Living Brave :: 3 Weeks In

As I mentioned in my post on COURAGEworks, I’m currently in the middle of a course on vulnerability, created by the wonderful Brené Brown.

You may not be as into self-helpy stuff as I am, but if you are at all interested, do read on. I’m usually turned off by things that claim to have the secret to ‘changing your life’ or ‘unlock wealth’, but I am very pleased to report that this course promises neither.

This class is about “being brave, and showing up in our own lives”. It’s about recognising that vulnerability is the root of all human connection, creativity and joy in our  lives. It’s crazy when you think about it.

I’ve always been an open person, in fact I think this blog is testament to that fact. There ain’t much I ain’t willing to share, to be honest, but something that’s rung true for me in the last lesson or so, is that being such an open book isn’t always being wholehearted and vulnerable. I’m learning so far to think whether the people have earned the right to hear my story, and what is my intention in sharing parts of myself.  Maybe it’s time to hold back a little.

This certainly isn’t a way of saying I’m no longer posting here – in fact it’s the opposite. There’s nothing here that I’m embarrassed about or wouldn’t want people to see. But in my personal and professional lives, I’m going to *try* and remember the truth of being wholehearted and vulnerable, and live those values as best I can.

So, in short, the course is great. It’s thrown up a few questions for me that I haven’t yet answered, and that is exactly what I hoped it would do!

 

The Seaplane Works :: Rochester

This weekend contained one of the best Saturdays I’ve had in a while. I achieved approximately nothing, but I got to hang out with my guy, pottered about and then even squeezed in a mid afternoon nap! The stuff of legends.

A particular high point was the half-hour or so that I spent sipping a rich hot chocolate in The Seaplane Works, the latest addition to Rochester’s burgeoning hipster coffee scene, courtesy of the renowned artist Billy Childish. It didn’t disappoint.

HSGS at The Seaplane Works 1 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

HSGS at The Seaplane Works 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I think it’s testament to the quality of the hot chocolate that the only picture I have is of the bottom of the cup!

HSGS at The Seaplane Works 3 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The café has a small but perfectly formed menu, with a focus on no-grain whole foods. I haven’t actually eaten here yet, but a couple of my friends are positively evangelical about the salads.

They have a minimal online presence at the moment, but the Seaplane Works Facebook page states that they cater to paleo and vegan diets. I am neither, but still found a couple of items on the menu that piqued my interest, for sure.

HSGS at The Seaplane Works 4 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The hot chocolate itself was perfectly sweet without being sickly, had a creamy consistency and most importantly, was hot! I can’t stand it when hot chocolates are tepid, because you end up finished about 3 years before your partner. It’s a hard life.

HSGS at The Seaplane Works 5 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

While it was quiet when we first entered, the atmosphere soon picked up and before too long the place was happily bustling. The café itself has got a great modern London-ish feel to it, which I think is exactly what Rochester needs.

It could, in my humble opinion, do with a little more paraphernalia or artwork on the walls, but all in all, it’s a wonderful addition to our High Street and I urge you to go, forthwith!

Our House :: The Facelift Part Deux

I’d always disliked our front door, which was solid and well made, but was peeling and a shape I had never really warmed to. Once the front of the house was painted, we left the door as we had planned to replace it after finding a lovely Victorian replacement on eBay.

Our doorway is very narrow, so it took quite a bit of looking to find one the right size (and price! I was shockingly naive to the price of front doors!), in the end costing us just under £200.

Hello House Door 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

It was a beautiful shape but needed the letterbox widening and reglazing and to be perfectly frank, I never quite got around to doing it! To this day the new door remains comfortably in our shed. I did, however, get fed up looking at the crappy front door when compared to our lovely newly painted facade, and one evening took to it with some sandpaper and a small tin of Dulux Weathershield Exterior paint in Sage Green.

The paint has worn extremely well, although my one regret is that I sanded by hand, rather than with a power sander. As a result the finish is less than perfect, but as I wasn’t sure if we were still going to keep the door at the time, it’s something I can live with.

Hello House Door - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

We replaced our chrome letterbox and door fittings with brass. Mr H painstaking stalked eBay for an A4 width brass letterbox, and a lovely conical door handle, which to this day I adore, even as it wears a lovely patina. A small hook for our Christmas wreath, and we were set.

A side by side comparison. I have to admit the house doesn’t look quite so bad in the first, but that is the bright spring sunshine compared with the duller days of later in the year. I’m sure you’ll appreciate, as I do, that the same car is parked in both!

We live on a very narrow street, and so it’s virtually impossible to get a whole shot of the house with no car in front. C’est la vie – that’s what you get for living centrally.

We still have a huge amount to do in our house, this being just a short list of what remains:

  • Decorate the entry hall
  • Skim and decorate the study, guest room and master bedroom
  • Replace the old and creaking radiators in the bedrooms
  • Carpet the staircases and hallway
  • Fit out and under-stair linen cupboard
  • Knock down and rebuild our lean-to into a laundry/utility room and downstairs loo.

