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...

Sunday 1 May 2016

The Real Meaning of Introvert. (Phew).

Up until now, my definition of extrovert was FUN. My definition of introvert was BORING. 

Unfortunately, as I'm a bit of an introvert, that effectively meant I was also boring.

When I don't feel like going out partying, my husband teases me and calls me OLD. Presumably, old as in boring. 

Sometimes I'd go out to prove I wasn't dull, and sometimes I'd stay at home, feeling relieved, whilst knowing that I'd absolutely have to go out the next time or I'd be back to being boring.

Last week I heard an interview with Beth Bluelow on The Creative Penn podcast that freed me from that definition.

She said: "An introvert gains energy through solitude, and drains energy during social interaction."

YESSS, I thought. That's it!
She continued: "It doesn’t mean that we can’t do the social interaction or that we don’t enjoy it. But in order to get up the energy to do it, we need ample alone time, quiet time, low stimulation time."
It's not that I don't enjoy seeing my friends or that I'm shy. But I find if I have more than two social obligations in one week I'm filled with a certain dread. A lot of my friends don't think twice about offering their only free evening to meet up, whereas I'm very resistant to going out two evenings in a row, since I know I'm going to feel drained afterwards.  
This weekend I fully embraced my inner introvert and didn't feel a jot of guilt. My husband was away, and I woke up on Saturday, grinning to myself because I was so pleased not to have a single plan for the entire weekend. It didn't seem like a tedious prospect to me, but an exciting one.
Beth Bluelow also said in her interview that it's important not to label ourselves, which I totally agree with too. None of us are 100% introvert or extrovert. To keep thing into perspective, on Friday night I'd been out with new friends to an improv night and stayed out until 3* in the morning. It had been great fun and my sociable side had been fully satiated leaving me with absolutely no desire to see a soul for the next couple of days.
So there you have it. You're not boring if you're excited about being alone. You're only boring if you're bored! 

*(N.B 3am is the equivalent to going out until midnight in Spain!)