Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Better Late Than Never - New Year's Resolutions

I know I'm late in setting my New Year resolutions but things have been hectic here and, anyway, resolutions are for ALL year, not just the first week of January. Now though, my teen is back at uni, things have settled down a bit and it's time to get this New Year on the road.

So many resolutions start with losing weight and/or getting fit but while neither would be bad for me these aren't my main concerns. I have a feeling that my life has become too cluttered, that I flit like a butterfly from one thing to another without settling on anything for very long, being busy all the time without having anything to show for it, or to have time to sit quietly, reflect on the day or observe what happening outside my window.  It's time for some de-cluttering and to slow down and concentrate more. Some things I'll do less, some I hope to do more of.....

Lets start with the 'less' -

Physical de-cluttering - really this speaks for itself. The spare room is absolutely FULL of 'stuff'! Old clothes that I think can be re-worked into a new garment, abandoned projects waiting too long to be picked up again and lots that really just ought to go to a charity shop. I need to be more ruthless, to sort through it all, get rid of the rubbish but also make time and finish all those things I've started.

 Social media - I think I waste too much time chatting here and there, clicking on links, scrolling through news articles, so some of it needs to go. I'm never going to cut it out completely but I might be around less.

 Alongside that - stop clicking the RT button for EVERY competition I see. It's so tempting when you see the magic message, and too often I've re-tweeted or shared a page - and won something I didn't really want (and yes, which adds to that spare room clutter) It's time for someone else to feel lucky.

 Cutting back on book reading and reviews - I love reading and certainly won't stop but, a bit like "RT to win", I'm guilty of wanting to read EVERY book I hear mentioned on twitter or through press releases, and I end up with a massive 'to be read' pile. This year I'm going to be more selective, I hope.

And for 'more' -

 Get up earlier, or at least at a regular time - with no work to go out to, no children to bundle off to school, the morning can start as late and as lazily as I like....and half the day's gone! Time to go back to setting the alarm clock, and gain a couple of hours.

Get a life - for too long, I've existed as an extension of my children - picking up on their latest crazes, listening to their music, watching TV alongside them. Now the youngest has left for university I need to find a life that's my own. I've already joined a local book club but I also want to go out more to the theatre and to music gigs, and if possible find something totally new to try. Sort of in conjunction with this, my teen is setting me a series of challenges, I think of the 'go out and say Hi to three random people' style but I haven't seen them yet, though I'll share them when I do.

Get out more - I used to spend much more time outdoors, not doing anything in particular but pottering round the garden, watching the grass grow, walking round our local nature reserve wood, even taking knitting and sewing outside when the weather was good. I want to get back into this habit maybe spending half an hour each day outside, preferably doing very little other than looking at things, and observing what's going on (and it sounds a bit like 'mindfulness' but I don't care!)

Blog more - a bit contradictory perhaps, but it's a way of thinking about the day or events, much like keeping a diary, and not letting life just drift past.

Keeping track of how I do....

One month
Three months on

Friday, 8 January 2016

Good Memories of 2015 ....

Last year ended, this year began, on a downbeat with one parent in hospital and the other having to go into respite care, with the days blurring into one long round of visiting first one, then the other, so it seems more important than usual to look back at the highlights and good times of the past year....


Of all the times we went away last year, to Machynlleth, Hay-on-Wye, St Davids, North Norfolk, and Edinburgh, the one that stands out was the first - an overnight trip to the New Forest. There's a school of thought that says doing something or going somewhere for the first time has more impact than re-visiting the same old stuff again and again, and I think this applies here - all the other places were ones we've frequently visited whereas I last visited the New Forest over 20 years ago.

 In two days we visited Southampton, Portsmouth, star-gazed near Mudeford under a sky so dark we couldn't see the sea, went back to the sea the next morning near Milford on Sea, walked round the quaint seaside town of Lymington and spotted the famous New Forest ponies. And the glorious sunshine and blue skies weren't in summer, but January! The sea breeze was bracing at times but for a winter weekend the weather could hardly have been better.

Summer brought several reasons to celebrate - my youngest daughter turned 18, achieved the A level grades she needed for her first choice of university, and passed her driving test! On the downside, of course, she left home but although the place isn't quite the same without her, she has been back frequently with her new venture promoting music gigs.

There's been quite a musical thread running through this year - first at Hay Book Festival, at an evening event listening to Tiffany Murray and David Mitchell read from their books while fireworks exploded over the town and Frank Turner's singing drifted over from another tent. The most enchanting, magical feel ever to a book event!

Then, in Edinburgh in late August, by pure chance we walked past Princes Street Gardens while The Waterboys were playing on the outdoor stage. We couldn't really see them but listening to them play, watching the impromptu crowd who like us stopped to listen, or even join in, against a backdrop of the illuminated castle, with fireworks from the Tattoo lighting the sky, was something really special, particularly as totally unexpected.

And in Autumn there was more music! Going along to watch the gigs put on by my daughter turned out to be much more fun than I could ever have imagined. The venue is small, the musicians aren't huge stars and sometimes the noise proved too much for my eardrums, but it's something totally out of my normal rut and I've loved it. The last event of the year was extra special as my daughter decided it was time to perform herself and although I'm heard her play at home, to see her sing in front of a crowd was something special.

In between fall small, sharp memories - of the hot foot-burning beach at Whitesands -

the early morning peace and quiet at our self-catering cottage, looking over Hailes castle and Trapain Law, before heading into the bustle of Edinburgh for the day

and the mix of awe and fear watching my daughter take flight in a hot air balloon

I'm glad to have something good to remember the year by, instead of just the chaos that's broken loose at the end of it.