Surviving January

I never make New Year resolutions, I’ve written about it many times before, for me it’s just an additional source of anxiety and we all know that most of us don’t really stick to them. Instead I make a wishlist, and try to make some of those wishes come true. Some will and some won’t. That’s OK. As long as I try and as long as I’m well and as active and creative I want to be, that’s all that matters.

In the last few years I started a tradition with an annual wish I make at the end of each year. This is for 2023.

I want to wish everyone health, love, a year full of beautiful memories and above all, remember to look after and love yourself, stand for what you believe, don’t sacrifice your time for anything that’s not worth it, and chase your dreams whatever those maybe. Life is too short to wait or put up with anything that tortures your mind and soul.

Since most of us struggle with January blues, inspired by a mindfulness advent calendar, and after a discussion I had with one of my best friends, I decided to put together a ‘Surviving January’ advent calendar, where I share an activity you can do each day to cheer you up and keep you going. Thank you to all my friends on social media who shared their ideas, I used almost all of them in one way or another!

You can find the calendar here in Greek and in English: https://calendar.myadvent.net/?id=uq1xh7nx9l735wibvj6zuqqihfehpdcx

If you don’t want to wait each day to open the relevant box, you can have a look at all the activities here and decide when to do what.

Let me know what you think and if you need the calendar in another form.

Happy New Year!

Eleni

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My 2020 New Year Wish

I’m holding a coin wrapped in tin foil and everyone is cheering me. Surreal.

It had just turned 2019 and I was the ‘lucky’ one, the ‘lucky charm’ was in my slice of Vasilopita, the traditional New Year’s cake. Who knows, maybe luck would be on my side this year. That will be a first!

That’s how 2019 started and what a year it’s been!

I regularly self-reflect, that’s how this blog started afterall, but inevitably this is a great time to look back on the year that’s ending and remind myself of all the lessons I learned from my mistakes, my achievements and more importantly everything I’m thankful for.

This year has been, literally and with no exaggeration life changing. I left Southampton and the UK after 10 years which felt like a huge, unimaginable task at the time, I spent a month in Cambridge studying for something brand new, the CELTA and somehow managed to get an A, I moved back to Cyprus for about a month and on another, unexpected turn of events I ended up teaching English in Southern Italy.

Whilst going through all these changes I had great adventures with loved ones, climbing up and down hills on our Jurassic Coast Macmillan Mighty Hike, exploring Bruges and Brussels with my little sister, an awesome holiday at Rhodes with my middle sister, I made great memories with friends and family, who I wouldn’t survive with at times, and for that I feel blessed and happy.

It’s also been a challenging year at times. I struggled with severe anxiety especially during those life changing moments and I’m still dealing with grief as my mind still can’t process how in just over a period of three months we lost my beloved pappou, grandpa Costa and my dearest uncle Spyro.

It’s not only the end of the year but the end of the decade and well, where to start from?

I can’t possibly reflect in detail and I’m not sure it will help in anything but tο sum up (take a deep breath):

I left Cyprus to do my Masters, I had my first long term relationship of 7 years that left me with emotional scars but taught me a lot and made me who I am, I ended up staying in the UK for 10 years, I had my first ‘proper’ job at Solent Uni where I worked for almost 8 years and lived in Southampton where I met some of my greatest, life-long friends, volunteered, lost myself, found myself again and learned to live on my own and with depression and anxiety, struggled with grief after losing grandma Frosou and aunt Anna, learned how to love myself, tried new things and discovered how to be happy on my own, doing what I like, singing, volunteering, theatre and musical trips, blogging, vlogging, hiking, reading, yoga (with Adriene). And that’s just a summary (breathe again).

I guess that’s life. It’s never a smooth ride. It’s full of surprises, ups and downs, easy and tough. Each of us follows their own path and are on their own timezone, so you can’t and shouldn’t compare your life to others but we all go through the same motions. So what matters at the end of the day?

I don’t do New Year resolutions, I find them pointless, I just make a small bucket list with things I’d like to do hopefully in 2020 but that’s another story I’ll post about later.

So what I learned in the last ten years and is my 2020 year and decade wish to everyone other than health, physical and mental (which is THE most important), is be happy, and never let it just depend on others, love, yourself and each other, and enjoy the little things, we truly live in a beautiful world and we often don’t appreciate life’s precious moments.

