New Year New Blog

So, it would appear the WordPress powers that be punished me for not blogging enough last year, and shut me down, almost forcing me to start a new blog. I guess that would make one of my new year’s resolutions be to blog more, but if you’re at all familiar with me or my work, you’ll know my feelings on new year’s resolutions and my belief and that they are an evitable path to failure. Generally speaking, they are just grand, vague empty promises you make to yourself about the better person you’re going to become in the new year. But the problem is, you have no idea how to become that person. You’ve identified the destination, but you have no road map for how to get there.   

2018 was by no means an easy year for me. Perhaps marginally better than 2017, I only had one hospital stay, but just as many doctors’ visits. I went through shoulder rehab, fell off the shoulder rehab wagon, and then climbed back on the wagon late in the year. I went through a serious bout of seasonal depression, found out my inner child was still really angry about a lot of stuff and I lost my last remaining grandparent. However, I also went on an amazing holiday to a Greek Island. I saw Ed Sheeran live. I welcomed a nephew into this world and I saw my beloved Seahawks kick some serious ass live, with my Big Bruv. Hubby and I went on an incredible trip to the Kruger and watched an unforgettable lunar eclipse together. And even though I no longer have grandparents, for most of my life I had the best grandparents, and that’s more than most people ever get.

I know undoubtedly that part of what made 2018 marginally easier was that I had a road map. No more vague destinations in mind, but clearly defined landing points. Perhaps not exact GPS coordinates, but definitely instructions on how to get there. I also learnt (and am still learning) that change is a skill that requires practice. You can’t change overnight, it requires deliberate and consistent action in the right way and the right order, over time. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. As you would build on any skill, if you want to make a change, you have to practice getting better at making changes.

I still need to lose a significant amount of weight. I still need to get fitter and healthier. I still need to read and write more. However, I am currently following a healthy eating plan and have cut down significantly on my junk food intake (no small feat for me). I am exercising every day – almost miraculous considering where I was in the middle of the year. I have done a full edit of my first draft of the first novel I ever completed and plan to continue working on it in the new year, and I am ready to tackle the 52-book reading challenge this year. I have a schedule of when I write and I already know most of the books I will be reading to fulfil each category of the book challenge. See. Roadmap.

These sound a lot like resolutions and I guess they are, although I prefer to call them goals as they are long-term changes in mindset and not whimsical, vague ideas of transformation. To anyone looking to make genuine resolutions for 2019 I would recommend picking low hanging fruit. Pick something small, simple, and repeatable that you’re guaranteed to succeed at. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that you succeed with it. This will help you to practice change. Master change first and then up the ante on what you’re trying to change.

My commitments for the year are as follows:

  • Treat days on Wednesdays and Sundays only.
  • Follow exercise programme from biokineticist.
  • Work on novel every day.
  • Work on blog Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • Read an average of one book per week.

I plan to post throughout the year on my goals and their progress. Please follow me on my journey – I welcome encouragement – and share yours with me. A prosperous 2019 to you and yours!

New Year New Me – Bleh!

I think it would be pretty fair to say last year was a tough year for myself and Hubby. In many ways I came full circle. I started the year in a mental health clinic, balancing my epileptic medication as side-effects from my seizures were causing crippling depression, and I finished the year in hospital having a shoulder operation to fix a debridgement of my rotator cuff – something that took over six months to diagnose. I spent much of the year in doctors’ rooms, including two other hospital stays, I went for many scans and x-rays and swallowed a lot of pills. I lost my best friend to suicide. I felt like joining him more than once. I cried. A lot.

