Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A letter to myself at the Crossroads

A slightly less crazy junction than this one in Havana....only slightly mind!

We're back! After a wonderful honeymoon in Cuba, which I'm going to tell you all about someday soon.
Today though I just want to record, for myself, a little on how I'm feeling right now. I don't think I have any proper followers so I'm using my little blog to journal my life for myself to look back on (hopefully) to see my progress in future years.

It's no great surprise I guess that after all the excitement of last month and all the lifechangingness of pretty much becoming a different person (well in name at least) that I'm feeling like I'm at a cross-roads. It's not really PND (Post Nuptial Depression) but more a feeling like I'm at a point where I need to have an overhaul and embrace a whole new me. I've even been contemplating having a clear-out and throwing old things away......which for a self-confessed hoarder like me is a BIGGIE!

I always knew that August to the end of the year a big wave was going to hit our little Peachy boat and it looks like it's arrived - I just have to decide which way to row and make sure we don't capsize.
We spotted the wave coming from miles off, way back in June when we were knee deep in wedding planning (not the ideal time) and Mr P was pretty much forced into taking redundancy at his current place of employment. I knew that it was my turn to step up and support Mr P, just as he has done for me in recent years. As much freedom as working in our little boutique gives me to explore all the little arty projects I love, it is also HUGELY limiting financially (what little we take often has to be plowed back into the business, family wages always come last) can be quite stifling creatively & socially (as there's pretty much just me) and on top of this I'm more than ready to put the old brain cells back into action before any more die off! That last bit we saw coming way further back but, when you work for a family business it's a heavily woven blanket of responsibilities, connections and ties that you just can't snip yourself free all that easily. You have to make sure things are tied off neatly so that they don't unravel.
But, I always knew that I was going to have to start exploring my work options again as of now. Previously, I worked in financial services, which I kind of fell into by happenstance after university. Given that I've essentially had a career break for the past 3 years, I feel like now i'm going back into looking for some kind of corporate employment again (and a steady wage) I'd like to make the break into something more creative, because that's what I always felt I lacked working in finance. I loved being involved in projects and developing things, whenever I got to use my creativity a bit more.

Somewhere in the back of my mind is a dream to develop my art and eventually live off my work. We met a fantastic lady in Cuba, half of another couple also on their honeymoon, who works as a self-employed graphic designer specialising in wedding stationary. I've taken a look at her work since we got home and it's fab. She had so much passion and drive for what she does. I don't think she makes a fortune, but enough to support her 3 children, new husband (who is a musician) and afford a holiday to enough I think. I've also been following with interest the girl who blogs at The Blackbird Sings, who is an artist and (just) I think manages to live off her work. I find her blog really interesting to see the working process and how she sells her work. I also re-found Lisa Congdon, who is similarly a graphic artist and illustrator, but far more established, again who appears to make quite a healthy income from her work. (thanks Etsy's 'sold items' sections for helping me to work this out)

However, dreams of earning a healthy wage from freelance work might have to form part of a two-pronged attack. Let's take it back to the wave analogy and say that I will need an engine as back up, whilst I work out how to use the sails. That engine is going to have to be corporate employment, but hopefully starting somewhere a little more creative. And along-side I'm going to devote just as much time and attention to developing my own freelance work, as a longer term project for our future.

I had hoped to give myself a good few months to form a rock-solid plan, investigating and finding the perfect job, and tying off all the ends at our boutique passing it all back my mum in a solid position. But again that old thing called circumstance pops up - turns out my mum has other ideas, like having a big paddy, and now i'm going to have to work super hard at trying to fall on my feet into the perfect job, with no time at all to plan it. Let's hope a more financially happier, creatively more energised and career-wise stabler me looks back on this post knowingly in times to come!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Reading for our Cuban Honeymoon dream!

Did I mention Mr P and I are off to CUBA for our honeymoon??

We didn't think we'd be able to afford a honeymoon after all the expense of our wedding, but thanks to a VERY generous gift from my parents we are very lucky to be going for two weeks!

