Monday, 13 January 2014

Back to Reality

I flew in this morning on the horrible London to Nigeria flight, getting in at 6am, only to find there was nobody waiting for me at the airport. I had to wait for two hours before I was picked up. Sigh.

While I was in the UK, I had bought exciting goodies - a pair of headphones, a weighing machine, a pair of 5kg weights and a travel yoga mat. Exciting! Except - my headphones didn't arrive before my flight and I had to leave my weights at the airport. I hadn't realised you couldn't take weights as hand luggage and so it was the choice of abandoning my brand new weights or paying £140 to check them in. Guess which I chose? 

Let's just say that there is someone who walked past the airport Starbucks last night who is now very lucky.

Despite that setback, I'm feeling quite positive and ready to go. My colleague is running a yoga class after work on Wednesday (she's a qualified yoga teacher) and I have the timetable details for the dance studio saved. I'm going to go check it out tomorrow and sign up for a number of sessions. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2014 Goals and Plans

Not really resolutions but more of a roadmap of what I want to do and be this year.


  • explore the country and the continent
  • find out and do all there is to do in the city in which I live
  • scuba dive at least once


  • join the dance studio down the road from my house and start dance classes
  • find classes and learn a martial art
  • start running again - goal is 10km
  • start swimming again - goal is 1 mile
  • cook nutritious meals and eat healthily
  • start the morning with yoga and core exercises


  • complete most of my MSc (only 1 module and the dissertation will be left for 2015!)
  • meditate regularly
  • learn Hausa (one of the languages of the country in which I live)
  • maintain and form relationships
  • continue writing
  • remain involved in activism (somehow)

  • take driving lessons and learn to drive
  • figure out my next step after my work contract runs out in November 2014
  • continue to save money
Most of all, I want to break free of the work rut in which I found myself in 2013. 

I love my job but it needs to be just one part of my life, not the whole extent of what I do. In 2014, I will become better at saying no and will stop stepping in (quite so much) to cover for my colleagues. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

This is a New Year's Day Post

What can I say? I did not do enough of what I should have done last year and I need to reboot and reassess to make sure that it happens this year. So here I am, back again.


How annoyingly and frustratingly predictable.

I had a look and I know this blog is really patchy and inconsistent but I realised that I started it back in 2008 - that is five years ago. I just went back and read through the archives. It's amazing being confronted and reminded by the 25 year old me. She had such an amazing time and life - and she continues to do so still, now that she's turned the corner into 30.

2013 was a really important year for me. 

I welcomed the New Year in India with a two minute silence commemorating all the women who have experienced and continue to experience violence. It was one of the most moving and powerful experiences I have ever had - to be surrounded by so many likeminded Indian women, men and children in silence as the fireworks went off all around us. 

I then took the bus to Goa and spent wonderful days swimming and drifting in the ocean and hiking along the coast, during which time I vowed that I would make a change before my 30th birthday. I promised myself that I would start looking for work as soon as I returned home, with a view of finally leaving the country and finding a job overseas. London was only supposed to be for a year but I ended up spending five years there - kept by a mixture of friendships, amazing work opportunities, familiarity and the joys of living in one of the world's best cities. I could easily see the rest of my life stretching out before me in London, pretty much the same as it was then and decided 2013 was the year to grab the chance for change and spontaneity and excitement.

That promise was fulfilled much earlier than expected. I was offered a really great job in February (back in West Africa even) and ended up leaving London in June. 

Last year was really difficult for me, so much more challenging than I ever imagined. I packed up my home, finished up my job that I adored and gave it to someone else, said goodbye to my friends that I loved and whom I had created as family around me and moved continents from Europe to Africa. 

I moved to a country where I had no family, no friends, no home and no clue. 

It took me 5 months after I arrived to find and move into a flat - so over half of my 2013 was spent staying in some form of temporary accommodation. 

I do not even cover all the fingers of one hand when I try to count the number of friends that I have in the city in which I live. It turns out that it is really so much more difficult to make friends at 29 than it was at 18, 20, 22 or 24, the ages I was previous times I have moved city and country. It is also so much harder when you're well into adulthood,  have a proper job and are surrounded by colleagues who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s than when you were a student. I should have known this already but I completely underestimated how impossible it is to get people to spend time with you when everyone has families that they need to take care of and an already well established circle of friends and they don't necessarily need any more thank you very much.

It is also really difficult to keep in touch with friends and family when you live in a country where the internet connection is *challenging*. We may be living in an increasingly interconnected world but the strength of that connection looks threadbare when your Skype call cuts out 5 times in 7 minutes. 

Work is the highpoint of my life. My job is intensely challenging and frustrating (tears of frustration challenging sometimes) but I love it and I love (most of) the people with whom I work. 

My goal in 2014 is to have life outside work. And (surely it goes without saying) I also plan to become a whole lot fitter and healthier.

I feel that the hard part is now somewhat behind me. I have a place to live and three (getting to be close) friends. 

Roll on 2014 - I have a good feeling.