Today I'm feeling Meh

Today I’m feeling really meh. Somewhere between the third bottle of champagne and the second box of chocolates I just started feeling a bit down. This meh-ness is slightly at odds with what is meant to be the most wonderful time of the year but for some unbeknownst reason there are no Christmas songs that account for the general post-Christmas blues that is hanging around everyone right now.

I had such a busy and fun start to the month & for the introvert who needs a lie-down after a coffee with friends I did an impressive amount. I then had a magical Christmas (blog soon to follow!) full of eating, drinking and spending WAY too much money enjoying myself. But now? Yesterday’s feeling a ‘little off’ led to a full blown existential crisis as I was trying to fall asleep. AWESOME.

I think most of the existential crisis can be traced back to the fact that I am 27 and that is just what we do for fun these days. Seriously, don’t worry about that whole I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING WITH MY LIFE panic, everyone else is having it too and most of the time you are actually just hungry.

But the post-Christmas ‘down’ time is another matter entirely.

One of the most obvious causes for the holiday blues is the slowly dying Christmas tree in the corner that somehow manages provoke three emotions at once:

  1. Foreboding that much like the life of this tree the holiday will soon be over and you have to return to work;
  2. Ennui over the consumerism that is leading to the general death and destruction of mankind; and
  3. Confusion as to how the hell you are meant to get rid of a dead Christmas tree in London, because your Dad always took care of that back home.

Of course for any Doctor Who fans there is the added emotion of suspicion as I am pretty sure one of these Christmases the tree will come alive and take me directly to our Sycorax overlords. For anyone not into Doctor Who just ignore this horrifying fact.

I think part of the down-ness is because we put so much chocolate covered pressure on Christmas, even more so if you are an expat. In the great busyness of the last half of December there is this little movie reel in the back of your mind saying that your Christmas in London will be like Love Actually, Dickens and Downton Abby combined. You will overcome the fact that your family is on the other side of the world by carolling with your chums as you all learn some sort of invaluable life lesson over your first Yorkshire puddings. But then it turns out that Christmas in London is just, well… weird.

Yes it is a nice day but it is not the same as home, it’s just not. You can totally plan an awesome day and bad-ass your way through it, but it will never be the same as a family Christmas. For one it is a hell of a lot more exhausting because all that cooking and shopping that your parents normally do is now down to you and your friends. As it turns out the reason your Mum complained about spending all day in the kitchen is because to cook Christmas dinner for ten people you have to spend all fucking day in the kitchen! Oh these things you discover when you try to adult for the first time.

The good old rose tinted glasses come into play as well, Christmas is always best looked at with about 10 months breathing space. Go on, what can you actually remember about the last Christmas you had at home? I would bet you a flat white that it has actually reduced down to the happy glow of presents and family… so you are comparing your current Christmas to what is essentially a highlights reel.   The bitter fact of being an expat at Christmas is you remember all the rosy good times, and not the ‘oh my god my sister just took the chocolate I wanted’ angry times.

There is also the small fact that what with being away from your parents and not having to drive anywhere, well you might have been drunk consistently for the last four days. I for one got up on Boxing Day planning to have a day without drinking and then saw I had some leftover champagne… there was only one logical conclusion. So feeling a little down is because this is the slowest built hangover of the year, four days of binge eating and drinking cocktails ‘to hydrate’ is finally taking its toll.

So why don’t you go through this in New Zealand? Back home you get gently eased back into reality like a kitten filling out a cardboard box. Everyone has time off work, the sun is shining and Christmas drinking just turns into Summer BBQ drinking – no harsh blues, just seemingly endless good times. I think even if you were an expat in New Zealand it must be a lot easier at Christmas time because of the general vibes of the entire ‘happy its sunny’ nation.

What to do about the miasma of meh? Firstly its time to utilise the unique post-Christmas benefits: all the chocolate and party trays are half price at the supermarket and it is totally acceptable to crack into the Baileys pre-lunchtime. Also you need to enjoy the fact that London seems oddly chill this time of year, like you can actually leave your house without wanting to punch a slow moving tourist kind of chill. The second approach is to just bloody revel in it, don’t try and fix the blues just know that it is a temporary thing that will pass with the New Year.

So how am I enjoying my post-Santa ‘down’ time? Well I have spent a rather splendid day catching up with those Kardashians. Not only is it junk food for the mind, but I feel a lot better about the dying Christmas tree in the corner when I compare it to the frightfully heated argument that Kim and Khris got into over Lamar. I mean, it’s Christmas so we really should be thinking about those less fortunate anyway.

