Relationships

Where do I even start? / Por onde eu começo?

(O texto em português está disponível abaixo)

It’s the end of the year… and once again it’s time to reflect on what happened and how life treated me (and I treated it). If I think of what my life surprised me with since I last wrote on here (May 2014), I don’t even know where to start describing how much my life has changed. So much has happened! I had a baby (10 weeks earlier than expected!), I had my mum visiting us in the UK for the first time (super special), I had my sister over too (she is still here), I started my maternity leave, my relationship with Lee (partner in crime) has become something else… something different, something even better. There is a gorgeous human being called Louisa in our lives now and I guess when you have a baby you see your partner in a different light. It’s almost like you get each other more, small stuff stops being an issue and you realise that together you are stronger than you ever thought you could be.

2014 has been by far the best year of my life, without a doubt. I thought I had done it already, but, really, it’s the year when I met the love of my life, which is the way my friend Estelle describes having a child. When I saw my baby for the first time, it changed my world…

So here are the main things that I realised/found out in life post-Louisa…

1. You have more strength than you think… lots more!

A premature birth requires strength. I know it happens all the time, but when you are in that situation, you have no choice but to stay strong and believe things are going to work out. Louisa was born very early and the first few hours were very difficult. However, Lee and I never for one second believed that things wouldn’t work out just fine. And although Louisa is still being monitored, we have so much faith in our little one… so I guess the more strength you show, the more you have.

2. Patience comes when you need it

The first days of Louisa’s life were touch and go. We were eager to know if everything would be ok but, somehow, I was just patient with everything. I just felt calm. I have no idea where this serenity came from, but I just had it. Those who know me will know that I’m far from what you’d describe as a patient person, but I surprised myself. I wasn’t asking questions I knew couldn’t be answered, I wasn’t feeling anxious, I wasn’t panicking. I was happy to take a day at a time, to go with the flow. I quickly learned that the whole thing wasn’t a race, but a marathon.

3. You are not just you anymore

Ohhh… this is a big one. There will be a time in the life of every person that has a child when you suddenly realise that you are not on your own anymore. No, it doesn’t matter how much you wanted that child, how much you planned and prepared for that moment. One day, when you least expect it, you will realise that you will share countless experiences with them, help them with their problems, be there for them and go through happiness and sorrow with them. And you will realise that your job is to make sure that they can be the best they can be to go through life, with and without you. It’s scary to realise you have that much responsibility, but also reassuring to find out that you are more than up for the job.

4. A half ‘reflex’ smile can change your mood

No sleep, no time to eat, have a shower, to exercise, to meet friends, all those things that were so common in pre-baby life and that you miss dearly… all to be completely forgotten when your little one gives you half a reflex smile, that is not even a ‘real’ one yet. I know this real one will happen, though… in her own time. And when it does, I might just melt. (Gosh, this is all so cheesy and yet I can’t help myself!)

5. It’s true what they say… there is no time for anything

I know this is a cliche, but what did I do with all the time I had before? Lie-ins, lazy nights, movies, pub sessions… ermmm… not anymore! You sort of learn very quickly (well, you are forced to) to compartmentalize your life in little chunks of a couple of hours (if you are lucky), because this is the time you have between one feed and the next. Everything you do becomes a bit of a mission and the alarm to stop all you are doing (aka hungry cry) may go off at any time. Going out of the house becomes another crazy happening and sort of military operation. It needs to be carefully timed so that baby doesn’t start screaming when you are queuing at the post office. Adventurous stuff.

6. Your family and your true friends will be there for you

This is by far my main realisation with all that has happened this year. I decided to post on Facebook what was happening with our little Louisa, since she stayed in hospital for two months and people wanted news. The response I got was completely overwhelming. I am convinced that the positive thoughts everyone sent our way had a massive effect on Louisa’s recovery and it’s partly why she is now home with us.

My mum and sister also came to visit us for the first time since I’ve been living in the UK (13 years), my dad Kao and mum Iris were always in touch, sending messages every day (thanks, Whattsapp!) and many of my friends were there for me, to help, to hug me, to offer advice, to listen, to ask how things were going or simply to talk about something else and take my mind off it all. Some new friendships started in the midst of all that was happening, some others strengthened, others dissipated somehow but, whoever stayed, confirmed they are by my side for the long haul. And I’m so glad that they are.

