Wardrobe refresh

Yesterday I decided to leap out of my comfort zone. A massive huge leap into the world of clothes. I am not a keen shopper, I have always hated buying clothes. As some may remember, last year was a year of buying from charity shops to get me more into the habit of browsing rails with little financial risk.

Friday was a massive leap into “proper” clothes buying. One of my 2019 resolutions was to book a personal shopping session somewhere. It happened yesterday afternoon.

For two whole hours the lovely and enthusiastic Nina from John Lewis in Birmingham soothed and encouraged me through a whole variety of colours, fabrics and fits.

It was utterly exhausting – as moving out of the comfort zone often is – as well as really, really good fun. I have discovered green. And some brilliant trousers. And blouses.

Last night I felt tired and a bit overwhelmed. But this morning it was great fun to go to the wardrobe and pick out a top that fits well and is a bit different to the usual “uniform”

Hurrah for feeling uncomfortable for a little bit.

The crafting perspective.

I am not known for my handiwork skills, nor my practical expertise in gardening or decorating. I tell myself constantly that I am not a practical person in the physical sense.

Yet, I can planned pack for a holiday, I can cook for a houseful of people, I can organise brilliant parties and bake amazing cakes. I can see how a room of furniture could be arranged, I can place plants and pictures in the “right” places, I can choose colour schemes for rooms. All of which are practical, physical skills and I am good at them all. I need to change that narrative in my head.

One of my aims this month was to create space in my day for doing something different, something that does not involve typing on a screen or meeting in a room of people making more to do lists. I decided some more time crafting would be good. I have been trying to sew. It is not neat and tidy, but I am only starting out, so why would it be? It is fun. And a bit addictive.

I have managed to meet up with friends three times in the month to do some gentle sewing or knitting together over a cuppa. A friend and I had a fun afternoon wet felting and making some beautifully wonky coasters. It is a social activity as well as a relaxing one.

Looking at my progress I realise why I tell myself I am no good at it – it takes practise, it takes time. Embroidery, knitting, felting are not skills we’re born with, they’re skills we learn. I am as able as anyone else to learn the skills, but they take time.

Finding the space to sew a bit or do anything creative has shone a light on how I spend my time – a lot of what I do is very similar, both in work and in my home life – organising lists, groups of people, planning, emailing, meeting. It has been fun doing something very contrasting, but it has also given me a real insight into how little variation in activity there is in my week.

A good week

This week has been really full, but an excellent week over all. I’ve learnt some useful things and travelled to some interesting meetings and have hung out with people of all ages.

This week I travelled to London, Bristol and Crewe. I led possibly the most nerve-wracking meeting I ever had and survived, which was important – it was an excellent test in controlling nerves, proving to myself that I feel better if I am well prepared and that I can drive an agenda very well.

I read lots of public transport, I gave myself time for planning things at work, each of the journeys felt very productive. In fact the whole work/not work split in hours felt good this week, with me being flexible as needed and intentional about that flexibility.

I met some brilliant women all older than me with a sense of fun and a curiosity about life. I hung out with a group of 20 somethings, all young enough to be my children, chatting about life this week whilst learning to knit. I sat in a room of Scout leaders with years of experience and boundless enthusiasm and skills between them. I caught up with some old friends.

I saw some theatre from a new young theatre group, I have listened to podcasts galore on driving commutes, I’ve hung out with my Mum and both the children. And I have practised some yoga every day and spent a bit of time journalling and stuck to pretty healthy eating all week.

I’ve managed to fit in a nap and have bought a new outfit for a party – one that definitely stretches my comfort zones but it feels really fun. And I have a brilliant weekend to look forward to.

All in all a week where I am hugely grateful for volunteering in church and scouts, my job which never fails to interest me and the decision to send the offspring to Stage2 Youth theatre, start yoga and go to Slimming World.

The week even included free lunch.

Creating Space

I am trying to focus on a theme of ‘creating space’ this month. Space can of course mean many things and indeed it does to me.

My focus this week was having space in my diary: I am not doing very well – as soon as space occurs, I fill it. I work part-time technically, but I only have one day a week off, split into two afternoons. I combine that limited time off with a habit of booking lots of social events into those afternoons and a tendency to offer to do lots of tasks, as I have a day a week to complete them. My perception of the amount of time I have off work does not coincide with the time it will take to do all the tasks and meet all the friends.

I travel a fair amount in evenings when I am away with work, and yet also manage to fit in meetings either around travel or on the evenings I am not travelling.

