Friday, 19 August 2016

Will our narcissistic selfie culture ever end?!

I know what you're thinking. Who am I to judge, right? 

My social media accounts are all about me. I've got a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and I'm on Instagram. I write a lot about little me and my wonderful little life. 

But at least it's about writing, travel, books...  At least I'm not just taking the same picture of my face over and over again. If that ever happens, unfollow me and send a therapist. 

Last week I went to the beach and watched as a girl spent over an hour standing in the water taking selfies of herself with the aid of a tripod and selfie stick. I'm not exaggerating the time. She was still at it when I left the beach. She probably is at it now. She'll probably emerge at some point and discover fish have nibbled off her legs. But as long as her pictures make it look like she's having the best time ever, she probably won't care.

I get it! A solo traveller wants to show they are somewhere nice. A group wants everyone in the photo together. Fine! A couple of photos is okay. A lovely memory. But a whole photo session of yourself endlessly posing, trying desperately to prove what a fabulous time you're having is pitiful.  

Every time I go to the beach it's the same story. I want to shout at these desperate photographers, That's enough! Put a snorkel on! Go explore! Live a life worth documenting!

Half the time selfies don't even show the background. No I can't see that amazing sunset because your face is taking up the whole screen. If you'd just asked one of the dozen people around you to take the shot, like we did in the old days, it would have made a decent picture. Instead no one knows where you are, plus you've got a double chin. 

Frankly it's a big bonus if there's a fancy background at all. Plenty of selfie-takers are satisfied taking their picture in the bathroom. It's always the same practised smile. The same arranged hair. These photos are so boring I want to cry.

When will it end? When will we stop feeling the need to photograph our face every time we move. Please God, let it be soon.  

N.B. Quite possibly illustrating this post with a selfie has come across as hypocritical. My other option was...

...but I thought this was more about oversharing than selfies, which I've also ranted about in my post The Oversharing Sickness, do you have it?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Life change: Time, Time, Not Enough Time?

Life used to be about fitting in as many things in to a day as possible. I was never someone who tutted at queues in the post office, but I was aware of time ticking by. 

In London I always walked at top speed. I wrote lists and meticulously measured out my time, getting annoyed with myself when I didn't accomplish my daily goals.

50 minutes to write, 10 minutes to hang out the washing, 50 minutes to write...

My driving lessons are supposed to be 45 minutes long, but my instructor says he does it as a hobby and our classes regularly run over. Not just ten minutes, but whole hours. We'll stop for coffee and put the world to right. And a part of me will think, this is crazy, I've got stuff to do! But another part of me, a part that's growing louder, will think, What's the rush? Whatever I need to get done, won't get done faster by thinking I should be doing them.

My hunger for routine has started to fade. I've begun to feel more relaxed about time. Walking to the supermarket is not a waste of writing time, it's something that needs to be done, so I may as well enjoy the walk.

I'm going with the flow a little more. If things take longer than planned, so be it. 

The last time I went back to London I met a friend in Waterloo station. I felt like a little villager making their first trip to the metropolis. I was overwhelmed by the pace of the crowds threading seamlessly through each other like ants. I kept standing in the wrong place, upsetting the order of things. It took me ages to cross from one side to the other because I couldn't get into a rhythm that had previously been so natural to me.

It's a huge station, of course everyone was heading somewhere. But it wasn't just that. I got the sense that everyone was in a race against time. Everyone wanted to be somewhere other than where they were and the present moment was an obstacle. At any rate, that's what I used to feel speeding from one platform to the other.

Eckhart Tolle says, Since there is no escape from the Now, why not welcome it, become friendly with it?

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it, doesn't it?

Monday, 18 July 2016

New challenge - Palma Half Marathon!

One of the first purchases I made when I arrived in Mallorca was a pair of bright pink running trainers. Time to embrace my new healthy outdoor lifestyle! - I thought. 

I remember my first jog lasting all of five minutes because I was being cooked alive in the summer heat.  

After a few more attempts, I swapped trainers for rollerskates. Skating is so much faster and easier. I probably have done quite a few half marathons on skates without realising it.

Skaters also look like they're having more fun than the average panting, red-in-the-face jogger. 

In short, it appeared my brief running days had ended and I had no regrets.

And then on Saturday, I registered to run Palma's half marathon.

Wait! Stop! What do you think you're doing? my inner voice cried. 

But it was too late. I'd paid my €30.

