Motherhood – a rant (Part 2)

Oh so tired
Turn lights off
Star fish hotel bed
giggling like a young child
Try to make the cold parts warm
Feel lonely in bed
Run over people’s thoughts and opinions
advice on “why you’re single”
Look at all the coulda beens
‘Enlightened people’ – ‘self coined gurus’
say you’ve brought it on yourself
Blame yourself
Get angry
Get upset
Try to block feelings
Realise the feelings are better dealt with
When felt
Feel feelings
Cry
Cry
Cry

Continue reading “Motherhood – a rant (Part 2)”

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Time to choose: Inspiration or Intimidation?

Ever since I put my focus on becoming a writer the way that I read things has changed.

No longer can I just get lost in a book, creating affinity with characters, speed reading through paragraphs as the story picks up pace. I’ve noticed that I’ve become a judge. Judging the author, the words, the meaning behind the words before putting myself in the spotlight.

The Comparison Cashier is out in full force, fingers pointing, scanning what I believe to be truths:

  • Beep: You’ll never be able to write anything as good as this
  • Beep: You’re not serious about writing when you don’t write every day
  • Beep: You’re a procrastinator, you’ll never finish a novel
  • Beep, Beep, Beep!

And I’m left feeling intimidated.

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Girl on the Train’ – Paula Hawkins. It’s the first fiction book I’ve read in ages that had me gripped from the offset. So much so, I finished the book in less than 6 hours! I was in awe.

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There were many a time whilst rushing through the pages that I said to myself:

This is the book I wish I had written”

At these times the Comparison Cashier was in full force, a thorn, edging deeper into my side. Beeping through the ‘truths’ – repeatedly. I had to get away. So I put on my trainers and I went for a run.

When I run……Ha, I’m saying ‘when’ like I do it all the time. The last time I ran was 25th June. I know the date because I use a running app and there it was, the date – laughing at me, proving that I am indeed a procrastinator!

When I run I feel amazing afterwards. It clears my mind, gives me more energy and allows my creativity to flow. It annoys me that I know this – yet rarely do I don my trainers and take myself outside.

The run highlighted that I have a choice. I always have a choice.

  • I could choose to stay at home or I could choose to go for a run.
  • I could choose to write each day or I could choose to write adhoc.
  • I could choose to be inspired by other authors or I could choose to be intimidated.

I CHOOSE TO BE INSPIRED

The thorn and the cashier began to disappear alongside the doubt pains and unnecessary anguish.

I CHOOSE INSPIRATION

And inspiration is everywhere.

Jeff Cann is a blogger friend. I came across his blog ‘The Other Stuff’ as one of his posts was chosen by WordPress in the ‘Discover‘ section. I was immediately struck by his openness and the vulnerability in his posts, that he had a follower in me.

When he mentioned he had published a book ‘Fragments – a memoir’. I bought it immediately, as I’m all for supporting friends with their endeavours. I’ve just started reading it and five stories in – I’m blown away. I knew this guy could write but this guy can really write!

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The way that Jeff welcomes you into his world, sharing pieces of his life non-chronologically works so well. I highly recommend ‘Fragments’, Jeff’s authenticity and humour shines through as you see his struggle with mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and life in general. I believe this could be a book that could help many people face their own demons.

I have a warm glow inside as I celebrate what Jeff has accomplished.

That’s when it struck me.

There is no place for intimidation on my writing journey. Other authors are not my competition. Just because someone writes something amazing, it doesn’t leave the creativity pool dry, empty for others. If anything, they’re adding to the pool.

I think to Paula Hawkins. Imagine if she, having read a book she loved decided that she wasn’t good enough to be able to write a novel. I would have never read her book.

Other authors are not my competition. The competition is with myself!

So thank you to Jeff Cann for helping me to remember that.

I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo which is the National Novel Writing Month which takes place every November. Will what I write be a bestseller? I very much doubt so. Is that going to stop me from writing my first novel? Hell no!

