Wow, where did January go?! I can’t believe that as I’m typing this, more than half of January has already whizzed by.
It’s been a busy start to 2017 for me. After a year of focusing on my cook book and very little else other than the boys, I opened my doors to some freelance work. It’s been lovely to do some different bits and pieces for clients but it’s been a bit all-consuming over the last few weeks.
I have always found that with freelance work it can come in big waves and it’s very difficult to say no when people want your help with something (and want to pay you!). Over time, I have learnt that it’s not about saying ‘no’ to work as such, but more about being realistic with what I can achieve given the other demands that life throws at me. For my sanity, I have to manage my own expectations around that, as well as others.
Much easier said that done, of course. Often times I set unbelievably high expectations for myself, as many women do – juggling the demands of being good partners, mothers and homemakers, along with all the work and wanting to be my best with everything. But we cannot be the best of things to all people.
Now things have calmed down, it has given me back a little bit of headspace to think about what I want for this year. Not the big stuff like women’s rights to respect and for choice as to what happens to their own bodies (!); wanting a safe and compassionate community for my boys to grow up in and so on, but the little things that will make a difference to the day-to-day of our lives. Reflecting on the small changes of focus that I can make, that will radiate a bigger impact on our life as a family of four.
These are not resolutions as such, because for me, resolutions can feel forced and almost artificial. I have always found that when I make changes more gently and go lightly with my expectations, that they become more deep-rooted and sustainable. For me, I find that my outlook on things shifts over time. I spot gaps or areas of our life that need a little tending to or more focus and I find ways to adjust the balance to something that feels more instinctive and right.
Calving Out Time
So leading on from this, one thing I really want to do is to mould myself into a morning person. I am absolutely convinced, having managed to do this on a few occassions now, that the early morning hours are absolutely golden for me. The house is still, calm and quiet. It’s just me, a large cup of steamy tea, and my thoughts.
My mind is so fresh and clear as soon as I’ve woken up and I want more of this. My best work is done in these fringe hours.
I’m getting there slowly. I read a tip to set your alarm 15 minutes earlier every week for a month, and this feels manageable to me rather than making a bigger leap. My target is a firm 5 o’clock wake up. And I mean 5 o’clock natural wake up – when my body feels rested and ready to go. I’m definitely at that point at 6am, so I just need to continue to work backwards. I especially want to focus on this while it’s summer and the sun will help me reset with her energy.
Eating (Even) More Plants
I have eaten very little in the way of meat, poultry or fish for a long time. It started off as an issue of sustainability for me (the resources it takes to produce livestock for food and the dwindling supplies of fish in the oceans), but eventually, animal welfare became a stronger pull.
I could have made this decision a long time ago but I put off going vegetarian because from a compassion perspective, it feels like an uncomfortable middle ground where we kind of ignore the lives of dairy cattle and their beautiful baby calves, male chicks and so on. And yet, going completely vegan, felt very difficult, even for me and my adoration of all things plant-based.
In the end, I decided that becoming vegetarian was a step in the direction I want to move to, and although it is a small step, it is still important.
For now, the boys are not bound to follow my beliefs, although from a practical point of view, because I cook for them, they eat mostly plants anyway! I did talk to Laurence about my decision and explained why I didn’t want to eat animals anymore. His response was kind of along the lines of, well they taste nice, so I’d like to keep eating them… Fair enough.
A couple of year’s ago I read Marie Kondo’s decluttering book I found that her advice of asking yourself whether things bring you joy, really resonated with me and has completely changed my outlook on everything we own. Rob and I will often turn to each other now and ask whether something brings us joy, and if not, then we sell the inanimate object (Facebook selling groups are great for this) or give it away to the charity shop.
Slowly but surely we are whittling down our possessions and hope soon, to be surrounded only by things we truly love.
This perspective has also followed through when I’ve been shopping for new things. I’ve been scouting lots of bits and pieces for the beach house, but every single purchase has been much more intentional whether it was a bin for under the sink or a fridge that fitted into recess in the kitchen…
I cannot tell you how many breakfast bar stools I have looked at before I found the perfect ones (which I am still waiting delivery of – I’ll be sure to take a pic).
I feels much better being so intentional with our ‘things’, and our space at home feels much more calm and connected as a result.
Learning A New Skill
Finally, when I’m procrastinating at my desk I can often see little white triangle boats dotted across the bay (I have to squint a bit) and it fills me with a longing to be out on the water. I have zero experience of boats and actually, I have been quite sea sick in the past on ferries, but I am ignoring that for now, at least.
To realise my romantic idea of sailing off on sunny weekend afternoons with a book and a picnic, I will first need to learn to sail and so that is on the bucket list for this year. It’s more of a ‘nice to have’ if I can make the time, but I really hope I can. A couple of years ago I did a floristry course, and I find learning a new skill and being away from my day-to-day reality, really grounds me and fills up my cup, as it were.
I’d love to hear what you are hoping for this year in the comments.