I hope you all do whatever makes you happy (don’t compromise that for no reason), quit your job if you hate it, devote time on what you love doing whatever that might be, make great memories with loved ones, enjoy every moment with them, you never know when it’s the last time you’ll see them (such a cliche but true), always be kind and try to make the world a better place. If we all do a little, as much as we can, who knows, we might make a huge difference.

Happy New Year! Here’s to a new year and a new decade. Here’s to 2020!

Namaste

Eleni

Teaching English abroad- Step 1: Getting qualified.

Ever since my big news a few weeks ago a couple of you asked me about the course I’m planning to do and how to get into teaching English abroad, so I thought I’d document my experience, every step of the way as I live it, to hopefully help others considering doing something similar. So this post is about…

Step 1: Getting a relevant qualification

You have a few options when it comes to getting a relevant TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification.

a) Do I need one?

If you are a teacher or a native speaker you may be able to land a TEFL job with no qualification whatsoever, but opportunities would be more limited, and that also means (especially if you have no teaching experience) you might end up in a foreign country alone with no clue on how to even begin teaching English.

b) What about online courses?

There is a huge number of TEFL courses out there (and too much information, it can be very confusing). Online, classroom, combined, cheap, expensive e.g.
https://www.theteflacademy.com/course-location/southampton

A short online, relatively cheap course is a good option if you are only looking to refresh your Grammar knowledge, learn more about teaching in general as well as teaching English as a foreign language. Some of them are recognised by various regulatory bodies but some countries only accept one of the two classroom based, internationally recognised or equivalent qualifications, Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL. With these two diplomas you will also be qualified to teach English for academic purposes (pre-sessional English courses) at UK universities.

c) CELTA or CertTESOL?

CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is
provided by Cambridge English Language Assessment through authorised Cambridge English Teaching Qualification centres and CertTESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) is awarded by Trinity College London. When it comes to choosing between the two, I’m not sure myself whether one might be slightly better than the other, the content is very similar, but after some research I did, it seems CELTA is better known and that may open more doors for me (and if you decide to apply for funding, the Advanced Learner Loan covers the majority of the tuition fees charged for CELTA at most colleges but only partially for CertTESOL, more on that below).

Both CELTA and CertTESOL are level 5 qualifications, offered full-time, part-time and online but face-to-face assessed teaching as the practical element is what separates them from the rest. The full-time variant is a month long-9am-to-5:30pm-five days a week, intense course whereas the duration varies when it comes to part time options, from 3 months up to a year, depending on the training provider.

I opted for the month long, intense one. It’s a great challenge and you are done in four weeks. Though that will be your life for those four weeks. No time for anything else. You are pre-warned by EVERYONE who has already done it and the course trainer.

When deciding where to apply, make sure you check the training providers offering them are accredited (for CELTA you can check here and for CertTESOL here)

d) Any funding available?

For both CELTA and CertTESOL you can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan(ALL) at specific providers, which will cover your tuition fees up to £811 for CerTESOL, that may not cover the tuition fee and £1417 for CELTA which is what most providers charge for it (list here for CELTA and here for TESOL). Oh by the way, there is a long list of qualifications you can get an ALL for! All details about the loan, repayment terms etc here.

e) What’s the application process like?

Applying was a bit scary for me, since I haven’t applied for any course for a long, long time and my self-confidence levels are running a bit low lately, but it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it’d be.

I applied at Cambridge Regional College, so what I’ll describe is their application process but it’s very similar to most of other providers.

Pre-Interview task. Part of the application (in addition to the usual personal and education information) is a pre-interview task mainly consisting of grammar, syntax questions and ways you’d teach various English language related items. See examples here. I was allowed to use books and the internet for my answers.

-The interview. I was very nervous on the day, I was terrified I’d be asked a million grammar questions on the spot, but it wasn’t that bad at all. Jonny, the course trainer and interviewer was very sweet and put me at ease straight away.

I was offered a Skype interview, it would have been a nightmare getting to Cambridge at 10am, so I spent a tenner to get a chair for the dining table (I could have sat on the sofa, but in my head it seemed unprofessional), an unhealthy amount of time deciding where to set the table, where to put the chair and so on (of course the overthinking took over).