I’ve made my choice.

I CHOOSE INSPIRATION

I would also like to take this time to celebrate the success of some other people I know who have published books.

I met Angela Preston at the Public Speaking Accademy and this woman continues to inspire me to this day. ‘Opening Doors’ is her story of the trials and tribulations of life and shows you what is possible to achieve if you work at it.

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Surjit Kaur is a high school friend, we had so many laughs at school. Her creativity shone out then as we used to write letters to each other in class and she would be doodling and drawing everywhere. ‘Burt’s Shirt’ is a children’s book and is such a fun read.

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Each person I see working on their dreams, gives me the strength to be able to follow mine.

Blog post written. I’m {gasp, shock, horror} going for a run!

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday 

If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

Motherhood – a rant! (Part 1)

[This read is a longer one. I read through it in 8mins and it’s my work – so I’d say give yourself 10mins]

I’ve read a couple of things of late that have made me so angry. Usually when I come across something that makes my blood boil, I keep my thoughts buried.

But sometimes silence isn’t enough.

I know it’s because I’ve been looking at the issues I’m about to raise through a personal lens. It’s also been triggered due to my family’s recent visit to London to stay with me last weekend.

I’m all for a debate, they’re vital – when carried out correctly as rarely is anything black and white.

Well that should say, I’m all up for people debating and voicing their opinions. I’m usually stood at the side-lines winning imaginary heated discussions which miraculously open people’s minds.

Whenever I do actually voice my opinions – in the real world, not Emma Land! I try to be as open-minded as possible, leaning in from different angles, willing to be swayed. I also bring my personal experience into the fold wherever possible.

So when reading points of view that could only possibly come from people who hadn’t actually spent time thinking about the issue. From people who are so far removed from the topic at hand that they may as well have been from another planet.

Well….that’s when my words won over my silence!

My Gripe

A study was shared on Facebook that showed women were waiting later in life to have children and that it is no longer classed as such a high risk to have a baby after 35 years old, which in the medical world was coined a ‘geriatric pregnancy’.

Heavily scattered between posts from mothers that were in their late 30’s and early 40s, who shared pictures of their healthy newborns with beaming descriptions of how happy they were. There were ignorant one liners, criticism and comments that could only cause pain.

People saying that these women were selfish, because:

  • children should have young/energetic mothers
  • older mothers will die earlier than younger mothers

There were even comments saying that if they wanted children and couldn’t have them by a certain age, then they should have adopted earlier, as there are plenty of children that need a home.

As my thumb continued to scroll through the vitriol from young women, people who were already blessed with children and men, oh so many men – I could feel my jaw clench and noticed my breathing had changed. Oh yes, I had just entered into seething mode.

I’m not the type of person to jump in and feed the trolls on social media sites. Although I have done once before and what I said actually made an impact and led to the person who wrote the cruel message to delete it. Hmmm maybe I could be a social media superhero! I may share this story in another post but right now I don’t want to digress from this issue close to my heart.

So I put aside my iPad, since my 3mth break I only access Facebook on my iPad which I keep at home, and made my self a cup of tea! Us Brits!

Nerves calmed. Seriously, a cuppa is like timeout for adults! I tried to view the points from their perspectives.

I got it. From a surface level view-point. A flat one-dimensional point of view.

Topics like these deserve attention. Not a quick throwaway comment before moving on to join a discussion on whether ‘cheese and onion’ or ‘salt and vinegar’ are better crisp flavours.

Before these people mindlessly typed their response had they actually considered:

  • speaking to someone who had an older mother or was an older mother?
  • that there are many mothers with health issues that although young, they too don’t have the energy?
  • that many children may have lost a young parent? Death doesn’t just visit the elderly.

So, I’m stepping forward with my personal experience.

I was brought up by older parents, they were 50 years my senior. Not only that but they were white too, this post isn’t about the difference in our skin colour, but you can read about that here Back to Black 🙋🏿

I loved my parents for who they were and spending time with my family this weekend reminded me how lucky I was, to be loved and to be wanted.

