Are You Successful?

What makes a person a success? Why does society view success in such a limited way? What is the key to true success?

This blog topic has needed more research and a longer thought-process than most. Partly, to understand the notion of what people think success is; partly to find a way to write about people’s real-life situations in a way that highlights various examples of success. This blog post is not belittling anyone’s success or life choices, just in case you do recognise a real-life example. I’m just exploring the many options that there are to success.

Imagine a successful person. What do you envisage? You would not be alone if you pictured someone in a smart, formal business-suit rushing to catch a plane, in order to complete an important job role in their busy and high-flying career. Society teaches us to think about success in this way: career, wealth and travel. If you manage those, you are successful to the world, apparently. And in many cases, this is true. But let’s open that brief case and delve a little deeper to what makes a person truly successful at life.

I’ve noticed the term “successful” be thrown around my various family and friendship groups lately – a bit like a pass-the-parcel. People are keen to pass this term “success” on to other people, but are so reluctant to keep it to apply to themselves. When, really, we all want to open that pass-the-parcel: we all want to be successful. One example at a party recently, was a comment “she’s the most successful out of all of us,” the reason being that the girl in question was a few years younger than the rest of us, and had climbed the career ladder quite high for a tender adult age. And good for her! She clearly wanted to achieve that job role and job satisfaction by that age and has accomplished it. But when did success become just about your career or job?

Many people believe that success is the key to happiness. You need to achieve great things – get that job; bring home the money; buy the house. This helps to be happy.  But what if I said happiness is the key to success? This is what I firmly believe and I will explain why… If you are truly happy with your “lot in life” whatever that may. If you have learnt from your mistakes; got a job that makes you happy; stood by your decisions and you are truly happy as a result, then I think you’re pretty damn successful.

My Dad is another example (I hope he won’t mind me mentioning him here). As he nears retirement age, he occasionally complains that he wishes he had learnt a trade, worked for himself or simply attained more of a career. Now my Dad has always worked hard  – a true grafter. He has worked his whole life, bringing home money to support his wife and two daughters. He has now paid his mortgage off and he and my Mum can now enjoy holidays whenever they like. More importantly, he was able to be a loving, dedicated husband and father who has been around for us all. If he had learnt a trade would he be any happier? Would his family? Maybe he’s have slightly more job satisfaction , but longer hours and more stress perhaps. I think my Dad’s successful at life  – and I hope he will read this when he has his next moan!

A lot of my friends have achieved jobs and moved to various big cities – or countries – as a result. They have flown the nest and gone off to be successful in the “big city”. If that is what they choose to do and want to do, then that is fabulous. What I find interesting is that a few of them have confided that they feel they couldn’t return to our small home town, as they would feel unsuccessful as a result. To me, if you are unhappy in the big city earning the big bucks (and I am by no measure, saying they are) and you want to get a different job and return closer to friends and family – and are happy as  a result of that, then that’s true success to me. It’s not about returning with your tail between your legs, it’s about making the decision to be true to yourself and doing it. Experience things and learn from it. Again, I am not assuming that people can’t be happy in addition to a high flying job in a strange city – I know not everyone is like me 😉 I’m pointing out that it’s also a success to admit that you would rather have something else in life.

Society may view me as unsuccessful. I have a below average salary that doesn’t reflect my age or education, and I still live in my small, non-eventful hometown. However, I think I am successful. There, I’ve caught the pass-the-parcel and happy to admit that I think this. I have a job that I adore and gives me job satisfaction every day (most days!) and that has led me to have small business of my own on the side. I live in my hometown because, you know what? I like it here. It’s home. And in addition to my English degree, university taught me something more important: I am a home bird. I like to live within walking distance from my friends and family. I love to travel and go on holiday, BUT my town and roots are important to me – more important than any job or any amounts of money.

Other people may view success differently and I think that’s the point. We need to define what success means to us and put it into practice. If we are doing what makes us happy in this short life, then we are making a success of it.

XSXS

 

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Everyone has baggage…

Do the things we carry with us make us who we are? Do they define us? Can physical baggage change how we feel emotionally?