7. Perspective is everything

Louisa is absolutely fine now. She is at home with no medical apparatus or anything like that. She is putting on weight steadily and growing each day. But we do know that the brain bleed that she had will need monitoring in the coming years. And this is fine. It doesn’t scare me, or Lee. It doesn’t phase us, really. We are in love with our girl and believe in her, whatever the future brings.

8. Love is all around!

The amount of love you feel when you look at your baby is something out of this world. Ok, cliche again. But I just feel so blessed for having been able to experience this in my life. It’s crazy that all the love that I felt pre-Louisa cannot compare in any way to the love I feel for her. It’s just on a different league. I know that this love got me through the tough times and I know that this love is what will keep me positive for the future.

All in all, what a year!

So long, 2014. Bring us all a brand new year, full of joy, health, family gatherings, happy moments, sincere smiles. And even more love, because there is always more space for it in our hearts.


 2014-11-28 23.09.49

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Texto em português

É o final do ano e, mais uma vez, é hora de refletir sobre o que aconteceu na vida da gente. Se eu começo a pensar em como a minha vida me surpreendeu desde a última vez que eu escrevi aqui (Maio de 2014), eu nem sei como começar a descrever o quanto a minha vida mudou. Tanta coisa aconteceu! Eu tive um bebê (10 semanas mais cedo do que o esperado), minha mãe veio nos visitar aqui na Inglaterra pela primeira vez (o que foi muito especial), minha irmã também veio (e ainda está aqui), eu comecei a minha licença-maternidade, meu relacionamento com o Lee (parceiro de vida) se transformou em algo diferente, algo ainda melhor. Um serzinho lindo chamado Louisa faz parte da nossa vida agora e eu acho que, quando se tem um filho, é inevitável ver o seu/sua parceiro/a com outros olhos. É como se a gente se entendesse ainda melhor. As pequenas coisas já não importam e a gente se dá conta de que juntos somos mais fortes do que jamais achamos que poderíamos ser.

2014 foi o melhor ano da minha vida, sem dúvida nenhuma. Eu achei que isso já tinha acontecido, mas foi o ano em que eu conheci o amor da minha vida, que é como a minha amiga Estelle descreve ter um filho. Quando eu vi a minha bebê pela primeira vez, o meu mundo mudou…

Então aqui vai uma listinha do que eu percebi nesta vida pós-Louisa…

1. Você tem mais força do que imagina… muito mais!

O nascimento de um bebê prematuro requer força dos pais. Eu sei que isso acontece a toda hora, mas quando você se encontra naquela situação, a única opção é ser forte e acreditar que tudo vai dar certo. A Louisa nasceu muito cedo e as primeiras horas da vida dela foram muito difíceis. Contudo, o Lee e eu nunca paramos de acreditar que tudo daria certo. E, embora a Louisa ainda precise ser monitorada nos próximos anos, nós temos muita fé na nossa pequena. Isso tudo me faz crer que quanto mais força mostramos, mais surge de algum lugar.

2. A paciência vem quando precisamos dela

Os primeiros dias da Louisa foram bastante críticos. Nós queríamos muito saber se ela ficaria bem mas, de alguma maneira, eu consegui ser paciente com tudo. Sei lá, eu simplesmente me sentia calma todo o tempo. Eu não tenho nem ideia de onde surgiu toda essa serenidade, ela simplesmente começou a fazer parte de mim. Aqueles que me conhecem sabem que eu não sou muito paciente, mas eu me surpreendi comigo mesma. Eu não fiz perguntas que não tinham respostas, eu não me senti ansiosa, eu não me desesperei. Eu estava feliz em simplesmente viver um dia de cada vez, cada um com seus desafios, e deixar o barco correr. Eu logo aprendi que a situação toda não era uma corrida, mas uma maratona.