We're staying on a 'tourist island' called Cayo Guillermo just to the north of the Cuban mainland, to which it is linked via a causeway. To be honest the prospects of an all inclusive hotel on an island specifically for tourists is something I'd usually run screaming from - but I'm going to embrace it because...
1) It's our honeymoon so relaxing in the sun together will be amazing on its own.
2) It's Mr P's honeymoon too & the only other AI holiday we went on he just LOVED.
3) It's a gift....never look a gift horse as they say.
4) We have some other kind wedding gifts in the form of pennies I hope we can use to explore the mainland too - we are there for 2 weeks!

I'm a BIG reader on holiday - to be honest it's the main time I get to read throughout the year. This will be no exception as it sounds idyllically remote from other distractions, having little internet access. I'm thinking 2 weeks = approx 5 books (one per 3 days ish). I always try to get at least one or two books based in the place we are time for a little Cuban literary research. Here's a few possibilities found via a combination of reading wikilists, searching Amazon, Trip Adviser forums and my new find (via Trip Adviser forums) :

Cuba and the night - Pico Iyer

The Setting Is Cuba now, a place of yearnings, a strange place. Its economy wrecked, its revolution gone sour, its isolation almost complete, it lives largely on hopes and dreams -- of sex, of money, of escape to America, Europe, anywhere. In this atmosphere of intense eroticism and frustration a love story develops, one as odd, abandoned, and ambiguous as Cuba itself.

Richard is an American news photographer at an emotional dead end, who has made it through life largely on bravado and a policy of noncommitment. In Havana on assignment, he meets, and at first scarcely notices, a vivacious young cubana named Lourdes, who may -- or may not -- be in search of a foreigner who can help her get out. Gradually, amid a confusion of motives, the two are drawn together in a passionate affair whose poignant outcome surprises both of them -- and us.

This is Pico Iyer's first novel. Viewed purely as a rich, pungent, and unusually intimate description of the daily life and death of Havana, with its frequent electrical blackouts and ubiquitous secret police, it could only be the work of the author of Video Night in Kathmandu and Falling Off the Map. But it is far more. Pico Iyer here also shows himself capable of telling a wonderful story -- romantic yet witty, deeply affecting yet delicately ironic, and completely convincing. Cuba and the Night is a delight. (Amazon Synopsis)

The Woman She Was - Rosa Jordan

Celia Cantú, a pediatrician in Havana, is trying to live a regular life in today's Cuba. She is engaged to her childhood friend Luis and lives with her 16-year-old niece, Liliana. Celia's life is disrupted when Luis's brother, Joe, returns from Miami flaunting his American ways. Joe's arrival and Liliana's adolescent restlessness force Celia to examine the discrepancy between her country's revolutionary ideals and its reality.

As this family drama unfolds, Celia is unnerved by moments when her mind and body seem to be taken over by Celia Sánchez, a heroine of the Revolution and long-time intimate of Fidel Castro. The turbulent past and an undefined future collide when Liliana disappears and Celia sets out into the Cuban countryside in search of her. (Amazon synopsis)

Dreaming in Cuban - Christina Garcia

Here is the dreamy and bittersweet story of a family divided by politics and geography by the Cuban revolution. It is the family story of Celia del Pino, and her husband, daughter and grandchildren, from the mid-1930s to 1980. Celia's story mirrors the magical realism of Cuba itself, a country of beauty and poverty, idealism and corruption. DREAMING IN CUBAN presents a unique vision and a haunting lamentation for a past that might have been. (Tripfiction Synopsis)

Islands in the Stream - Ernest Hemingway

First published in 1970, nine years after Hemingway's death, this is the story of an artist and adventurer -- a man much like Hemingway himself. Beginning in the 1930s, Islands in the Stream follows the fortunes of Thomas Hudson, from his experiences as a painter on the Gulf Stream island of Bimini through his antisubmarine activities off the coast of Cuba during World War II. Hemingway is at his mature best in this beguiling tale.
(Amazon Synopsis)


I think I've decided on the last two in this little list. Islands in the Stream isn't something I'd usually choose but I've read a little of the excerpt they offer on Amazon and the style of writing is actually quite easy-going for a classic - plus the Cuban part of this is actually set in the very place we're staying. I'm hoping a copy might fall upon me if I scour the local charity shops.
The other option i'm going for 'Dreaming in Cuban' sounds more typically me - I love books that bridge many generations and written from a woman's point of view.
My third choice would be 'The Woman she was' but I feel like this might be more Havana based, so maybe a read for my return. Or, when we get to Havana (i'm determined we are doing!) I quite fancy visiting this English book store, which only opened 2 days ago, where I'm sure they'd have a copy or two.