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I’ve just returned from one of the best holidays I’ve ever been on: a trip to Malta for my friends’ wedding. The joy didn’t arrive on the plane with us, however. Neither did my luggage! But let’s just rewind some hours previous to this…

The journey to the airport was the most stressful I’ve ever encountered. We’d already spent hours (it seemed!) discussing a suitable departure time from home, in order to get to the airport in time. I already felt I was carrying a lot of tension as baggage – as well as my large holdall. We went quite early in the end, especially since the online check-in had said there wasn’t enough seats on the plane for our party of 8 to check-in. “It’ll just be that the website’s down!” we exclaimed. “All will be fine,” we repeated, as the British do when there is no cup of tea to soothe the situation.

Additionally to this, the 2 hour drive to the airport took 4 hours due to an accident on the motorway. We had little time to check in when we finally arrived – we were the last ones. The earlier check-in warning was correct – 2 of our party had to go on a different flight. So already, we’d lost some of our friend baggage.  A quick diversion to Brussels and 400 Euros payment sweetened this for them though! My husband and I checked in our baggage – if only I’d known that my bag wasn’t going to Malta any time soon.

After check-in, I normally get that first sigh of relief – you are physically free of luggage and just have yourselves to worry about. Not this time though. We sped to security and, although our friends got through swiftly with ease, we were ages. Firstly, I got “beeped” by the metal detectors and had to have this body scan thing. I also had to wait for my turn, due to a teenage girl having a sobbing fit. Seriously could we not catch a break? She was crying because she thought she was going to get arrested I think. Don’t wear the shiny necklace and bomb shaped shoes then love!  (Okay the shoes are a joke – and I also have no idea why I get beeped every time. I must have metal in my blood or something!) I finally walked out and realised hubby was still not done. Why you ask? Oh he’d forgotten that you can’t put liquids into your hand luggage. Even though a few moments before I’d said to him “Does my Vaseline need a plastic bag you think – is it a liquid?” This still didn’t prompt him to remember that his whole toiletry bag was in his bag. Honestly, men!

So a little lighter of baggage once again (toothpaste, sun cream and after-sun to be precise) we went to the gate. No duty free shopping today, ironically the one time we’d needed to buy sun lotion too! We rushed to the gate and our friends exclaimed that my row had been called  – so off I went to board the plane. Checking in late also meant I had to sit alone, but I think I needed it. 3 hour flight + a book + a glass of wine and some Pringles = a much more relaxed Sammy. The tension had parachuted away.

Once at baggage retrieval, I was now truly ready to start the holiday. There had only been about 200 people on the flight, so the luggage whirred around the conveyor belt quickly – people grabbing, pulling and sliding their belongings off. Then nothing. No more bags. I knew, with the theme of the trip so far that mine hadn’t made it. Turns out, it was still in Heathrow and it would be with me the next morning.

Being an organised individual, I had a bikini, two pairs of pants and a pull-on beach dress in my hand luggage. (Oh and my husband and I didn’t mix our clothes up, because we were staying in different apartments: girls and boys.) Yet, I had no deodorant, toothbrush or anything to go out in that evening. I felt a little sad – and then I felt guilt. Why did I have the right to feel sad about material objects? Some people had nothing. Yes, we were also two of our party down, but we were all alive and well. This trip was only 4 days  long and I couldn’t afford to waste one by being depressed about by lack of clothing and toiletries. My new outfit to try on was one of freedom and invigoration. Plus I didn’t have to lug my bag into the taxi or up to our 5th floor apartment! Silver linings and all that.