I’d be a liar if I said that having them as parents was always amazing. I have vague images of me trying to run away when I was about seven, suitcase packed I made it to the end of the street before forgetting why I was running away. Then I became a teenager with a penchant for banging doors whilst working out the strange changes to my mind and body – I didn’t very much like anyone!

There was also the time I was left embarrassed when my mum got barred from a pet shop. A bloody pet shop! I’d wanted a Guinea Pig so bad and she wanted me to have one. Having a disagreement in the pet shop my mum got told never to return. I’m not sure if that was before or after she told them to go: ‘Fuck your penguins’.

That story, whilst embarrassing then, and I wasn’t even there – makes me feel all warm with happy memories now. My family when together always reminisce about how they were. You see, my parents have both passed away, my Mum when I was 15 and my Dad when I was 23. Keeping the memories alive is all we have left.

It really upsets me that someone who hasn’t lived my life is dictating from the side-line that as older parents that they didn’t deserve me.

To think people would have  preferred that I didn’t have the opportunity to have a great upbringing and spend quality time with my parents. To block me from being shaped into the person that I am now. To not have the chance to have silly fun times with my crazy family, who are still here (pic below) just because my parents were older. Now that hurts!

img_4052 Of course I wasn’t ready for them to die but at any age they would have gone too soon. No matter what age someone you love dies, it will always break your heart.

I’m 36years old and I’ve been broody since I can remember. So the comments did feel like a personal attack on me. I’m often left doing ‘relationship + time x age – baby’ math and it weighs heavy on mind without even adding other people’s opinions into the sum!

I wonder how many women also reading the post felt like a selfish person, regardless of their background, their story? And how many will have thought twice about having a baby, due to these critics? That also hurts!

And for people to throw adoption into the ring like it’s the easy solution. Clearly they don’t know how hard it is for someone to actually get approved to adopt. My parents tried to adopt me, apparently going through court (I was too young to remember) but they were too old and white to be able to. Times have changed slightly but I know that it is still a tough process to go through.

I have always said that due to my upbringing I would like to adopt or foster children and that’s still the case. But I also have a deep yearning to experience the feeling of being pregnant, having the miracle of life growing inside me. And there is no way I’m going to let any naysayers derail me from that.

If a woman’s body wasn’t meant to have children after 35years old, then why is it capable of doing so?

I also want to know where the opinionated mob are when the men that are over 35 have children? Just because women carry the babies, why should they get all the stick? There are so many older fathers and minimum eyelids batted their way. Age is age and a parent is a parent.

This leads very nicely on to the second issue. I was going to rant about some ridiculous stats I’d seen and some seriously nasty badmouthing about single mothers. Women in the firing line – yet again! That shall be for a future post, I need to drink a lot more tea before I conquer this one.

If you’ve been guilty of airing your views on this topic without really thinking and looking into it, then I beg of you to take some time to look at different sides of the story. Indeed, I’m sure there are people who also have the personal experience and don’t agree with having children at a later age. You may come out of it with the same opinion and that’s okay, you’re allowed to but at least you’re wiser on the topic.

Before you become a keyboard warrior remember that the person who may happen across your post is a human, has feelings and has their reasons.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday  If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

It’s the 3 month countdown……

We are in October! I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve overheard people baffled by the month we’re now in. As if they were unaware that it was the month that follows September, which they were also shocked at when it came around.

I can’t believe it’s [insert month] already!

I laugh and take the piss but I am guilty of these conversations too. But seriously, how did we get to October so fast?

With three months left of 2017 I thought it would be a great time to review where I am with my year of vulnerability. Plus, I didn’t really have another topic that I necessarily wanted to write about. Writer’s block if you will! Hence not writing for over a week!

So I read my first ever post on my blog My year of vulnerability 😳 – it was basically about being single – and not wanting to be. And wanting to do better with my business.