 

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Its ok to feel down

London street Art

Listen up darlings, this weather is NOT NORMAL for December.

A friend of mine who is so cold blooded he is basically a reptile came over for dinner the other night wearing a cardigan instead of a jacket…A CARDIGAN…IN DECEMBER. He didn’t even have a scarf on, oh the humanity. While I am slightly stoked about the warmer weather because it means I still haven’t had figure out the heating in my flat, there are so many dire and unexpected consequences of this 16 degree balmy London December. You know the consequences that are far more important than the global warming death of the planet type things.

You can’t complain about the weather to your parents

82% of the joy of Skyping your parents in December is to heroically sigh about how cold it is and be heaped with love from the other side of the world. If you make your sigh particularly poignent you might even get surprise pre-Christmas presents in the post. Sadly your long drawn out sigh is made slightly less credible when you are sitting there in a t-shirt.

You can’t wear your Christmas jumper

Well you can, but there was a serious danger of damp business men passing out on the tube on Christmas Jumper Day. These poor Christmas jumpers wait around all year for the one week where its their time to shine, only to be cast hopelessly over the back of the office chair because it is too damn hot to wear it.

Christmas alcoholism is slightly less justified

One of the BEST things about a super cold December is that drinking becomes almost compulsory because you ‘have to stay warm’. Having that third mulled wine just doesn’t feel as NHS approved as normal since its still warm enough to drink on the footpath outside the pub.

You actually had to turn up for work every day

The greatest joy about dodgy December weather is normally the couple of days where the weather is so bad that the Tube is closed, and all office workers get the joy of ‘working from home’ aka drinking tea in front of Jeremy Kyle while sending a couple of well timed emails. Because of the bad weather deficit this year I have had to go to work every day and be dedicated and stuff, all the while filled with an internal not-freezing rage.

You can’t feel smug about a Christmas stay-cation

One of the big benefits of being too skint to travel at Christmas is getting to see all the flights delayed or cancelled while you are happily watching movies in your moldy London flat. But because of this mid-teens weather you now have to bubble with jealously as literally everyone you knows jets off to Norway, Portugal or New Zealand with their travel plans completely uninterrupted.

All the baby-expats think you were lying about last year(s)

Boooooooooooooooooooo to all you expats who have come over in the last year and scoff at us old timers for saying that winter in London is tough. I swear it was bad, honestly last winter I thought my nipples would fall off from frostbite. It was so cold that Frozen was banned across the country because people couldn’t take some Disney bint saying the cold didn’t bother her. Trust me when I say IT WILL GET COLDER SO STOP LAUGHING.

You can’t make insane life choices

Something about sub zero temperatures makes any decision seem awesome. Buying 1kg of feathers online? Go for it. Booking a trek up Kilimanjaro? No problem, at least it will be warm. Swiping right on that guy on Tinder? At least you will cut down on the heating bill and gym membership. But this warm weather is just screwing everything up, I haven’t booked any random trips, no unexpected internet purchases and I have even deleted Tinder from my phone.

Its confusing the daffodils

Why does no one ever think of the daffodils? They are arriving in London like the most awkwardly early party guest ever. Instead of everyone being all excited to see them next year they just get to clash with the Christmas decorations and be ignored by the rushing crowds. Oh the humanity.

 

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London being warm in winter

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O come all ye hungover. Last night I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Kiwis in London Christmas party at the Clapham Grand. Now I know this may shock you, but after being here for four years this was my first ever Kiwis in London event. I know more shocking than Shortland Street’s recent Red Wedding. I’m not quite sure why its taken me this long, possibly because I am allergic to Clapham Junction but also because these big events can be a tad intimidating for a lonesome Kiwi.

So for those of you who are little curious about what goes on at these cult events, or if you had so much to drink last night that you can’t remember what  happened; here is my top 7 things that happened at the Kiwis in London Christmas Party.

1. The guys found it hard to pull in Santa hats

When you walked through the doors you were given the choice of reindeer antlers or a Santa hat to wear (as well as a present from Santa of the new Dave Dobbyn CD!). Much like the Matrix red/blue pill your choice at the door dictated the success of the rest of your night. For the lucky few with the antlers they had the easy conversation starter of ‘accidentally’ getting their headpiece tangled up with someone else. For the rest however this was the night where 400 Kiwi guys figured out that when you pull a Santa hat down too tight you look like a human condom…not exactly a turn on. I even saw girls pulling off the hats and throwing them across the dance floor in desperation of getting across the hat barrier.

