2017 Spinning The Plates

Well, I know it’s like… half way through January, but dang, how did that happen??? 2017, I mean, it’s like I looked up and the year was over, and the new one had begun. That isn’t meant to happen when you are trying to live a ‘slow’ life.

I’m about to head off camping for a week so thought I’d jot down a few musings for 2017. I’ve done the whole ‘choose a word’ thing for each new year for the past couple of years, but like past resolutions, the word was quickly forgotten. I can’t even remember my last year’s word, and given 2016 finished only two weeks ago, I’m thinking that the ‘word’ thing doesn’t work for me.

I know that that particular exercise is inspired by that lovely feeling of possibility that comes with the start of a new year, and I completely embrace those possibilities. There is something so wonderful and energising about possibilities.

But I want to start as I mean to go on.

And I want to mean it. 

I’ve found what most inspires me is hope. Which can include ambition, and professional goals. But I think there is so much more to life than this limited framework. For me, hope includes plans for travel; working towards more meaningful interactions: with my family, with my friends, with my clients and work peers, and within the community that I live in.

Those connections are so important. Call me a cynic, or perhaps a little bit jaded, but there seems to be a lot of grabbing going on, in insidious ways. People ‘reaching out’ with the sole intention of trying to sell you something, sign you up to something, to get you follow them to increase their stats or numbers…

This year, 2017, is about looking for hope, enjoying what I’ve created, hoping it continues, investing myself in projects, and people and family so all the beauty does continue.

Finding joy in the small things and continuing my slow journey is a central focus. I feel lucky to be able to say that mostly I’ve got the ‘work/life balance’ right in my life. That’s partly due to committing to a slower lifestyle; you actually need less when you live slowly and intentionally. I know. A revelation.

 I’m looking for things that are bigger than me. The world is shrinking into the tiny social media connections of Facebook and Instagram and I don’t want to shrink with it.

Last year, I was in a client meeting and a team member was introduced and one of her ‘achievements’ was growing her Instagram followers to over 50,000. This was one of the reasons for having her on board. I left that meeting feeling a little disillusioned.

I’d gone back to uni to do my Masters’ in Editing & Communications. During the time that I was studying I gave birth to two of my three children. Visited the Mother & Baby Sleep Unit with both of them, sold our house, bought another and moved across the other side of the city, and in my final semester of uni I joined the Marketing and Communications department of a top tier law firm. It was a struggle to say the least. To hear that someone was on board the project because they grew their Instagram followers to 50,000 left me wondering if I’d wasted my time, energy and money on study.

When I say that the world is shrinking into our social media connections, I fear for struggle and the pain and the energy that people put in to doing work that has depth and real meaning. When someone can appear with a large Instagram following and be hired on the strength of that… Social media is the way of the world, I get that, but I live in hope that there is movement beyond this flakey imaginary world. I know now that my MA could never be wasted, because it was so personally enriching. That’s what I’m coming back to. Enriching my life, my family’s life, my friends’ lives.

This is why I took the month of December off Facebook and I rediscovered life before social media. Time to read, watch great TV (although there was no Netflix back then!). Don’t get me wrong I’ve actually made some lovely friends online, through blogging, who I’ve never met in person but definitely have a connection with. So YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, they all have a place, but rightfully, they should only take up a small space in our lives.

On my month off I discovered an embroidery in a box that my mother-in-law gave me so many years ago, when we still lived in England – before we were married. I had done one corner and started the second, put it away and forgot it ever existed. I’ve come back to that, I’ve done a little bit more on it. I’m rusty, that’s for sure.

When I started I had my mother-in-law to defer to, but now we live on opposite sides of the planet. I had forgotten how to do a french knot. When I realised I couldn’t remember how to do this, she would have been asleep so I couldn’t even Skype to ask. Thank goodness for YouTube (see, not all bad!). I’m still rusty, but at least I know how to do it now.

These are the little things that I speak of. Having projects, making plans, investing in my lovely community and friends and family. Rumi offers advice for those who have lost hope in life:

“Look as long as you can at the friend that you love.”

Friendships can nourish us. Strong relationships can nourish us.

Retreat in equal measure is just as important, which I experienced with my Facebook break. But it is also part of a living a slow and intentional life. Retreat provides sustenance. I’m still learning how to spin all the plates and keep things ticking over, but setting out with the intention to go gently means I look forward to the new year, whatever it may hold, with a simple recipe up my sleeve.

Retreat, hope, love, kindness and repeat. Practise one at a time, or all together.

Do you have a plan for your 2017?

Self-Actualisation: Pushing Through the Hard to Find the Sweet

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I’ve never been interested in self-actualisation through my career. Business is too cut throat for my liking. I’ve seen people whose entire identity is invested in their job suffer enormously because of it.

