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

 

A Fine Life

I have just read an article in Psychologies magazine that has inspired me to write this. I love it when that happens – when I read something and feel I have something to add. The article was about being ‘fine’. They always say that if a woman ever says she is ‘fine’ then the husband or partner is in trouble – as ‘fine’ can be a mask to hide true, inner feelings.

The article suggested that it is better to be honest when people ask if you are okay  – tell them you are feeling rubbish/down/depressed etc. I guess it depends on the person that has asked you and the situation. I studied spoken communication at university for my dissertation – and it does seem that certain phrases are asked out of politeness or to invite a deeper, more meaningful conversation. Women are always said to be a more ‘polite’ conversationalist and I found that from my research. That is politeness translates as being cooperative, formal and inviting. Women like to include others into conversations and a simple,

‘How are you?’

‘I’m fine thanks, how are you?’

can do this. It did always amuse when I studied gender differences because a male conversation of:

‘Pint?’

‘Sure!’

can so exactly the same thing! So if this ‘politeness’ is more about being honest and straight to the point, then males may have it down to a tea (or a beer!) But let’s stick with this idea of being ‘fine’ – and within both genders. The article suggested ‘fine’ to be an acronym, which I thought was quite clever. Because even if we say are fine, we are really feeling a mash-up of feelings – and you could argue that we all are, all the time.

 

F *cked up

Insecure

Neurotic

Emotional

 

Is it better to be honest and say ‘Actually, I’m feeling kind of emotional’? Like I said above, it does depend on who it is and where you are. I would want a friend or family member to tell me what they were really feeling – even if it wasn’t a convenient time or location in fact. Sometimes, though, you just want small-talk though and keeps people at that ‘acquaintance’ level – and we all need those.

Lately, I’ve had a couple of neighbours confide truths to me. I didn’t ask for it or particularly invite it  – well I didn’t think I did anyway! One neighbour on Monday, confided that she had cancer and her latest check-up was yesterday. I only went outside to get my sunglasses from my car so that I could read in the sun. Irony alert – that by the time we had finished talking, the sun had gone in! I liked the fact that she spoke to me about it though, really. I feel I know her better. If she had said she was ‘fine’ and then I heard her health news from someone else, I would have felt that I wasn’t a person she could tell. The downside is, it has now gone a few notches up from general neighbour chat and I must remember to ask her how her check-up went. The pressure is on to not feel like a bad neighbour.

Another neighbour, a few weeks previous, confided in me about his wife leaving him for another man. Again, I was just  getting out of my car  – I think I had just come from work. We had the small talk about ‘glad the day was over and I could relax now’ etc. It somehow got onto the fact that he now lived alone and his wife had left him. This may have been a time when I wished he had just said he was ‘fine’ – as I didn’t really  know what to say! I mean what do you say? ‘There are plenty more fish in the sea!’  or ‘Maybe she will come back’? Awkward. But, maybe it made him feel better to tell someone and he was sick of saying that he was just ‘fine’.

It’s okay to not be fine. I always say that talking about things is human nature and we need to do it. We are social creatures and sometimes a chat – whether it be to a close friend or stranger – is all we need.

XSXS

 

Inbetween the Seasons…

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As green turns to brown…… (Kind of like Autumn and Winter hugging!)

I have just  been on a lovely Autumnal walk: green and already turned orange leaves; sunshine that has refused to bugger off from summer; a chill in the air to show that winter is about to turn up on our doorstep. Autumn is obviously a season in itself but I like to think of it as an in-between stage of the year – like the weather reflected today – a gradual blend from Summer to Winter.

As I strolled along the leave laden paths, I thought to myself as being a person who doesn’t like change. I have always thought this. Then I thought about it a little deeper and realised change is a part of life and can be a change for the better or a change for the worse. If I am having a hard time, of course I crave for a change to happen so that things can improve. Yet, if life is swimming along well, I don’t want anything to change – but of course it will; as that is life.

On a more general note though, I have never liked important changes in life – even if I know they are for the better and I have chose to make them. For example: moving house, starting new jobs, friends moving away etc. I get quite emotional and unsettled by this change and need a lot of time to adjust. Autumn is my favourite season for this reason: the gradual change from lazy summer days to cold, snuggly (or panic-stricken Christmas shopping) days. Autumn is the our settling in period. We get used to the days not being hot (not sure we actually got used to this anyway!) and as the leaves change from green; to yellow; to brown, our clothes change from bikinis; to t-shirts; to jumpers (or thermal underwear). Autumn helps us to mourn Summer and prepare for Winter  – kind of a rebound season 😉  – Well I truly embrace it.