10 months into the year and…….

  • I’m still single –  although at the time of writing this post (22.40pm on 2nd October), I have a date tomorrow.
  • I no longer have a business. Nor do I long to have one at the moment. You can read more about my change of heart and letting go of my business goals here – The write path 📝

This makes me laugh, not out loud though, okay I’m exaggerating slightly, I’m not laughing, I’m smirking – as a part of me thought having a blog as a platform to be vulnerable was like stumbling across Aladdin’s lamp, and that in the year to follow I would have ticked off my wants:

img_3986 But there was no Aladdin’s lamp – which I am grateful for. As if I’d have got what I thought I wanted, that ‘surface-level’ want, I would have been working on a business that wasn’t right for me and who knows what type of boyfriend the lamp would have brought me – shudder!m grateful because having this blog has unearthed in me a strength and courage I didn’t realise I had. I still get clammy palms and a racing heart every time I press ‘publish’ to release another part of my private thoughts, worries, dreams BUT I also take a step closer to appreciating who I am.

img_5971 During my three month hiatus from Facebook my posts became braver, more raw and my following increased. I now have 57 followers! Which isn’t many in the world of blogging but it means everything to me.

These followers are people I didn’t know before I started my blog. They cheer me on, they support my journey and sometimes a part of what I say resonates with them. If you’re reading this post dear follower – thank you! ❤️

I am also grateful of conversations that have taken place following posts that I’ve made. Conversations that would probably not have happened if I’d kept my thoughts to myself.

When I write I’m not only finding out more about myself but I’m finding out about others too and I know that I’m not on this journey alone.

I never expected to talk openly about losing loved ones, my anxiety and panic attacks, racism, feeling lonely, ugly, stupid…….etc. Like I said at the beginning it was surface level stuff.

I’m so pleased I scratched the surface and have kept on scratching, revealing parts of myself I’ve shielded for too long. As this blog has made something shift inside me and it warms my heart that it has inspired others too.

Who knows what will happen as the final months roll in? Maybe my knight in shining armour will come but if he doesn’t it really doesn’t matter. As it is no longer about that. It has never really been about that.

It’s about me finding happiness in ‘being me’ – unapologetically me!

I’ve also realised that the name of my blog, although catchy, if I do say so myself, is a tad misleading as vulnerability isn’t a {year} destination, it is an ongoing continuous journey.

I’ve signed up to this bad boy for life!

Until the next post. Cheers!

img_1704 Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday  If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

Filling the void one book at a time!

[This post is a 5 minute read]

Ever since I left the comfortable bosom of Network Marketing my focus has changed. I’m heading into a new direction. Unknown territories.

I feel free. In fact the only time I’ve felt this free [as an adult] was when I embarked on a 15mth travelling stint to South America and New Zealand.

This isn’t a dig at my past, network marketing was one of the best things to ever happen to me. It set me on a path that has led me to where I am. On the journey I not only met some truly wonderful people but I picked up an arsenal of skills and read some really valuable personal development books.

Once I closed the door to living my life in that environment, I suddenly felt many of the those books were redundant. I had no interest in how I should ‘Speak about my product’, ‘How to hustle’, ‘What successful people do’ and a plethora of other similar titles.

There was also a void where my vision once was. With network marketing although it hadn’t made a huge dent in my dreams, I knew what the end looked like. I knew what was possible and I knew it would be possible. I’d seen it happen.

My new dream leaves me questioning what my future is going to be. There’s no 5-year plan or step-by-step guide to success. Success leaves clues in many businesses but looking into writing the clues are scattered and what works for one person, dramatically fails for others. Will I ever make it? What does make it even look like? Will I only be a success and be able to live a comfortable life if I reach the heights of JK Rowling?

My reading habits have also changed since embarking on my new path. I’m reading more fiction and autobiographies instead of books that are constantly about enforcing change on you.

