When you sit facing a blank page for at least ten minutes, trying to remember the highs and lows of the month that’s just come to an end, and how on earth to put them into words (if those words could sound like high literature and make some sense too, that would be great, please)…. Then you know your month has zoomed by, like a blurry text that flashes by so fast that you don’t have time to read it properly. That was May for me.
This is my second instalment of “Letters to”, and I think for the next I’ll have to keep more of a list as I make my clumsy way through the month!
Though it feels like a complete blur, May had its fair share of challenges and beautiful moments. In no particular order….
You may remember from last month that I made my way tentatively onto the healthy train, trying to eat better, exercise more and generally be the healthiest possible version of me. See, I didn’t set myself completely unrealistic goals of losing 17 kilos, becoming the next fitness superstar and releasing my own line of sports bras all in the same month. I think I was pretty gentle on myself, because I know from experience that it would take time, a bucket load of motivation and the right circumstances/frame of mind to actually become a healthier person. (Cue the memory of me sitting in a train somewhere between Paris and Brussels, in January 2011, having eaten my body weight in bûche and foie gras over Christmas, vowing it would be the last time I felt ashamed of my body, ain’t nobody got time for that). 5 years later, the motivation is finally there, and it feels life-changing. So how am I getting on, I hear you ask… The eating part is going well, I haven’t touched junk food or had late-night pizza binges in longer than I can remember, and oddly enough I’m enjoying choosing water over soda or sugar-saturated juice. The days when I’m meeting friends for dinner are harder, for example, but it’s not impossible to make healthier choices. I’m feeling so much more in control. The fitness part, however… Ahem. Let me just say I have an appointment at my local gym tonight, and as I’m me and I would only cancel an appointment if the world had ended, I know tonight I’ll have that gym membership, and maybe even that personal trainer. Hey, it’s still within the month of May, I haven’t completely failed at that part of my goal… Ok, maybe a little. (June, I’m counting on you!)
I realized a few weeks ago that I miss my university life so much sometimes my heart hurts. The incredible people I met there who changed me completely, the routine, that job I had serving mediocre lattes at a popular coffee shop, the new skills I learnt (ultimate Frisbee, you were a crazy sport to take up in my last year, but boy you were fun), my #166life (comment if you know what that means)… apart from all that crazy beautiful stuff, one thing I especially miss with all my heart is learning. Learning new things every day, whether it be about the particular writing style of the Romantic poets or about the history of German politics (that particular course always gave me a slight headache). So I decided to start learning in my own time, by listening to podcasts, TED Talks on YouTube (this one about happiness, and this one about having multiple talents and interests, for example) and online lectures/conferences. While I’m doing my makeup, at work as I type up documents (shhhh), while I do the dishes. I just feel like a better, improved human if I learn just a little about the brain works, about astronomy or international development every day. I’m so curious about the world that I never want to fall into a routine of not learning, of not improving my knowledge of why I do the things I do and why we feel the way we feel.
The very first day of May started off with a pretty big challenge that would throw any gal my age I suppose: the step-daughter’s birthday. I usually don’t use that word because a) I feel a liiiiittle too young to be a stepmother, seriously, come on, and b) since Lucio and I aren’t married, she’s not legally my stepdaughter, just “my boyfriend’s kid”. But for the sake of this post let’s call a spade a spade. (I have wanted to go at her with a spade a couple of times, but hey, I hope that’s normal when you love somebody so much?). This birthday felt extra special somehow. So I went to town with the decorations, the cake (only burnt myself twice, a personal record), the presents…. Then the day itself came around, she had slept over at our place the night before, her little friends were coming over later and I was feeling the pressure. I wanted her to have fun every single second of the day, to feel special at every moment, to feel I was the best person in the world for going to all that effort. (Maybe because that’s how I felt growing up on my birthdays growing up, from the moment I would tiptoe downstairs in the morning to find the breakfast table decorated with balloons and cards? Thank you Papa!) I had put so much pressure on myself that day that I was hardly able to relax and just enjoy it all, just enjoy a happy child’s birthday. Realization: this whole almost-stepmother thing is really an exhausting emotional rollercoaster, that one with all the loops that takes you upside down and up and down! With some amazing moments, more than I could count, but definitely challenging. I need to learn to just roll with things, and not worry so much about it all being perfect. Starting in June!
A few days later, the last few balloons were still up and I might have still been having leftover cake for breakfast (don’t tell the healthy me)… and a much sadder day came around: the 14th anniversary of my mum’s death. But this year somehow it felt a little different. Aside from the usual: trying desperately to remember the sound of her voice and the feeling of her hands in my hair, I felt an overwhelming determination to make her proud. I don’t know if she really is looking down on me from her own little Tunisian heaven featuring a pizza oven, French cookbooks and a collection of Dior perfumes, but I want to feel every day that she would be a proud Maman if she was. That feeling stayed with me throughout most of the month, and on several days gave me so much added strength and motivation.
Some of my favourites this month…
This month I made my way through a book I was looking forward to reading for a while: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F***, by Sarah Knight. While I definitely enjoyed it and laughed out loud quite a few times, recognising myself in some of the stories where the author definitely gave too many f***s about a specific thing that really wasn’t worth it, I was a tiny bit disappointed in it. I felt her approach was a little too scientific in my opinion. She focused very much on the “Not Sorry” method of saying no to an event you have no interest in, for example, which was definitely helpful, though I was hoping for a more emotion-based method of “how to not feel guilty about having said no”. An interesting read though, definitely!
My film recommendation of the month would have to be “Joy”, with Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro. Jennifer Lawrence just gives me SO MUCH JOY, apart from wanting to be her, I’d like her to be my BFF please. Her acting in this film is just stunning, and the theatrical atmosphere throughout the film is so original. I first saw it on the cold night of January 1st in Edinburgh with my friend Jen, and it gave me so much drive to go out into the world and kick some a** and be a fierce woman. Go see it, go go go!
My song of the month: without a doubt, this one: “I took a pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner. I listen to it maybe… seven times a day, at this point? It was rocking my world and putting a spring in my step for all of May. (Other song recommendations would be fantastic please, so I can maybe stop listening to that one!)
Lipstick of the month: “Dark Side” by MAC. I put on that lipstick and boy do I feel fierce, and ready to take on the world. It’ll be getting its own blog post I’m sure…
Come on June, bring it. I’m ready for ya.