1. Who was the first blogger?

    First blogger?

    I read recently that Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and The City) could have been the first blogger.  She essentially diarised the comings and goings in her life and those of her close friends.  However, this was issued firstly in print format and then published books.  She may be to blame (via product placement) for my writing this blog, but also writing it on my second MacBook.  In Bridget Jones’s Baby, Bridget had moved on from a physical diary to journalling on her iPad.  She also clearly found it therapeutic to write down her thoughts.  She didn’t choose to publish them as a blogger.  It wasn’t her ‘meal ticket’ as it was for Carrie (though like Friends with their ‘rent controlled apartment‘ she also lived a gilded life).

    Anne Frank’s Diary

    After my trip to Amsterdam, I bought (another) copy of Anne Frank’s diary.  I’m currently re-reading that.  Sometimes I feel sad and don’t want to read it, as you know the ending, but it’s also fascinating to read all the thoughts going on in her head.  They were confined in a small place, but a whole microcosm was going on within that environment.  She also (so far) has always had hope.  We all have things that we don’t want the rest of the world to know about, but writing it down can help.

    Month 5 of the new role

    I’m now into my fifth month at my new role and things are making more sense.  I can now complete tasks (still with a  bit of help) and there is a lot going on.  I know now if the motorway is bad I will get home eventually and the world isn’t going to implode if I don’t leave the house by 7am.

    I will continue to blog about my journey (though I’m still learning this and am a novice blogger), and also work on developing myself using the Headspace App.  Lately I’ve been listening to ‘Managing Anxiety’ again and things are resonating more.  You hear different things by repeating things.  I often feel that way about favourite TV and films.  You can pick up different bits at different times.  Some things are comfort blankets as well, for me that’s both Friends and Sex and the City.

    As far as diaries go, I also have been filling out a Lett’s Five Year Diary and am now into my fifth year of it.  What I notice from this is the cycle of events which seem to recur year-on-year.  My emotions may follow a cycle, but people might drop round at similar times, or I might go to the same place and then a few days later realise I did that a few years ago too.

    At work, I am starting to understand more about the everyday tasks, though my role will always have questions to deal with that I might not have done before.  It’s a challenge, but it’s also good to solve the problem.  I just prefer to feel in control and efficient.  I’m also starting to understand the personalities of people in my wider team and also the relationships between them.  Who are friends, who potentially aren’t.  It’s quite interesting to be a bit of an outsider in that respect.  I’m also starting to form friendships, but it seems to be a slow burn.  This may have been the case at previous places, but I was at the last company for a long time so I guess my network was quite wide there.  You forget these things quite easily.

    Documenting life

    The whole world of social media and bloggers does mean that we are documenting more and more about our lives.  In the past, relatives might have been lucky to have a few photos at the end of their lives, now we have a digital footprint (some of which we might prefer to forget).  The Queen is known to write a diary every night.  Her musings would be quite fascinating I’m sure.  The monarchy are also active on Twitter.  See the photos of Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte released by Kensington Palace recently.   Meghan Markle is also rumoured to have been an anonymous blogger before she became famous, and then launched another blog.  The recent controversy about Cambridge Analytica and the introduction of GDPR (are you getting as many emails as me asking for you to opt-in again?) shows how much data people are giving away and the value of Facebook and the like show what it’s worth.

    There are definite pros and cons to documenting life and ultimately it’s a personal choice.  I recently gave my friend my old Fitbit and she likes it but is worried about the data she is sharing.  With my job I am used to using lots of data and am ‘happy’ about the ‘value exchange’, but maybe I haven’t thought about the consequences enough.

    It’s a lovely sunny day here.  So enjoy today.

  2. Take each day as it comes, and enjoy it

    “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” is a classic interview question I expect to be asked imminently. I can clearly recall telling a friend on the way home from school that I needn’t worry about a career, as I’d be married at 23 and have kids by 25. She said she wanted to be a successful businessperson. Fast forward twenty-odd years and she’s at home with two kids and I’m on a sabbatical figuring out my next move.

    I went straight from school into a Modern Apprenticeship. As part of that, I studied for an HNC. I continued studying part-time for a degree and an accountancy qualification because I enjoy learning. I found the structure of education gave me purpose. I also thought each qualification would make me more confident. Once I’d finished, I looked around and saw that lots of people had got married and some had kids. I felt a little under pressure, if I’m honest.

    Then a few years back, three people close to me died aged 67. This was a wake-up call, as it made me realise how much I took for granted. We expect to live to a good age nowadays, but we are all ticking time bombs and could expire at any time.