I’ve never thought of myself as materialistic and I also believe certain things happen to try us and test us. It was freeing to think I literally had what was on my back (and the couple of items I mentioned above). I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon at the beach – everyone has the same baggage there don’t they? Bikini, towel and some sun lotion (borrowed by a friend!) and you’re set. I must  admit I had a little wobble just before we got ready to go out though. Reception said they didn’t have a toothbrush to give me and I didn’t have any of my essentials to get ready with: make-up, perfume, body lotion, jewelry etc. For the first time since University, I felt homesick. It was the same feeling – a yearning for home comforts. Like I said above, I am not materialistic as such. I don’t particularly have expensive brands of these things –  and I was hugely grateful for everything my friends lent me/gave me – but those things are what make you “you”. We went out, had fun and cocktails – I looked alright I had to admit, my beach dress and bra combo along with borrowed jeweled flat shoes, a friend having done my make-up, a borrowed necklace and my travel bag as a handbag – but I felt like a slightly different version of “me”. I truly appreciated friendship in that hour we got ready though. As I say, I feel it was a test and it has definitely made me appreciate things that we take for granted.

The next morning at 8am, I got straight up, bunged the same beach dress on and inquired about my case. They had said at the airport that it would arrive in Malta at 1am.  The man on reception said that with his 30 years’ experience, he had noticed that the airline normally lie about the arrival and it would more likely be that evening. I was done at playing Lord of the Flies by this point and just wanted my stuff. So, another day out in the same shorts and top and bikini. Maybe, I’d lose friends too, due to my growing stench! We also joked that I could have photos taken in various spots in the same outfit. Furthermore, I was starting to worry that I’d be going to my friends’ wedding in my beach dress at this rate!

After breakfast, we returned to the room for money so that I could go out and buy a tooth brush, some pants and my sanity… when I almost tripped over a case. First thoughts of messy, untidy room-mates popped in my mind – then I recognized the white (well not so white any more – this is also the same case that I left in Newquay 5 years ago! It has had more adventures than me!) splashed with multi-coloured patterns. My case was here! Ridiculously, we all cheered! Because it was so much earlier and unexpected, it made it even more special! I had a sudden urge to get changed every hour  – just to make each and every item of clothing truly appreciated and valued! All after brushing my teeth of course 😉

So, I think we all have baggage. We all have “stuff” that make us who we are. Whether it is clothes and shoes; mobile phones; ipads; books; cuddly toys. They aren’t what’s important of course and they don’t make life more meaningful. My holiday was still fantastic with the stressful start. But they do help us to be who we are; survive the day-to-day; be the best version of ourselves. But I do recommend going without for a bit, to make you truly appreciate them. It is true that you don’t really appreciate something until it’s gone.

I rest my case 😉 …

XSXS

 

Return of the blogger…

It’s a Saturday evening. I’m home alone…a cosy night in with myself, whilst my hubby is at a mate’s house having a lads’ night watching the footy. I love being alone at times, but there’s still that nagging feeling that it is wrong and a little sad to have no plans on a Saturday night. Part of me feels I should make plans, go and visit family or arrange to venture out and do something…anything. But there really is no need.

Firstly, Saturday is just another day like any other. My girl mates happen to be free tomorrow eve and are coming for dinner then. Plus, next Saturday I’m out for dinner with my other group of lovely girl mates. Any day is a great opportunity to connect with yourself and have some much needed “me” time.

Secondly, I think I really needed some time alone to discover the real me again. It has been a bit crazy lately. We have put our house up for sale, been viewing every suitable house in the area, whilst dealing with all the admin stuff that accompanys it.  This is in addition to my full time job, plus tutoring kids loads with the exam season starting. Additionally, there has been a lot of family issues going on and I tend to live with a daily guilt that I’m not doing enough; not seeing certain family members enough. It’s so easy to get lost in the jungle of daily life.

So I’m on my own. What do I do? I watch a drama on catch-up that I missed during my demanding week. Cooked myself a delicious curry that I particularly like. I drink my favourite wine and watch a film that I’ve watched dozens of time and still love. I shamelessly play a computer game that normally swallows up far too much of my previous time. I look up Pinterest ideas and find myself sucked into feminist posts and tattoo ideas and Buddhist quotes. Then, I remember “writing” and how I have done so little lately. The feeling of content creeps back and I have that much craved for thirst to write…in addition to the thirst for wine! Getting thoughts down soothes me and resets me. Hence, this blog.