But I also had an amazing 30th birthday party with all my best friends, a jumping castle and a homemade birthday cake with mirror glaze icing and a ninja turtle on top – courtesy of Hubby’s hard work. We had an amazing overseas holiday for my Big Bruv’s wedding in Glasgow where we also managed to squeeze in an Emeli Sande concert, a Russell Kane standup show and a stay in a five-star hotel in the heart of London (generous belated wedding gift courtesy of my Aunt). We welcomed two beautiful kittens into our family, Gazza and Seba, and have watched their individual personalities develop with amazement and amusement. I tasted the most amazing cheesecake ever. We finally finished the 150-metre “buy in bulk and save” tin foil that we bought about two and a half years ago (a proud moment). We got to visit the in-laws twice, which always involves sand between my toes and a special feeling in my soul that only the sea can awaken. I strengthened the friendships worth keeping and loosened ties that were weighing me down.

So, when people on social media are all about “Can’t wait to see the back of 2017!”, “2017 sucked, bring on 2018!”, I can’t help but think, “Did it really suck? All of it? Enough to be wishing time away?” Because the saying goes that life is short, but in truth, it’s the longest thing any of us will ever have (that we know of for sure) and it seems awfully tragic to wish any of it away, even the painful parts. There’s also this weird phenomenon that I’ll call New Year New Me, where people seem to think that when the clock strikes midnight and the date changes from December 31st to January 1st, everything will magically change and all that was wrong in 2017 will magically disappear. Everything they struggled with in 2017 will no longer be a challenge; any and all trials and tribulations will suddenly become completely avoidable. But the truth is, who you were yesterday, is exactly the same person you are today. Literally the only thing that’s changed is the date. And you probably have a hangover.

So, this is the point at which you start to talk about New Year’s Resolutions. Those grand, vague empty promises you make to yourself about the person you’re going to become this year, so that if 2018 turns out to be just as shit as 2017 was, at least you’ll be able to turn that shit into compost and grow some freaking flowers in it, cos that’s the kind of optimistic, proactive, energetic, go-getter you’re going to become. Problem is, you have no idea how to become that person. You’ve identified the destination, but you have no road map for how to get there. So, before you know it, it’s December 31st and your social media posts are looking oddly familiar: “Can’t wait to see the back of 2018!”, “2018 sucked, bring on 2019!” And you’re wishing even more of your limited time on this earth away.

Right, now let me step off this soap box before it crumbles under my considerable weight. I too have been that person, making my fair share of New Year’s Resolutions, usually revolving around wanting to lose weight and getting fitter and healthier. I’ll usually throw something extra in about wanting to read more and write more – pursue those things that make me more me. But I inevitably spend another year on the couch, watching series, eating healthier perhaps and going for the occasional walk, but also stuffing my face with junk food and before I know it another year has passed me by and I still feel uncomfortable in my clothes, I still can’t walk up the stairs without feeling out of breath, the first draft of my novel has still gone unedited and the pile of books I haven’t read has quadrupled in size.

But this year I’m determined to make things different. Because this year I’m going to have a road map. No more vague destinations in mind, but clearly defined landing points, right down to the GPS coordinates, with exact instructions on how to get there. I started off by signing up for the Sleek Geek 14-day challenge (it was free – yay!) and I have learnt quite a lot so far:

Shift in Mindset: Change is a skill and requires practice. You can’t change overnight, it requires deliberate and consistent action in the right way and the right order, over time. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. As you would build on any skill, if you want to make a change, you have to practice getting better at making changes. So, don’t start off huge with a “I’m going to lose 20kg”. That’s basically equivalent to someone who has never touched a piano in their lives saying I’m going to learn to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” flawlessly by Friday. Pick a low hanging fruit. Something small, simple, and repeatable that you’re guaranteed to succeed at. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that you succeed with it. This will help you to practice change. I have chosen a few that I plan to build on once I have (hopefully) achieved success with these in the coming weeks:

  • Take my multi-vitamins and supplements every day (I have a tendency to forget).
  • Drink 2 litres of water every day.
  • Sit outside for at least fifteen minutes every day.

I think that’s a good place to start and a good place to leave it for today. I plan to post throughout the year on my lifestyle goals and their progress. Let’s see how well I do on that ‘resolution’. A prosperous 2018 to you and yours!