I woke up early, had breakfast, did my make-up, put a nice semi-formal top on (I kept reminding myself this was not a job interview but it’s hard to get out of that mentality), got a cushion and my blanket to keep my feet warm and made a cuppa. All set!

After introducing ourselves and talking a bit about my background and the reasons I wanted to do the course, we then went over my pre-interview task answers, to make sure my level was English was adequate. There was also a short 15 minute interview exercise, with a couple of questions, similar to the ones on the pre-interview task.

He then told me more about what the course entails, the units we’ll cover, that teaching starts from day two and the fact I won’t have any social life for a month. What I got from what Jonny and some of my friends and colleagues who’ve done the course, as mentioned earlier, is that it will be intense, time and life consuming for four weeks but also rewarding.

‘It was tough, but so worth it!’ every single person who’s done it told me.

The main purpose of the interview is not to check your Grammar or vocabulary skills (the trainer has to check your level of English is satisfactory, but they don’t expect anyone to be an expert and know every single rule or exception). It’s for them to make sure you are applying for the right reasons and you are aware of the intensity of the course and for you to understand what’s about and whether you are prepared to take it on.

The interview concluded with Jonny offering me a place, explaining what the next steps will be and sending me a book recommendation list and a pre-course task, so I can start preparing.

That’s what I’m about to start now. Any questions or advice, comment below!

Eleni

My 2019 New Year Wish

I’m holding a coin wrapped in tin foil and everyone is cheering me. Surreal.

It just turned 2019 and I was the ‘lucky’ one this year, the ‘lucky charm’ was in my slice of Vasilopita, the traditional New Year’s cake. Who knows, maybe luck would be on my side this year. That will be a first!

I don’t do New Year resolutions. Instead since last year I make a wish.

https://elenisworld.org/2018/01/01/my-2018-new-year-wish/

(And the family and I started a New Year Day tradition from 2019, baked Camembert and fresh bread for brunch!)

I read somewhere a few days ago, a post reminding me and all of us not to believe the ‘perfect lives’ and ‘reflecting on another amazing year‘ social media portray and oh my God is so true.

I regularly reflect back on my life but inevitably it also happens once a year.

It hasn’t been an ‘amazing’,’incredible’ year. There’s been highs and lows. I’ve climbed Ben Nevis (if you want to find out more on Ben Nevis you can do so here) but on other days my anxiety was so bad I was paralysed, I travelled on my own for the first time but also lived with a flatmate I didn’t get along for six months, I sang at the Mayflower with my Solent Choir gang and made great memories with family and friends, I felt loved and at the same time I experienced rejection. I signed up to volunteer for two great charities but I’m still stuck at a meaningless job.

No matter what happened I had wonderful moments with my nearest and dearest who I wouldn’t survive with at times, and for that I feel blessed and happy.

That’s life. Good and bad. Easy and tough. Each of us follows their own path and are on their own timezone, so you can’t and shouldn’t compare your life to others but we all go through the same motions.

So I won’t say much this year, the only thing I’ll wish to everyone other than health, physical and mental, which is major, is happiness and love. I hope you all do whatever makes you happy and make great memories with loved ones.

Happy New Year! Here’s to 2019!

Eleni

July the 16th

There’s not much to say for the actual day. That’s what normally happens doesn’t it? It’s always the build up before the big day that causes most of the angst and it’s almost never as bad as you think it will be.

Monday, 16th of July

I woke up bright and early despite the exhaustion and the slight hangover (all worth it Jaba!). I had plans for the weekend I was not willing to cancel because of the move. Jazz night in London on Saturday, Mark’s 50th BBQ party on Sunday, I couldn’t possibly miss either so I spent the little time I had in between to pack and on Monday morning I was almost ready.

I had a last cup of coffee at the old place, finished packing and headed to the agency to fill in the paperwork and get the keys. On my way there I kept thinking of everything that happened the last 6 months. I know this is just in my mind, a symbolic gesture but it felt I can leave all of it behind, in that flat. As if never happened. Although it did. But I take what I learned from each and move on. Somehow every time it feels easier.