Return of the blogger…

xsxs

 

Riding into the sunset of my twenties…

I completed another item off my ’30 things before 30′ list. I went pony trekking! Those of you who don’t know me very well, do not realise what a great achievement that is… During my (almost) 30 years on this planet, I’ve barely been able to climb over a fence or gate – let alone climb on a horse, stay on it for an hour and then manage to get off! (Well it took 4 people and a lot of heave ho to get me off… and there is video evidence, so there is one friend who I have to be very nice to in fear of this video ending up on social media 😉 )

So I rode through the forest with the greatest of ease, my hair blowing in the wind whilst the horse’s mane swished from side to side….
OK, maybe not. In reality, I climbed up a plastic step, managed to get myself balanced on Skye – who was the loveliest, calmest horse , I’ve met (even though, to be fair, that isn’t many!) She started stepping towards the edge of the field straight away. I was moving! Argh! Turns out, whereas I was the one who could have easily pooed my pants, it was Skye who wanted to unload her waste… ahem! She has a regular spot and always does a poo before a trek apparently. I liked her organisation and preparation immediately!

Our lovely, calm ride didn’t extend to the rest of the group. The rest of my few friends were fine; the Japanese students from the local Grammar school were not. We were told that they’d been attending every week. At this point I thought, “Great, I’m bottom of the class!” But as they set off on the trek, a new horse from the field reared up at one of the horses carrying a Japanese student. His horse jumped up in reaction, consequently knocking him off! And another student next to him! I was horrified then, but there was no going back!

One thing that made me laugh in the trek, was how the instructors referred to us by the horses names. I heard one say to the other “have you been through trotting with Skye yet?” I was thinking, ” I’m pretty sure Skye knows how… It’s me who doesn’t and I don’t think I want to!” Skye was more interested in eating plants to be honest, but did have a little trot when encouraged verbally by the instructors. I then had no choice but to bounce and “trot” along too!

As I said, Skye took her gentle time. She completely backed off at one point and the instructor asked her why. She’d not seen what I’d seen: the horse in front doing a fart! Honesty, the tail wafted up and everything! That’s why Skye backed off and I didn’t blame her for a second!

I enjoyed my trek. The clippoty clop motion, the gorgeous autumnal leaves (the ones Skye didn’t eat!) and fresh air. We even saw a deer.. though I must admit my only thought there was “Oi Bambi, don’t scare the horses!” Yes, it was a great experience. Not sure I’ll become a regular rider or anything, it even go on a horse who makes it past the “trot” phase in all honesty. But I’m glad I did it.

I admire the outdoorsy people who bound about on these horses; no care in the world ; covered in mud. On the other hand, I screamed when we slightly brushed into a tree it fence. I guess I’ll always be happier tucked up with a book…or at the cinema alone 😉

But I’m a trot further to my 30s 🙂

XSXS

Learning like an intern

Recently, I’ve been ploughing my way through a hugely varied list named “30 things before 30″… And since the big 3-0 birthday is now a month away, there are still quite a few to tick off. I started the list, not because I think 30 is the age we can stop achieving our goals, but because I like to set myself challenges and I think we all, no matter what age, need to keep learning.

Now my list includes things like learning to knit, riding a roller coaster and eating caviar. I may have to admit defeat on some of these! And that’s okay. It’s my list of challenges and I’ve still learnt things about myself along the way. Like the fact that a certain Alton Towers accident has put me off even further… and what would I gain from doing this? I’m not an adrenaline junkie, so probably not much. But I could lose a limb!  I’ll also never make a knitter – after numerous attempts, I still can’t even ” cast on “. And caviar seems out of my reach to try… maybe I don’t go to the right places? I’ll add that one to my 40 list 😉

But I have been on a gondala, become a Mrs, cooked new meals from scratch, ordered a meal in Italian, baked an edible cake, done something amazing for charity, been tobogganing, had something waxed, read all of Jane Austen’s novels (almost!)… and horse riding is booked in for next weekend 🙂

Today’s challenge was to go to the cinema alone. I just feel it is important to go out on your own and have ” me” time. Today, I’ll admit was a little forced because I knew it was on the list. But in the future, if there is a film I want to see and nobody else wants to go, I’ll go alone. It felt invigorating to just turn up, buy your ticket, sit where you want… eat lots of chocolate and drink tea in my case. The only moment I felt awkward was when I had a little cry…. at the film, not because I was alone 😉 It also turns out we all need others, when you have toilet paper stuck to your boot in the toilets… Thank you to the lady who pointed that out to me!