3. Você não é mais apenas você

Ohhh… esse é um ponto importante. Vai chegar um dia na vida de cada novo papai ou mamãe em que você vai se dar conta de que não está mais sozinho neste mundo. Não, não importa o quanto você queria aquele filho, não importan o quando você planejou tudo e se preparou para aquele momento da vida. Um dia, quando você menos esperar, você vai se dar conta de que vai dividir inúmeras experiências com aquele serzinho novo na sua vida, ajudá-lo com seus problemas, comemorar seus feitos e estar na vida deles para sempre, na alegria e na tristeza. E você também vai perceber que o seu papel é ter certeza de que ele/a possa ser o melhor possível, com ou sem você ao seu lado. Dá medo perceber que se tem tanta responsabilidade, mas também uma certa segurança de notar que se está mais do que pronto para o trabalho em questão.

4. Um meio sorriso de reflexo pode mudar o seu humor

Sono, sem tempo para comer, tomar banho, se exercitar, ver filmes, ver os amigos, todas aquelas coisas que eram tão comuns antes do bebê chegar e das quais agora você tem saudades… tudo é esquecido quando o bebê te dá um meio sorriso, que não é nem um sorriso real ainda. Eu sei que o sorriso de verdade vai acontecer logo… quando a Louisa estiver pronta. E quando acontecer, acho que vou derreter como um sorvete no sol (nossa, isso tudo é muito cliche, mas mesmo assim não consigo me conter!)

5. É verdade o que eles dizem… não se tem mais tempo pra nada

Eu sei que todo mundo fala a mesma coisa, mas o que eu fazia com todo o tempo que eu tinha antes? Dormir até mais tarde, noites preguiçosas, idas ao pub… ermmm, não mais! Logo você aprende a dividir a vida em pedaços de 2 horas aqui e ali, pois este é o tempo que você tem entre uma mamada e outra. Tudo o que você faz se torna uma missão e o alarme que manda você parar o que está fazendo (também conhecido como ‘choro faminto’) pode começar a tocar a qualquer minuto. Sair de casa se torna um acontecimento e meio que uma operação militar. Tudo tem que ser cronometrado para que não se corra o risco de o bebê começar a berrar de fome quando você está na fila do correio. Uma aventura e tanto.

6. A sua família e os seus verdadeiros amigos vão estar presentes

Esta é, sem dúvida, a maior revelação depois de tudo o que aconteceu este ano. Eu decidi postar no Facebook o que estava acontecendo com a Louisa, já que ela ficou no hospital por dois meses e as pessoas queriam notícias. O envolvimento das pessoas foi imenso. E eu estou convencida de que todo o pensamento positivo teve um efeito enorme na recuperação da Louisa.

A minha mãe e irmã vieram me visitar pela primeira vez aqui na Inglaterra desde que eu moro aqui (13 anos), meu pai Kao e mãe Iris estavam sempre em contato, mandando mensagens todos os dias (obrigada, Whatsapp!) e muitos dos meus amigos estiveram presentes, ajudando, me abraçando, me dando conselhos, me escutando, perguntando como estavam as coisas ou simplesmente falando de coisas completamente diferentes para me distrair. Algumas amizades começaram no meio de tudo o que estava se passando, outras se fortaleceram e outras se dissiparam, mas quem ficou do meu lado confirmou que está do meu lado pro que der e vier. E eu fico muito feliz com isso.

7. Perspectiva é tudo

A Louisa está super bem agora. Ela está em casa com nenhum equipamento médico. Ela está engordando todas as semanas e crescendo a cada dia. Mas nós sabemos que o sangramento no cérebro dela vai ter que ser monitorado pelos próximos anos. E isso não amedronta a mim ou ao Lee. Nós estamos apaixonados pela nossa menininha e nós acreditamos nela. Estamos prontos para o que o futuro nos trouxer.

8. O amor está por tudo

O amor que se sente quando se olha para um filho/a é indescritível. Ok, mais um cliché. Mas eu me sinto tão abençoada por estar podendo vivenciar isso na minha vida. É muito louco pensar que todo o amor que eu sentia antes dela nascer nem se compara ao amor que eu agora tenho por ela. É um amor que está em outro plano. Eu sei que este amor me ajudou a enfrentar momentos difíceis e eu sei que é este mesmo amor que vai me manter positiva no futuro.

Resumindo… que ano!

