cultural heritage
  • moving abroad IMMINENTLY!!

Each bullet point will probably get its own blog post in due time.

This semi-anonymous blog is so named The Story Of My Dark Side because that is more or less what I want it to be.

I am taking a new approach to the word “honesty” and no I can’t promise to be 100% honest, I don’t believe it is ever possible to tell 100% truth (e.g. who I am is not confined to the six points I just listed, there is SO MUCH MORE…) but I want to expose a little of what makes me human.

Besides, if I could be 100% honest then maybe I wouldn’t even have a real dark side and this blog would be pretty redundant?

I am exposing my dark side.

So I can learn to accept it.

And so I can learn to manage it.

And so that hopefully you all can read it and know that your dark side is not alone in this world!

Yours Truly,

Blankspace.

(Help me pick a fake name please!!)

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