Home Sweet Home…wait, where is that again?

In 2013 we sold our house. So following my graduation from University I came home to completely different house to the one I’d been living in for the previous 21-odd years. A bit of a change. This second house was a rental whilst building our permanent, new home and so it now too has gone. When I return to the UK, once again I will be going back to a new house.

Being away naturally causes one to reflect upon the subject of home, and is something often discussed amongst expats. So of course I got to thinking about my own home. But I couldn’t conjure up an image. The house I left back in January no longer belongs to us. Prior to that, Durham was pretty much my home for three years whilst at University, albeit in various houses. And then the house I’ll be coming ‘home’ to this summer wasn’t exactly fit to live in when I left – no floor, stairs, windows, you know, the essential stuff. Other than the Blackberry videos of various stages of construction emailed to me by my very thoughtful Dad, I don’t really know what my house looks like. There is no ‘image of home’ to visualise in my head.

But then I realised, surely (for now) Buenos Aires is my home. It’s where I spend most of my time. It’s where I work, play, sleep and live. So that would be my home. Just as Durham was in the past. Makes sense, no?

Yet, Hereford is also my home. When I say I’m ‘going home’, that’s where I head to. It’s where I, for the most part, grew up. And it’s somewhere I will always go back to.

And then some people don’t have anywhere they could even to consider to call home… They may leave on the streets with no physical home other than whatever belongings they have. Or, quite to the contrary, they may live in a warm, dry, heated house but in fear of lies within, what they have to come back to each day.

So what if home isn’t a place? What if it’s a feeling? I’m sure I’m not the first one to write about this and I know for certain that I won’t be the last. Home is a place of warmth and comfort. Somewhere you feel completely safe and at ease. A place full of friends, happy memories and contentment. Where you run back to when things get tough, where you can heal again. This isn’t necessarily a physical place, it is a state of mind, a state of being. Home may just be the location that triggers that feeling. Or sometimes a song, a memory, a person, anything…

This summer I’ll be leaving Buenos Aires, and then in October I will be moving to London. So I guess I have two homes – Hereford is my constant (and is my first love, albeit with various breakups and reunions along the way), and then the extra one that keeps on changing. And that’s okay.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. I have thought long and hard about what I want to write about today… The topics to choose from are endless, indeed the theme for this year is ‘equality for women is progress for all’. And this ties in beautifully with an inspirational Ted talk I watched yesterday, in which Jackson Katz speaks about how women’s issues are not just women’s – they are issues for all of us, both men and women. Whether the discussion is about race, sexual orientation or gender, the focus always seems to be on the less dominant group. Yet, in reality, this will not combat the cause, but only help heal what has already occurred. To solve the problem, any problem, we need to start at the root. It’s a great talk and I really recommend giving it a watch.

Anyhow, what I want to write about instead today is a celebration of ourselves. This is something that I notice a vast difference in between my male and female friends. Men, on the whole, are pretty good at acknowledging their achievements, being able to say ‘yeah, you know what, I did great’, and we accept it. As we rightly should. There is no judgement, no criticism. Yes, they might sometimes get called a bit cocky or perhaps slightly arrogant but generally that isn’t such a bad thing.

Women, on the other hand, are not so good. I know this is something I’ve struggled with in recent years – I mean, give myself a compliment? Really? If asked to name something positive about themselves, chances are a woman will say something along the lines of  ‘oh well, I guess my legs are okay but I hate my stomach’. There is always that but, that negative addition, because who wants to be thought of as full of themselves?

Well you know what? Sod it. Be proud of your achievements. Don’t be afraid to speak up and shout them loud – it might just get you places you never imagined – a new career path, a change of viewpoint, spark a different conversation, or simply encourage someone to do the same.

So today, celebrate what you have achieved in your life, and say it proud.

There’s a great quote from that Ted talk “This is not a battle against the sexes. We live in the world together.” So whatever gender you are, whether you are ‘cocky’ or ‘modest’ use today to be proud of yourselves, cos I’m sure you’re doing pretty darn great.

What will you celebrate today? What are you proud of?

Giving things up – taking a less traditional perspective

Religious or not, it is traditional at this time of year to give something up, typically foods that we consider ‘bad’ – chocolate, cake, alcohol, etc. – and I imagine that most women, myself included, have weight loss in the forefront of their minds. If unable to complete the 40 days sans treats, one typically considers themselves ‘a failure’. But why? Surely we can take this instead as an opportunity to learn about ourselves?

This year got me thinking about different ways to partake in Lent. Undoubtedly it is a great way to perhaps give something up you have become over reliant on – perhaps you have been eating the same food over and over and so the move to temporarily eliminate this from your diet pushes you to look to a whole new range of meals, opening up your diet to greater variety and, ultimately, improved health. I’m not trying to argue against such an option, I personally believe that it is great to prove to yourself that you can do something you previously thought unachievable.

Nonetheless, why not give up something a little less physical? As health food blogs grow, exercise becomes fashionable once again and we are more aware of our bodies and lifestyles, it is natural to fall into the comparison trap. ‘She’s doing more exercise than me’, ‘They’re eating less than me’ or even ‘I’m not academic enough’, ‘I’ll never be as clever as *****’, sound familiar? They sure do to me. So this Lent, why not take the time to be less harsh on yourself. Quit the body shaming, the self-criticising and enjoy you for you. Cos you know what? You’re pretty awesome.

And if you ‘fail’? If you eat that food, have a moment of body loathing, a crisis of confidence, or whatever, so what? This isn’t a test, you don’t have to pass, it is purely an experiment. And experiments are full of trial and error, just pick yourself up and carry right on. Let’s stop judging ourselves and each other so much and just enjoy the journey, it’s one long learning curve.

 

Are you giving anything up for Lent this year?

A weekend in Uruguay

Happy pancake day! I hope you are all eating plenty of delicious pancakes today 🙂 This weekend I took a trip to Uruguay and whilst there, on the Sunday, wrote up this blog post…

Katie, Tess and I came over here on the boat yesterday lunchtime. Unlike most other people who say there is nothing to do in Colonia and only come for the day, we chose to stay the night here, as a bit of an escape from the city.

Yesterday consisted of a cheeky parilla, a wander round the beautiful old town – where Katie and I found the most beautiful capes – tempted (and later purchased, oops). After a change in the hostel we wandered back to the old town to watch what I can only describe as the most delicious sunset over the sea. The sun gracefully fell behind a wooded island, and turned the soft, fluffy clouds into candy floss, streaked with pink, red and orange, as the sea lapped over the rocks at our feet. This was followed by a helado (/sorbet) for dinner, naturally. And a much needed early night (spot the foreigners in the hostel…).

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Today, following our free breakfast at Hostel Colonial, we went to hire one of the golf buggies to drive down to the beach – since our hopes of horse riding were scuppered by the weather and we have too much luggage for bikes. Being the 22 year old I was the delegated driver. First time on the wrong (right) side of the road, in Uruguay, in a golf buggy? Sure, I got this. Thank God for automatics.

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And now here are are, lying on a beach, toes in sand, overlooking the Rio de la Plata. I went for a walk earlier, just to try and absorb the moment. Whilst walking, I was thinking – I don’t really remember actively making a decision to move out to Buenos Aires, it just kind of happened. Considering most things that ‘just kind of happen’ result being stuck in a desk job forever, I am feeling pretty lucky. It may not be the most typical post graduation career route (Lord knows I’ve been told so often enough), but, for me, it is perfect. Besides, that desk ain’t going anywhere. Now, excuse me, I have a beautiful brown river to go paddle in.

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