Nurturing self-belief

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Graduation day. Photo credit: Emma Brittenden Photography http://emmabrittenden.co.nz

I am supremely lucky. Growing up, I never questioned my belief in myself. I knew I could achieve if I focused on something. This has translated in a drive to take opportunities when they presented themselves to me, and allowed me to work in areas that I am in many ways under-qualified for. Whilst the subject matter can be one I am totally unfamiliar with, the self-belief means that I have faith in the skills I have acquired and my ability to adapt them to the challenge at hand.

In many ways, this is a self-lead endeavour. I have had to do the hard yards to up-skill and be prepared to adapt. However, my luck comes from being a part of a family environment which gave me the courage to push forward. My parents supported me when I had big ideas. They believed in me, either to achieve what I wanted, or to figure out on my own that I needed to redirect and reflect. Through each decision, they have offered a safe place to talk through ideas, or a soft place to land if it backfired. The result is that, in more than a decade since I left my parent’s home (apart from one year when I decided to study so moved into the spare room), I have achieved more than I imagined I could and done things I had never contemplated. Through travelling, working and studying, I quite happily carved out my own little part of the world. As I plot the next steps, I have the belief embedded in me. I might be scared at times, but in the end I know it will be just fine.

A Daily Prompt – Reason to Believe

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Quitting time

I handed in my notice of resignation today. It has been the plan for the last six weeks or so, and today it played out. I was only in the job since the middle of last year, moving first into a secondment role, then securing a permanent position. It was a move in the direction I wanted to go, provided a new challenge and looked to put skills into action that I had refined during my recent studies.

So why quit? The driving reason was a sense of adventure that I have always had. Travel has been something I have craved for as long as I can remember. It’s an odd rite of passage for many in New Zealand. Given how far we are away from the rest of the world, we are drawn to travel somewhat inexplicably. The cost is huge, so we save up and really do it properly – often for months at a time. That is what we are going to do. In April we head to the United States for a three month road trip, the first time I’ve been back since 2011. We are going to explore the country, starting from San Francisco and meandering our way east. As an American politics geek, I’m excited to be in the country as decisions are made about the Presidential candidates, moving through different parts of the country and understanding what politics means in the local context. Then there’s the food… Oh, I know some of it is soo bad, but I am hanging out for a Chipotle burrito, or a PotBelly sandwich!

There’s another reason for quitting. It’s about being brave and acknowledging that my job is not the one for me. The technical nature of it just pains me at times, and I feel uninspired. I know I’m in a privileged position, as I can actually take some time out this year and reflect on what I want to do with the rest of my life. Writing is how I best express myself, and I love to play with words and see how they form sentences, paragraphs, and pages of thoughts. Painting a picture through a character in voice, or a story in action. It’s fun and I want to take some time to see where I can go with it. Can I create a story and explore it in depth? Actually write more than a short story, perhaps find my voice in a novel. Everyone thinks they have a book in them, perhaps I really do? So, this is my first outlet for those words. I am going to use this blog to explore my thoughts and record my year.

Here’s to another adventure. Quitting my job, packing my bags and escaping life for a few months. Where will it lead, and what will I do next – who knows?

Downsizing and letting go

There is something oddly appealing about homewares. I can spend many an hour wandering through stores, looking at beautiful objects I could fill my home with.

What I do not normally do, is buy these things. I like to think I live sensibly and do not have much more than I need. There are a few items of clothes that hang in my wardrobe, not worn for many years but holding such strong memories. My bookshelf is filled, an accumulation over years of study and enthusiastic reading. There are a pile of platters in my pantry, and plenty of baking gear for numerous occasions. I do enjoy these items, however, and I am happy to have them in my home.

Things are about to change through, and reading another blog the other day inspired me to think a little more about what is coming. The big downsize. Following our wedding, my new husband and I are going to get rid of a large pile of stuff, pack our life back down to the bare necessities, then head off on a bit of an adventure. The idea of the end result excites me, the getting there does not.

It is going to be a tough challenge selling and giving away so many of my possessions. In the end, I think it’s going to be a good move and I will enjoy the results of being mobile for a little longer. My intention is to blog about the process, and maybe what I learn about letting go may just help someone else.

