Happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely festive season and are excited to get stuck in to a shiny new 12 months.
As a skinny malink, the 'lose a stone' guilt resolutions have thankfully never felt particularly relevant to me. Instead, I tend to write an annual bucket list of enjoyable things I'd like to do. It's helpful to give me something to look forward to during the first couple of bleak, snowy months, to remind me to actually make the most of any sunny free time in the summer, and then to look back at the end of the year and see how many of my exciting ideas I was able to make happen.
Step 1 of this goal is already mostly booked and I could not be more excited. Our neighbours Dee and Lewis moved to Vancouver a year ago and we're off to visit them for a few days in May, followed by a week travelling around the local area including Vancouver Island. Canada has always been right at the top of my list of dream destinations, and I can't wait to feast my eyes on beautiful lakes and mountains. Later in the year I'd like to carry on my new birthday tradition of a late autumn city break. Tying in with item 6 on the list though, I think that will likely be it for international trips this year, but I'm always keen to explore more of the UK so I'll make the most of any remaining annual leave for that. I'm just back from my third visit to James's family in Northern Ireland, but we're hoping to take a longer trip in the summer so I can see some more of the tourist highlights. My aunt also moved to the Cotswolds recently and I'm looking forward to visiting her at some point.
2. Enjoy Work
I like to think that I'm not superstitious, but I can't shake the notion of jinxing, and saying that I've found my dream job feels like a horrendously idiotic statement that's sure to bite me in the rear. However that's probably all the more reason for this goal - to just soak it in, enjoy it, focus on the positives, and don't let any external negatives bog me down.
3. Exercise and Feel Good
I feel like I've really found my way to what makes me feel good in terms of physical exercise. I enjoy group exercise classes, especially with a fun instructor, but I also love the freedom of being able to do exactly what I feel like right now, rather than having to plan my week around someone else's (ever changing) schedule. I also love not paying for a gym membership! A few days ago I started a daily yoga practice using Yoga With Adriene YouTube videos, and I want to keep committing that time to myself every day. I hurt my knee a few months ago while running and took some time off exercise to heal it, and yoga has been the perfect way to get started again. YWA is the perfect combination for me of a fun instructor and structured content, with the flexibility to do it on my own schedule, at home, and it's much easier to convince myself that I have half an hour free than the two hours I'd need for a gym class plus the drive there and back.
I'm back running again now too, and on the morning that I decided today was the day, I was actually giddy, even before I left the house. I've signed up for my first half marathon in October, and I'm excited to get back into my weekend training runs and gradually adding a couple of quick weekday lunchtime runs into my routine. To avoid another injury, I'll keep up the daily yoga, and mix in occasional strength training, especially if it's icy outside - and I won't try to pick up litter while running, since that's how I injured myself!
On the mental health side of things, I've been in a pretty good place since completing 10 weeks of counselling just over a year ago. I was nervous to start a permanent full-time job but (funnily enough) one full-time job isn't as exhausting as two part-time job shares! Two key parts of not getting overwhelmed though are getting enough sleep and keeping on top of the housework, so I'm determined to keep my daily routine on track, spending my weekday evenings doing a chore or two, some yoga, some reading, and getting to bed on time, rather than sitting down at my computer and losing all track of time until midnight.
Speaking of reading, I have a bumper book review post coming soon of the 26 (!) books I read in 2018. This was largely the result of a few things: the gentle accountability of book group meetings, finally quitting the Facebook games that had sapped too much of my free time for years, and setting a 'go to bed' alarm, allowing myself some reading time, rather than rushing to bed six hours before I have to get up and trying to fall asleep right away. I've set my 2019 Goodreads challenge at 20 and I'm feeling positive I can make it again.
5. Paint / Christmas Cards / Blog
I did well on the reading, exercise and travel last year but apart from Instagram, I had a bit of a year off on the creative side. I planned to make and send Christmas cards and in the end I managed two, which I posted abroad along with presents, and then I ran out of steam. I have a bit more of a low-maintenance idea for this year though, so I hope I can make a better effort! I've promised James a painting for his birthday in April so I'll get started on that soon. I'm still really enjoying taking photos and posting them on Instagram, and I'm glad to be blogging again. I'm not going to set any goals in terms of frequency - just getting words on paper (screen) and being brave enough to publish them is enough :)
6. Save and De-clutter
This plan is a bit less fun in the short term, but very exciting longer term! James is a researcher and his current project ends this summer. He and his colleagues are working on securing funding for their next project, and if everything works out we can start looking at moving house. We bought our first home five years ago and we like it, but we'd love to move out into the countryside and have less neighbours! Saving (generally spending less than I earn) has always been my natural inclination, but I want to keep it more in the front of my mind this year and try to avoid unnecessary expenditure. This mainly boils down to being more organised: preparing lunches, booking travel in advance, not missing trains queuing to collect train tickets that are already in my purse and then throwing out the tickets for my next journey... As you can tell, I was burned recently by another couple of Emma's Travel Disasters!
Another way I can prepare to move is by diving into our stuff and seeing what we can get rid of. Again I'm naturally inclined to throw things out when they're broken or no longer fit for purpose, but I can always be better at donating things I don't want, organising/digitising my paperwork, using up toiletries and cupboard foods, etc. There are few things more satisfying than a good spring clean.
Photo taken on new year's day 2018 - a rainbow always feels like a good omen! Let me know your dreams for 2019, or if you're skipping all that new year jazz :)