The problem is lately I've been feeling restless because I don't have a new idea for a novel. Because I'm unfocused, I've been having boozy weekends leading to tedious hangovers. I was starting to feel that life was going around in circles. Signing up forces me to refocus and take care of myself. (Actually, it's probably a form of punishment! I always feel guilty when I'm not writing enough!)

I have yet to dust off my trainers and get running. It's boiling out there. I'm either going to have to go outside at the crack of dawn or late at night. An optimistic assures me that Palma's pretty scenery will help me along. 

I told a friend that I ran Hackney half marathon, so I'm sure I can do it.

"Was it flat?" he asked.


He laughed. "You're going to die then!"


Oops. Sorry!

Donations really appreciated!

I'm also unofficially raising money for ProActiva Open Arms. They are a charity made up of coastguards from Barcelona, who were so horrified by the amount of refugees drowning in the Meditarranean, they headed over to Greece to help. While governments talked, these guys got practical! Their facebook updates reveal how hard they are working and how many lives they save each day. I know there are so many charities needing our help, but I'd love to be able to raise 100 euros for this inspiring crew of people! I've got until October. Thank you! 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Help! Brexit Blocker App Required!

I need a Brexit-blocker application for my computer. I'm not getting any work done as I'm too busy getting distracted by every article, tweet and facebook rant. Being my own boss, I should probably fire myself. I would if I could find the time but reading about Brexit is a full-time job!

I did consider making my blog a Brexit free space, but clearly haven't been able to resist. Brexit brexit brexit. It's a new kind of tourettes. I'm slowly getting over the shock of the result. Now it's dawning on me that I've been living in a bubble where everyone lives and thinks like me. Perhaps most of us live in a bubble like that. Perhaps that's part of the problem.

Mike Walker wrote about not being surprised by the results in his article, I walked from Liverpool to London  . He paints a sorry picture of a country where communities feel forgotten, unrepresented by the rich boys in government and blame immigration for everything that's going wrong.

I guess if someone I trusted had assured me leaving the EU would radically improve my country, I'd have voted to leave too. Then again, as someone with mixed European nationality, I'm pretty attached to Europe. Plus, I've experienced what it's like to marry a foreigner who needs visas for everywhere and I value the freedom of movement too much to risk losing it.  

One thing I feel strongly is, it should be illegal for one man to control so much of the media. On why he wanted Britain to leave the EU, Rupert Murdoch reportedly said, 'Downing street do what I say, Brussels takes no notice'... Little surprise his newspapers made the EU out to be the enemy then! The world is run by a few powerful men. While we're all blaming each other they're laughing at us!   

Oh dear, now I'm insinuating all leave voters read The Sun. How insulting of me! I knew this blog post was a mistake! Especially as there are plenty of bloggers already articulating their opinion far more succintly, (and a lot more boldly), like this post, "So. You Want me to be Happy?" by Claire Broadley

I'm just mumbling to myself over here because I'm alarmed and not quite sure what's going on... oh wait, it's not just me, no one in the country knows what's going on either!

What? Keanu Reeves is going to be the new prime minister? 

Just one more peek at the news and I'll get back to work...

Meanwhile, can we all make an effort to be kind to each other please? We are fellow human beings and that's a far more important connection than any nationality!  

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Underrated Art of Accepting a Compliment

I met up with a group of friends last week.

"You look lovely!" one said, giving me a big hug.

Not an unusual greeting by any means, and yet I reacted as if I'd just been put on the spot and asked to give a speech on Tanzanian politics.

"Nooohsdhcnjtyxsoowciylshzo," I replied.

She looked surprised. "I have no idea what you just said."

It was then that my whole life flashed before me and I realised that I have always been terrible at accepting compliments.

On my wedding day, the priest said, "That's a beautiful dress."

Instead of saying thank you, I immediately informed him that it was from the Sale rail and hadn't cost half as much as it looked.

Does anyone else do this? Try to undermine a compliment by giving the person the price of your outfit?

l like your dress! - This old thing? It only cost a tenner.
I like you shoes! -  No, they're only Primark.

I want to just be able to say: THANK YOU.

I don't think it's because I'm modest either. 

I have a similar problem when I write birthday cards. I can't stand leaving a blank space so I scribble across the two sides until I've made an inarticulate mess. Invariably I'll make a spelling mistake or repeat a word (a TERRIBLE thing for a writer to do!) and so turn the error into a doodle of a fluffy sheep, a cunning trick passed down by my Mum. 

