Updated: Feb 12
I turn 50 this year...
I took a break from writing here recently, I just didn't feel that I had anything to say, or that anyone would want to read and as you will discover I was putting myself back together.
This blog is still all about my https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/i-have-a-plan and how I intend to get there. I just like to drop in the odd aside, as investments as described here https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/the-financials is pretty boring and slow.
If you are new to me and my blog, start at the bottom, with the linked post above and work upwards, that is the best way to read it.
I think it is fair to say that the last two years have been challenging... actually that seems too weak a word, so lets be honest it has been a shit-show and not just because of the pandemic that spread around the world.
In 2020 we still had Trump to deal with and watch in astonishment at the things he was saying and encouraging. Bleach injection anyone?
In the UK we had Brexit and now it seems we are dealing with so much sleaze within our government that I almost miss Trump!
Wait, back up Paul, you are not one for politics and this is normally a light-hearted blog, although you have written some tough read posts https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/_1986 .
And when did you start referring to yourself in the third person? You hate that in people... get a grip man!
Now you are talking to yourself, it gets worse...
Reminds me of that routine by the Australian comedian Carl Barron.
In 2020 I had a plan, not this plan, but as I describe in https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/the-van-months I intended to quit the rat race and go travelling and, as you will read, or may have read, Corona pretty much screwed that up and I lived on a carpark in my van for 6 months.
I wont ruin the read, but lets say it involved a lot of walking and a lot of mountain biking in glorious sunshine in my stunning home town of Shrewsbury, what's not to like?
2020 was pretty cool, even with the lockdowns and not being able to get a haircut.
I think we, and I am generalising with that we as I am more than aware that each and everyone had a different experience, found it almost novel and took to the changes quite well.
Life had changed, nobody was in a rush anymore, people got out walking, discovering places they didn't know were on their doorstep, the roads were quiet and I am sure you all saw the news reports about rivers clearing due to a lack of pollutants, animals taking over town centres etc.
Yeah, I think it is fair to say 2020 was pretty good for me.
2021, well am I ever glad to see the back of a year!
I have never been in a rush to get to 2022, as I say at the beginning I turn 50 this year, something I will explore in a separate blog, but saying goodbye to 2021 was amazing and so very welcome. I have never been one for the 'new year, new me' or resolutions bollox when a year changes, my fitness and eating regimes vary by my mood, meaning I am normally fat over fit... I prefer to live by seasons, in spring and summer I am alive, I adore the sun, I wake with the sunrise and embrace the long days and the warmth.
In winter, I am a grumpy sod, no getting around it, I despise it, the short days and the cold can all do one as far as I am concerned.
If my numbers ever came up on the lottery, I am confident I would never see a winter again.
I would move from hemisphere to hemisphere following the sun. Hence my intention to move abroad eventually.
Now all I need to do is start playing the lottery...
At the start of 2021 I left my job of nearly three years for a much better paid role at a firm I had worked at before, I am in insurance, it is a very incestuous industry.
I moved back from Kent to Shrewsbury into a lovely flat in the town centre close to The Quarry and the River Severn, I had disposable income, I was back in my adopted home town near my mates, whom I explain about here https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/the-pink-crocs and spring was on its way, it was shaping up to be a good year.
We were still in partial and varying degrees of lockdown and I hadn't had a haircut for months, to the point that I wouldn't have been surprised if officers from Operation Yewtree knocked on my door, poor taste I know, but you get the idea, I was not looking my best.
The year went on and there were talks of vaccine roll outs and a lifting of the rules as well as travel restrictions being lifted, there was a glimmer of light at the end of what had felt like a bloody long tunnel of restrictions and changes.
Excellent, lets get out there and see the world again. Well, reader for a number of reasons 2021 did not pan out as I hoped.
The new job was shit, I mean really shit, it had been shit the last time I worked there and I raised these concerns during the interview/negotiation stage and was assured that all of the issues previous had been addressed and things were much better now.
They really weren't, the lying bastards! ha ha.
I met an amazing lady in late spring and I touch on that relationship here, https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/dating-apps, but it didn't work out and I took that quite hard.
As a result of the above I found myself drinking way too much, I mean silly amounts, easily two bottles of wine a night, all week,
I wasn't putting any effort into work, I was sleeping during the day and I was spiralling downwards, drastically.
For around 18 months prior to the summer of 2021 I had been in talks with a large bunch of Army mates and we were planning a reunion.
Covid hit the original plans, but we pinned it down to September 2021 and to meet in Rotherham, there were going to be over 30 of us meeting up across the weekend and some of them I had not seen in over 25 years. Awesome, I could not wait.
I panicked about ten days before the weekend, I backed out and made an excuse that I just couldn't make the date.
In truth, I was so down that I just could not envisage leaving the house, let alone being in a large group.
In the end, after some Malbec flavoured bravery juice, I confessed about my mental health battles to the group and of course they all rallied around, sent me amazing messages of support and understanding and made sure I went to the reunion.
One actually picked me up on his way up from Devon and he said if I wasn't ready when he arrived, he would kick my door down, pack my bag and drag me there.
I believed him, because in 1991 he had kicked a door open and into my head in the barracks in Iserlohn...
Thank you Dave C, you are a true friend and thank you to the best bunch of buggers from 5 Field Squadron RE, you turned my world around, yet again, and you will be my brothers for life.
It was the best weekend, truly epic and very drunken, that goes without saying.
Also around this time my old job got in touch and in a nutshell admitted that they wanted me back and would I be interested?
Damn right I was interested, I played it cool of course, but inside I was doing back flips with joy, more light at the end of the tunnel!
My brother calls me the 'strongest person he knows' and I have always considered myself to be mentally strong. I step up when needed and I support all as best as I can. I draw strength from helping people in their careers, from mentoring and encouraging them, much more so than I do from my own personal development.
I have served in the Army and been to warzones.
I have loved and lost that love.
I have buried way too many people who were close to me and all through that I still smiled and saw the bright side of life.
I had to endure seeing my brother hooked up to life saving machines and go through numerous and dangerous operations, wondering if he would pull through, I had to be strong for him.
I am not saying that those situations didn't challenge me, they did, but they didn't break me.
2021 nearly broke me, it is the lowest I have ever been in my nearly 50 years and it scared me.
I was fortunate, my depths were not so deep that I couldn't pull myself out with little support and I am grateful for that, I am acutely aware that this is not always the case for others.
2022 is here, it is near the end of January as I type and spring is looming, the nights are drawing out and it won't be long before we start seeing daffodils popping their heads up. I cannot wait.
I am in a job I enjoy and I am training again, my diet is good and my drinking has been well and truly reined in. I am getting regular haircuts, so I no longer look like I want to be in 'his gang, his gang, his gang'
Quick '70's reference there for you older readers.
I am still single and that's OK. I have a date on Tuesday, so who knows.
I also have a trip planned, with my brother, to Iceland at the end of February, which will give me plenty to write about I am confident and it will be the first time seeing him again after nearly 15 months, as he lives in Switzerland.
I have concerts booked, theatre trips planned and I am smiling daily and loving music again.
The old Paul is back and I quite like him, most of the time.
I am still bloody 50 years old in September though...