“I’ve been a bit down recently …”

Someone asked me how I was the other day, and instead of giving my usual “fine, how about you?” response – which usually results in the response of “I’m fine thanks” as well – but often I wonder if both parties are really  “fine”.  I know when I chat to people on a really personal level they often say that we only see what we want them to see not the reality behind or should I say below the veneer.  I’m guilty of that too.  Last week, in response to the “how are you” question I actually said how I felt – “Actually, I’m feeling a bit down”.  Hurrah ! Felt good to say that ! Don’t get me wrong, I’m ok and I’m not about to break down or anything, I just feel like I’ve lost my mojo a bit and I need to make a plan to get it back.

Down but not out  ..

Feeling a bit flat, it seems doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a collection of things that each thing individually would be manageable, but added up together make it more of a challenge.  Lots of changes on a personal, professional and family level mean that my flatness has manifested itself over a while and it’s only in the last few days that I’ve recognised it.

I went for a walk in the park yesterday completely unprompted, and realised that my lack of spare cash (onto that later) and my ‘inner hermit’  and ‘inner sloth’ (again we get to that later) has made me a bit unsociable of late, instead of going out and doing things every day I’ve been hiding out at home, only leaving to meet up for business meetings and the like, I’ve even stopped training, I injured my knee before Christmas and if I’m completely honest, it’s healed now and I need to start again.

On People and Friendships

If I’ve neglected you of late, appeared distracted, not replied to your mail, not accepted your invite, not been there for you, then I apologise wholeheartedly and promise to do better. You see when you are feeling a ‘bit flat’ sometimes it’s easier to say “No” than to say “Yes” for oh, so many reasons and after a while you realise your “inner hermit” has taken over a bit.

On My Fitness ..

My ‘inner sloth’ let an injury distract me from my goal of getting fit and when the ‘inner sloth’ met the ‘inner hermit’ it was a lethal combination.

On Events ..

You know this year, I didn’t get that excited about Christmas or New Year, lots going on, but I choose to absent myself from most things and to keep it all very low key. I didn’t do any prep for Christmas, in previous years I would have made a Christmas cake (even though I don’t eat it), made a Chocolate Log, picked some onions etc, this year I managed to make some black pepper butter for Boxing day and made a roast dinner, yes it was turkey, yes it was great, but I didn’t actually do my food shopping until Christmas Eve, feeling somewhat surprised that Christmas had snuck up upon me, maybe I was in denial…

My diary could have been full, there’s always so much going on in Dubai and I’ve turned down so much of late that I really do need to play catch up and get myself involved back into things that I like doing, and maybe push myself to try something new.

On Finances

Like lots of people here in Dubai, am finding it tough to juggle my finances and to make ‘the books balance’ so to speak.  The cost of living in Dubai is getting more expensive and having to pay rent cheques on a quarterly or even annual basis can make a big strain on the finances, not to mention that a months rent is almost ten times what I would have paid in the UK). Changes in my circumstances (at my request) meaning I don’t have the luxury of a big corporate salary and all of the financial benefits that come with it behind me, neither (with relief) do I have all the stresses and strains that comes with it either.  Instead, I’m choosing to pursue something that’s of more interest to me, that’s fun and interesting and new.  I’m brimming full of ideas, stories to tell, things to do and write about, but I’m also having to make some huge choices and sacrifices to do that.  Nobody said doing something new was going to be easy and I’m fine with that, after all it’s a choice I’ve made.

You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic. ~Author Unknown

On Career

I’ve had a change of career and a refocus, and for once in my life, am vigorously persuing a career focussed on a passion which is rewarding, challenging, scary, exciting and a whole bundle of other stuff bundled up as well, it’s an emotional and physical rollercoaster not yet fully designed with twists and turns, highs and lows and a few stomach curdling experiences thrown in for good measure.  Gone is the financial security of a corporate job and all of it’s associated budgets, and instead the world of making your own way in a field that I’ve not trained for in a formal sense, but something that I love doing, and there’s more to come later this year when I hopefully start a new business venture which will build on this.

On Budgets

I don’t want this to be a post about money, but of course, money is a big thing, and we all need it in some shape or form to ‘make the wheels go round’ so to speak. I’m operating on a very strict budget at the moment and having to account for every Dirham coming in and going out.  Having to account for every Dirham isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means making choices and compromises about how and where to spend my cash, as is everyone I speak to at the moment and it’s refreshing to know I’m not alone.

I’m running what I would describe as ‘an extremely tight ship’ on the financial front which on one hand makes you appreciate the little things that don’t cost a lot but give a good return in terms of emotional or personal joy,  but on the other challenges me on a daily basis.  I budget well and can live within a budget by making wise choices (years of us struggling on a budget mean I can cook creative  healthy and nutritious meals for little expense etc). Spending carefully and planning is a big part of my life at the moment but sometimes things happen that are out of my control, a flat car battery means spending next weeks shopping budget on a battery, an unexpectedly large DEWA bill means a hit on my ‘spending money’ which is the pot of money I use to hunt out new places to write about or to fund Uber or Careem to attend invited dinners, pay for travel etc, the pot is small and the aspirations are high.  A supplier who delays payment, or a contact that ends before it’s due date, makes a big impact on this too which is difficult to plan for and tough for small businesses especially when it’s the big corporations who are the worse offenders !

So whilst all of the above seems challenging, and of course they are the current plan is to kick the “inner hermit” and “inner sloth” out and  to make an action plan to turn flat into happy. Here’s what I plan to do :

Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat. ~Ann Landers

  • I will restart my gym membership and get back to working out hard
  • I will reconnect with some of my friends who I have neglected
  • I will take a walk in the park more often, after all the weather is perfect at the moment
  • I will start working at more sociable locations rather than working from home in isolation more
  • I will sign up for some sort of challenge be it another mountain or another half marathon etc
  • I will put myself out there and get back to networking 
  • I will say Yes more often than I say NO to things that I want to do
  • I am going to make the most out of life and keep on sharing my experiences and finds
  • I WILL have FUN along the way !

And finally please don’t judge my honesty it’s difficult to write these sort of posts, but I do because sharing allows me to move forward and to honest and make plans.

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Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it. ~Margaret Thatcher

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