Kicking off the new year with a new weekly incentive to put metaphorical pen to paper and what better place to start than with those New Years Resolutions…
I am excellent at good intentions. I love looking ahead and making plans – I am very good at optimism for the future. However, I am less effective when it comes to action in the present which is why most of my good intentions don’t quite stretch as far as they should.
But still, I love all the promise of new year, a fresh start, a clean slate and in it’s most literal sense, a blank page (365 of them in fact) to be scribbled and scrawled upon, to be lived with all the good intentions and inevitable slip-ups throughout the year. Because let’s not kid ourselves, there will be slip-ups. No one can eat healthy, exercise and write a thousand words per day every day of the year – sometimes you just need to be hungover, or sad, or sick, as I’ve realised quite quickly this year.
My resolutions and good intentions have mostly been put on hold for the first week of 2018. Admittedly, that was partly because I was enjoying my new New Year’s tradition of jetting off to Malta, but also because I’ve been under the weather. It’s been frustrating to be laid up all weekend, particularly this weekend when there’s so much to do – we’ve been away for a fortnight so there’s a mountain of washing and unpacking to do and the flat still holds all the charming chaos of those weeks leading up to Christmas – tree, decorations, wrapping paper, presents yet to be wrapped and delivered. And I had hoped to start the year as I meant to go on by dusting off my runners, with something delicious bubbling on the hob and a good book on my lap – well at least that’s one thing you can do from your sickbed. And my other half has been quite the domestic god doing all the cooking and cleaning this weekend. As people keep telling me, I need to take this time to recover, stressing about work isn’t going to make it happen any quicker (quite the opposite in fact) so best to just shut up and wait it out, preferably with a novel to hand.
So while my body forces me to sit tight and rest up before I really kick start 2018 in full force, I thought I’d share my first Five Things of the year – my New Years Resolutions.
1. Read, read, read
Unsurprisingly, ‘reading more’ is always top of my list. My little sister and I have been doing the Goodreads challenge for a few years and while the competitive edge has softened now that we’re both so busy, I still appreciate setting myself that target every year – not because it has to be reached, but because it reminds me how I want to spend my free time. It’s not about ticking 30 titles off the list, it’s about making the time to read them and valuing it over say the latest binge series on Netflix.
I buy books at a much greater pace than I actually read them (so much so that I can’t face the #unreadshelfproject2018 for fear of facing my own hoarding habits!) but you can’t buy the time to sit down and read them all; this is as close as it gets for me.
2. Try something new each month
I got three new cookbooks for Christmas and have already stickered the pages of those recipes which most whet my appetite. I receive two foodie magazines a month, spend my Saturday mornings (and much of my midweek evenings) glued to foodie shows on TV and pinning recipes is pretty much my default setting when my phone’s in my hand.
I consume food far more often than I actually eat it and again, like the books, it’s about time. I collect all these recipes and lists of ingredients I want to try my hand at but nine times out of ten on a tired Wednesday evening you’ll find me snuffling the same quick, simple, comforting bowl of pasta. It’s time to put all those good ideas on the chopping board!
3. Little Adventures
From the age of eight I lived in the middle of nowhere – no pavements, no streetlights, no next door neighbours, I was surrounded by rolling green valleys, trees and lots of sheep. I’m not sure I really appreciated some of the finer points of rural living at the time but since I started working in an office and sitting at a desk all day I’ve come to understand how important it is to get out and about and stretch those legs.
I’ve always loved blowing the cobwebs off with a walk on the beach but over the past year I’ve really come to appreciate just being in the presence of trees, seeing the seasons change, it’s amazing how such a simple thing can have such an impact on your mood. Thankfully I work in a park so having a lunchtime ramble has become part of my daily routine but living in the middle of a city my weekends see the step counter plummet (unless I’m out dancing to the early hours, the health benefits of which are probably offset by the several pints of cider which fuel it) but it’s not just about the physical health benefits. I think we need to spend time in green spaces, to smell the flowers and to push ourselves up mountains. So I plan to make little adventures in the great outdoors a monthly pursuit.
4. Write, write, write
Another regular on my annual resolutions list, I always want to write more and regularly fail to do so. But this year I’m starting strong – I mean, look at me I’m writing! It may be unstructured, spewed-out nonsense but hey, I didn’t say I wanted to rival Shakespeare.
I’m also trying to keep a more consistent journal which I’ve done sporadically since I was about ten. It’s cathartic just to get ink on a page and for me, I generally only work out what I think or how I really feel by putting it down on paper. Yes I hope to write a novel one day and do in fact have the bones of one in a box by my bed, but if that starts with a nightly word vomit about Seville Oranges in a notebook then I’m willing to take the baby steps.
5. Get together
As the years roll on, I see more and more of my friends scattered a little further beyond our old haunts. Just going for a pint on a Saturday or meeting for a bite to eat midweek isn’t possible with all those people I hold dear anymore, and for those who are within reach it’s still a struggle to get everyone in the same place at the same time. So get-togethers might need some high level strategical planning now, but it’s always worth it. And what better way to enjoy all those green spaces and delicious dishes than in the company of good friends! Three birds, one well-spent afternoon… if it can be executed.
I’m not particularly great at keeping on top of the group messages, I’m worse at just calling for a chat and I’m pretty sure I have low-level anxiety about facetime. For me, friendship pretty much happens face to face or in fairly lackadaisical messages back and forth once in a blue moon. I’m sure it comes from being an only child for a decade, and living in the middle of nowhere for another, but I’m fairly self-reliant, happy in my own company, in fact were this the 18th century I’m pretty sure I’d live as a hermit on some dramatically beautiful moors. Actually that sounds quite nice. But yes, must make more time for group chats and catch-ups, must plan more get-togethers, must not become sad, 21st century Bronte without the excellent fiction.