I went back home and waited for Barry, my removal man. After about two hours it was all done. Barry and his wife were just brilliant. Although I had more stuff that I originally thought, they squeezed everything in their van and didn’t charge me extra and they took special care of my more precious belongings.

I had no furniture other than my bed, a dressing table and a TV stand so after I unpacked most of my things, I put some blankets and cushions in a corner of the living room and connected the TV. It would do for now…

I was unbelievably happy I finally moved back on my own. Still, after two months, I catch myself smiling when thinking I now live alone again and I love everything about my new place, the space, they layout, the balcony, I even made a new friend, Mr Coco Flaps (thanks to Dan and Emma’s wonderful children who helped with the name).

Mr Coco Flaps

I tortured myself over the last couple of months overthinking, wondering if I was the problem.

Did I overreact? Should I have put up with living with someone else for a bit longer? Dirty dishes in the sink, not paying the Council tax and not saying anything until I got a letter (the first one I didn’t get to see until yesterday) from the Council. Surely it’s not just me who wouldn’t put up with this?

Did I cause getting ghosted twice over the last six months? Have I sub-consciously done something to make people disappear with no explanation? I would have never done that to anyone and it still shocks me that people think it’s OK to do that.

If that happened to you too, it is definitely NOT you. It’s not your fault if others are not brave or honest enough to just say what they think and what they feel. 

I’m not sure if everything happens for a reason. But you certainly learn from every single experience. Sometimes is a reminder of something you already know, sometimes it’s a brand new lesson and sometimes through a bad experience, you make new friends, you become closer to your existing friends and you appreciate life more. 

I’m a firm believer of starting over whenever you want to, it doesn’t have to be New Year or New Week or New Day, it could be a New Second, you can decide to change your life anytime, but moving into a new place is a de facto new start and an opportunity to hit the refresh button. There’s still a lot I want to do and as much as I try it’s not going to happen overnight, all this ‘When you desperately want something, the universe will make it happen’ is simply not true. Your life changes for the better when you keep trying and keep improving yourself. Just remember to be happy with where you are right now, love your self unlimitedly and don’t forget what you achieved so far. I certainly remind myself often.

As Adriene would say the light in me bows to the light in you.

Namaste

Eleni

 

 

On board Queen Victoria

Friday, 20th of July,

8:03. The alarm goes off.

I can’t get up. I can’t move my feet. I really want to make it to the QEII terminal. I really want to make it to Queen Victoria but I’m really not sure I can.

You know that feeling, after a huge stressful event in your life, an exam, an interview, a dentist’s appointment (for some of us), when the adrenaline dramatically goes down and emotional and physical exhaustion takes its place? When there is still some stress residue at the back of your brain, but you feel drained and tired all the time?

My anxiety reached record highs in the last couple of weeks, it reached levels I couldn’t keep under control. I physically felt sick, sick to my stomach.

The drama of finding a place to move into tested every inch of me (blog coming soon). As soon as I moved in I relaxed. But couldn’t shake this blanket of sadness. That was to be expected. Closing the door on the last 6 months was not easy.

Last night I had to say goodbye to our beloved boss Dave (more on that soon). I know we’ll keep in touch but there is a real possibility I may never see him again. I may not be in Southampton or in this country when he comes back from Bangladesh, he may decide to stay there permanently…  I may never see him againWhat a terrifying thought.

‘Why didn’t he say hi??’ Whilst I was sitting at Tapas, waiting for Dave and the rest of the gang, I saw someone I knew passing by. They pretended they didn’t see me and I did the same. I don’t handle rejection well. I  instantly felt sad. Sometimes I feel too much… I walked to the bar to get a drink, had a laugh with Angel, the barman (that’s what I call him after he made me a delicious Angel’s Touch) and then I looked around the table, the beautiful company I was in, my wonderful friends and colleagues and smiled. Maybe one person rejected you, but look how many others love you and cherish your friendship.

But I really want to make it to the ship visit. All the lovely people I met last time will be there, Danny, Liam, Jordan, Richard, Cat, Tansy and when will I ever be offered the chance again to get a free tour and three course meal on one of Cunard’s most luxurious ships?

I drag myself out of bed, had a quick shower and got ready. No casual clothes as per the dress code so I put on my blue floral dress and black heel sandals and make my way to the terminal.

