Movin’ on up (2016 review / 2017 goals)

1 Jan

Well, you don’t need to hear from me that 2016 has been a helluva year. Personally, my 2016 has been great – but for the world, society and common sense it’s been a complete fucking ‘MARE.

As I love a bit of perspective, I’m always looking at my first blog post from 2016 where I laid out my resolutions and seeing how well I did. Then I’m going to look at my 2016 highlights and then I’m going to set my goals for 2017. Basically: if you follow my blog for travel tips and things to do in London, this post won’t interest you at all. But if you’re secretly in love with me and would like an insight into my life, then proceed (and make your 2017 resolution to tell me you love me. People love hearing that, lol.)

jason

MY AIMS FOR 2016 were…

Travel truly solo

  • This was about going somewhere long-haul, out of my comfort zone, without a tour company.
  • …and I totally did this in Cuba – organised everything myself, made my way around Cuba alone via public transport, all without speaking Spanish in a country that really does not have much exposure to English at all. I’m proud of myself for not going to just Havana, but packing in three different places so I could move around the island. I’m also SO glad that I went to Cuba before Fidel died – Cuba was already changing, but I think that the changes will come thick and fast now Fidel has gone. It was a joy to see Cuba *as it was* (well, as close as I could get to as it was I guess).

Get healthier

  • This was about reaching my goal weight, eating better and drinking less.
  • I total reached my goal weight (see the next section) and I’ve started to mix things up more when I’m cooking – making sure I’m trying different veg, only having egg whites and not yolks, swapping olive oil for coconut oil, making my own energy balls…
  • I walk SO much more than I did last year – it’s made a huge difference.
  • I did a terrible job at having a few ‘dry’ months in 2016 (November aside), so this can deffo be improved in 2017!

Don’t be lazy: learn

  • This was about actively educating myself while at home and swapping Netflix for books.
  • So, I did cancel my Netflix account and for a while I read more… but that fell away towards the end of the year. But I still devour my Delayed Gratification journal every three months and I have a pile of books on my to-do list; in 2017 I’m actually going to read them!
  • I didn’t do any Future Learn courses, but I did make bigger efforts to understand more about the current world political situation – about how bombing the middle-east in the 20s and 30s did sod all, about why people actually voted for Trump and the issues going on in the UK that led to Brexit, about the history of religious extremism… I feel like I can approach the world events, still angry, but at least more informed.

Do more for the animals

  • I’ve increased the amount of money I donate to wildlife charities this year, but that’s only really a starting point I guess. In order to feel like I’ve truly fulfilled this one I need to do more volunteer work.
  • I did get more up close and personal with cats this year via Catsitting – basically saving owners from sending a cat away from home and looking after them (feeding, cleaning, petting) which the owners are away. There are worse ways to earn a few extra quid!


WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN 2016…

HEALTH & FITNESS
This year, I hit my goal weight. The healthy weight I’ve been aiming to get to for the last FOREVER. I’m now 4 stone lighter than I was at University, I wear a size 10/12 (something I never thought possible) and I’ve managed to fit into a size 10 dress I purchased YEARS ago, with the hope that one day it would fit.

weight

As a result, my diabetes is better controlled and I’m SO much fitter. I usually exercise at the gym on the cross trainer because I fractured my foot when I was younger and it got a bit messed up. But yesterday, I ran 5k, on the road, in the cold, without stopping. True, I got super sweaty and my legs hate me today… but, again, that’s not something I ever thought I’d be fit enough to do. And my foot didn’t hurt, which is a HUGE bonus!

TRAVEL
This year, I’ve visited even countries: Cuba, Costa Rica, India, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain and Germany. Some highlights below (I mean, there’s just WAY too many to talk about all of them).