That last bullet point is tacked on the end but is in fact our main bugbear. Our lean-to currently houses our washing machine and dishwasher, but has no fitted lights or heating and a bare concrete floor. It’s also built onto next door’s wall on one side, so isn’t actually a fully built space! There is a plumbed in toilet however, which does work and houses our boiler, although it is now home to all of our junk which we haven’t yet taken out to the shed. Sigh.

Now that the Year of Madness that was 2015 is over, we’re planning to scale back on our travel and plough money into the house, so we can get it finished and actually enjoy living here fully before we consider having a family.

As a rule I enjoy home renovations, although I’ve started to tire of not having a ‘finished’ house, but hey, are they really ever  finished? With the wedding out of the way and no immediate large purchases in our immediate future, we’ve now got more disposable income to throw into the house.

One large change that has come about from both having demanding full time jobs is that we’ve made a conscious decision to do less of the work ourselves. We are by no means strangers to a spot of DIY but these days we simply do not have the time.

I’ll post shortly about the work in our narrow hallway, hopefully with some ‘after’ photos, rather than the perpetual ‘before’ shots that hand around too long! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and would love to hear about any of the projects you’re in the midst of or have planned at your places!

Our House Update: The Facelift

In the first part of last year, our house looked a little something like this. A typical-for-the-area Victorian terrace with some rather delightful pebble dash.

Hello House Before 5 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha
A house, a home, a splendid and terrifying money pit.

Hello House Wall 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Hello House Wall 1 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Hello House Before 4 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha
Never enjoyed a bit of new wall more.

In fact before these photo the front wall was also very cracked and split. As we inched closer to our wedding, we decided to go on a bit of a reno spree and try and spruce the place up for our guests.

Neither Mr Hello nor I had been particular fans of the pebble dash, and briefly flirted with the idea of having it all taken off to expose the brick.  We swiftly decided against it in the end not just because of the cost, which we we might have borne had this been our ‘forever’ home, but also because pebble dash was often applied in past for a reason, covering a multitude of brickwork sins which I am and remain quite happily oblivious to, having got a whiff of them when our wall was re-rendered. Rendering the lot was also out because of the cost, and we were both quite happy with the aesthetics of other painted pebble dash houses in our area. So painting it was!

My time in Australia was quite useful for research purposes – quite strangely when you think about it, considering there aren’t exactly a multitude of Victorian houses in Perth. Although my family’s area is an older, established suburb so perhaps it’s not quite so odd. I often walked past this house and surreptitiously snapped this iPhone shot one evening:

Hello House Inspiration 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Quite the traditional look for an Australian house, but the colours were creamy, bright and inviting.

I also spotted this terrace while on a quick jaunt to Sydney:

Hello House Inspiration 1 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Not a great shot, granted, but what’s a girl to do when she’s trying out her incognito photography skills? The common denominator with both is a darker base colour with light highlights, something that I thought would work really well with our house.

Hello House Before 3 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Hello House During - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

In the end we went for kind of a mixture of the two colours, a standard masonry paint from Wickes called ‘Sandstone’, a colour I would really describe as ‘greige’, most accurately shown in the middle photo above. Our highlight colour was ‘Buttermilk’ from the same range.

I can’t pretend that this was as a result of hours of research, I simply had the colours I wanted more or less in my head, and we have a Wickes quite close by to us and that was that. We did get the feedback that the Buttermilk was a bit of a pig to paint with, as it was quite thin and took several coats. However, it definitely came up trumps and I am so pleased with the final outcome.  I am particularly happy with my decision to have the guttering painted, it doesn’t seem to be a common thing to do, but I really feel it brightened the overall look of the house and made it feel really fresh.

Hello House Before 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

In the months since we’ve had the house painted, it has all held up extremely well. We have, however, noticed very fine cracks in the paint appearing between the pebbles, but this seems to be a result of the paint shrinking as it dries, exacerbated by the fact that there is no paint beneath it. If we need to tidy up the paint in a few years I doubt this would reoccur, and it’s not something that bothers me.

I genuinely still get a thrill each time I come home and realise how smart our house looks, particularly since we tarted up our front door. I’ll talk more about that in the coming days, and update you more about the work we’re planning to do.

Until then, pals, adieu!

This Week I am Grateful For #7 – My Husband

I recently realised my Gratitude series has been left fallow for far too long, and thought it was high time to reinstate it.

January Gratitude - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

At the risk of totally embarrassing Mr Hello, (who is incidentally a rather private person), this week I am getting all emotional and publicly stating how chuffing grateful I am for him.

We’ll have been married for 6 months in a couple of weeks (the photo is from our first day on honeymoon in Warsaw), and in the true style of our relationship, have lived each of those months leaping from one point of high stress to another. It’s amazing how much you can bear when you know that someone has your back.