The sun is shining and the harbour is buzzing with passengers getting out of the ship, naval staff getting on board, taxis, cars. I love it.

A million thoughts cross my mind on my way there. I’ve been struggling with confidence again lately and the sadness is overwhelming sometimes. I wonder whether anyone will remember me from last time, if they still like me, if they ever liked me?

I make it on time for a change! Everyone is there, having a cup of coffee. I grab one and I start chatting with two lovely ladies who work for the Mayflower.

And then I meet Christina. A Solent Cruise Management graduate who landed her dream job at Carnival. Another great Solent success story. I wonder if our ER people know about her... We chat about living abroad, her job, her dreams, her aspirations. She is gonna be one of our tour guides and she is a bit nervous. I’m somehow certain she’ll do great.

The tour is about to begin. Christina and her manager (why can’t I remember her name?) who looks very familiar were brilliant. Where do I know her from? Who does she remind me? Is it from my time at Carnival?

The main hall looks amazing, with the grand piano catching my eye immediately and where later it’ll be full of  beautiful music by three exquisite violinists which I genuinely thought it was a recording. I could imagine myself in a vintage lace dress walking down the stairs, sitting across the violinists enjoying a glass of wine…

Queen Victoria

We then pop to the library, it has a very traditional, Harry Potter, almost magical feeling to it.

Queen Victoria

I vaguely remember the rest of the tour, especially towards the end, when hunger was getting real but some of my favourite parts I do remember and snapped:

One of the suites that was larger than my whole flat. As part of the package you get your own personal butler and champagne amongst other perks.

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One of the standard rooms, very claustrophobic.

Queen Victoria

The gorgeous, elegant restaurant areas…

Queen Victoria

My favourite part of the ship: The Spa. Especially the hot stone chairs, I could stay on those for ever.

Queen Victoria

My second favourite part: The viewpoint on the upper deck. The views are breathtaking. Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you, go on

 

 

The theatre. Bright red and gold colours. Stunning.

IMG_20180722_150227_293.jpg

The vintage dance/performance/ball room. Here I am again, in my vintage lace dress, jiving…

IMG_20180722_150114_070.jpg

And as with every ship, the beautiful sea views. What is it that draws me to the sea? Is it because I was born on an island? 

IMG_20180722_145726_319.jpg

By the end of the tour we were all starving.

We met at the Britannia restaurant for our three course meal and unlimited wine.

I went for the Crayfish and Crab cocktail with avocado sauce for a starter, the roasted (to perfection) medium rare beef accompanied by glazed vegetables and finished off with white chocolate profiteroles served with pistachio and coffee ice cream.

 

All three courses were delicious, the wine and service were impeccable (the waiter refilled our wine glasses every time we were running low) and I had just the best company on my table. Tansy, Liam, Jordan, Gavin and… Leslie! That’s who she reminds me of, Leslie Knope!! She sounds like her, she even looks like her. Here she is at the background. Pat, Sarah? Doesn’t she look like her??

Leslie Knope

At some point during lunch, the lovely Danny, one of the main organisers of the Pride came over to chat about my responsibilities for the day. I’m incredibly grateful he trusted me with something so important and I hope I won’t disappoint him.

For those who don’t know Danny, he is not only kind and sweet, he also does most of the planning for the Pride alongside his main job. He goes home after work and spends hours organising THE whole thing. I truly admire him.

It’s now less than a month before the biggest, most colourful, cheering, love celebratory, open to everyone, party takes place in Southampton, the Southampton Pride 2018 (25th of August). And I can’t wait. 

If anyone would like to volunteer, I’d with no second thought recommend it. You meet amazing people, who make you feel loved from the very first moment you meet them, it’s a fun day you’ll never forget and who knows, you may be on the next free meal Cunard offers for volunteers.

A huge, enormous thank you to Southampton Pride, Danny, the rest of the organisers and Cunard for supporting such a great initiative and of course for the free ship visits and delicious meals.

I wouldn’t probably afford to go on a cruise on either Ventura or Queen Elizabeth and even if I could, I’d opt for a month exploring Cuba and Costa Rica so for me to be given the opportunity to get a glimpse of how these gorgeous sea crafts operate and what they offer to their passengers as well as eating on board with such a wonderful bunch, it truly is a blessing.