  • Zip-lining in Costa Rica. SO MUCH FUN. I loved it so much I also went zip-lining in India too – but nothing will beat zipping through the Monteverde Cloud Forest, screaming. Oh, and then zip-lining a full kilometer, like superman (horizontally) and being terrified as I see my tiny little shadow zooming across the tops of the trees faaaar below.
  • Oh and SEEING A JAGUAR IN THE WILD. GAAAAAH!
  • Everything about Cuba, basically. Cuba was a big one for me as it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to do a solo trip that’s ‘out of my comfort zone’, and as I don’t speak Spanish, Cuba totally ticked that box.
    – Old Havana is a beautiful, jumbled maze of dilapidated, colourful buildings.
    – The section of town on the very outskirts of Havana where a local artist has made the entire place look like Guardi’s Barcelona.
    – The music and the cocktails are incredible all over the island – particularly at a bar in Vinales where I watched the sunset over the tobacco fields drinking the most incredible Pina Colada.
    – Trekking through the cobblestone streets of Trinidad, through the local (non-touristy) sections of town to hike up a huge hill with a café on the top. Oh, and the underground cave nightclub too.

    cuba

  • The colours of India – women in stunning saris, marigolds lining the doorways at temples and weddings… the Hindi temples themselves are a riot of colour too. So pretty and so happy.india
  • Turning every corner in Rome and finding another piece of history. Whether it be the place Caesar was killed (which is now home to a cat sanctuary!), more ornate archways and pillars or an unassuming church which happens to hold the skull of St. Valentine. As ya do.italy
  • The beer gardens of Prague were an absolute delight and I was very lucky to visit when the weather was so good. Prague, generally, is lovely (I was surprised just how easy it is to walk around). Another highlight was the house of an eccentric artist in the middle of a park which he’s opened to the public and is filled with mystical, colourful artwork and slightly creepy music.prague
  • Seeing Radiohead at a music festival in Berlin. RADIOHEAD FOR THE WIN. The moment they played Identikit was especially lovely. I saw Major Lazer there too, which was wicked… but nothing can beat Radiohead <3https://www.instagram.com/p/BKOokIeA_G1/?taken-by=hannahlujah123
  • Going to Barcelona for the first time on my own (the other 6 or 7 times I’ve always been with other people) – it meant that I got to see bits of the city which I’d compromised on previously. I walked 14 miles in one day heading to the outskirts of town to the GORGEOUS Montjuic Cemetary and funeral carriage museum. I also saw the most incredible stained glass in Palau de le Musica Catalana – another place I hadn’t visited before.barcelona

PEEPS

It’s been a huge year for my friends and family when it comes to life events – I’m in the same job, living in the same place and still going on ridiculous dates. But s’all good, so that’s not a complaint!

My friends and family have encountered deaths, graduations, becoming home owners, planning weddings, new jobs, redundancies, retirements… but they all seem to be reasonably happy now we’re at the end of 2016, which is all I can hope for! Jude and I still bemoan the politics of the UK (our poor, bleeding liberal hearts have been through a lot this year…), Nick and Tim are still the best couple I know (and and looking like absolute BABES), Jack and Sam are well loved up and will be moving in with their other halves in 2017 (most probs), Cate quit her job and has another lined up (and a puppy, massive win), Emma is still the loveiest, cheeriest lady EVS (NYE karaoke come at me), Ryan is loved up and being his usual creative self and all of my other friends who I don’t necessarily see as often are all in relationships, owning flats and being well grown up (not the be all and end all of course, but totally right for them).

photo

However, I do want to draw attention to all the friends I’ve made travelling. When you head off on your own it’s so much easier to make friends with people. And the kind of people who have any inclination whatsoever to visit places like India and Costa Rica are normally happy to pal up with a loner like me J A lady called Laura I met in Costa Rica is an absolute babe of a women (will always remember her trying to chat up men for me and us drinking wine in a car park), as are Jacqui and Lucy who I met on the Costa Rica tour too. In India Mark and Mike were a total pleasure to be around (and a nightmare as I can NEVER tell when they’re taking the piss or not) – in fact, I actually met up with them a few weeks ago. Not only do these people make the travel so enjoyable at the time, but it means I have places to stay around the world and they have a bed/tour guide in London if they ever need one.

MY AIMS FOR 2017

Right, aside from enduring the bullshit of Brexit and Trump (basically, politicians having no fucking clue what they’re doing and the right wing now thinking it’s ok to gloat about the terrible state we’re in), I do have other things that I want to do in 2017.