Tchau tchau, 2014. E que venha um ano novinho em folha, cheio de alegria, saúde, encontros familiares, momentos felizes e sorrisos sinceros. E ainda mais amor, porque sempre tem mais espaço nos nossos corações.

Categories: Babies, Being a mummy, Energy, Friendship, Happiness, Living away from home, Love matters, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evolve with me

I don’t know what is going on, but I just feel full of love lately… I just can’t stop writing about the damn thing! It might have something to do with the fact that I’m going home all the way to Brazil next week and I just feel so nostalgic. I’m going for my mum and step dad’s 25th wedding anniversary and I can’t wait to give them a big hug!

My auntie and uncle have also recently celebrated their wedding anniversary (their 50th!) and all these celebrations have made me reflect about couples, life as a couple, choosing the right person, and deciding to stay with that person. I found myself asking the question: what is it that makes people want to stay together? I mean, sometimes it seems as though the whole universe is conspiring to show us why we shouldn’t be with someone. Sometimes, so many challenges are put in our way that we think that we are missing a trick by not just letting go. But then, despite it all, we insist, because we believe that somehow that is meant to be. And why is that? In a world of instant relationships, where giving up is all so easy, why some of us still persevere and try to overcome bad times to stay with someone?

I guess it all comes down to the roots of said love, the reasons that brought the couple together in the first place. It could be the way she talks, it could be the way he is always so thoughtful, her clumsy ways or his talents as a chef. Or it could be none of these or all of them together. The thing is, somehow, somewhere right there in the beginning, a ‘ping’ moment happened, that moment when you realise that ‘Yep, that’s the person for me and I shall stop looking around for anybody else’. Bingo!

This choice, when made, usually means that you sort of become more adaptable to the traits of that person. You know them well, their annoying bits and their best bits, and you learn how to endure the abrupt way they can respond to you when they are in a rush, her annoying habit of asking silly questions when watching movies, the complete disregard he has for the laundry basket, the way she needs to be so controlling. These – and many other characteristics and behaviours – become just part of that person, part of the partner you chose.

Nowadays, when relationships go wrong, people can too often just discard them. Far too many times, they blame the work that is involved to keep a happy relationship. Well, of course there’ll be work involved. Even though we have been made to ‘mate’, we are very much individual human beings, with all our quirky traits and odd behaviours. So to think that joining two people, even if they are attracted to each other, is as easy as joining two pieces of magnet, think again. Some adaptation is required, and not only just the once. On an ongoing basis. Oh yes…

growing together

So, if it’s so much work, why do we still do it? The way I think of it is because the pros outweigh the cons. A little adaptation, a little understanding, a bit of accommodating and patience are not that much, when you get great company, fantastic laughs, affection in abundance and someone that genuinely cares about you in return. There is something about that person that makes it ok for you to wake up a bit earlier than them to make them coffee. There is something special that makes you not mind having to put up with their messiness, their ‘leave me alone’ moments and their obsession with never ever , God forbid, using a fork to scrape a pan. The same way that they put up with your fear of motorways, your useless ways in the kitchen and the way you like to change the furniture around all the time. It’s a very balanced but unspoken trade.

There is a song that kind of describes what I’m talking about. You will know it. It’s that one that goes… “Nobody knows it, but you’ve got a secret smile, and you use it only for me…” I think this song says a lot about couples staying together. To me, it represents that underlying understanding that is always there somehow and pushes you through limits but always makes you stronger. You see something special in someone because what is special about them is somehow highlighted to you in a way that others can’t see. These understanding looks, smiles and gestures keep that connection, keeps them protected. If these are treasured and the two of you manage to keep them intact, then you will be just fine.

Couples that persevere are brave. I heard someone say the other day that they are kind of embarrassed to mention that they have been happily married for over 20 years. People just look at them incredulous, doubting that that could ever be true. Why not? It’s a great thing to find someone for whom you are willing to adapt yourself, so you can grow stronger together. If that person is happy to do the same for you, even better (or lucky, shall we say?). And when a couple is willing to evolve together for an amazing length of time, like my auntie and uncle, and my mum and stepdad, then only one thing can describe that: true love.

Categories: Brazil, Friendship, Happiness, Love matters, Personality traits, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love someone? Tell them so.

