Revamp 2017

It seems like I only ever start writing here when I’m in the need for a refresh, when something sparks the part inside of me that screams “I need to get this off my chest” and wants someone else to hear it. Unfortunately, as with the event that sparked this entire site in the first place, this one apppeared completely out of the blue.

It’s nothing so dire as a death in the family. Instead, my manager told me that he’s resigning.

Let me start from the beginning.

Over the past year or so I have started to actually like my job. For majority of the past four years, with the exception of a few brief periods, I have simply ‘not minded’ my job, content with having a steady income that can support my lifestyle outside of work.

But this year two things have happened. The first is that as I’ve grown to become more knowledgeable in my field I’ve started to feel more secure in my abilities and more interested in developing in my area. I’ve had a manager for the past few months whom I really respect and look up to. I think his abilities are incredible and I found myself thinking that I would like to be just like him in a few years (although preferably a little less busy and stressed). Finally, after 10 different managers in under four years, here’s one that I’d be quite happy following for my next few projects, something I’ve only really felt like I could say about one or two prior line managers.

The second thing that happened is that work has started taking over more and more of my life. Gone are the days of a not-too-busy 9-5. This last week was more akin to 8-8, not including time travelling to and from Birmingham where I work at the moment (I live in London) which added up to a staggering 17 hours over the last week.

But I haven’t really minded any of this. I like the people I work with, I have a good manager who makes me feel like there’s lots I can do to learn and improve but that I’m also doing a good job and can be trusted with responsibility. I’m ok with work being the main part of my life during the week, and I can focus on everything else at the weekend.

And then my manager resigned. And this entire mindset came crashing down.

As I said, a large part of the reason I’ve been so happy at work is that I like my manager and I like our working relationship. Knowing that this will no longer exist in a few weeks and that I’ll have to get used to something new yet again has made me look at my work/life balance in a completely new light. I like the people I work with, I like the other managers on the project. I would still prefer to have my manager above any of the others.

I’ve realised that I’m as satisfied and happy with my life as I thought I was. I had thought I had a good balance between work and non-work and was quite happy to continue as I was. But my balance is off. I’ve been too work-focused, and now that something’s made work a little less enjoyable, I’m able to see the bigger picture again.

One of my friends has just moved to Vancouver. Another is moving to Toronto in two months. Another has moved a bit further out of London and I don’t see them as often. And I’m still here, not doing an awful lot other than working and not-doing-much at the weekends.

This upsetting the balance I’d found between work and non-work made me realise that if something doesn’t change, I could find myself seriously unhappy very quickly. If I stop liking work, how happy am I with what I’m doing outside of it? My friends are moving away, am I doing anything to replenish my social life? Am I satisfied with the things I’m doing and achieving outside of work? Will they make me feel fulfilled when work becomes just about the income again?

I didn’t really like my answers to these questions, so I’m going to do something about it.

….

The Plan

I’ve wanted to get this going again for some time now; I’ve opened and closed the webpage many times. How it’s been a year since I last even tried to start writing on a regular basis again, I just don’t know.

I’ve got a plan for what I want to talk about. I just keep having difficulty getting started.

Not only do I want to improve a number of different areas of my life, but I’d like to get better at expressing myself, at forming my opinions and being able to hold a conversation. So it is my current goal that this blog cover the following:

  • ‘Leveling up life’: Health/fitness updates, skill learning updates – I want to become more consistent in moving towards a healthier lifestyle, and share my journey to encourage others or at least show people a ‘what not to do’!
  • Book/film reviews/commentary – I need to read more and watch more and spend less time browsing social media. I’ve really enjoyed finding my old blogs and re-discovering what past me thought about various things, and I’d like to be able to do the same in the future.
  • Opinion pieces – I’m very bad at owning opinions or sharing them in a constructive way, for reasons I’ll discuss in the future. I’d like to get better at expressing myself and feel this could be a good way to do so.
  • Anything else I can think of – because why not?

I’m hoping that over the coming year I’ll be able to develop, critically and thoughtfully, and create a space for engagement, questioning and growth both for myself and for any readers. It sounds a bit pretentious, but hey, I’m writing a blog post here. I think a little pretension can be forgiven.

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It Gets Better – A Reflection on Depression

This is not the post I thought I’d be writing today. I’ve got two entries that I’m currently working on in my drafts all about moving forwards and what I want to get done over the next few weeks, but for some reason I decided today to look back.

A few years ago I started writing ‘morning pages’. If you’ve never heard of them, they’re basically stream-of-consciousness pages of writing that you’re supposed to do first thing in the morning. Apparently it helps with your creativity. You can write about absolutely anything, but they often tended to be quite diary-ish on my part.

It just so happened that the notebook I picked up today contained entries from 2.5-3 years ago, when I was in my final year at university. I want to share two of those entries with you, and I then I’ll talk about them afterwards. It’s a little long, but I would ask you to please, keep going.

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A Real Neat Blog (with Real Neat Readers)

real-neat-blog-award

Well this was a lovely surprise to wake up to this morning. Liz from the fantastically interesting blog Scranshums nominated Just Rise Above It for a Real Neat Blog Award.

Neat!

That’s such an underused word nowadays. I didn’t realise I’d missed it.

Thank you so much!

Go visit Scranshums for all of the weird and wonderful witterings of Elizabeth Meg Wilson. There’s a big of everything on there, so you’ll definitely find something you want to read. I particularly enjoyed her posts on colds and on Terry Pratchett.