I read. I’m in awe. Then I’m scared. Then the doubts scuttle in. The way the authors manipulate the text, play with style, structure and pluck out words that I barely understand leaves me asking:

“What chance do I really have?”

I feel a tad relieved knowing that I’m still at the starting blocks. I haven’t figured out the ‘Author’ in me just yet and there are a lot of avenues I want to visit BUT at the same time I feel a sense of dread. As my ‘perfectly painted’ future has been white-washed over, leaving a sticky unclear residue with fragments of doubt, fears, envy and bewilderment.

But I have my books and I’m getting lost in them. Aside from reading some collection of short stories my focus has been on reading books from black Authors.

The reason I decided to this is because I have never embraced being ‘black’. Yes, I acknowledge I’m black but I don’t talk about it, research into my history, or even have that many black friends. I was brought up in a white family, in a white working class area and watched re-runs of films and TV shows with white actors in the lead and bit part actors in token ‘black’ roles. I talk more about this in my post – Back to Black 🙋🏿

From the top of my head I didn’t know many black authors so the first book I picked up was Maya Angelou’s first volume of her autobiography. Before I could delve into it I had to read a specific book as part of the ‘book club’ I attend.

Well the Universe certainly wanted to help me, as I found out when I started to read the book, the author was a black man. Paul Beatty’s – ‘The Sellout’, is a satire look at racism in the present day and how one man reinstates segregation and slavery. It was a book that was hard to read but nicely broken up with laugh out loud parts. It definitely made me think and question the way some things are.

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I finished Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ yesterday and WOW! It blew me away. With her words I got trapped into her world. The dark side of her growing up, mixed with her adventures and the thorn in my side, which drew constant tears on my commute to work, the out here racism she saw and endured. It made for a hard but a much needed read.

One of the lines that I read over and over again was a conversation Maya’s 13year old brother had with his Uncle:

“Uncle Willie. Why do they hate us so much?”

Uncle Willie muttered “They don’t really hate us. They don’t know us. How can they hate us? They mostly scared”

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Those words made me cry then and typing them out, made me just cry again. Yes, the past is the past but it dictates our future and it’s still got a strangle hold on us. So I’m reading these books to stop being ignorant, to try and understand and maybe just maybe something I write will help dictate a brighter future.

The final book I want to touch on is one that I received for my birthday back in July. Some of my girlfriends chipped in to buy me a few gifts and one of them was another nod from the Universe.

‘Bad Feminist’ – a book by a black author, Roxanne Gay. I just started reading it today and this woman is awesome! In her essays she touches on being black, having immigrant parents [raised in America], being a woman and as the title suggest being a feminist, albeit a bad one!

She talks about things other people daren’t and I can already see that I am going to be a big fan of hers. And start to speak up more about issues that matter. One thing at a time……

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One thing at a time………

One step at a time………

That’s all it takes. Reminding myself of this reaffirms that I’m on the right path, even though that path may be a dirt track, full of talented writers or full of wrong turns with no end in sight.

I am where I’m meant to be.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday 

If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

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Two additional books by black authors that are next on my list.

We can’t do this on our own!

This thing called life, we can’t do it on our own and why would we want to?

I have always classified myself as strong and independent (not stable 😜) and thought I could work my way through life with little help.

I partly thought this because I’m a bit stubborn but mainly because I didn’t want to appear weak, vulnerable and to be honest I was too scared to let my defences down and too shy to actually ask for help.

I have seen the error in my ways and realise that to really experience life and get the most value from it, we need people. And you all know my thoughts on vulnerability – hence the name and theme of my blog.

We need people to: love, work with, talk to (I mean really talk where they’re actively listening), bounce ideas off, laugh with, cry with, moan to.

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And we sometimes need people to take over and be the crutch, the support when we feel like we can’t go on.

My emotions have been a bit all over the place this week, a lull set up camp and I felt a little disjointed. I put it down to post holiday blues but naming it didn’t make it disappear. Plus, I’m not sure that it was the actual reason.