I used to think that saying ‘I love you’ all the time was a bit of an exaggeration. Whenever I heard couples on the phone saying ‘Bye, love you’, I used to think: ‘Why do they have to say that all the time?’ I use to think that the more you said ‘I love you’, the less meaning the words had. A bit like saying ‘Are you alright?’ when you meet someone on the street. It doesn’t mean much, does it? It’s just part of the greeting process.

I don’t know what has changed, but I now think in a totally different way. And the process didn’t go like: ‘Ok, from now on, I’ll say ‘I love you’ every morning when we go separate ways to work, in every text message or call and every night before we go to sleep (with some added ones when we cuddle and the words appear out of nowhere again)’. No, none of this was planned.

One day, I just realised that one day didn’t go by when I didn’t say ‘I love you’ to my partner. I mean, I have had other relationships before and this didn’t happen, so it does bear the question: what has changed? Yes, you thought right. I guess when it feels right, the words just come out without you thinking too much. And yes, I do think I have loved before, but I don’t think it was a love strong enough to say the words every day, if that makes sense.

It doesn’t happen just with couples, though, does it? I, for one, can’t hang up when I talk to my dad before saying ‘I love you’ first. Or to my grandma, or my mum, or my sister. I mean, the people that are very very close to your heart make you just want to say it, because you want them to know exactly how you feel.

When you think about the meaning of the words ‘I love you’, what comes to mind? To me, it means: ‘I’ll be there for you always and I appreciate you in my life, just the way you are’. I think this covers it. But some kids have their own translation of the words, and each and every one makes perfect sense. They show that you don’t necessarily have to say the words to show someone how much you love them.

Here’s what the kids said… (these are from a study where professionals asked kids aged 4 – 8 years-old the question ‘What does love mean?’). Some are quite funny, but they are all so honest…

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca- age 8  

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5  

i_love_you_fingers

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” Chrissy – age 6

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4  

“Love is when my mommy   makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to   make sure the taste is OK.” Danny – age 7  

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” Emily – age 8  

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine-age 5  

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” Mary Ann – age 4  

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen – age 7  

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” Jessica – age 8 

And the above is exactly the point of this post. People need to know how we feel. It’s so good to know how other people feel about us, so why do we sometimes hold back? Saying ‘I love you’, in whatever way it comes, is the most selfless thing you can say to someone. Yes, it makes you vulnerable. Yes, it means you wear your heart on your sleeve. But then again, if you don’t let feelings take over often enough, what is the point in living?

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Going the distance

I live in a building with only 8 flats. All the other residents are older than Lee and myself. And when I say older I mean at least 50 years older. They are all lovely people, with their own grumpy and quirky traits.

The couple that live above us is definitely in their 70s and, because this is a very old building, I can hear a little about their daily lives from our flat (I know, a bit annoying, but I try to make the best of it). For example, I already know that they go to bed no later than 12:30 am, I know how loud the man can yawn when he is on the balcony, I know a couple of programmes they like to watch on telly (although I can hardly hear it, really) but, most of all, I know the type of music they like. And this is because every Sunday, without fail, they will listen to music for a couple of hours in the afternoon. They listen to Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles,  Miles Davis, The Beatles, The Supremes, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash … these are some of the ones I recognise (and I have to say I’m not exactly an expert). In my opinion, they have fabulous taste.

Every time they listen to music like that, I can’t help but imagine how stable and settled they are in life. Ok, they are old and they have known each other for a long time, but there is something very endearing about a long-term relationship. I imagine them listening to these songs and looking at each other with puppy-dog eyes, remembering old times, and maybe even dancing slowly in the living room. They certainly have the energy for that, as I see them out and about all the time.

Aged-couple-in-love-19

Long-term relationships are a blessing. It’s almost a miracle that 2 people can meet each other in this big wide world and manage to be there for each other throughout their lives. It’s a choice. It’s knowing that that person will be there for you no matter what and that you will be there for them too. I think that there are secrets to the long duration of relationships. These are things that we don’t do consciously, we just do them, as long as we feel that it’s still worthy for us to have that person by our side.  To me, these things are:

1. Accepting your partner for who they are.

My mum once told me that people don’t change (simple but very wise words). Yes, you may change your views on things, change dreams or change your hair style, etc. But your core, what you truly are, will never change. So, if your partner has traits that you can’t live with, don’t expect that these will change with time or that you can make them change these for you. They won’t. You either learn to live with these little things or you better let go. But remember: you also have little things that your partner may not love, so give and take is paramount.