2. The easiest way to make friends is to offer boys your chips

Because everyone in the room is a kiwi your brain puts them in the ‘safe’ category. Therefore it seems totally normal to offer total strangers a rifle in your bag of chips (salt and vinegar to be specific). You see people striding across the room with their London blinkers on, but offer them some Bluebird chips and of of a sudden the sun comes out, and through that first bite you get a mumble ‘chur bro’.

3. Drunk kiwis are fun

Sometimes in London you can feel a little threatened by drunken dudes, but kiwis? Kiwis are fun. Two highlights for me were:

  • white shirt guy who I am 90% sure was actually an English secret agent sent to investigate the colonies (he didn’t know the words to ‘How Bizarre’). He wanted to get the party started but everyone else was still enjoying the chips, so he decided to do a strip tease in the middle of the empty dancefloor…almost the definition of peaking too soon given that it was only 4:40pm.
  • Second highlight was the guy who won a prize (it was a random draw) and was so excited that he tried to give an acceptance speech, and was then still so excited that he stole the announcer and wandered off stage. The announcer…not the microphone. He actually picked up Clint (chief dude at KIL) and walked off stage.

Oh and poi on the dance floor – fuck yeah.

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4. You think you know everyone

Normally when you hear a kiwi accent in London it’s because it’s a friend, so you smile and go in for the hug. This becomes massively awkward when you are with 800 New Zealand runaways and you start hugging strangers at the bar. But then let’s be honest, because we were all kiwis a surprise tackle hug was always welcomed.

5. You actually know everyone

Well maybe not everyone, but you know you are amongst your tribe when someone spots their old babysitter on the D-floor and the girl you meet on the tube knows your sisters ex-boyfriend. Oh kiwi land, you couldn’t get any smaller.

 

6. Pies make you cry

Now I am not a big night clubber or gig person, but if I knew that venues had kiwi pie warmers I might just find myself a new hobby. At 4 in the afternoon I found myself running across a disco light up dance floor to be first in line for a steak and cheese pie. Covered in tomato sauce it was mana from heaven.IMG_0036

7. It is an amazing way to feel a little bit at home in London

For old cynical me there was a moment, a moment when my Grinch heart grew three sizes. To see a dance floor packed full of Kiwi orphans singing their hearts out to ‘All I want for Christmas is you’. No you might not know anyone there, but something about knowing that they are your tribe just fills you full of goodness.

Merry Christmas y’all

 

So youve decided to move to London oh

Never forget you are amazing

Happiness has been my go-to conversation piece when drunk for about the last month. As soon as I hit that third glass of wine tipping point, whoever I’m out with gets gifted a drunken Runawaykiwi preaching about happiness – apologies to everyone caught up in the ramble. Rather than continue to piss off my friends, I thought I would write something hopefully more coherent on this little old blog of mine.

I’m not quite sure if it is social media, the stage in life I’m in (late 20’s for anyone asking) or the language of modern marketing imprinting itself on my brain; at the moment we only speak in bests and worsts. It’s no longer ok to be just simply happy, now you need to be living in a constant state of ecstasy or alternatively be a tight ball of misery in order to fit in with the crowd.

I am really happy at the moment. God writing that felt like declaring a political statement. It’s not that I am an overnight Zoella, have been promoted to CEO or am suddenly getting married; I’m just getting enough sleep, have been doing some fun London stuff, drinking a lot of coffee and have actually managed to catch up with my friends. Not earth shattering, but I’m smiling and content. And yet this happiness is quite simply not something you hear about very often. It is partially because you are sensitive to others emotions and don’t want to rub happiness in the face of someone who is struggling, but it is mostly because stressed is the new normal.

The biggest issue I have with this best/worst mentality is that it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Think back to the last time someone asked how you were, I would put money on your reply going something along the lines of “I’m so stressed and/or tired/shattered”…and it might be have been true. The problem is the more you say it, the more you reduce your emotional rainbow down to those two negative emotions, and after a while you don’t even bother to think about how you actually feel, you automatically go straight to stressed. You begin to forget that stressed and tired are just temporary states of being, you forget that they do not identify you.

I listened to this being discussed on the Being Boss podcast and their suggestion was to add a positive twist to the end of your automatic reaction; change “I’m so stressed” to “I’m busy but loving it”. I’m not sure that works for every situation, sometimes you are just stressed to all hell. But identifying the bigger picture really can work. This week in particular it’s too reductionist to say “I’m stressed”, instead it could be “I’m so excited for Christmas and I want to get all this work finished before the break”. It’s not “I’m stressed” its “I’ve got a big project and its taking up a lot of my energy”. Or hell, it’s not “I’m stressed” it could even be “I’m great”. Turns out just like complaining about teachers and homework made you cool in high school, being stressed makes you fit in at work.