Namaste

Eleni

 

 

Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen

Three weeks ago on this day…

Shebz was packing her last things before she were to leave for home the following day and then travel the world.

She came over, sat next to me and gave me a gift bundle, a ‘care package’. She did the same a year ago just before she left for her three month Asia adventure.

But this time I was given instructions. I could open one of the gifts there and then but for the rest I should open them throughout January.

After she left, I decided I’d open one every Sunday until the end of January. I thought it would be a nice surprise at the end of every week (of course I’d never expected January to be full of many other surprises).

Don’t get me wrong I love surprises more than anyone else, but maybe there were one too many I could handle… and anxiety kicked in…

After almost three weeks of living with someone else, I miss my own little home more than ever. A post coming soon on this.

But weirdly, Sheba’s gifts reminded me without a failure every week, why I’m doing this.

The first present she wanted me to open when we were together on her last night in Southampton was a vintage painting of Florence (Firenze). From the first moment my sisters and I stepped into this small, gorgeous city last September, we instantly fell in love and it’s one of the places I’d love to go back one day. My girl knows me too well!

Firenze

It reminded me of one of the most amazing feelings in the world, falling in love with places, the magic of travelling. And it’s something I want to do more after I repay my loan and land my dream job.

The first gift I opened a week later, on the first Sunday I moved in my new place and I felt lost and out of place, was a little helping hand to start saving for more adventures. Already on it!

Adventure fund

The following Sunday, after a long, busy week and weekend catching up with friends, I was finally at home, time for some me-time. Although it’s not the same anymore. I really felt I lost my focus. The next gift couldn’t be more appropriate. The Little Book of Ikigai, the Essential Japanese Way To Find Your Purpose in Life. I cannot wait to read it.

Ikigai

The final gift I opened last Sunday. And I cried. Why would someone cry over a notebook?

Shebz and I love notebooks, we spent many of our lunch breaks in Paperchase browsing notebooks. It’s one of our things. One of our favourite little activities we love doing together. And God she picked the perfect one.

Notebook

Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.

This is my mantra for February.

My old soul destroying habit of overthinking came back stronger than ever this week and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for days but I’m back on track, with a little help from my bestie and my family and loved ones.

So here’s to February! May be full of love, surprises and amazing adventures.

Namaste

Eleni

 

New beginnings Chapter 2: A week of surprises.

I’m staring at my screen for the last half an hour. I know what I want to write about. But I can’t put it into a series of words that make sense.

My mind wanders and the internal monologue begins.

‘-Maybe that’s how Broca’s aphasia patients feel like? They can understand but they can’t speak.’

‘-I know what I want to write about but I can’t get it out. Maybe my brain is temporarily damaged’.

‘-Don’t be silly. You are just anxious. All these changes lately…’

Back in the room. What did I want to write about?

The “non-typical January” trend continues. And a week full of surprises.

I’m now involved with two brand new projects within Academic Services, which for me is like taking a long breath when you finally reach the surface, after struggling to swim to the top. I made it over the water but I still need to swim to the shore. It will do. For now. I still have to do the important but repetitive and boring tasks, but every now and then I get to work on something I really enjoy.

Surprise no1: The City Nuffield Theatre tour

On Monday I was unexpectedly offered an exclusive tour of the new Nuffield Theatre right in the city centre and of course I couldn’t say No. It looks amazing. It was so much fun to walk backstage, have a sneaky peak at the dressing rooms, the theatre, the new restaurant and admire the beautiful views of Guildhall Square from the top floor. I didn’t take any photos as I didn’t know if I was allowed to, but trust me when I say it’s pretty impressive. I can’t wait until it officially opens.

Surprise No2: New colleagues, new team, new project

Last Wednesday, after a long day working on one of the new projects with another team for the first time, which I didn’t expect, I thought I was going to start much later in the year, I went home mentally and physically exhausted. The excitement worn me out.

Surprise No3: Home spa evening

So it was the perfect opportunity to try the bath bombs sent to me by Nisha, the lovely owner of a new local business, Sabão. My evening was transformed into a home spa magical night, just what I needed and after talking to Nisha, I found out that’s exactly what her vision for her little business is.

I’m so happy Nisha loved my post. It really means a lot for an amateur blogger who only does this because they love writing, like myself.