I've also just discovered this fab website called Cuba Absolutely where they have (amongst other things) a What's On Guide for August......Havana carnival weekend of 16th-18th Aug....eek - i hope we can plan a trip to coincide with that!!

Best pack my tatty old travelling back-pack inside our super-snazzy new luggage!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Look what we went and did.....!

We got married!!!!

That's me and Mr P on our wedding day just over a week ago now!

....and that's where I've been these past few months. Worry not my little blog i've not abandoned you completely. I merely had to put you on the back burner for a while as life events took over. But now i'm back and ready to tell you all about it!

I'm going to record for my own future the story of our amazing day, how we got there and the stories of all those we just could not have managed without! I'm also going to post a few 'how to's' on some of the DIY projects I managed on the way. But all of that in good time, for now here are a few things we learned along the way....brides to be listen up!

+ It's been said before but Pinterest will take over your life. It's free and a fabulous resource packed full of brilliant ideas. Browse and pin to your hearts content - but don't become obsessed with trying to have everything you come across. Your wedding will be magical and personal no matter how many candy-carts, 'first look' photos, hay bale chairs or flip-flops baskets you have. Do what you can but don't sweat the pinned stuff!

++ Other people may stress more than you (insert my mum and at times even my groom here) ...try to raise your head above it all and remember they are probably stressing about what they don't have under their control - you know what you're doing, you're the bride and it's your wedding - if they want to stress let them, but don't fall with them!

+++ Never in all of your previous life will you have been so grateful for those who roll their sleeves up and muck in. And as a result never will you have felt so loved just by the actions of those people. All my bridesmaids, my god-mum, my dad and my sister's (petite peche's) OH were so incredible. I think they really felt a part of the day as a result. But we now feel even closer to these very special people in our lives - one of the best gifts our wedding could have given us!

++++ People will get drunk....very very drunk in our guests case. Some will fall asleep in fields, others collapse into a rockery. Certain of these people may lose morals they quite happily contain when sober. Lock up what you don't want your guests to drink and be absolutely clear about bar tabs with bar staff....don't for example assume your best men won't buy a cheeky round of drinks 'on the groom'! Cheeky beggars!

+++++ Give up worrying how fat you are bride. Yes, there's a few photos where I have arm cellulite (arm cellulite!!) and yes I'd like my flabby chin to be airbrushed out of a few. But really, the overwhealming image of you in those photos will be of happiness - I know it sounds cheesy but in the last few weeks I barely had time to sleep let alone fret over/waste time getting to the gym, and with all the 'pre-wedding' celebrations I decided to just sit back and enjoy it all - concentrate on feeling good about myself on the day, not obsessing and now I can look forward to taking a more relaxed, gradual attitude to getting fit and eating better without the pressure of just one day to focus on. Seriously girls - it's not worth the stress - enjoy the moment, it's not going to happen again - enjoy that hen-do cocktail, that 2 days to go pizza and that bucks fizz on the morning of your big'll have the rest of your life to worry about your waist!

++++++ You will feel different after you're married! It may take a few days but even if you've lived together for many years like Mr P and I, and none of that has changed, you will somehow feel different. Perhaps it was getting a joint account so we could pay in gift cheques made out to us as Mr & Mrs, maybe it's when we sneak in the odd 'sickness and in health' when asking the other to make a cup of tea to heal our hungover sore throats the next day, maybe it's changing my facebook status and my new married name....or maybe it's just one big combo of all of these but you will feel different....happy different. 

+++++++ Weddings are exhausting. Take 5 minutes out together as Bride & Groom on the day - they'll be some of the most memorable minutes ever. And go on honeymoon - or at least get away somewhere together from the madness afterwards. Which is what we're doing in 5 days....Mr & Mrs Peche....CUBA here we come!!