Tuesday, 3 January 2017

16 going on 17... On last year and the delicious new one

Image: Unsplash
If you've come here to read a big review of 2016 then I'll tell you now - this post will disappoint. Yes, we all know that year (can we start referring to it in a Voldemort-esque way please?) was a right load of toot for so many people but there were some good things, things to focus on and remember.

For us, that meant my dad getting the all clear after months of gruelling radiotherapy, a new tattoo, moving house, celebrating at the weddings of friends and family, new kittens, turning 40 with a bang, visiting new places, and my boyfriend working so hard to land a pretty sweet job. I think those are the main highlights.

So if those were our roses, what about the thorns?

Remember me writing so smugly about giving up the car? Turns out I regret that decision. Ferrying seven of us about by public transport is a massive ball ache and I've spent as much on hire cars, trains, taxis, Ubers, car club fees and bus fares as it would cost to take out a lease on a new car. Which I think we might end up doing. Feels a bit of a defeat but right now it's the reality of the situation.

In with the new and all that. Maybe turning 40 has brought out the cynic in me but I've been thinking about resolutions for a while now and I'm not sure there's anything I'm prepared to commit to entirely. I've seen enough new years and enough broken resolve (along with its associated shame, guilt and bad feeling) to want to do things a little differently. More of those slices of joy I wrote about last year.

My approach for 2017 is to reject deprivation and to opt for pleasure. Radical, huh?

Rather than those unilateral statements writ large enough to properly hurt when they come back to haunt you, here's what I'm trialling:


I LOVE food. Recipe books are my bedtime reading of choice and I'm a sucker for a trip to a market, a new ingredient, a new take on an old classic. I could also do with dropping a few pounds. Not because I'm unhappy with who I am, right now, at this weight, but for other reasons - I want to remain on the healthy side, fit into my favourite clothes, and be fit enough (< that's important, the enough bit) to be able to lark about with the kids.

There'll be no gloomy carrot sticks and punitive diet drinks for me though. That just makes me unhappy. Instead, I'm opting for the food that sits at the centre of this venn diagram:

For me, that means hearty bean and lentil stews, curries, salads, asian flavours, my breakfast obsession, good quality ingredients and less, better quality booze. And enough water. It also means beautiful crockery, proper glasses, meals at the table set with the good cutlery and vases of flowers. Someone important is coming to supper - me.


This approach applies to exercise as well. Bring on the swimming and the walking and the bike rides and the yoga and the dancing. Nothing more to say on the subject.


Working from home means putting thought into these four walls. Do I want my view for most of my waking hours to be piles of stuff everywhere or do I want to feel content with having enough beautiful things? But I'm more of a bin-bag-every-so-often girl rather than a joy-sparking Kon Mari. I like Me and Orla's prompt - if you wouldn’t buy it if you saw it now, let it go. More good advice from her here.


Working from home also means that I'm alone with the stillness and quiet of my own thoughts a lot of the time. This can lead to spiralling, paranoia and catastrophisation if I'm not careful. It's also tricky going from one extreme to another - hours alone in a peace that's loudly broken by the invasion of five kids aged six to ten.

A friend who also has five kids went away on a yoga retreat recently and told me about the hour of meditation they were encouraged to do each morning. Since her return, she's given herself ten minutes to do the same before her manic day begins. She gets up, lights a candle, covers her shoulders with a blanket and counts and breathes, breathes and counts. The result? Headspace and calm, the two things she's been seeking for years. I'd like to try it.


That's all. No great proclamations, no unrealistic goals, just a couple of things I'd like to try that I think will make life livelier.

How about you? Do you make resolutions? Can you stick to them? What's your approach instead?

Oh, and belated Happy New Year!

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