Word for 2017: Make

As I mentioned in my 2016 post, last year I didn’t do very well at concentrating on my hopes rather than drifting into making-myself-feel-slightly-guilty resolution territory. Feeling bad because of a date on the calendar isn’t something I really want to do deliberately! At the same time the turning of the year is still the main benchmark of time passing, along with birthdays and anniversaries I guess (and my birthday is pretty much at the end of the year so all gets bundled together anyway!) so I still like to mark it.

I’ve seen lots of people choosing a word to sum up the upcoming year for them. I think this started with this email course, which I confess I haven’t done. ‘Make’ just kind of came about organically. I started off trying to write about my hopes again and the post just wasn’t working, although I realised that every one of my hopes revolved around making, so much so I was trying to find synonyms so I wasn’t overusing ‘make’. This seemed to be a good indication it is something I should focus on this year.

I want to make by crafting more – if I’m making something (anything) I’ll be happy. I’ve already kicked this off by starting to use up various craft kits I’ve never used. I’m not worrying about what I’ll do with the finished item, just enjoying the process and making some space in the cupboards too. I’m also looking forward to starting to do some basic crafts with Felicity – she’s just starting to enjoy scribbling and I’m looking forward to some crafty fun with her this year.

It’s also about making the most of time this year. I find that my ‘free time’ is limited – on a good evening we get around an hour and a half after Felicity is in bed to relax. Often we have chores or life admin to be doing, and on the bad nights she wakes regularly and I’m up and down stairs all evening. It’s too easy to sit and mess about on the internet rather than actually making the most of my time – by crafting, reading or putting a little thought into really enjoying our downtime (otherwise known as hygge).

It’s also making time to do fun stuff with Felicity and engaging with her properly. I’m aware that sometimes my phone is too much of a distraction, I don’t want this to be the case. I’m not going into a smartphones are evil rant as they’re not. Having busy whatsapp groups constantly chattering is a wonderful way of feeling connected with the people I like best. But I probably don’t need to check Facebook twice an hour (especially as I don’t often post) to get that connection. Not frittering, not being super productive, just making the most of my time.

Another element to ‘making’ is that 2017 is the year where we’ve got to get a lot done on the house and make it into even more of a home. We need a new kitchen, which is going to be a huge project and will be one of the first (and definitely the most expensive) way of putting a permanent stamp on our house. I’m hoping to continue getting pictures on the walls, as we still have things propped up on the dining room floor – two years in is getting silly – and generally just nesting.

I’m really looking forward to seeing if using a single word like this is going to be something I enjoy thinking about over the year too. We’ll see how it’s gone this time next year!

Farewell December and 2016 hopes 

Happy belated new year to you! This post is a little bit late as we saw 2016 out with Will’s parents at their new house on the North Norfolk coast, which is internet free at the moment – is near a rather lovely beach where we saw a stunning Winter about to set sun.

Our November run of illnesses and breakages unfortunately continued into December. After a bout of a vomiting bug, more colds and the house still being a tip after the leak that happened whilst the boiler was being fitted (they’d had to rapidly move the piles of stuff we’d cleared for them to do the fitting all over the place as they were trying to find the leak as quickly as possible and were taking the floorboards up!) we called time on the plan of us hosting Christmas, as Will’s lovely Mum offered to cook lunch at their house instead. 

We were so grateful and it was a good thing we’d changed the plan as the oven then conked out a few days before Christmas. What with that and the dishwasher breaking, and the fact that the rest of the kitchen is heading towards the end of its life anyway we are going to replace the whole thing (if it’s in anyway in our budget from the money we’ve been putting aside for the purpose – a big if!). What with all this, and the general grimness of the world more generally – I am not sad to say goodbye to 2016.

December wasn’t all bad though – we celebrated my 30th with a trip to the Ritz for afternoon tea. It was lovely and I’ll write a whole post about it at some point! After we recovered from our various bugs and finished work for Christmas we did manage to have a lovely relaxed time, pottered about at home, had a wonderful Christmas Day thanks to Will’s Mum and Dad, had a day out to London Zoo using the membership we got as a Christmas gift, then topped it off with our trip to Norfolk. Hoping this means a good start to 2017!