The trouble is it's much harder to produce a fluffy sheep off the page when I'm trying to cover up for an inarticulate response to how lovely I look. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

1 Year in Mallorca - what I've learned so far...

1. Mallorca is the most beautiful place I've ever lived.

2. Which is why over 13 million guiris visit every year. Guiri means foreigner.  More specifically one who look like a lobster after a day in the sun. Mallorca is so full of foreigners people jokingly call it guirilandia.    

3. Mallorcans have a love / hate relationship with their tourism industry. They appreciate tourists are great for the local economy but the loud, messy, drunken tourism, they'd rather do without.  Magaluf is referred to as a British colony, or a jungle. Arenal is the German equivalent. Both places evoke disapproval from the locals.

4. Mallorcans are a rare species who keep themselves to themselves. Out of all the new friends I've made, from a group of thirty who are predominantly Spanish, only 2 are from the island. These 2 think their fellow Mallorcans are a closed bunch.  

5. I once asked a Mallorcan, "How long do I have to live here before I can call myself a Mallorcan?" He answered: "You will never be a Mallorcan." Apparently it takes at least three generations to produce a genuine Mallorcan.

6. People from the rest of Spain also feel foreign here. That said, it already feels like home to me. 

7. Most of the colonising of Mallorca was done by King Jaume. Either I, II, or II. Pretty much every important castle or church was founded on top of a Moorish equivalent.  

8. The only moors left on the island are white people in fancy dress who re enact the epic battles of the Christian Vs Moors. Spoiler alert! The Christians win every year. In every town.

9. Mallorcans love a medieval festival. In fact they love ALL festivals. At any given moment some village somewhere is celebrating something.

10. Everyone I've met here agrees that Mallorca is paradise and realise they're lucky to live here. 

11. Most of these residents aren't very good at picking up their dog poo however, even though their dogs are very small and produce very little poos.

12. The Balearics are more animal-friendly than some other parts of Spain. Bull fighting was banned here in February. Yay.

13. Cycling is huge here. Pro rider Bradley Wiggins described the roads of Mallorca as a 'scalextric set for cyclists'. 

14. In Winter many businesses close for as much as four months at a time, with some shops only opening on Tuesdays when the cruises come in. I thought these quiet months might be rubbish but it was actually wonderful to have the place to ourselves.   

15. Out of all the wonderful months I've enjoyed over this last year, one of my favourite months was October, when I expected it to grow cold but it didn't... and when the last of the tourists were flying home, but I knew I was staying!   

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Stressed? Me? Never! - 1st Experience of Acupuncture

After reading Liane Moriarty's 'The Hypnotist's Love Story', I'm wishing I could do self-hypnosis!

You are not stressed! You are not stressed! You are calm in the face of whatever life throws at you!

Not that I am stressed. I made that clear at my first acupuncture session last week. I thought I'd have a go after trawling through a million blog posts on dealing with amenorrhoea. (There goes all my male readers.) I've had blood tests in hospital too, I'm not a complete hippy. 

It comes down to hormone imbalance, which can be caused by stress.

"But I'm not stressed!" I told the acupuncturist, my emphatic tone possibly undermining my statement.

"Do you get annoyed easily?" she asked.

Me? Not at all. The only thing annoying me is the fact my body is acting like it's in a frickin war zone when I have always eaten healthily, am reasonably fit and take my vitamins.

Okay, occasionally I get a little irritated. The convoluted questions in the (Spanish) driving theory test I'm studying for are ridiculous. Why do I need to know the speed limits of a tractor anyway? Or a horse and cart? I'm not planning on moving to a farm!

And I guess I'm a little anxious about what my agent's verdict is going to be on my new novel. What if she doesn't like it? Do I self publish or change career and move to a farm?

And I get impatient that I can't think of a new novel idea. Should I just give up now, change career and move to a farm?

And frustrated that my Spanish accent isn't smoother and I think I spend my life sounding inarticulate in both languages... should I give up urban living and move to a farm where the cows won't be able to tell the difference?   

"Maybe I do get more annoyed than I thought..." I admitted, during my second session.

She smiled knowingly and got to work with her needles.

Whether acupuncture is scientifically proven to work or not, I don't know. But it feels such a luxury to spend an hour with a person concentrated on caring for your body. I never imagined someone sticking needles in you could be so relaxing...

I am totally utterly relaxed... I am not at all concerned that I may be oversharing on my blog... I am totally relaxed...