Posts made in March, 2013

Why Job & Friends Ain’t Enough; The Third Leg Of Life Balance

Posted on Mar 29, 2013 in God | 0 comments

Eight months ago, Tim Kreider wrote an opinion piece for the NY Times advocating a reassessment of our schedules because it seems today we are all ‘so busy’.  I’d agree with the sentiment but find it too simple…

It’s like this statement we hear all the time;

The key to life is finding a balance between Work and Play

The inference is that work is just-off-pointless but necessary whereas play is unnecessary and the stuff ‘real life’ is made of.

Now, being on the journey of discovering what life is all about and what makes a good one as I am, I’m fortunate to be in the position of actually having put this theory to the test…

 

At the same time the article came out, I left to travel Europe and South America for a year under the caption “Climb Mountains, Eat Good Food, Fall In Love… and work out what the fuck life is all about” Would I become a hippie yoga teacher in Costa Rica, loving moments and staring at stars?  A gazillionaire entrepreneur in London, working life away?  Maybe a creative writer hopping around from city to city always on the lookout for new experiences?

 

Before I go any further, full disclosure.  I’m a Type A personality.  I have always been busy.  I love being busy.  If you needed something done, you’d give it to me, because guaranteed, I was busy.  I am most proud of myself when I manage to effectively multi-task three things at once, such as cooking dinner, watching a TED video and replying to my emails.  I literally sleep better when I’ve been super busy that day.

 

So travelling Europe wasn’t difficult.  A new city every three days, a deadline when my Eurail pass ran out and as many cities as I could possibly fit in in that time frame.   I wasn’t ‘busy’ as such though unless you call visiting churches in a semi-hungover state busy.  I rode a bike around Copenhagen for three days before having lunch with a hippie busker because he and I didn’t have anything better to do that afternoon except get to know each other.  I had sex on the beach at sunrise, partied with millionaires, drove quad bikes across a Grecian island, discussed philosophy on London’s rooftop bars, sweated out a sauna in Finland, rode through Paris at midnight on the back of a scooter, learnt to drink beer in Germany and stood tall at the edge of a Portuguese cliff on my 27th birthday, the wind whipping my hair across my bronzed skin, drinking in the ocean breeze from what used to be known as The End of The World.  My biggest decision in a day was where and what to eat.

It was everything Life Is Made Of, except for one thing…

 

By the time I arrived in South America for what should have been six more months of travel in warm weather and the ‘climb mountains’ part of my trip I was itching without knowing where to scratch.  Another ‘once in a lifetime activity’, another personal challenge, another bar with a sea of faces, another view, another tour.  I felt I was just observing life instead of living it.  My facebook updates of sun, fun and men had made all my friends jealous but they didn’t realise that some of their updates were making me jealous.  The ones where they announced their book launch or an article in the newspaper or a new project they’d begun to improve life for someone somewhere.  TED videos, The Nantucket Project and Entrepreneurship groups screamed at me ‘What are you doing with your life?’ and more than anything I wanted Something To Do.

 

This lifestyle dream of retiring to a beach community and working from a laptop… for personalities like mine, it’s not what you want.  You may be working ‘enough’ as Tim suggests and playing ‘enough’ as Tim suggests, you may be getting your paragliding license and even deepening new friendships and learning more about yourself and about life but… it won’t be enough.  Living for yourself won’t be enough.

I came back to Europe and am now living in Spain, ‘living the dream’ he describes.  I am learning, I have friends, I ‘work’ about 4 hours a day and write or read or drink or eat the rest of it.  I can ping off to another city or to learn to snowboard whenever I want to and if I met someone I’d have time for a relationship.

 

And yet it’s not enough.  To feel good about myself at the end of the day, I’m creating to do lists to knock off, calculating the amount of hours I’ve been ‘productive’ in a day, signing up for courses to learn new things and searching for an answer to the question ‘Who are you?’.   Maybe this is a sign of someone who needs a lobotomy because the societal pressure of ‘doing’ is so ingrained that I’m not happy unless I am.

Or maybe it’s just a sign that I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m creative and I can make some impact on the world in some way… so come on, get to it!

