Tag Archives: New Year Resolutions

Hello again

Forgive me blog-gods for I have sinned. It has been aaaages since my last post…. I’m not Catholic but I do feel bad for not writing. This isn’t some end of year/New Year’s Resolution thing though (I’ve already done the blog post on NYRs). It’s simply that the downtime that Christmas has provided this year means I actually have the time, energy and opportunity to write again. (Also, I’ve just paid my renewal fees to save this blog from going to its cyber-grave, and it’s hard to justify handing over money then not writing.)

In recent years I’ve come across the idea of coming up with a theme for the year ahead (in lieu of a NYR) several times. [And between writing this post and posting it every blogger and her dog seems to have announced their word.] And yet it’s never an idea that’s really grabbed me. I’ve toyed with it, asked myself which word or phrase I would choose if I were to choose one, but either I’ve not been able to get past the word used in whichever post I’ve been reading (I’ve never been terribly imaginative), or I haven’t been able to come up with a word that seemed specific enough to apply in practical ways yet at the same time broad enough to apply to everything. But this year, without even thinking about it too hard, one word popped into my head:

Simplify

Why simplify? Well, it sums up a useful principle for so many areas of life (possibly all areas). 2017 has the potential to be a busy, stressful year. Master L is starting school and I’m picking up a whole load more work and balancing 2 jobs plus a sizeable load of unpaid work- I’m going to need to keep things as simple as possible at a time when it’ll easy to let things get complicated. It’s applicable to diet, to exercise, to general household stuff (especially to clutter avoidance). It has the potential to make my mornings calmer, my evenings more productive and my days smoother, if I can block out the complications imposed by the buzz of social media, compulsive device checking and other general time wasters. And with relationships and friendships, it makes things clearer too- what are the issues, what’s the bottom line and do I need or want this friend(ship), encounter or conversation?

So cheers! To a simpler 2017. Happy New Year

 

 

Reflections on 2015

And so we near the end of another year. That’s 2 (and a bit) years I’ve been (very sporadically) blogging!

My views on New Year’s Resolutions have varied from year to year but what I always enjoy is looking back on the year that was. The Facebook gimmick “Your Year in Review” has already appeared and people are beginning to share their yearly summaries. If this replaces the annual “Christmas newsletter” a lot of people send out, I think there’d be a sigh of relief from many reluctant recipients, but weirdly, I don’t actually mind getting those letters, I even like reading the details that really don’t concern me, about people I barely know.

(What always impresses me, though, is that people have enough self-confidence to send these things out, knowing how they are received by the majority of people, which is one reason it’s not something I do.)

So, 2015- what sticks in my mind?

More travel- this year we explored Marlborough at the top of the South Island and beautiful Martinborough at the bottom of the North, catching the ferry in between. I think we only managed 3 trips to our beloved Queenstown, once in March for Mr L’s off-road marathon, the Motatapu Classic, once in August to ski and then we’ll be back there next week for Christmas. I made several trips across the ditch- 2 to Melbourne for work and 2 to Sydney. We did a couple of local weekends away too- to Russell & Northland, Waitomo caves (twice) and just last weekend to Waiheke Island. Our list of places to visit and revisit seems to be ever-expanding, and if 2016 is to be our last year living here, we’d like to make some headway into that list!

Of course, our beautiful Baby L arrived in May and he has been a delight and a privilege to have completing our family. In many ways, seeing him change so fast has made both Mr L and myself all the more aware of the idiosyncrasies (amusing and not-so) of Master and Miss L, as we see them change and realise just how fleeting their stages of growth and development are.

This year has been a big year for me in terms of mindset, with determined forays into mindfulness (my favourite champion of this cause so far being Dan Harris) and happiness (I’ve become something of a Gretchen groupie). I feel that my/our Zero Waste dabblings (inspired largely by Bea Johnson) are, in many ways, an extension (or perhaps combination) of these two ways of thinking. I’ve become so much more aware of our impact on the earth and of the earth’s impact on us and I suppose you could say I’ve spent some time getting to know my inner hippie and seeing just how a simpler way of living, spending, thinking and doing frees up so much time for taking notice of what matters and what lasts.

On that note, as I look back through my calendar I’m surprise to see there aren’t a lot of scheduled events, for a year that has felt so full and formative. I think that’s because you don’t write down the little things- cherry picking with Master and Miss L in January, losing Miss L (ok only very briefly) on a plane in August, someone walking off with Baby L in the supermarket trolley (hmmm, maybe I need to start paying attention to my children more!), Master L astounding us one day by casually announcing he was going to write his name- and then doing it! Me falling off the side of a cliff while skiing, drinking beer in the middle of the afternoon in the Fork and Tap in Arrowtown (Miss L developing quite a taste for it too!), the feeling I had opening a box of macarons and a spa voucher as a “thank you” present from Mr L, playing Calon Lan to try and get Baby L back to sleep at 3am, getting both feet off the floor (not for long!) in crow pose…. And so on.