‘The Intern’ was the perfect film to see alone. Completely coincidental too (I wanted to see Macbeth, but it wasn’t showing today). I love Anne Hathaway (still a bit of a Shakespeare link!) and Robert De Niro and it seemed like my kind of film. It was; it was brilliant.

I won’t give the plot away, but De Niro plays a 70 year old Intern. That was the first reason I loved it. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can always take on a new challenge and learn new things. Naturally, it takes on the idea that he ends up teaching Hathaway’s character more than she teaches him.

Bringing us to the second reason I loved it. Hathaway plays a highly successful owner of an online fashion company. Trying to be the woman who has it all: a great business with happy staff; a loving marriage and family; a beautiful and functioning home. I love the themes of feminism, love and family relationships. How we’re all learning all the time. Within our relationships, in our work and learning to have the life we want.

So I will keep doing my challenges and happily be considered an Intern. 🙂 And I definitely will have another solo cinema trip. ‘Suffragette’ next maybe. But to fit with the tone of that film, maybe a group is more appropriate? 🙂

 Xsxs

Giving Notice of my Single Life

Bride Blogger Part 9

Today, we went to “give notice”. A phrase that a lot of people seem unfamiliar with, especially if they got married in a church. It’s basically the legal bit (the same as having your bands read I think) and to give people a chance to object in this notice period.

The whole idea kind of makes me laugh. The hoops you have to jump through to make sure we’re for real….I mean we’ve been together for ten years and lived together for 6! Surely the stage in our relationship we want to get to or show to society is up to us! We have to prove we are a real couple, yet people can get pregnant and become parents without so much a “you sure you’re ready to be a parent?” That’s where the real interviewing and questioning should come in my opinion. Just a thought!

Anyway, as we walked into the small, clinical registrar’s office, I felt like it was a mixture of a job interview blended with a quiz show. It was serious…but there were easy questions that I may not get right under pressure! And you can argue the prize was Kenny 😉 The job interview link is also like you are “giving notice” from a previous job. My job as a single lady is done: this is my notice.

The questions were easy… about Kenny’s full name. That one isn’t as easy for me as it is for others mind. Kenny changed his surname by deed poll when he was younger – but PING I knew the previous and new names! Ten points to me. I also knew his job title (he started a new job in Jan and I finally managed to memorise this title last night!) wahoo, ten points! I knew my Dad’s full name (two middle names – so surely I should have got extra points?!) and I kind of guessed at his job title… maybe lost ten points on that one? Then I got all ready to answer about my Mum – but didn’t need to! I was thinking “Come on, I know this  – ask me, ask me!”

We were asked if we’d lived together in our house for more than a month. I was like “yeah for almost 6 years actually!” Bonus points?! After that, I did want to get creative with my answers and have a bit of a laugh:

“Is there any chance you two could be related?”

“Well, we live in Swad, so we could be!”

But, no. I fought against this urge. It was serious and legal stuff…not a time for joke about webbed feet, incestuous Swad folk. Even though, it would have lightened the mood! She also asked me three times if I’d been married before! I knew I should have hidden that wedding ring 😉 (I’ve only ever been married to my books…and they’re starting to get fed-up of me!)

At the end of my interview, she lost the online form. It disappeared. I was thinking, “Great! If we have to do it again, I best make sure all of my answers are the same!” But, luckily she salvaged it. It then failed to print! I wanted to say, “Ah, Kenny is really good with computers, I’ll go get him! See, see, that’s something else I know about my husband-to-be!” 20 points?