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t change the last few months for the world.  Or a mountain of Oreo cookies.

What I’ve discovered though is that there’s a third leg to this work/life equation that brings balance and its this thing called Purpose.

This has nothing to do with whether you are busy or not.  This is about what makes life meaningful for you.

Maybe that makes you work long hours.  Maybe that makes you spend time with friends.  Maybe that makes you form lifelong friendships with the people you are working long hours with.  There are a million combinations that make up a healthy lifestyle and everyone does it differently according to what is important for them.

 

Call me arrogant but I think this is actually what Tim is trying to say.  Take a step back and assess your life for its meaning.

“Too Busy?” is not the question.  “What’s the Purpose?” is.

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Recovering Potential Addict: A Question For Danielle La Porte

Posted on Mar 28, 2013 in Life | 0 comments

Hooray!

Someone said it!

I mean… someone positive said it in a lovely way that was, incredibly, still inspiring.  I say it all the time, but, like, usually under my breath or at the back of my brain where I don’t crush anyone’s dreams.

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Why ‘Hearing the Holy Spirit’ is the same as ‘Trusting Your Gut’

Posted on Mar 25, 2013 in God | 0 comments

First, a story.

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Finding Home Again, Malaga 2 Months In…

Posted on Mar 22, 2013 in Travel | 4 comments

The afternoon my husband and I agreed to a trial separation I escaped to a yoga class. Afterwards, floating in savasana, muscles tingling, eyes closed, I listened to everyone leave the room, tip-toeing around my wet cheeks and occasionally hiccupping chest. One by one they left me Aloneness like little presents, candles in the corners, flickering pockets of empathy.

When it was finally too rude to lie there any longer, I went to the beach and sat looking at the water until my husband rang. Or whatever he was. I told him I’d be home in 5 minutes.

But the truth is, I haven’t really felt ‘home’ since.

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Two streets away from my little apartment is a restaurant called Noviembre (November). It has a bright pink curling staircase leading up to a mezzanine level which is part office, part kitchen. I never put any of the delicious smells it emits into my mouth though because Noviembre is un poco caro (a little expensive). They don’t mind me sitting at a table by the window all day on just a green tea though and it makes me happy to simply walk in. The walls are wood panels painted in alternating muted, pale shades of blue, green, timber and white. Higgledy-piggledy chairs, some thrones from an Alice in Wonderland world, some simple brown wood, sit on the painted wood floor. I suppose it’s only honest for me to also mention that the waiters are muy simpatico…

 

When I rounded the corner to enter here this morning I heard someone call my name. Turning around, there was Dani, standing behind a vintage red bike, beard and ear piercings waggling in greeting. Dani owns the Drunk-o-rama bar and leads a band called ‘Massacre’ (less death-metal, more 50’s throw-back than it sounds). His bar is my preferred pre-game, not least for the 1 euro beers and friendly people. Dani knows Victor and Sergio from El Ultimo Mono, Dave‘s regular writing haunt and it makes me laugh to see him standing outside Noviembre, chatting to Ale, my favourite waiter like old friends. It’s one big social circle here with the Spanish.

After walking the two blocks to the local supermercardo, I wave hello to the check out guy as he serves customers. Incredibly tall, especially for a spaniard, his huge belly stretches out his red apron under a grand smile with big teeth to match. I’ve managed to come at the right time today, I’m always forgetting they close for siesta between 2pm and 6pm.

Wandering a corner to the cheese section (of course), I’m accosted by the manager. In every way the opposite of the check out guy, short with quick eyes, his face lights up as he starts chattering away like the cheeky little monkey he is. The first time we met I wanted a bottle of gin from the top shelf and he asked how it was he was supposed to get it considering I was twice his height.


I know it’s a small city, I know that’s why tourists don’t like it but I’ve never been friends with waiters or bar owners or supermarket managers simply because I always go there. It’s nice.
Knowing people, being known by people, being welcomed, not thinking about a route… these little cobble streets of this little town, the people, the faces, I’m beginning to tag them mine and they tag me theirs.  I think.  Awkward.