A few weeks ago we watched “Inside Out”. Since then, Mr L has talked about generating “core memories” for our kids. I agree, that’s important, but from a slighty more selfish point of view, I’m very happy to look after them in my own memory bank for now!

Here’s to 2015…. x

New Year’s Resolutions- the return

I know last year I wrote a post on NYRs and how I don’t believe in them any more, but this year I need to make a few changes. Not absolute rules, but efforts I intend to make to get more out of life and hopefully make things a bit easier.

 De-clutter my head and my time, not just my space

  Physical decluttering is an ongoing task which I’m quite happy to do and reasonably good at. I find it liberating and rewarding. Mental decluttering, on the other hand, I am terrible at. My job requires me to multitask at a sometimes crazy level, and over the years this has crept into my non-work life too, increasingly encouraged and facilitated by social media and portable electronic devices (5 years ago I didn’t even have wireless at home- to use the internet I had to go to my desk and sit at my computer- imagine how much more productive I’d be now if that were the case!!!). I surf the net in the evenings. I don’t read books, I don’t talk to Mr L in the evening, even setting aside the laptop to watch a TV show feels like a major act of restraint. And it’s crazy. I have discovered one or two things online (see below) that I think have the potential to enhance my life, but mostly, it’s crap. So I’m going to lay down some guidelines that will hopefully see me managing to fit in more of the things I want to do (see below) and wasting less of the time I have to do them in.

Improve my eating habits

  I could devote a whole post, no, actually a whole BLOG to this (and obviously there are many of those) but I have been eating waaaay too much, with the lethal combination of pregnancy and Christmas lead-up resulting in hunger being a very infrequent occurrence lately! Enough about that for now, but I need to rein it in a bit.

Get more sleep

  I think if I declutter my head I will be able to do this much more easily. I fill my brain with internet nonsense, interspersed with frequent FB and email checks, so when I do get to bed, my mind is still racing with thoughts about what someone has posted/sent me/responses I can post etc etc.

  I also REALLY need to get an alarm clock. How will an alarm clock help me get MORE sleep??? Well, at the moment I only have my phone as a time-telling device, and when I wake up and check the time, it’s soooo tempteing to see if that crucial email has come through, or read the FB notiftication that’s on my home screen. If I replaced my phone with a clock to tell the time and wake me up (if that ever ceases to be the role of my children) i can leave my phone downstairs.

Look into happiness a bit more as a principle, not just an abstract concept

  One of the more useful things I stumbled across on FB (in contrast to the previously mentioned time-wastage) was this TED talk by Shawn Achor. For a while now I’ve been quite intrigued by this friend of mine- really a girl I went to school with who I always considered way too cool to even dream of calling a friend. She is now living in the US and seems to have found this spirituality and sense of meaning to her life which intrigues me. I’m fairly sure it’s not a religious type of spirituality [forgive me if I’m wrong, if you ever happens to read this, Katrina!], it seems more about doing good and feeling good and spreading good.  Good is a bit of a bland word, I know, but it’s more realistic than love and more grammatically correct than nice-ness. Anyway, in a nutshell, this guy talks about how people really try and put the cart before the horse and have lists of goals and life plans and things to aim for, they strive to reach a state of affairs which they believe is synonymous with happiness. Assuming they actually achieve all those things, though, inevitably there is then something new to aim for and so the goal posts shift or the finish line moves further away and they’re still not happy. Instead, he proposes we start recognizing and acknowledging the happiness that already exists in our lives, and in doing so become more content, more fulfilled and thereby inadvertently more productive (and if not, then at least happier without even having to tick off our to-do list- I extrapolated there, I don’t think he actually says that.) As a goal-setter from way back this had an immediate appeal to me. As I outlined in this post,  despite having achieved a lot, for example, at school, I still left with a great feeling of having missed out….

[As I finish off this post, it turns out today I received as a Christmas gift a voucher for a Kikki K workshop. I can choose between organisation, DIY, goals or happiness, and I think I’ll have no choice now that I’ve written this, but to go with happiness. Exciting!]

Calm, Kind, Courageous

Something else that she-of-the-happy-spiritual-blog mentioned, that I need to look into more, is choosing 3 concepts or qualities that you want to focus on and then approach everything (particularly challenges) in your life with those 3 things as guiding principles…. More TF.

