Starting the year

I am late to the slew of new year’s blogs written by many with a love of the new start that the change of the calendar offers us.  There is a large community of people who relish the challenge of setting new year’s resolutions.  And, in my email inbox and social media feeds at least, a whole load of marketing related to getting us started on great new habits right at the beginning of the year.  I am being invited to do yoga, meditate, buy courses, explore new parts of the world, sort out my budget, track my time, take on physical challenges, go sober, make this the year I find my true self, go on retreat, book many holidays.  You get the drift of the things I tend to sign up for.

I am most definitely one of those people who love new year’s resolutions, I relish the opportunity to have a blank page in front of me and to reflect on what adventures I could challenge myself with.  But here’s the thing, I make a ton of resolutions in various guises, but none of them are really ones which I have to start now in January, and even fewer do I have to start on 1st or 2nd January.

There seems to be a big thing this year of taking the opportunity of the “fresh start” as Gretchen Rubin calls this particular opportunity to change habits.  I’m not sure I believe it is a fresh start though, I love the opportunity to have some reflection and planning time, but it is perhaps not the best time to get started on life-changing habit change.  So, I’m not.  I have plans and goals and adventures ahead.  And I am loving the feeling of anticipation that the year is full of possibilities.  I think my January resolution-making is much more akin to a gardener – now is the time of the year to browse the seed catalogues and to plan the plot, and to maybe place an order for the seeds we will need to make the plot flourish.  But it’s not time to get out in the garden just yet.

The third day of Christmas

I do enjoy Christmas, and very much enjoy it as a season, rather than just one day.  The lead up to Christmas feels very pressured, as does the day itself.  Now, having been around for nearly 50 years, I can honestly say that a perfect day is nigh on impossible to achieve and frankly when they do happen it’s by happy coincidence and not through planning a day of perfect presents, perfect meals and perfect entertainment.  And that view is coming from someone with a stable family life and a steady income to ensure Christmas budgeting can happen.

As I write, I am listening to stories of people’s Christmases marred by financial instability and domestic violence. Those who are sick, caring for the sick, or bereaved have a tough time at Christmas.  Actually, why should the day be perfect for any of us?  Why would Wednesday this week, above all others this year, be perfect?  What other Wednesday have our families conversed in a calm happy manner with no arguments, tantrums? What other Wednesday has every meal gone perfectly to plan with everyone loving everything put before them?  What other Wednesday have I had the perfect amount of sleep and adequate energy all day?  What other Wednesday has every TV programme and board game been engaging and fun for everyone? Getting all that right on one day is a huge expectation.

I much prefer seeing Christmas as 12 days – in that time various things could go wrong, there is time to be grumpy, or sick or just overwhelmed, but over the 12 days there are wonderful highlights, which make for a really merry Christmas.  Some of those highlights may be with family, others with friends, or even an afternoon alone with a good book.  A walk in the sun, a Christmas card with a lovely message from someone, delicious chocolates brought to a work meeting.  All combine to make this a season of mostly joy.  That’ll do for me.

Half way through that month

I am not a usually a huge fan of the month of February, it feels like a failed promise. Every year people express relief at January having ended and it now being February. I never see the difference, it just feels like a never-ending winter at this point.

Although February has slightly longer days, it’s hardly spring for anyone but the birds who are in full song in the mornings and the local woodpeckers are cheering up the morning walk no end. As is the fact that those slightly longer days means the morning walks are in the light

The foxes who are disturbing my sleep with their yipping and yelling think it is the start of spring too. Actually they are disturbing the poodle’s sleep and he tells them off for being noisy. I appreciate his attempt to defend our sleep.

The ducks are enjoying the wetter winter as it is creating a small pond for them on the newly created flood area where we walk. And the changeable weather means that some mornings they’re swimming and some mornings they’re standing on the pond’s ice. Always amusing, I am sure they are not as bewildered as I think they look.

There are clumps of snowdrops everywhere and the crocuses are popping through. Every morning we stop and chat to various folks about whether winter will ever end and express surprised delight at the milder mornings or the clearer sky when that happens.

And because I really do not like February, I have arranged mini-breaks galore. One involving regrouping with some of my oldest friends and catching up gloriously over good food and drink. Another involved exploring a part of the UK coast I had never visited and spending a Sunday afternoon watching dolphins feed. Another involves visiting family we love and cherish but rarely get to see and the final trip involves a bit of adventure visiting a European city which has been on my to visit list for ever. I think this is a definitely the most travel in one month ever.

A successful reframing of February I think. Great month, love it!

Some days turn out better than expected

Generally I am a glass half full type of person. This week I am struggling with a cold and with a full diary, which is preventing the recovery time I need. So my glass looks nearly empty right now.

This morning started with a grumpy version of myself who had slept badly and was struggling to start the day. The day is ending with me feeling very accomplished. Have I ticked everything off the to-do list? Nope, I just do not have the energy. Have I looked after myself as much as I can and done as much as I can otherwise? Oh yes.

I asked for help, I let folks know I don’t feel well and of course, just as I do for everyone else, people rallied around to help. I got a lift somewhere when I thought I would have to walk or take a long bus journey. I snuck in a nap whilst someone else cooked dinner. The floors got washed in preparation for a meeting this evening in my house.

And then, I also tried to notice the nice things people do, even without me saying I am under the weather. Someone called and chatted through how to publicise an event at church, so I wasn’t left feeling I was trying to work things out on my own. The meeting in my house was productive and friendly and a group of people who did not know each other a month ago is starting to feel like we have a shared interest and were sharing some of our stories with each other.

My long work meeting was productive and amongst people I like and respect. I had meaningful contact with friends on WhatsApp groups and on texts and feel very grateful to have had an insight into their days too. A group at church has rallied around and found a replacement for me in a role I am standing down from, making me feel supported and happy in my decision to leave, by sending me emails and texts assuring me all will be well.

Have I still got a long list of things to do tomorrow? Am I still feeling unwell? Yes. But for now, today was a day well lived. Thank God.