I think this is a lovely little award to showcase some of the blogs that you might not stumble upon yourself, and I’m honoured to be taking part. Apparently the ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are (and feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My answers are as follows:

1) Where do most visits to your blog come from?

Good question! You just reminded me that I need to fix my analytics set-up. Curse those spam bots, I thought I had those under control.

Most of my actual visits come from the US, followed by the UK.

2) Have you made a New Year’s Resolution, and kept it so far?

I wrote a post about New Year’s Resolutions (which you can read here), where I basically discuss my reasons for not setting New Year’s resolutions as such. I do, however, set goals and resolutions in general and have a list of things I want to do this year, and I’ve definitely been doing better with some of those than with others. Some of my goals pertained to fitness and weight loss, which I focussed on in February. My initial attempts at learning some Italian stumbled to a halt and need to be picked up again soon, but I am was reading more, and I’ve been working on more creative projects this year than I was last year. I’ve done more yoga, but I’ve still yet to begin learning how to skateboard. I’ve not forgotten about it though!

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Mission Statement (for being 23)

As written in my Morning Pages, December 11th 2014:

This is the year that I can really throw myself into self-improvement and doing things that I want to do. I can and will lose the extra weight, both mental and physical. I will increase my fitness levels. I will write my blog regularly, and I’ll start off by uploading a post today or tomorrow.

I will become competent for at least a holiday in another language, working towards becoming conversational. I’ll travel more, and really try to live through every moment of my journey. I’ll be a better friend, I’ll socialise more and make new friends. I won’t automatically avoid office drinks or parties. I’ll read more books, and I’ll think about what I’m reading. I’ll take part in the book club with my mother, and encourage my sister to read books I’m able to discuss with her. I’ll watch more films. I’ll work on the tv show with Jamie.

Something will be written that will lead me one step closer to having a creative job. I will work on scripts, on novels, on my blog, on anything that can keep the cogs spinning. I will continue learning to draw, and I will take oil painting lessons. I will take more acting classes, and set a goal to complete by the time I’m 24. In the spring, inspired by those 23 year olds who have come before me and the music of my early teens, I will learn to skateboard. I will get over my concerns about drawing attention to myself in public. I will learn to enjoy myself freely.

I will do more yoga, and I will spend time on self-reflection. I will love and appreciate my family and friends and let them know how much they mean to me. Whilst I still have the job I do, I’ll stop coasting along and put effort into doing it well. I’ll learn more about the industry, and try to steer my career whilst I have it. I will make sure that work does not take over my life. I will try new things, have new experiences. I will make sure to keep a record of what I’ve achieved so that when I look back at the end of the year, I can be proud of all that I’ve done rather than wishing I hadn’t wasted so much of my time.

I am proud of what I did when I was 22. I started an MA and realised it wasn’t for me. That took bravery and courage to drop out and put my health and happiness first. I found a well-paid full-time job so that I could remain in London. I mostly recovered from depression and anxiety. I made new friends, I was a better friend. I picked up the viola again and worked on becoming fitter. I made a good start for myself. Now I need to continue.

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The Journey So Far

I realised that whilst I’ve done an ‘Introduction to the Blog’ post, I haven’t really given an introduction to me personally other than what’s in ‘About the Author’. So here is a fairly quick overview of who I am and my health and fitness journey so far.

My name is Anna, I’m 22 years old and I live in London, although I currently work in Havant (just outside of Portsmouth) as a Business Analyst – a trainee technology consultant of sorts. In almost exactly one month’s time this information will be out of date, as my birthday falls on December 11th and I finish this project on December 19th (fingers crossed for a London-based role next time!).

Currently, this is me:

(Well, this was me in August. I look pretty much the same except I now have longer hair)

I’m 5’7″ (171cm) and weigh roughly 160 lbs.

I’ve weighed roughly 160 lbs for the last nine months now, and I would like that to change. Whilst I care more about my fitness and strength levels than I do my weight, I’m definitely aware that I inherited my dad’s family’s propensity for weight gain along with my mother’s appetite. If I’m not careful, I gain very quickly.

The difference between how active I was as a child and how active I was as a teenager is quite impressive. Between the ages of 2 and 10/11 I did several forms of dance, floor gymnastics, and swam quite a lot. I also ran around a lot whilst playing as most children do, and was a fairly hyperactive child. Unfortunately, as I started to grow up, I fell into the trap of not wanting to go to dance and gymnastics anymore because I was missing the television that I wanted to watch. Mum tried to keep me there, but ultimately failed, and so I quit my main form of exercise (we didn’t have P.E. lessons in primary school).

Prior to the start of secondary school I’d had a number of problems with ingrown toenails. This was the result of my dad accidentally standing on my foot a few years previously, or, as he likes to tell it, the result of me placing my foot under his. Around the time I started secondary school, aged 11, I had an operation on both feet in order to prevent me from getting an ingrown nail every again. Whilst it worked, I was unable to do P.E. lessons for some time, or any other form of physical activity, and by the point I could start again I was unfit and I hated exercise.

This hatred of exercise lasted throughout the remainder of my teenage years, except for a short period of three or so months aged 16 when I joined a dance class again. Whilst I really enjoyed the class, I had a lack of self-confidence and a shyness throughout. This meant that when the class re-started after Christmas break, I couldn’t bring myself to phone and find out the right day/time, and so never went back. I had also long since discovered the internet and computer games by this point, and basically spent my non-school waking hours sat in front of a screen.

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