Monday, 23 January 2017

Little Victories

Since well before Thanksgiving, the Gratitude/Happiness/Memories Jar memes were doing the rounds of Facebook (again). I've no idea when this tradition started, but, since it seems to include reading back all the memories, happy moments and things to be grateful for at Thanksgiving, I expect that it's more of a 'thing' in the USA.

The rules are simple, because they're basically whatever you want them to be.You take a storage or preserving jar, a pen, a stack of small note-paper strips or squares. You label and decorate the jar if you like. Daily or occasionally, you record something you're thankful for, a happy moment or memory, and pop it in the jar. Then, at the end of the year, or whenever you're in need of cheering up, you read the notes.

It's a lovely idea, definitely something I would do if I had children. I toyed with the idea of starting a jar this year and can easily find a jar, but where to put it? And considering that I can always find something to be grateful for or happy about, how big a jar might I need?

Mulling all this over, I thought about how I'd forgotten what I'd achieved last year. What and how much do I learn over a year? All the little skills or bits of knowledge which I acquire in the course of crafting, teaching, learning, doing, or simply because something arouses my curiosity so I go and look it up. Some things I forget completely, sometimes I remember them and 'know what I know', and others become embodied and automatic, as if there wasn't a time when I didn't know them.

So I am going to record them (when I remember to - no absolutes here!), in a diary rather than a jar. Not just some of the bits and pieces I learn, but the Yay! moments, no matter how small, whether it's managing to do tummy/diaphragm flutters (still working on that!), finishing a piece of work or doing a job I've been avoiding (for me, that's generally anything which needs me to get the stepladder out). It doesn't matter what others would think of them, because the important thing is their personal significance.

If reading back the notes in a gratitude jar can lift the spirits, then perhaps reviewing all the little victories of daily life can give a real boost to motivation and self-esteem.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

Here we are again, how the years fly by! Time for another introspective, retrospective, New Year post, and the now-traditional picture of the London Fireworks.

Fireworks over London, 1 January 2017

I had more 'Christmas Dos' - meals and meet-ups rather than parties - in December than I've had in a long, long time. The food was very good, the company, chat and laughter all wonderful. I then had a very quiet, solitary Christmas and New Year, which suited me very well, as I knitted and watched TV, lazed in bed, cuddled my clingy cats and generally hibernated. The rest and relaxation had a practical side too; since the cold snap in November, my joints feel as though they have seized and my knees are especially painful. It's now two years since I took any pain meds and I'm trying to stay away from them and manage instead with targeted exercises, distraction, breathing, rest and so on. I've also been fighting off a cold, which so far has not really materialised, but every time I think it's gone, I wake up the next day with a sore throat and fuzzy head. It's just a mild nuisance, nothing compared to the fact that a couple of my friends have been quite ill with flu over the festive season, and my friend S spent Christmas in hospital after some more attempts to lower her intracranial pressure. Really, I've nothing to complain about! Still, the joint pain meant I really couldn't be bothered to tidy my projects away in the living room enough to put decorations up, and have to take them down a couple of weeks later. Not very festive, but I'd only myself to please.

The usual cluttered chaos of beads, yarns, fabrics etc. and general lack of progress getting everything ship-shape made me wonder how to change my habits and what, in fact, I'd achieved this year. Evidently not lots of blog posts. Or cleaning and sorting out. I couldn't remember what I'd done with my time, so glanced back over my diary and to do lists.

I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. I'd cleaned and placed several items of furniture and unpacked several boxes. I'd attended workshops, including 5 days of contemporary dance summer school, to maintain my continuing professional development. I'd updated my emergency first aid certificate. I'd trained as a LIFT (Low Impact Functional Training, in other words, gentle exercise) leader for Age Cymru and covered quite a few classes. Two dance festivals, two choreographies (not counting what we produced for the end-of-summer-school show). Then from midsummer onwards I spent a ridiculous amount of time preparing for a series of workshops which, in the end, didn't attract enough students to run. (I bumped into one of the other tutors just before New Year and we stood in the middle of Lidl and chatted, commiserating over our zero hours contracts and what this next year might bring.) A few other bids for jobs too, all unsuccessful. I  extended my Photoshop and Word skills. And ended the year (at Yule) three kilos lighter than I'd started it.

Actually, a few weeks on and my sedentary and indulgent seasonal holiday has left me almost back where I started. So my first resolution for this year is to call a moratorium on buying sweets, cakes, pastries, biscuits or crisps, a bad habit I've slipped back into over the past couple of years.

Apart from that, it will be a case of working my way through the list of things to do, as long as ever, trying to complete, or at least start and make progress on, projects which have been lingering in my imagination for too long. Some of those are for choreographies, so a lot more dance and costuming is needed.

And, after an appalling financial year, more paid work.

But I made a decision.
This year is going to be fabulous, whether it wants to be or not.

Happy New Year!