Kenny’s interview went without a hitch: no repetitions, no issues. Says it all really! It now means we can get hitched!

I won the quiz…. and I got the job as a future Mrs Holmes…unless anyone contests it…shouldn’t joke really, as that’s something that would probably happen to me! Haha.

XSXS

It’ll be alright on the Wedding Day…

Bride Blogger Part 8

I’ve been absent from the Blogging world for a while. Wedmin, wedmin, wedmin! For those of you who aren’t all-consumed with wedding lingo, “Wedmin” is a very cleverly coined compound word for wedding admin, but you could probably figure that out 😉 I do wonder what I did with my time B.E (as in Before Engagement) – what did I do with those precious moments that are now spent making table confetti? Or cutting out inserts for the invitations? Or finding photographs to decorate the venue? Writing poems for nupitals? And when I get a break, I read wedding magazines in the bath!

Overall, it’s been an exciting time and I do enjoy all of the planning. We’ve had a few stressful things happen though that I’d thought I’d share with you fellow-brides or anyone else who wants a giggle:

Way back before Christmas, my Mum and I went to the florist to book flowers plus a glittery curtain back-drop for our venue. A glittery curtain? If you’d said to me years ago that we’d be forking out a small fortune to hire a glittery curtain for our wedding, I’d have laughed so hard, I would’ve spat wine in your face. But we have a massive window behind the top table in the venue room and it boasts a not so romantic looking view of the car-park. So, we need something to cover it. This one we wanted had been used at our venue loads and we thought “bugger it,” it saves anyone spending hours making something that may not look half as good. This is what weddings do to you – you spend on things you never thought you would want or need, but it is all about choosing what to spend your money on. Anyway, I digress. We went  to book this and with crossed fingers asked if the coveted curtain was available on our wedding day. She looked and said;

“Oh it’s already booked that day. At the Riverside hotel with a royal blue colour scheme!”

“What? But OUR wedding is on that date at that venue with that colour scheme!”

Wedding planning does make you a tad crazy. So after this had sunk in, I started to ponder if I had actually already booked it without remembering! But this booking had someone else’s name and they’d already picked flowers and paid their £50 deposit. I’m crazy, but not that crazy and think that even in my mad Wedmin mode, I would still remember giving a false name, choosing flowers and parting with 50 quid! So by this point, I couldn’t give a flying flip about the curtain, but was worried about our venue being double-booked! But a quick phone-call by our helpful florist solved the puzzle. It turns out this other couple had got engaged, gone straight into planning mode and ordered flowers and the curtain, paid the deposit before even booking a venue. They then hadn’t got as far as that because they broke up in the meanwhile. So the venue is ours; the curtain is ours (well for the day) and they are out £50 and don’t even have each other 😦 Sad –  but a lesson can be learnt. Don’t go booking and paying for things straight away before you even have a venue! You could break up…. or just give other future brides like myself, a heart attack!

Speaking of the venue, we still love it and are still very excited. It has caused us some stress also, however. Since booking our special day, they are now on their 3rd manager! Is it me and my incessant bridal questioning that has scared them off? Surprisingly, no! The first manager went on long-term sick – and I know this can’t be helped, but I was very disappointed because I felt like in addition to investing in the venue, we had invested in him also. I clung onto the hope he would be back in the New Year. He did get better but then left the hotel. We had dealt with a relief  manager in the meanwhile and then next time we had visited, there was another one. I know this shouldn’t matter. Our wedding will be great (the mantra I repeat with every single, piece of confetti I make!) but I just feel we have to keep going back to step one, telling the new manager everything!

Another annoying thing to bring us to the current wedding planning week, is the invitation making. I had this idealised idea that we would have a lovely evening printing off our invites to our nuptials. After the first click, the printer decided to chew up our envelopes. One by one. Turns out, in addition to our 80 guests, the printer wanted feeding too! So fingers crossed, we get those sorted this weekend! Things will go wrong, but as I say, I always get a story out of it!

As they say, it’ll be alright on the Wedding night day!

Keep posted for some Hen Do stories!

XSXS

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