2. Accompanying your partner through their many phases.

Your partner will go through different phases in life, and you will too. Being there for each other during these times is what makes a relationship strong. We change work, we change interests, we change rhythm, we change tastes. And these changes make us see the world in a different light each time. As a couple, being able to understand and accept these constant transformations in the other person will make you the one constant thing in their lives. And having that one trustworthy person to fall back on again and again is priceless. It makes us feel grounded, secure and loved, no matter what life throws at us.

3. Sometimes giving more, sometimes giving less.

You will sometimes feel that you love your partner so much you could burst. But, in equal strength, you may find that for periods of time, you are just coasting along and going through the motions. I see this as a normal thing. You can’t have that ‘can’t live without each other’ feeling all the time. It’s exhausting! But you should feel that often enough so you always value how important that person is in your life and how much sadness you’d feel if you lost them. To me, love comes in waves of intensity, sometimes they are very high up, sometimes quite low, but somehow always there in some shape or form.

4. Making time for me, me, me.

Have an interest in yourself. You can’t just live for the other person. Cultivate your own interests, give yourself time to appreciate the things you love, even if you don’t share them with your partner. You can’t lose your own identity, as this is what attracted your partner to you in the first place. Also, looking after yourself, having your hobbies and appreciating your own company will make you a better and more interesting person.

5. Understanding that love is subtle.

Grand gestures? Yes, they can be nice. But nothing, to me, is nicer than a cup of coffee made without request at the right time, a ‘how was your day?’ just when you are bursting to tell someone about the supplier that let you down, a ‘come on, let’s go out’ right when you were just starting to wonder what to do on this grey day… Love is in the little things. It’s in the intrinsic way your partner knows you so well and how they make your every day more special for doing so.

oldloveblackandwhitecompositionphotographycoupleholdinghands-49e5a1f6286aa70ec027f94976b64d5a_h_large

Long-term love is for the courageous. The longer you spend with someone, the more the barrier we usually have to protect ourselves from others comes down. So, the same way as with my neighbours, in many years’ time there will be no barrier at all, as you will know the other person almost as well as you know yourself. And this knowledge of the other, this willingness to share yourself with someone is true love. It’s love that gives you butterflies in your stomach, it’s love that goes through ups and downs, it’s love that goes the distance, with dancing in the living room and all.

Categories: Friendship, Happiness, Love matters, Personality traits, Relationships, The Good Life | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Online happiness

The other day, I had a chat with a friend about mentioning on Facebook when things are not going so well in our lives. It seems as though people are quick to update their status with happy photos, lovely travelling and holiday news, children, friends, funny situations they go through or fun things that they do in their daily lives. We all want the world to know how happy we are.

Why is that? Is it because we don’t want to burden people with our troubles? Is it because Facebook is supposed to be a platform to share happy things and happy things only? Is it because we all just want to show off and tell the whole wide world how happy and perfect and fun our lives are? Or is it because we just don’t like talking about what isn’t going so well?

It’s easy to post a happy picture, to share with others that we are visiting a nice place or to broadcast that we are having the time of our lives. Not so easy to disclose things that make us sad, such as ilnesses, scares, break ups or arguments.

I’m just as guilty as the next person (just hours earlier I posted a happy picture of me and my boyfriend walking in a beautiful park). I only really infect the online world with my happiness (or the occasional little moaning session). But why is that? Why don’t we give the happy and the unhappy equal importance online?

The ones close to us, the really close ones, will know all about our ups and downs. But there is something about sharing sad news with your school friend from 20 years ago, the same one we haven’t spoken to in 20 years, but is still a Facebook friend. It’s almost like we give them the right to witness our happiness, but not the right to share our difficulties. Even if we do post something not to be celebrated as a happy moment as such, there isn’t even an ‘unlike’ button right there for us to commiserate with our so called ‘friends’. In other words, Facebook doesn’t really encourage us to share bad news, only what’s ‘likeable’ matters.