I feel a need to leave space, rather than filling each part of the blanks with something else. My aim is to have space for just mulling things over and seeing what comes up, but I have a nagging feeling that having space in the diary will not be the solution, because I really dislike not doing things, I want to be seeing people and feeling useful. Maybe I need to head back to the drawing board on this one and define space in my diary in a way that suits me more?

Losing my blogging way

It’s Thursday and this is the first blog this week, it’s been six days since I last blogged. I have had the time to blog, have found myself in blogging mode – awake, coffee, laptop – but have been distracted by other things.

This could be because the other things are genuinely more important. So far this week, I have had a meeting every evening, and have felt a need to use that precious morning time to sort things out for those meetings, so that may be true.

It could be because I am just not enjoying blogging any more. Also possible. I have been blogging gently for about 11 months now, maybe it’s getting a bit boring? I can’t say I love the new format that WordPress have created, and the lack of access too free photos is taking away some of my delight. I used to enjoy trying to find a photo that in some way illustrated my thoughts that morning. I did toy with the idea of making sure I always took my own photos, but I have no real desire to be a photographer.

Or, I have nothing really to say. I have run out of thoughts . There is nothing to write about. That seems unlikely, I am still able to think and life is no less full of things to write about.

No, I fear the problem is not planning. Yep, everything that goes wrong in my life is generally blamed (by me only!) on me not having planned properly. The control freak in me is dominant as planning is in full swing in January. I am planning furiously for work, Scouts, Birmingham Children’s Book Group, CAFOD group, World Day of Prayer, holidays for the year, theatre visits, offspring’s next step in life, dog’s health, my exercise regime, my Slimming World-friendly food for the day. And there’s probably more that I am planning to the nth degree.

Every morning I sit down to write this, with no plan, I have not totally planned to write on any particular morning. In the midst of a planning frenzy I feel utterly overwhelmed by the lack of a plan in blogging. So I have avoided it. Wrongly, as I suspect having to deal with no plan is a good thing for me.

it’s been a couple of weeks of meticulously planned days – even down to pretty tape keeping my spoon in place. Just no blog plans.

Reflecting the lessons of the mat

One of the tools in the box to settle me into the new routine this month is yoga. Writing that has made me giggle. It’s not a new routine, it’s the old routine, but there has been a two week break of loveliness and so I am struggling. There we have it. I am an energetic, healthy and enthusiastic person, who just struggles with her routine changing. Somewhat like a toddler!

Anyway, in my adult self, I am being very sensible and am carving out time to do some yoga every day this month. I am using the lovely Yoga with Adriene series online, as that does not involve me finding a time I can attend a class, nor leaving the house again in days of work travel and other meetings.

It is a month’s programme for which I had to set an intention. Mine was simple – show up every day and see what happens. It’s been interesting. First of all, I have shown up every day, one night at 11:15pm, squeezing in that day’s practice at a time I rarely do anything useful. I slept brilliantly that night – not enough sleep, but great quality. I have proven that I do have time to stop and just be once a day.

The sessions are following some sort of path and surprise me every day. I am not great at a home practice of yoga, but I am thoroughly enjoying this gentle guidance. I am still responsible for getting myself onto the mat and letting go enough to follow the path. I like that guidance, I enjoy being challenged to do something unexpected and it takes away making choices and worrying I am making the wrong choice, a real relief.

I can do more than I think, I have very little faith in my physical self to do anything really, but I can feel myself letting go of some of the negative expectations and giving it a go, a good feeling.

Good lessons so far and we’re only a third of the way through. Wisdom will be mine by the end of the month. Ok, maybe not!

Transition blues

Oh I do hate the transition from holiday to work, from school hols to school term, from summer to winter. Even from day to night if I am honest. So this is a hard week and I am grasping at all the comforts I can. This is a litany of comforts in an attempt to persuade myself that all is well this dark cold January evening

I love a routine, you know I do, I am trying very very hard to cling to a sense of joy of the work routine being back. I love my job and the people I work with and it is great to catch up with them all.

I had the first piano lesson of the year yesterday and it is fun to practise. I have sought solace in scales this evening.

My resolution to create more means I have started to embroider a thing – it’s fun, its’s soothing. I started surrounded by funny, cool, clever women whom I adore.

The 2019 reading targets loom large, so I am stuck into a good book and have downloaded a new audio book as well.

All my favourite podcasters and bloggers will be getting back into the rhythm this week, so I can catch up with them.

My diary is chock full of cool, lovely stuff with great people – especially this weekend, which is looking delightful – and full of good food, friends and family.

All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. Repeat until transition complete.