He’s gone and left me on my own this week (work), and therefore is not around to tell me to pull myself together – so I’ll do what I damn well want and take this moment to say: Thank You J.

January Joy: Try Something New

Courage Works 2016 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samanth
Image via courageworks.com

I didn’t make any 2016 Resolutions as such, but instead I focussed on 3 feelings I wanted to foster in my life this year. These were:

  • Calm
  • Organised
  • Prosperous

Coinciding with the inspiration to focus on these elements in my life, I got a wonderful Christmas present from my Mum – the Living Brave Semester, the first e-course from Brené Brown‘s COURAGEworks programme.

Focussing on two of her books, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, the  12 week programme ‘provides participants with the opportunity to explore what it really means to fully show up in [their] lives – to be brave, lean into vulnerability, and to rumble with the challenges that come with living a daring life’.

Now, does that sound like my cup of tea or does that sounds like my freaking cup of tea? (It does).

I’m not going to lie, it’s a big commitment of time in a period of my career where I have less time to myself than ever before, but knowing what I know about Brené Brown, and knowing what I know about giving time to the things that are important to you, it feels like it’s manageable. I’m damn well looking forward to it.

The first lesson starts tomorrow morning my time, and so I’ll spend this evening catching up on my pre-lesson reading (seems I am still working on the feeling of ‘organised’ in 2016….it’s only January!).

I’ll try and report back on how it’s going over the 12 weeks, and if you’re interested, I really do recommend you give it a look!

Dryathlon 2016 – 1 Woman, 30 Days, 0 Drinks

Yes, it’s true pals, I’m doing it. During what was a rather spectacular festive blow-out, I seemed to see adverts for the 2016 Dryathlon everywhere. It was the universe making itself known to me – it was time to get my social drinking in hand, hopefully shed some kgs and do a good deed in the meantime.

Sam's Doing Dryathlon 2016 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

A few days after signing up, a friend of ours revealed some terrible news – her partner has cancer and the prognosis isn’t looking good. It’s brought a whole new level of meaning to the Dry January challenge, and if the meagre funds I manage to raise have any hand in preventing one more family from going through the hell of a Cancer diagnosis, then 30 days is the least I can do.

So far? So good. Three days in and I haven’t yet been tempted, although I don’t return to work until tomorrow, and one never knows what’s around the corner! As a rule I don’t drink during the week, unless I’ve got an event, but I have to admit that I am probably a binge drinker on the weekends, polishing off a bottle or two on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Wine? Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Says Yes

Drinkaware states that binge drinking is drinking more than 8 units of alcohol for men (about 3 pints of strong beer), and 6 for women (only 2 large glasses of wine!!!), in one sitting. Needless to say I could probably drink all of that in one night if I’m in the right mood.

It’s not been good for my waistline, as the wine makes me hungry and even a slight hangover even more so! It hasn’t been great for my productivity either – in my job I regularly have to do a couple of hours work each weekend, and it seems like such a drudgery when I’m tired, and snuggling down on the sofa seems like a necessity.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been merrily beavering away at my planning this weekend, and secretly I’ve actually quite enjoyed myself. Going back to work tomorrow doesn’t seem nearly as depressing when I’m organised, and I really do feel like being alcohol-free this weekend has played a part in that.

Having said all this, if you could be compelled to part with any of your hard-earned dosh this month, I would be forever grateful if you’d consider sponsoring me.

Although it’s been smooth sailing so far, I fully expect the first weekend back at work to be a major challenge! I’ll be sure to check in here and let you all see me in my misery!

Baby It’s Cold Outside…

Baby Its Cold Outside - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I dread to say it, but I think perhaps the Winter Kentish folks have so far been avoiding has begun – the crisps mornings we’ve come to expect this year have turned to relentless drizzle and biting cold.

This time of year is notoriously difficult, with dark mornings and dark evenings the motivation to do anything other than curl up (like my darling cat Margot above) and sleep is non-existent.

The Hello Household has been magically transformed – while our house has always leant towards the dark side, the appearance of several more snuggly throws has elevated it into maximum cosy den status.

A recent trip to TK Maxx resulted in the accidental purchase of a new, Orla Kiely duvet cover for our bedroom, and in one fell swoop, the chances of me getting out of bed, let alone leaving the house, have plummeted. I can’t say I’m sad about it. I’m currently on school holidays, and the compulsion to eat, sleep, repeat has been incredibly good for me.

orla-kiely-bedding-wallflower-yellow
Image: orlakiely.com

But all things come to an end, and on Monday I have to go back to the real world and start bringing home some bacon once again. I can’t say I’m too sorry about it though, as one thing I did  achieve in these dark days was to get my driving license! After 10 years of being hassled about it, I can finally drive! WOOT. A car will join our little family in the next two weeks.

Before I start jetting around, looking swaggy in my new wheels, I’m going to spend just one or two more nights, curled up on the sofa under a blanket, with a cuppa, my husband and my two cats.