It appears that sad things are far too close to home to be on the internet. We somehow and for some reason have been conditioned to show our brighter side, our fabulous news and our fantastic lives online, but does that glittering profile represent real life? When did we begin to lose touch with our own realities? Possibly when we began to convince ourselves that everything is ok, as long as we’ve posted that photo of us smiling wide.

A recent study said that a person is only truly 100% authentic when no one is observing them. However, nowadays we seem to need to have our actions examined and interpreted so we can believe that what we do (whatever that is) is important. We need validation, we need to be recognised, we need approval. Would it be right to say, then, that the reason why we don’t share bad news or sad aspects of our lives on Facebook is because we don’t like to shout about what we do wrong? It makes sense, doesn’t it? Who likes to tell everyone that they were told off at work, had an argument with their brother, got into debt or were truly mean to a friend? Yeah, thought so. This kind of ‘update’ would perhaps say much more about ourselves than a happy smiley picture. That kind of sharing provoques many more questions about our lives than the usual ‘ah, she is doing well’ reaction that a happy picture does.

If we look back to the time when we were kids, we were also after approval. We wanted to be loved by our families, and a ‘well done’, a smile or even just an approving nod went a long way. That made us carry on. I suppose nothing has changed, then. On Facebook, we want the same, which comes in the form of likes, comments and shares.

I’m not saying that Facebook is bad. I like it myself. I live very far from my home country and I take full advantage of it to keep in touch with the people I love on the other side of the Atlantic. However, we must establish a healthy limit, so we are not living our lives though it and depending on it to feel worthy.

I’ll still keep the sad and the miserable news out of Facebook, though. It works for me and I guess the most important thing is for people to be comfortable with what they share. For me, for example, saying something personal and not very ‘happy’ on Facebook feels like I’m exposing myself. I’m giving too much away. I’m trespassing the main boundary when it comes to sharing information: intimacy.

I guess that the main issue with Facebook, no matter if we share happy or sad news, is that it can cause heartache. For the ones that like to compare themselves with other people (and we all do that to some degree), it can become very tiring and very frustrating to realise that there is always someone happier, always someone with a wider smile, going to a nicer place, fully enjoying the Saturday night that you are spending on the sofa eating ice cream. It’s just as Montesquieu said: “If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.”

Categories: Facebook, Friendship, Happiness, Personality traits, Relationships | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Living together

About two weeks ago it completed one year of Lee and I living together, just the two of us in the same house. And what fun have we had so far.

Yes, some adaptation was required and yes, some compromises had to be made by the two of us, but hey, we survived, and coming home to him is one of the best parts of my day. I was married before, so the concept of living together was not a surprise, but people are different, so the experience was completely different again, naturally. I think I developed a little set of rules to make sure we are enjoying the best about sharing the same roof, and not engaging in stupid little bickering about small stuff that really isn’t that important.

So, below are our little rules. It’s worth pointing out that none of them were decided beforehand, they were created with time and adaptations, leaving things to fall into place naturally. I guess that they shouldn’t even be called rules, they should just be called  ‘a gentleman and a lady’s unspoken agreement’… ha!

1. How much stuff have you got?

This was the first thing he brought up, with surprise. When we moved in, it became very clear that my stuff needed a lot more room than his stuff. Oh dear. It was hard to justify the need I had to keep all I had. My reasoning was that I had already done a car boot sale and also given to charity a lot of the things that I didn’t need anymore, so what entered the flat HAD to stay. I was adamant that I would definitely need all that paperwork from 10 years ago, all the clothes that I hadn’t worn in ages and all the shoes that are kept neatly in drawers whilst I always wear my trusted pair of flats. He had to just put up with this. If I hadn’t given away so much beforehand, he would have a point, but I had already gone through that exercise and just couldn’t make myself do it twice in a space of 3 months. Oh, no no no! This, of course, ended up with me having 2 wardrobes against his one and muuuch more cupboard space. The delights of living with a woman, I say.