Motivational quotes on my wall

The Pinterest impact can’t be overlooked either. Now I love a motivational quote, I pin quotes most days and have them all over the walls in my room. The danger is if they stop being little nuggets of lovely and actually start making you feel bad about your life, as if you are not doing it right unless EVERYTHING IS MAGICAL ALL THE TIME.

The funny thing about happiness is that, just like all emotions, it’s on a spectrum. Happiness runs from the tiny things like that first sip of coffee, through the middle ground of planning world domination with friends over wine, right up to the highs of finally having wanderlust satisfied – or my personal highlight this year of seeing my sister marry the love of her life, a moment so happy that it was in another emotion universe entirely. With all the Pinterest-beautiful quotes floating round, I get the impression that it’s only ‘happiness’ if it falls in the top 10% of the spectrum.

You are selling your happiness so so short if you can’t bask in the tiny happy moments that dot your day. That top 10% of social media approved happiness means that apparently 90% of your life is unhappy. That’s just terrifying.

I’m not sure if this post is any better than the wine ramble, but I think what I am trying to say is that this is your life, every second of it is a moment that you won’t get back. Don’t sell yourself short by falling into stressed/tired automatic-reaction trap, or feeling like your little moments of happiness aren’t big enough to count and enjoy. Wake up and think “I get to do this, I can try again and might even find some happy today”, and if that is too hippy dippy for you just remember that today you can buy a coffee and treasure that first sip. The emotions you are feeling are delightfully temporary, the fact that you are amazing is a constant that you need to keep in your heart every day.

Christmas is going to be a hard time for a lot of you reading this, either because you are an expat away from home or you might be home with your family…but your family is a bit cray. Forget that its not THE BEST CHRISTMAS OF ALL TIME, forget for a moment that being unhappy is cool and just enjoy those little moments. Use the silly jumper, the mulled wine and a surprise ‘Merry Christmas’ from a colleague you didn’t think knew you existed to get you through.

So, after all that I have to ask…what makes you happy?

xx

 

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Happiness

Runawaykiwi getting excited over Christmas Wreaths

There is only one thing that can cause that facial expression (well…two things but only one is blog appropriate), that would be the magical mince pie flavoured world of Christmas Wreath making. For someone who doesn’t decorate her flat at Christmas, making a wreath and donating it to work is my token lovebug for the season. After last year’s traditional wreath this time I decided to do something a little different, a red barked dogwood air plant wreath.

Ok that might have been a little blog lie, when I say ‘decided’ I actually mean that I wanted to hang out with Angloyankophile and she happened to be going to a Geo-Fleur wreath class. Like the original gate crasher that I am I went along too.

Redbark dogwood Christmas wreath

The thing I really liked about the dogwood wreath as opposed to a traditional one is that you don’t have to go to the bother of amputating a fir tree in order to make it. And side benefit, a dogwood wreath won’t die away with your end of year regrets, you can use it again and again.

Step one is to chill out after a glass or two of wine and order dogwood sticks, a copper wreath ring and some decorations off the internet. Let’s all be a little honest here, unless you are half cut you are not likely to actually have the motivation to spontaneously make a Christmas wreath…so wine is, as ever, important.

Once you have sobered up and your internet supplies have arrived it’s time to get your craft on. Start by weaving the dogwood sticks in and out of the copper circlet, no glue or wire here it’s the weaving of the dogwood that will keep it in place. Don’t worry if they don’t appear to hold fast at first, just keep weaving the dogwood in and out until it starts to build up. Now it is super important at this stage to pretend you are Harry Potter and try to conjure a patronus, and then stop when Angloyankphile looks at you with concern.

Once you have built up your wreath (or used up all your dogwood, whichever comes first) it is time to start decorating. If you are using live plants (like the air plants we used) then you will need to use special florist glue, but for anything else just hot glue those suckers on. I would say let your imagination run wild with the decorations, but then your wreath would most likely end up with half a box of crisps and a wild fox glued to it…so try to stick to Christmas themed stuff.

We had berries, eucalyptus and air plants to play with and I have to say I am pretty damn happy with my finished wreath. I have (as always) donated it to work where I will attempt to keep the plants alive until Christmas!