Do more of the following

  I’m hoping that with a less cluttered head space less wasted time (and one more child- yeah right!) that maybe I’ll find some time to do more of any or all of the following. Things I’d kind of like to do, if I had all the time in the world would be:

  • Reading- anything’ll do, I have a load of books on my e-reader to get started on, so this should be achievable if I can make time
  • Relaxing/meditating/etc- I’ve never been good at meditating, yoga, or anything that involves switching my brain off (or at least focusing solely on the experience at hand). Even as a child on long car journeys (any car journey, really), I’d entertain myself with elaborate fantasies about all sorts of things, and happily pass the time day-dreaming away. My mind is not used to being quiet.
  • Doing something creative- Sadly, I’m not remotely artistic (and actually not really creative either) but I can usually follow a set of  basic instructions to produce a recipe, an easy sewing project, or a craft item. Not that I’m wanting to inflict home-sewn clothes on my kids (well unless I got really good!) but there are loads of handy little things I often think it’d be quite nice to whip up, even for presents etc. Anyway I think the sewing thing’s a way off but I got a craft knife and a few other bits and bobs for Xmas which might see me making my own birthday cards or something in 2015….

Anyway, it’s Christmas Day today, so Merry Christmas, Nadolig Llawen and general happy thoughts to all….

NYRs

I am a resolution-maker from way back. As a child, I loved going back to school. Apart from the fact that I was never terribly good at entertaining myself so got bored by about day 3 of the summer holidays, each back-to-school was a chance at a fresh start, to miraculously transform myself into something perfect (the inevitable and exponential annual deterioration somehow forgotten/denied/justified). I made New Year’s resolutions and birthday resolutions… not to be naughty, never to cry again (I’m not sure why this was such a point of shame but for some reason crying in front of other people was one of the biggest embarrassments I felt I could suffer as a child), to keep my room/desk/locker tidy, to wash my face every day, to be more “grown-up” (ironically I think if I wrote a list now it’d include “be less grown-up and more fun”), to always write neatly…. In fact, the handwriting resolution was renewed with every new exercise book throughout the year.

Albert Einstein is famed (among other things) for saying insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Every year I made these resolutions and, no surprise, every year I broke them. They were often the same old resolutions re-hashed, gaining a veneer of maturity as I got older, but essentially they were all in the same vein- be healthier, be nicer, work harder, ie BE BETTER.

Resolutions are great for making you think more about the way you want to live your life and what you think you can improve on, but they set you up for failure, really. You can’t be bothered exercising January 3rd and you’ve “failed” the daily exercise resolution. Ah, well, only 362 days until you can renew that one. You finish the last piece of Christmas cake on New Year’s Day- bang, there goes “eat healthily”. Essentially, a conventional list of New Year’s Resolutions sums up the perfect being you think you want to be without really giving any concession (or credit) to the flawed, busy, conflicted, trying-your-best (well ok sometimes) being you actually are.

And so I think it was the year I turned 30 that I decided “enough with all this”. Instead of writing a list of resolutions, I set myself some goals for the year. Some of them were a bit lame- I think I resolved to “go out more” and “meet new people” which are probably almost as pointless as “write neatly all the time”- they are as vague as the old ones were specific and therefore set themselves up for failure because they aren’t really very well defined and when you can’t define what you’re trying to achieve you can’t really achieve it.

But that year I decided I’d do a half marathon. There was some consideration as to “how” (run 3 times a week, follow training plan x, y or z- I suppose you could call them “sub-resolutions”) but my goal/resolution/whatever you want to call it was simply “Do a half marathon”. And I did. I didn’t run 3 times every week. I did follow training program x, y AND z, as well as a to w, sporadically and inconsistently. But I did it. I ran 21.1km in roughly 1 hr 50 minutes. It was the furthest I’ve ever run and as I was crossing the finish line in the Opera House forecourt I felt strangely emotional. The same kind of feeling I’ve had after accomplishing anything major despite the fact that your preparation is never perfect and you’re not quite sure you’re going to make it, you somehow do. (I’ve done loads more halves since, it’s my favourite running distance and is no longer the big deal it was to me then but I think therein lies another lesson- or blog post- about challenges and perspective and lots of other blogworthy themes.)

Since then, I try to think each year of what’s coming up and what I want to do in the year ahead. My list isn’t necessarily full of “goaly” goals- the items on it might include a holiday that’s already been half-planned, developing a hobby I already have (such as “do a photography course”) or even just an event that’s happening in my life that year (eg June: give birth). I try to make sure there aren’t too many of them and that they are some of the things a good goal should be- realistic and time-specific and all that self-help speak. Some of them get crossed off when I realise they’re not quite right for me this year- maybe they’re unnecessary, unrealistic or simply something I’m not prepared to put the time into just yet. Sometimes life goes off in a direction you don’t predict earlier in the year and your list needs to be amended. It’s kind of hard to always foresee where you’ll be in December when it’s only January, that’s part of the fun.

And so I’ve been thinking, “What’s on the cards for this year….?” My list is only half formed, there’s a big(ish) question mark hanging over the second half of 2014 at this point and things are about to change big time for the little Ls and myself when I go back to work in 3 weeks.

So let’s just say my list’s a work in progress and for the moment, to be continued….