2. My space, your space

This one we quickly figured out. Lee and I love being together and spending time together, but we absolutely love our own space. We need it. So, quite quickly, it was established (again, without words, this just happened), that his ‘cave’ would be the spare room, whilst mine would be the front room. We didn’t initially intend for this to happen, as when we moved in we put my desk and his desk in the spare room. However, I found myself in the front room the entire time, so it made sense to move my desk there. This way, my ‘office’ is in the living room and his is in the back room. I never complained, because I ended up with a sea view. Cunning move.

3. He cooks, I wash

I’m a terrible cook. Well, I can cook to survive and I do it sometimes, but when you live with someone who does it 1000 times better than you, there is no reason why they shouldn’t take on the task. Lee is a lot more adventurous than me in the kitchen. He buys new spices, he tries different things, he has a good palate and the best thing is that I like his food. So, our unspoken agreement in the kitchen area is that he cooks and I wash the dishes. (I think  I got the best end of the bargain here!)

4. Let me do the cleaning

I’m an extremely organised person. I like to keep paperwork organised, I like to have clean and clutter-free surfaces and I hate piles of stuff that have no place to go – this doesn’t happen in my home. Lee, on the other hand, is more of a laid back type and doesn’t care if the place is messy. My ask on this one is that he just let me do it. Just let me get on with it and be my own tidy self and also tidy him up. I mean, he can easily lie down and watch a movie with lots of stuff out of place in the living room, whilst I can’t. I can only relax when there is no mess around. I’m not saying I’m pedantic, but I’m uncomfortable in an untidy place and, in a situation like that, I can’t think of anything else but getting up and… tidying it all up. Pronto.

5. I do laundry, you take the rubbish out

I enjoy separating the clothes, washing the clothes, hanging them to dry, folding them nicely and putting them away, making sure our wardrobes are always tidy (ish – ok, I’m not that much of a freak!). I refuse to do any ironing, so it’s paramount that the clothes are hung properly and, although I tried leaving the task to Lee a few times, sadly he just doesn’t seem capable enough – the same way it works with me and cooking, I suppose, so each to their own, eh? Lee retributes the favour by taking out the rubbish.

6. My food, your food

Unfortunately, Lee and I have a few very different tastes in food. For example, he hates fish – apart from tuna – and I like fish a lot. I love vegetables and he couldn’t care less about them. So, we decided that during the week, we cook our own dinners, so I can have my fish and he can have whatever he wants. Then, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, he is my personal chef and we eat stuff we both like. Yummy arrangement.

7. Leave me alone

I think I wouldn’t be able to live with someone near me the whole time. I like to be alone. I like my own company. I like being in complete silence sometimes, just me and a book. I like to watch movies on my own, I like to write and I like to re-organise drawers – haha, I AM sad! Lee also enjoys his quiet moments by himself and this mutual respect is amazing. We don’t need to be glued to each other and the fact that we both feel the same way is pure luck.

8. You shall not become cave people

There is a balance between spending time apart and isolating yourself. Instinctively, I think Lee and I know what this time is before we become two strangers! You can’t just indulge in constant isolation and expect your partner to be there for you, just waiting with open arms. The time apart is to do your own thing. But the time together should follow suit and be constant.

9. My way, my way!

I think one of the biggest lessons of living together is to realise that things will not always be your way. I’m a strong-willed person and I can fight to prove a point to great extent, but living together is not always about that. Sometimes, to keep peace, it’s just easier to let go. So what if he forgets his towel on the bed sometimes? So what if he empties the dishwasher but leaves practically all the cupboard doors open afterwards? So what if he never closes a drawer completely (arghhhh!)? I suppose this small stuff is exactly that: small and not worthy of an argument.

10. The enjoyment of two

Living together is a mixture of many things. You get angry, you get frustrated, you feel selfish, you feel like you are getting/giving more than you are giving/getting sometimes. But then you watch movies together, you cook together, you get and give lots of hugs and cuddles and kisses and you have that person to talk to all the time and that’s great. Living together with your partner is like living with your best friend. It’s a huge step, because it’ll tell you black and white if you are compatible for the long run. A rule of thumb to make the decision, I guess, is this: you should only live with someone if you can’t live without them.

Oh, and also on the subject, I recently saw this advert and absolutely loved it! It’s an Ikea one about… erm, living together! Just click here to watch.

Categories: Home, Living together, Relationships, Rules | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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