 

 

 

 

Sofie, a blonde internship student from Holland, is sunning herself on her balcony above Plaza de la Merced, fielding messages from whichever male has unsuspectingly come across her beautiful being in the past day or so. I sit on the tiles, rolling up my jeans, hoping the sun will start browning my white legs in time for the warm weather due to hit in 3 weeks. Flower smells are already exploding along my usual route to Spanish class; under the Mook castle, through a rose garden with fountains and along the harbour. I stole some purple ones for my dining table.

 

 

We’re bitching about the atrocious price of drinks at one of the clubs, Sala Wenge – 9 euro for a vodka red bull – and I declare I’m never going back there. It’s a lie though; I know this Sunday morning at 6am after Gangnam Style has finished playing, I’ll be hugging the manager, teasing the giant creature that is the bouncer on my way out and tap-tapping the few streets back to my apartment. There’ll be a half drunk bottle of something still on the coffee table from where Lola and I – an English expat working at the Embassy who speaks about 50 languages and has a wicked sense of humour – ‘got ready to go out’ (aka: drunk at home) until about midnight. That’s when bars open. Don’t even think about a club until 2-3-ish.

 

I lie down on my bed booting up the laptop for some writing and glance at the blue sky out of the window, the bright white of the wall outside glowing from the sun, a wonderful sweet, light taste of peace and contentment crinkling the corners of my eyes. It matches the sparkles I hold in my hand from what has now become a daily habit, the 5pm gin and tonic.

 

Not quite home yet… but not quite a strange city either.

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You might also like:

Malaga, Part One

Dinner In Santorini

Climb Mountains, Eat Good Food, Fall In Love

 

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If Someone Says ‘Don’t Question’, Is It Naughty To Ask Why?

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 in God | 6 comments

Time to experiment with the idea of using those things which are frustrating to produce beautiful thoughts rather than angry ones, like a springboard; can pushing away from them propel me to higher heights rather than depths of bitterness?

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It’s Your Life, Be Weird If You Want To

Posted on Mar 16, 2013 in Life | 10 comments

A friend told me yesterday that if he was an outsider looking at my Facebook page right now, he’d think “Weirdo”.
Apparently it’s to do with all the religious stuff. I’m obsessed or something…

 

It started all these wonderful thoughts going around in my head like:

“I should just keep the religious stuff on the MsClair facebook page.  That’s why those people clicked the Like button anyway…”

 

“There’s probably some non-weird stuff I could post for a change… I’ve got that hilarious cat picture. Everyone loves cat pictures.”            ——>

 

Which is totally normal because who would want to be weird?

 

In a way, I think we all want to be weird.  Until we are.  And then we don’t want to be anymore.

Because its lonely.  And a bit nerve wracking.

When I finished doing my make up in the mirror this morning I looked at myself after thinking one of these thoughts.

And something inside just released.

I’m not going for Facebook Likes here (which, let’s be honest, would make a change).

This is my life.  This is what’s going on right now.  No one else has to do this.  No one else has to live with my brain and my past and my future and my thoughts.  Just me.

And because it’s my life… I can be weird if I want to!

funny gifs

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Like this blog post?  

See new ones by Liking MsClair on Facebook

You might also like:

Hi Myself

If I Could I Would Live My Life Over

The Mirror In Vernaza, Cinque Terra

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5 Ways To Deal With Your Ex-Christianity

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 in God | 0 comments

So you’ve left Christianity (or some other religion) and after a period of never wanting to hear anything about it again, it’s finally time to work out what to do with it.

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Why “The Island” Movie is Just Like Leaving Christianity

Posted on Mar 7, 2013 in God | 0 comments

I’ve just realised.  The movie “The Island” is just like leaving Christianity.  Or any religion I suppose.

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The time has come, The Walrus said, to define ourselves in 160 characters…

Posted on Mar 3, 2013 in Me | 0 comments

  Could you answer the question “Who Are You?” please. In three sentences, if you don’t mind!?

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Jesus Had A Back Up Plan. Just Sayin’.

Posted on Mar 1, 2013 in God | 2 comments

I’ve always felt a little bit underwhelmed by this concept.

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