2016 Hopes

I’m not a big one for New Year resolutions – mainly because I tend to make lots of ‘must do better’ resolutions and changes throughout the year and I prefer being a bit gentle and hopeful with myself at the start of the year in the dark and the cold. I think last year’s hopes strayed a little bit into resolution territory and I didn’t do so well with them as I did the previous year as a result. I’m going to take a different approach for 2017, but I thought this was a good time to reflect back on my 2016 hopes.

They were:

Being more thoughtful: this was all about remembering to think about our wonderful friends and family more, and generally I think I managed this quite well. Going back to work has meant I have ‘the book’ of organisation which if I lost it would mean we don’t know what we’re doing, eating or anything really. This has helped me keep track of things more which is great at feeling less reactive and guilty when special days for people go whizzing past.

Enjoying my particular life: not overly comparing myself to others (especially where parenting is concerned) – this had mixed results. I can definitely not claim to have never got stressed about Felicity’s sleep in comparison with others, or doubted my decisions, not helped by Health Visitors who just tend to lecture me about how all her sleep habits are wrong when I see them. But generally I’m aware we’re doing things the best way for our family and we’re all happy and healthy. I also read a great polemic by Zoe Williams about the sometimes toxic nature of modern parenting advice and judgement which helped to clarify things – I’m now reccomending it to pregnant friends!

Making – this just did not happen. Aside from helping out a bit with a friend’s wedding (lots of pom poms) I haven’t really been making anything. This is entirely due to a lack of free time, and energy to work out what I should make. I haven’t given up though – this is making a reappearance this year.

Sleep. Ha! Felicity’s sleep is so much better than this time last year, but I still might have cried if you’d told me that her sleeping through the night, even once, hadn’t happened yet. I have had seven hour stretches of sleep a couple of times, but generally I’m functioning on a few two or three hour spells over a night, which after fourteen months is rather draining.

A lot of thes were a bit too much like a resolution to actually work in the way I wanted. I hoped to think of things that I could achieve the spirit of which I will try to do in 2017.

2016 hopes 

At the beginning of 2015 I thought about the main hopes I had for the year ahead. I wanted to avoid a list of hard to achieve resolutions. Partly because I think it is easy to be over ambitious and a bit mean to yourself which doesn’t really work and also because I’m a chronic resolution maker throughout the year. At New Year I want something a bit more overarching. So instead I thought about what my main hopes were, and I found this a kind and gentle way of trying to concentrate on the really important things over the next year. I didn’t do badly at keeping them in mind all year either. So here are my hopes for 2016

Being more thoughtful: I have been so touched by the amount of people who sent good wishes, cards, presents and generally thought of us when Felicity was born. It was amazing to have such an outpouring of love. I’m awful at remembering dates, remembering to send cards or even thinking of you texts. It makes me so happy to share in the joy of friends and family so this year I really hope I can be more thoughtful towards those I love. It brings me so much pleasure too! 

Enjoying my particular life: otherwise known as not comparing myself to anyone else. This is skirting dangerously close to a resolution, but it’s more about being content with my life now. It’s easy to get into a spiral of thinking others are doing better than you, especially with social media. This is generally irrelevant and quite toxic thinking. I am very happy with my life; comparisons are meaningless, I know. I want to just keep pottering on my merry way this year without comparison or angst, despite becoming a parent, which seems like it could be a bit of a hotbed of competitive comparisons (especially about how others babies are sleeping/behaving/how other Mums are doing so much better etc.). If our little family is happy and healthy by the end of 2016, that is all that matters. 

Making: a simple one, despite the wriggly little person I want to ensure I have time for a little making, quite simply because it makes me happy and content. Not about what I make or how good it is – the act of doing it is enough. 

Sleep: self explanatory and the most longed for! 

Wishing all my readers a very happy 2016. If you have any big hopes for the new year  I’d love to hear them. 

End of year reflections 

 It’s that time of year when everyone starts reflecting on the year just ending – like the nine best of 2015 which has been doing the rounds on Instagram. I was amused to see that my best of Instagram is basically pregnancy, baby and a tiny bit of craft and house stuff – which does just about sum up the last year for me! At the end of last year I wrote a post about my hopes for 2015  (resolutely not resolutions!). I have really enjoyed looking back at these and thinkng about the high and low points of the past year, so here are my reflections at the end of 2015. 