    About eight years ago, I moved from Finance to Analytics and my love of learning and challenge continued. At work, I was always busy and would fret about the tasks I had to complete – the curse of Virgo perfectionism. Inside I felt sad about my ‘lack of life’, as if I wasn’t a complete person because I didn’t have a husband and 2.5 children. The years keep rolling by however and I feel like I’m not moving forward, even though I’m lucky to have travelled a lot and been to lots of live events. When I was given the chance to take some time out, I grabbed it with both hands.

    I have ideas of what to do next: I’ve always wanted to write, I could start my own business, the job I had been doing was interesting… However, I find myself pulled in many directions. I supposedly have all the time in the world now, but I’m putting myself under pressure to make the most of it and am constantly thinking. I range from too worried to too relaxed.

    To combat this, I use the Headspace App. Ten minutes of daily meditation allows me to remain mindful. We all have busy lives, and it sometimes feels like a competition to show just how busy you are. However, I find it valuable taking the time to enjoy today and being grateful for what I have as things could change at any moment.

    I’ve found that it’s often the simple things that make you happiest. I’ve been walking a lot recently, either alone or with friends. Going outdoors gives me a fresh perspective. Taking time to look at the beautiful scenery and the clouds in the sky makes me feel peaceful. I’ve met up with various people and I’ve discovered how similar we all are. Each person has helped me in some way too, and hopefully I have them.

    So where do I see myself in five years’ time? Honestly, I don’t know yet. I’ve learnt that life doesn’t always go to plan. A decision may turn out to be wrong, but you can always learn something from it. Even if you are feeling low, you can always find a positive, no matter how small. This is your life, so enjoy every day.

  3. Day 183: Solo Travel in Singapore so far…

    Today I used Google Maps to get an idea of which route to take to get to Sentosa as I wanted to go to the Aquarium.

    I got a bus to Outram Park MRT which I recognised from my trip to VivoCity Mall yesterday.  I used the Sentosa Express/Monorail yesterday, so today I wanted to go on the cable cars.  Unfortunately it was undergoing maintenance, so instead I walked over the Boardwalk.  This wasn’t very far at all and was made even easier by a number of travelators.

    I purchased my ticket and entered the aquarium.  I’m currently writing this sat on the floor looking at a massive tank full of all manner of fish.  Peaceful music is being played and it’s really quite nice and mellow.

    I feel quite relaxed, but most of the time I find I am in a slight state of panic or anxiety.  I actually wonder now if that is how I tend to live my life and it’s my default setting.

    I’ve constantly got an inner voice saying ‘have I done this or that’.  I’m not used to being alone so much so I am probably more aware of these inner thoughts and I’m also in a different country where I’m bound to be a little uncertain.  I did pat myself on the back this morning as I thought I’d got myself together and onto the bus etc., then I thought ‘oh did I put face cream on?’ and no I hadn’t.  Not the end of the world by any means, but I could end up berating myself about that all day! Instead, I’ve brushed it aside and am focusing on the moment.  Taking my time to look at the fish, stingrays and manta rays (which are magnificent).

    I often worry about what other people think about me, but really most (if not all) of the time no one is worrying about you since everyone is so busy in their own lives.  We can constantly be entertained or distracted these days by our smartphones, tablets etc.

    So I’m currently spending lots of time alone and I have found at times that I do feel very alone.  I can understand how people feel lonely.  I’m used to being surrounded by people, but have put myself in a situation where I’m (1) alone, (2) in a foreign country and (3) I have to make all the decisions.  I’d never taken a taxi on my own  before, that I can recall at least.  I’ve led a very sheltered life so for me to get on a flight for thirteen hours was quite a big deal.  I rationalised it as I am well-travelled and normally do the organising when travelling.  I had also flown back from America on my own before.

    The flight to Singapore was a night flight and I’d booked an emergency exit seat so had plenty of legroom.  My bags had to go into Business Class which was just a curtain away (shame it didn’t include me as Damon Hill was in there as it was coming up to Grand Prix weekend).

    I’m able to sleep on planes quite well, so hope for the same when I fly back on Monday evening.

    I’ve been using the Headspace app for a year because I wanted to try to combat my inner thoughts and take more control of my emotions.  It certainly helps.

    Arriving at Heathrow I could have got myself into a state, but instead I centred myself and just did one thing at a time.  I’d done it many times before, albeit with others and I am normally ‘the boss’ as I said.  I take the role of navigator and guide people around on holiday.  The doing it ‘on my own’ part has been the major adjustment.  I’ve had ups and downs on the trip, but it really can be about your mindset and how you think about things.  Some nights I’ve tossed and turned and others I’ve slept well.  Sleep, for me, is critical to feeling balanced, though it’s amazing how you can make do with less.

    I’ll write more about my trip to Singapore in a future post, but if you are interested in travel, my friend has a blog where she shares her travels (as she goes away a lot with her job).  There might be something on there that helps you.  Check out travellingwithnikki.com.

    Enjoy today.

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