“Omg Eleni, I absolutely loved your review and your blog! Honestly i cannot thank you enough for your kind words! With two girls under 5yrs old I guess I didn’t see the potential of creating a mini spa at home and the way you displayed everything really brought home the reason why I started Sabao. Would you mind if I share the link to your blog on my fb and Insta too?

Honestly I am so touch and over the moon you love the products! Xxx

This is exactly what I wanted affordable, high quality products which you can really treat yourself with that actually helps pamper your skin. I could never be as big as Lush because Essential Oils are so expensive on a mass scale. I’m just happy to help to get products into the right hands 😊 xx”

Surprise No4: Back into fitness

On Thursday I had my first PT session after Christmas. I was absolutely dreading it. And when my lovely student Personal Trainer messaged me to say we can start our sessions the following day, I was not mentally prepared. But it had to be done. With all the changes happening lately I let stress take over and the lack of sleep and appetite was taking it’s toll. I’m glad I went for it in the end. PT is not easy, but I love the adrenaline kick and I weirdly enjoy the pain afterwards, it makes me feel alive. PS I love my new leggings.

PT

Surprise No5: In Sync even when miles apart

On Thursday after I came home from my PT session I voice messaged Shebz for a catch up. That’s our new thing. Voice messages. To hear her voice makes such a difference, it’s hard not to get emotional every time. But I absolutely love it. And on Thursday we messaged each other at EXACTLY the same time and it also turned out we had our PT sessions at the same time, mine in cold, rainy Southampton and hers in sunny and warm Guatemala. Isn’t it amazing how in sync we still are, even living thousand of miles apart? True love that is.

True love

Surprise No6: The busiest Saturday I had in a while

Last Tuesday I had no plans for the weekend. I hoped the flatmate would have been working and I would get the chance to have some me time. Two days later and it turned into Singing with Singforce, catching up with friends over coffee and a drink and delicious dinner at Bacaro, the Italian tapas place in town I wanted to try for a long time, with a new friend, all in one day.

Bacaro, Southampton

Surprise No7: The End of the F***ing World

On Sunday I was so exhausted it took me the whole day to catch up with the house chores and when I was finally done I just wanted to relax. My lovely friend Sofy recommended a new TV series currently on Netflix, The End of the F***ing World and I thought I’d put it on whilst having dinner. I was hooked from the first minute and ended up watching the whole series. If you love quirky, British, Dark Comedy, it’s a must watch. It was funny, sad, emotional, serious, dark and light, all in one and the brilliant soundtrack just made it even more amazing.

This week I’m hoping to spend more time doing the little things I enjoy, spend hours on my guitar, read a book, get back into my daily yoga routine I neglected, feel like myself again.

I’m still not used to living with another person, although my flatmate is lovely but there are times I wished I was on my own and I’ve been missing it a lot lately. I know it will get easier but there is a lot of going on at the moment and I’d love to spend a day or two just by myself, not having to be social or lock myself in my room. The little things eh?

Anyway, time for yoga with my favourite lady, Adriene.

Namaste

Eleni

New beginnings-week 1: My first ever housemate.

I’ve never lived with complete strangers. I lived in student halls at Warwick Uni when I was 22 but that doesn’t really count. It was more of a communal, safe environment and I was not an ‘adult’ back then. I was still fearless and naive with ambitions and unrealistic dreams, like most youngsters fresh out of university.

I moved from living with my family, to student halls, to living with my ex-partner of seven years to living on my own for the last two years.

I may be biased because that’s my most recent experience, but I loved living on my own. Not from day one, but definitely over the last year. So moving in a shared flat was not because I wanted to, but purely for financial reasons.

I spent last week packing, a little bit every day and last Friday I moved out from my cute, cosy studio flat to a year old, bright, modern 2-bed flat, which came with a 32 year old guy.

All my belongings packed in boxes and bags

This year the move was smooth and uneventful (last year was a nightmare, alarms going off, lost my car keys, bruised knees for months, it was a disaster!) since I learned from my mistakes and saved money for a removal company. I’ll post more on that and what else I discovered over the last 10 days later this week.