Credit to Curiously, Wes for the inspiration for this blog.

Simplicity: A wedding philosophy

We are less than three weeks away from getting married. There are only 19 sleeps to go in fact. I’m nervous, excited, concerned and blissfully happy – all at once. I am obsessed with scheduling the day so I can fit everything in while the photographer is with us, but conscious of trying to do too much in too little time. I’m wondering if there is anything I’ve overlooked, or if the weather is going to behave. At times, I admit it’s overwhelming, and it has certainly taken over my thinking a lot of the time.

However, more important than any detail or concern is the knowledge that we have planned a wedding day which reflects our relationship and the marriage we want to establish. Every decision has been weighed up, considering whether it is important and necessary to our wedding. Time has been spent effectively, and a good chunk has been dedicated to looking at our relationship (both in guided counselling sessions with the pastor who will marry us, and independently during long conversations and reflective time). We have picked out our priorities, and spent money there. Things that are not as important to us, have been discarded where appropriate.

There is a keyword that I have often come back to. Simple. The day should be about marking the commitment we are making to each other, and having the people who are most important to us there to celebrate. Beyond that, little else genuinely matters. We have a photographer who will capture those memories for us, so that one day it is easier to share with people who may not have been there, or so we can reminisce about a special day in our life. A caterer will feed us all, with the focus on having plenty to share around a table. Decorations are minimal, but the wine will be plentiful. Dancing may evolve organically, but at the core I hope that there will be conversation as people reconnect or establish new relationships.

Whenever I am flustered or overwhelmed, I can think back on this. Keep it simple, trust in love and know it’s all going to work out just fine.

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An introduction

My name is Anna Jensen. It’s a simple statement, and a name I have held for 30 years now. I have defined myself as Anna Jensen, working in several fields under this name. I have published extensively, written a thesis, travelled abroad and created the inevitable life trail that we all do – as Anna Jensen. At the end of this month, I will introduce myself under a new name – Anna Brown.

It is hard to introduce oneself, when in many ways how I define myself is about to evolve. Along with my new name, will be a new husband, new travels and the opportunity for a new career path. My current job is one that pays the bills and is teaching me new skills. It also leaves me unfulfilled and uninspired. Part of delving into my writing again is the opportunity to see where that may take me.

This blog is a journey of exploration for me, and I do hope it is one which may offer me a chance of further engagement with the world. I want to see where I fit as a creative agent. By trial and error, I believe I can find my own niche in the world. I want to write, to create, and to tell stories. It will be in part travel journey later in the year, but more broadly than that it will be my record of a year of transition. I want to be able to look back at the end of this year, and have a way to reflect on all that happens.

Today, my home is in the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. My name is Anna Jensen, and I am defined by the chaos of evolution.

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Kapiti Island, New Zealand

A new decade

Yesterday I turned 30 and celebrated by eating cake for breakfast. There is something both monumental and mundane about birthdays – especially ones we view as milestones. For me, turning 30 feels in many ways just the same. I do not see a new face staring back from the mirror, and my sense of self is still that of a kid who is trying to make a real go of this being an adult business. Yet, there is a sense of who I am being fundamentally changed. I have reached a decade which feels enticing. I am lucky to be entering this next stage with a stable base. That solid footing makes it a little easier to contemplate launching forward, as there is a softer place to land. There are a long list of things to pursue, but ultimately I am hoping that the next decade is one where we really carve out our own little niche in the world.

Happy New Year

I’ve always been a goals person. Oddly, it never seems to work when it comes to exercise (I still have never maintained any great routine, and am staring at my 31st year with a horrid realisation it’s not going to get any easier now). In work though, I set goals and come what may, I achieve those suckers.

To that end, today I am starting my latest project. I have a big year coming up, and I want to remember how it plays out. So begins my latest foray into blogging. In the past, I have kept a short travel blog. This time, I want to keep track of what my life looked like as a whole in 2016. There are wider objectives than this, however. I need to write more, and have missed it greatly in the last year. Creating a routine of regular writing allows me to develop and find my voice again. It is also an opportunity to develop an online portfolio and explore finding a writing niche for myself again.

A new year, a new goal, a new project. Happy 2016!