Focus on what I enjoy – this was all about spending more time on what genuinely gives me joy rather than on time frittering activities. I think that within the circumstances – a bit of a tough early pregnancy, at the same time as moving house and keeping up to date with the day job – I managed this quite well. The house is really feeling like a home (I will share more about this at some point), I carried and gave birth to our beautiful daughter and even had time to make a few things! We had a lovely last holiday just the two of us in Cornwall, and I had some serious time to focus on the things I enjoy with a month of maternity leave before the birth. Saying that though, I do feel that this blog has been very neglected, which I am sad about as it is definitely something I enjoy doing. Something to work on in 2016 I think? 

Being more thankful – I have really taken this to heart this last year. Partly because I think feeling quite poorly for a while makes everything brighter and lovelier and the little things more satisfactory when you feel better. 

The wider world has seemed like an incredibly dark place recently. Especially whilst pregnant and after having Felicity I identify* when hearing about pregnant women or those with tiny babies getting into unsafe boats, walking across Europe or living in the appalling conditions at Calais. Since birth Felicity hasn’t slept for much more than a couple of hours on her own without being held by someone; and she’s now almost two and a half months. This is – I’m not going to sugar coat it – tough. When she’s sleeping peacefully on my chest at 3am and I’m too scared about her rolling off and getting suffocated to sleep myself although I am exhausted, I have still thought how incredibly lucky I am that she is happily sleeping in a warm house, with a ridiculous amount of clothes, toys and ‘stuff’ and is, above all, safe. It isn’t fair of course that by luck of country of birth my baby is safe when so many others aren’t, but I can be thankful and count our many many blessings.

Live more lightly – this was all about living more ethically, and I have mixed feelings about whether it’s happened. I’m now happier with our food choices – we’ve cut down on the amount of meat we eat and when we do it has been ethically raised. The rest of my purchasing has been more mixed – it was all going so well until I was more at home with Felicity and then I succumbed to the ease of Amazon for Christmas shopping. On the other hand almost all our baby stuff is secondhand and I’m still more of an eBay fiend than an Amazon fan. Something to keep working on I think. 

I really valued having these hopes to focus on this year, so I’m already thinking about what I’m about 2016. There will be a post on this soon. 

*Though saying I identify is not to make out that motherhood somehow makes me more able to empathise. This annoyed me before I had a baby so don’t want to repeat the mistake! 

New Year hopes

I love the turn of the year as a natural point to stop and think about the year just gone and the year ahead. I’m generally not a New Year’s resolution maker as a lot of the traditional things people focus on – such as getting fit – seem overly optimistic to start at the darkest and coldest time. Resolutions also tend to be all or nothing, once made, the first failure means the whole thing is forgotten. I also tend to make different resolutions throughout the year, and I think I’d get too lazy if I only did this in January! So instead these are some general things I’d like to be guided by in 2015, I just won’t call them actual resolutions!

Focus on what I enjoy. This encompasses the things I try and talk about on this blog – making, travelling, spending time outside, reading and generally making the most of life. 2014 didn’t have as much of these things as I would have liked – mainly due to a lot of admin type things relating to the wedding and house buying. So my hope for 2015 is that we can have lots of trips to the seaside, catch ups with old friends, time making lots of things by hand, a few jaunts away and make our new house a real home, somewhere we want to stay forever. I also want to stop wasting so much time doing ‘meh’ things, I think we all do those things (like randomly surfing the Internet, keeping something on TV that you’re not that bothered about), but rather focus on things that actually bring joy.

Being more thankful. I try to do this at the moment, and want to continue next year. Mainly I want to either be thankful for what I’ve got, and not moan, or change things if I’m not happy, I think being thankful is helpful for distinguishing which is which!

Live more lightly. Well doesn’t that sound pompous? I mean this in the sense of trying to live more ethically. I want to avoid bad retailers, buy more from ethical or local shops, try to mainly buy secondhand, eat less meat, be kinder to the environment. We’ve started this already, so I want to continue in 2015.

Hopefully I’ll be able to work towards these things just a little bit over the next year. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a good one, with a house move and our first year as a married couple!

If you’re not really a resolution maker I recommend looking at Sarah Rooftop’s list of things to do every day in January – such a good idea!