Help make the world less terrible

Ok, so ‘making the world a better place’ is going to be a tough call in 2017. Brexit will be a nightmare, Trump is past help… so I just want to improve things, in small ways, where I can.

In 2016 I’ve already started doing this; I’ve given more money to animal charities and to Unicef to support their aid workers in Syria. I’ve also started buying rough sleepers in Soho food and drink, just to brighten their day a little. At the end of the day a sandwich and a bottle of water costs so little and it can make a huge difference.

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But I want to actually volunteer this year. I tried last year to volunteer for Age UK but their London office messed up my appointment three times and then they just stopped emailing me (hmm). So this year, I’m going to volunteer at homeless shelters and animal shelters as often as I can. January will be about finding the places I can get to and who need support and then I’ll do what I can throughout the year. After all, people take so many things for granted (clean water, a roof over their heads) so I think it’s about time I substitute the time I spend lazing about for doing something worthwhile. I’d encourage you to do the same and join me if you can!
 

Take longer holidays to closer places

Ok, so last year was all about going REALLY FAR AWAY for two weeks, or going somewhere in Europe for 2 days. This year, I’m going to try and do a couple of holidays (say, 5 days to a week) and to really get under the skin of a smaller place. I’m considering spending 5 days heading up to Scotland to visit the Isle of Skye. I’d also really like to visit La Gomera – it’s next to Tenerife but so few people go there – the entire island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and looks like a place well worth exploring Perhaps my final trip could be a week somewhere like Sicily, Cape Verde or getting to the top of Norway and seeing the Northern lights.

la-gomera-21

La Gomera

After all, I already have a trip to Kenya and Tanzania booked… so my desire to get as far away from Brexit Britain will be fulfilled once.

Get even healthier and fitter

Right, so at the moment I’m at my goal wright: that is, the top end of what is a healthy BMI. However, if I lose another stone then I will be sitting right in the middle of a healthy BMI and I no shits will be given whatsoever if I put on half a stone on holiday/at Christmas.

I’m going to lose the weight via the following ways – all of which are about making my body healthier and losing the weight just being an added bonus. After all, it’s easy to get thin; it requires patience and determination to get fit!

  • Cut out booze for three months (January, November and another one). Not only is booze a HUGE contributor to keeping weight on, but, honestly, I just don’t need it. The more regularly I cut it out, the better for my body it will be!
  • Always have five portions or fruit and veg a day. Sometimes I’m bad at this, but I got a blender for Christmas so I can have dates in the form of energy balls, a banana every morning and lots of fresh veg in the evening.
  • Do a park run. Now, I don’t mean THE park run because they involves me getting up at 8am at the weekend which is INSANE. But now I know that I can run on the road, I want to do it a little more. Might even set myself a goal (is 5k in 20 minutes realistic? Need to do some research) – but basically, just start mixing up my exercise routine a little bit. My bro got my weight for Christmas so they can get involved too!

Rein in the rage

So I tend to get easily exasperated with the state of the world and when people make terrible life decisions. But I shouldn’t – after all, it’s their life and a lot of people I know don’t actually care about the fact the world is going to shit. So, I’m going to attend to rein in my ranting and just be a bit more chill. That way, people might actually get a night out with me which doesn’t involve putting the world to rights (I’ll just do that in my head and not vocalise it… maybe when I’m out I’ll just go and shout at myself about injustice in the bathroom mirror.)

giphy

This will also involve getting back into mindfulness and embrace Pura Vida. I did it for a while when I returned from Costa Rica and I felt SO much better for it. So, mindfulness is going to be something I pick up again. I’m also going to try meditation and this is one of the wankiest things I’ve ever said, but I really want a gong bath. You basically sit in a room and let the sound of gongs wash over you as you chiiiiilll. I know, what a twat. But I’ll be a RELAXED twat, so whatevs.

(This is my most ambitious resolution I reckon, but it’s something I definitely want to work on!)

Wish me luck folks. And here’s to hoping all the terrible things the minority voted to take place in 2017 aren’t actually as fucking awful as we all expect them to be. Sigh.

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