It’s only been a couple of days and there is a lot to get used to. I don’t live on my own anymore so I can’t play the guitar at silly o’clock or put music really loud and I don’t know what the ‘social rules’ are when sharing a flat. Should I offer my ever so polite flatmate a cup of tea every time I make tea and he is around? Are we to cook on different times? Are we to become friends or keep stricter boundaries? I don’t really know the answer to these questions and I’m not sure he does either but I guess it will all fall into place. I’ve been talking to my brother in London and he is going through a similar situation right now. I’m glad it’s not just me trying to figure this out.

I still wonder whether I made the right decision, should I waited until a gal was looking for a flatmate instead of living with a guy? Should I went for more viewings, should picked a different area? At the end of the day, I made a decision and I won’t know if it was the right one until later, so I’m trying not to torture my mind.

It will take a while to have a good night’s sleep and feel like home, I still feel I’m a guest here and I will soon go back to my old home but we humans are incredible when it comes to adjusting to change. I’m sure it will soon feel as I’ve been here for years.

I love what I’ve done with my new room in just three days and with minimum spending. It makes a difference when I walk into my room every day and admire how beautiful it looks. I could have spent more money on getting a new bed and furniture and so on but it will all worth it in six months time when I finally repay my loan.

Although today is apparently Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year (which is a marketing campaign by Sky Holidays based on a nonsensical, pseudo-scientific equation they made up), I don’t feel sad or depressed. I did briefly on Saturday, my first day at the new place where I felt lost and overwhelmed with all the changes but today I’m excited and terrified in equal measure of all the things yet to come.

Great things coming up I can’t wait to share them with you.

So here’s to new beginnings!

Eleni

Endings and beginnings (and Spa day)

After a long, eventful day of travelling (crying baby for the whole 4:40hr long flight, train delays and a windy and rainy ‘welcome back’, God I didn’t miss the UK weather) I made it back in Southampton last Tuesday. It was tough to say goodbye to my family and friends but I was ready to start the new year. I have a good feeling about 2018.

It’s been a non-typical first week of January. It’s been busy at work since day one, but exciting new opportunities, my best friend staying with me for her last week in Southampton, catching up with friends and colleagues and a wonderful leaving lunch at Mango and after work drinks at Tapas Barcelona more than made up for it.

Endings…

The day I looked forward the least has arrived. My best friend, my third sister, my partner in crime is leaving Southampton for good today. I will miss seeing her every day, having lunch together at random places, sitting at the park chatting about nothing and everything. I’ll miss our adventures, our laughs, our cries but I’m excited and so proud of her.

She is following her dreams to travel, explore the beautiful world we live in and then have the career she always wanted. She is the kindest, bravest, sweetest, most intelligent, sensitive person I’ve ever met. It is rare to meet humans like her and I’m lucky and blessed to be her friend.

I’m already excited for our first catch-up who knows where!

Next week I’ll be leaving my cosy, little flat. It’s been an incredible year and this studio felt like home more than all the other places I lived in Southampton, maybe because it’s been my shelter and safe place when I was anxious and depressed but also my creative hub. This is where I started my yoga journey, where I played my guitar until my fingers hurt  and sang at the top of my lungs, where I read my favourite books, wrote my blogs, where I was re-born.

Beginnings…

But now it’s time for new beginnings! I’m terrified and excited in equal measure.

I wake up at the middle of the night wondering whether I made the right decision, ‘Should I check more places before I decide where to move?’, ‘What if I don’t get along with my new flatmate?’, ‘what do I do next?’ and million other thoughts.

Change can be overwhelmingly scary. It really is. But I can’t wait.

For the first time in a while I have a plan. It may not work out exactly as I thought it will. I’ll finally move on though, no matter what.

and Spa day!

For Christmas, Shebz got me something I wanted us to do for a while, have a Spa day together. And it couldn’t happen at a better time.

We had a wonderful time at the Grand Harbour hotel, enjoyed a much-needed massage, relaxed in the Jacuzzi and sauna and finally had a delicious cream tea.

The day ended like we wanted to, a take-away and a movie. I don’t know how I haven’t watched the Breakfast Club before, I now understand why is considered one of the greatest high school films of all time.

Now, time to get organised for a busy week ahead. Thank you to all my lovely friends who offered to help but I got it this time. I think…

Time for new beginnings, eek!

Namaste

Eleni