‘The clocks slid back an hour

and stole light from my life.’

This is a Carol Ann Duffy quote from her poem Mean Time. (I wrote a blog about this idea last year: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/time-to-write/)

I always think about this poem at this time of year; as the clocks slide back, to me, it is  officially Autumn. We have set the clocks in motion for Winter to approach – we have our extra hour as a treat and then have to endure the darker nights. I think in the UK, we have a way of dealing with all this. A way to mentally prepare for this looming Winter – and that behaviour starts now, in the glorious Autumn. We plan and buy. We start to make plans for Christmas: the parties; the actual day; Boxing day; presents and cards; maybe even as far as New Year’s Eve. In the depth of the dark, bitter cold Winter days, we want and need something to look forward to: so we plan. I think by buying things to embrace Winter, also helps to get used this idea of this changing season. People seem to get just as excited at buying knee boots as they do bikinis four months before. I know I do! Autumn is a time to buy things to help you enjoy Winter: a mug for your hot chocolate; a new hot water bottle; a party outfit; a fleece throw for your bed – just as all the sunglasses, beach towels and shorts go away to the back of the wardrobe until next year. We use this in-between season to prepare for the next one – and we need it.

I also love Autumn because it is my birthday – so I feel a personal change too. Ready for the next numerical year of my life! I love the fact I was born in Autumn; what’s a bigger change than a baby? And I’m sure my Mum felt that change (almost) 28 years ago! In fact, I like to call November ‘birthday season’ as lots of my friends and family also have their birthdays in that month, so it is a time of celebration. (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/a-day-of-birth/) October has a been an odd month for me this year: I haven’t drank alcohol and have hardly been out – mainly stuck in a DIY hell at home! Haha…. so I am looking forward to fully enjoying the next part of this in-between season and doing lots of socialising and partying – all in preparation for Winter’s Christmas partying of course! 😉

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The sun reminding us it’s still here….

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So embrace this in-between season. Enjoy the changing of colours and temperatures. Relish the smells of chestnuts, warm winter soups and the leather of your new, knee boots. Plan and buy and prepare…. we have a whole season to do it. Before Winter gets us!

Autumn7

XSXS

The Writing’s on the Wall

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I have been writing in other ways lately. In my head mainly – thinking that I need to get in down on the page; paper or computer! Decorating has been taking up some of my time and ever since I was little, I have loved writing messages on the wall. Onto the bare, un-papered wall may I add! (Not to the newly decorated blank canvas!)

I guess the modern version of this is the quote transfers you can get to add as a personal touch. I love this idea, as any excuse to add more words to my life!! But, no I am talking about the hidden messages, that lie under the wall paper, leaving messages for the beyond. I  dream of people discovering my messages years later and trying to guess what certain kind of person I am/was (and my crazy family of course!) I think the other main reason, that I love to write messages on the wall, is that I get an urge when I see a completely blank surface and have to put something on it!

I would like to say that it all started with a rebellious childhood, where I naughtily crayoned onto my parents’ pristine walls. But no, I stuck to paper – and usually stuck inside the lines too (the good girl I was)….. and when decorating happened, I was encouraged to write my little thoughts and pictures on the wall. So, maybe it is a case of, if you are allowed to do something anyway, you don’t rebel against it. Another example being, I was allowed a sip of alcohol whenever I would like one as I was growing up – meaning I didn’t rebel and go out and get drunk on the streets as soon as the teen years hit! (mmm…. no, we did it properly and went to bars and pubs underage !)

So yes, my old bedroom is littered with messages from the ages. And since we decorated quite a few times whilst I was growing up, I got to see my old messages. A bit like my younger self writing to my older self. (reminds me of my old post:https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/to-my-14-year-old-self/).

As we decorated our living room recently, I wanted to continue this childhood tradition. Honestly, me and my sis would draw whole muriels and write numerous things on it – so that every inch was covered!  I don’t think we will decorate our living room again – as we hope to move on eventually. But I hope whoever discovers these messages, has a laugh reading them – just as we did writing them!

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The teenage boy’s quote. One word sums up life: bacon!wall pic2

 
Adding to the confusion of future decorating!

Take a look at some of these messages…. you never know, you may discover these exact ones some day! I don’t think there is anything better to leave behind than words!

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A cousin’s announcement of family love to the world!
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A begrudgingly written note! haha
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Boo to big boobs: crossword lovers!

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Mmmmm…..

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hehe

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I dare you….

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Doctor Who fan sharing with the future generations!
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The only thing my Dad ever wants to write about!
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Finally: A motto for life!