I did however feel so much better having people there, not to judge or to fix me, but just be there. Texts with one friend, impromptu dinner with another, a couple of video calls and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone. To actually air how we are currently feeling really does expose it to the light and it can make the situation more bearable.

To hear the battles and obstacles other people are facing reminded me that life is hard, it can sometimes be shit and unfair. Running from how we feel or masking our feelings with social media, shopping, drugs, alcohol etc. can only work for a short time. There comes a time where we have to sit with our feelings and speak to someone we trust.

Which brings me on to my writing journey.

For years I have wanted to be a writer, but squashed that dream down with negative self talk and dangerous comparisons. When I finally started to tell people I wanted to write, far be it from laughing in my face and telling me how unrealistic I was, I got messages of encouragement and recommendations.

Since then I’ve become a member of a book club for writers, attended a workshop for intuitive writing, joined a flash-fiction writers group and……

I finished my first ever short story A piece of me!

This was due to a supportive creative writing workshop I attended. The host, Sean, was so kind, patient and understanding and was a great critical voice to have. I not only learnt that I can actually start something and complete it but I can actually handle constructive criticism – go me! If you’re based in London and are interested in writing, I recommend his workshops 100% – https://www.thenewmachine.com/ 

Yes, sometimes there are paths and journeys we have to take on our own but along the way there’ll be people to guide us.

I’m learning more each day to embrace this and to accept help when it’s offered. Next step, starting to actually ask for help too…….

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Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

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Learning to go with the flow…..

This afternoon I got back from my first (but hopefully not last) holiday of the year. I’ve come back to England with so many Greek goodies, a body full of mosquito bites, an urge to put toilet paper in the bin and the same amount of tiredness that I left with.

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Boarding the small plane to Ikaria

I had visions of my holiday not only been an escape away from the daily grind but a chance to totally unwind, de-stress, catch up on sleeping and getting stuck into a book.

I didn’t sleep much and of the two books and a magazine that I took with me, I only read a few articles from the latter.

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Okay – I got some sleep 🙂

But……I had a fantastic time. When things don’t usually go to plan, my initial response is to stress then try and make it right immediately. I think the magical Island of Ikaria, where the locals are so relaxed – they’re horizontal, made me chill out and go with the flow.

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The one hour uphill walk in the blazing sun was so worth it.

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I dropped the guilt and instead had a break from my life, from:

  • fretting about not writing every day
  • worrying about what my next step is on my writing path
  • meditating and reading
  • going crazy about my future
  • this blog and wondering how I was going to build up my followers

I just let it all go and I became part of the Island. There’s a reason why Ikaria is one of the five ‘blue zones’ in the world {places where people live longer}.

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Stunning port – Evdilos

Standing at the corner of a dusty road, we hitchhiked back to our friend’s village after a day at the beach. I left my angst at the door as I was fed by my friend’s Ikarian in-laws, exchanging smiles and nods instead of worrying about the language barrier. I enjoyed the wind in my face and the thrill of riding the back of a moped across winding narrow roads during a tour of some of the island.

The holiday has been a much needed reminder to stop loading myself with so many ‘must do’s’ and ‘expectations’.

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A day at the beach before hitchhiking back to the village

It also gave me the much needed nudge in the direction of booking a solo holiday where I can read, write, meditate and do other activities that I’ve been longing for. The thought of a solo holiday fills me with fear, even though I have travelled on my own before. I’m sure it’s just like riding a bike and once I set off, I’ll remember how much I enjoy it.

I have two nights to catch up on sleep before I go back to work and I’ve decided to bring a bit of Ikaria into my work life and not fret too much as the work piles up.

Going with the flow is so much easier than struggling against the tide so it’s really a no brainer.

I’ll keep you posted on where I decide to go on my solo jaunt.

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Last night in Athens. Having a drink at a bar that overlooked the Acropolis.
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View of the Acropolis

Emma x

If you’ve liked this or any other of my posts, please feel free to like, share or comment 🙂