2015 has ended, not with a bang but a whimper. It is the morning of the new year and I am sitting huddled on the floor, clutching a coffee and feeling a little astounded at how late I managed to sleep, yet wanting a little more.
To say 2015 was challenging is a bit of a cliché. Every year lately has been challenging and I don’t expect 2016 to be any less so. The alternative is what? A boring year? A year filled with sunshine and lollipops?
We all know that too much refined sugar isn’t good for us 🙂
If you are here for some foodie talk then there is a slightly ridiculous Strawberry Cheesecake Thickshake recipe for you at the end. But please, permit me to be a little reflective for a spell.
It is very easy to end a year feeling as if you haven’t achieved much, or focussing on the challenges you faced, but if you are able to take a snapshot of where you were 12 months ago it immediately becomes clear what you have conquered. At the beginning of 2015 I chose one word – a simple idea to focus on or work towards. It was Consolidate.
In that post I wrote of my frustration with my life, that I wanted a career and not just a job. I joked that I wanted a couch and a blender that worked. I now have all those. I also wrote that I wanting to stop comparing myself to others, worry less about the future and spend more time with the people that fill my cup. I am certainly not all the way there but I have been better at these things than in the past. However, I completely failed at my other goals of conserving my energy, breathing deeply and not trying to do ‘all the things’…
This year I have been fortunate enough to get so much back from this lovely blog; from new friends to opportunities. One of the most exquisite groups of female friendship I have ever had has evolved – a wonderful little group of women that have nothing but love and support for each other. Louise from Willunga Wino and I began a Wine Writing linkup and discovered that we are kindred spirits after meeting and hanging out at Problogger, my first blogging conference. I backed up that first conference by attending Eat Drink Blog, and having quite an epiphanous weekend. My determined little nephew was born and I received news that another is on his way. Two more WSET exams were ticked off (although I’m yet to hear if I passed the last one) and there are hopefully just two more to go. Champagne and Chips turned one. But perhaps the most significant thing, and that which has underwritten everything else was my new job. Be careful what you wish for, because last year I wrote: “I want to talk to people, educate people, work in a team, be creative, solve problems, embrace challenges, brainstorm ideas.” and I have that in spades. Especially the challenge part. This job is still far from my ideal; whilst there is potential for creativity, it is not embraced by the company I work for, not yet. But sometimes the best way to change a culture is from within. However, for the first time in a long time though I feel as if I am working towards the kind of life I want and that I am developing the skills to get there.
There have been a couple of those ‘New Year inspiration’ articles that saturate the internet this time of year, that have stuck with me:
While some of this I consider cods wallop, there are quite a few gems that resonate. You will see me fasting from social media once a week (or not see me as the case may be). I will attempt to go to bed earlier and rise earlier although I am not entirely sure I am wired that way. I do promise myself that I will no longer be starting each day with a scroll through Facebook, rather I will be journaling or learning French*. I will be saying no, or ‘Heck Yeah!” more often. This is the big one. I can be stressed to the max and have a 3 minute window of free time in the next week but if asked to help out will use that three minutes to bake a cake. I am generous with my time. But I do need to start being a little more generous to myself.
Which really just boils down to one simple fact
You are what you do
It doesn’t matter how nice you are or how smart or how well you dance/write/bake/clean/drive/insert-your-talent-here, no one will ever appreciate those things unless you DO them. Which sounds pretty obvious. Except I know that when I am berating the world for not treating me better, my brain formulates a list of all my education, skills, talents and positive personality traits – many of which I just HAVE but don’t USE to make the world a better place, or even just make my neighbours’ day a little better.
This doesn’t have to be big stuff. This can just be the minutiae that makes us feel a little brighter and passes on that brightness to another:
Pausing to let a stranger pat your dog.
Baking some cookies for your colleagues.
Asking someone who looks lost if they need help.
Offering to teach another about something you know a lot about.
Sharing new finds with others.
Calling or texting a friend who is down, just to let them know you care.
Taking the time to actually write something considered on social media or commenting on a friend’s post in a meaningful way. Don’t get me wrong, emojis are great, but sometimes it is important to read and respond with words.
For me, this also extends to things I want to be:
Calmer – which requires me to DO something calming
Grounded – which requires me to DO something grounding
Happier – which requires me to DO more things that make me feel happy
There seems to be a trend here.
When you break it down like that, it looks far more manageable than the ethereal goals of ‘Be happier, be healthier’.
So in 2016 my word is:
But not do all the things. I will do the things that are important to me to get what I want. I will work hard but not let my work consume my life. I will study hard so I can pass my exams, finish my qualification and have more spare time. I will do the things that enrich my soul and do less of the things that don’t. If you see me at an event it is because I really want to be there and not just because I thought I should go.
Now for your treat…
Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is eat or drink something truly groan-worthy and indulgent. If you make happy noises over salad then I am incredibly impressed but for the rest of us, I bring you the
Strawberry Cheesecake Thickshake
Happy New Year x
Do you have a word for this year? For more inspiration, check out Maxabella Loves’ linkup
*I have been desperately keen to start learning French but have been holding off until my Diploma is finished…. until my friend told me about DuoLingo – a wonderful online language school that is free. If learning a language is on your life list but you don’t have the time/money to attend a proper class then you simply must check this out!
- Half a frozen strawberry cheesecake
- Half a litre of strawberry ice cream
- 250g of fresh strawberries
- A dash of milk
- Select 4 nice strawberries and thread one onto each straw. Cut a small slit in the base of the other two strawberries to garnish the glasses.
- Trim the remaining strawberries and place in a blender with the cheesecake, ice cream and a small dash of milk
- Blend. You may need to add a bit more milk if the mixture is too thick.
- Pour into two large glasses and garnish with the strawberry and straw
- If you can get reusable straws then do-so, good for the environment and they can withstand a strawberry being threaded onto them