It can never end happily. Indeed, a woman I knew was so invested in her work that a shock redundancy left her so blind-sided she had a breakdown and then joined the ranks of the long-term unemployed, simply because she couldn’t find the strength to put herself back together and get on with things. It stripped her of her confidence, her sense of self, and her self-worth. She became a shell of herself. [Read more…]

Prune in June: For Life Not Just For Roses

Prune In JuneWe are now officially in the second half of the year. I don’t know about you but it was a genuine shock to me, when I really thought about this. Before we know it, Spring Carnival will be upon us and we’ll be planning for Christmas.

This really makes me shudder. Where has the year gone?

I made an error at the start of this year. I didn’t make any plans, or set any goals. So I’ve been flippin’ around life dodging dodgeballs, putting out fires and generally just enjoying the ride. But I don’t feel like I’ve achieved a great deal in these last six months.

I’ve been writing a bit about living a considered life. The more I think about it, the more I believe this to be the right path for my family and I. Flying by the seat of my pants is damned fun – but the journey is mostly circular, rather than linear. Without a plan, destination or goal I feel like I’m going round in circles. I think plans are good, even if they change – having a plan helps me feel more energetic about life. [Read more…]

Give Yourself Something Worth Celebrating!

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The end of the financial year never really had much significance for me; June 30 meant checking the letter box for my group certificate and making an appointment for my tax return. But I was reflecting on the fact that half the year had gone by (and so so quickly) and I realised that if I didn’t stop and consider things, the rest of the year would disappear without warning. I didn’t (and don’t) want to get to Christmas 2015 and think to myself ‘damn, I wished I checked in to see how I was travelling’.

Of course, I can say that now. Now that I’ve done it. I pulled out my lined journal that I wrote my goals in for 2015 and had a little look-see to check on my progress. What I found was very illuminating! [Read more…]

I think I’ve found the issue…

Featured Image via Pinterest

For some reason, 2015 has been weighing me down; I’ve felt claustrophobic at home, which prompted a major de-clutter. You can read about that here. And the thought of setting some goals and making a plan had the opposite effect, the only thing that went in to overdrive at thought of setting some goals, was avoidance! Read that one here.

Anyway, chronicling these little hurdles here, has helped a lot. And I’m making progress, but I still hadn’t been able to shake that heavy feeling, which I thought would lift once the cogs of daily life started turning again. But I think I’ve found the issue.

I had become way to earnest about, well, pretty much everything. I’d forgotten to factor in FUN!  I’d become preoccupied with these concepts that, if you pay attention to them, can improve your life, but if you forget the other essential ingredients, can leave you feeling a bit deflated.

Concepts like feeling calm in your home, making space, making plans and setting goals. These are all important for improving overall wellbeing, but if you don’t get the mix right, not much will improve.

I recently wrote an article (not yet published – but stay tuned) on incorporating an element of fun in to certain aspects of our lives. Reflecting on what I’d written I realised that was what was missing. I’d forgotten to have fun amongst all of this planning and reshuffling, so it all just felt like a chore.

Fun is necessary. It is oxygen for the soul, without it it won’t matter how purposeful your life is, you just won’t feel satiated. But fun is one of those things that can’t be planned for, or purposefully created. If you think back to when you were a child, fun was the over-riding raison d’etre, was it not?

Running under the sprinkler, rolling down hills, swinging on swings, climbing trees – it was all for the sake of having fun.

Once we become adults we are weighed down by adult things – going to work, paying bills, looking after family, paying the bills, going to work… So we become less open to opportunities for fun and more distracted by our grown-up commitments.

Sometimes we need to make the effort, and commit to having fun. I decided that I would buy myself a pair of roller-skates so I could skate with my eight-year-old daughter. It was one of my favourite things to do for years while I was growing up, and then I just stopped doing it. So I looked for roller-skates in the shops a couple of times after Christmas, but then, I just forgot about it. So I didn’t fully commit. So I’m calling myself out on this, and plan to get some this weekend.

Part of that commitment is putting ‘care-factor’ aside. There’ll be times when the grown-up me is worrying about the kids being tired tomorrow, or me being tired, or behind with my work, or the house needs to be tidied. There is always plenty to distract you away from having fun. I know I’m going to look a bit peculiar on roller-skates, but the possibility of fun needs to outweigh these issues sometimes.

So adding to my plans for 2015 is a commitment to FUN. Granted, fun is spontaneous – you can’t plan it, but when it comes to find me, I’ll be ready for it. I’ve learnt these past few weeks, being earnest is good, but having fun is better. Imminently better.

How do you have fun?

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Image courtesy of Bright Drops