For the past few years I’ve sworn off making New Year’s resolutions. The pressure. Something else to fail and disappoint myself with. Everyone knows that January will start out great and by March all those bad habits you’ve tried to change will be back in force and you’ll be happily back to stuffing your face with pringles and laughing at ‘those people’ who are losing sleep and precious chocolate hours by going to the gym.
Well, I’ve been really looking forward to the New Year for ages now. I’ve been thinking and planning and plotting and imagining the new me I want to create. I think this happens a lot after having a baby. On August’s first birthday, I remember feeling an enormous sense of, right, thank feck that first year is over, can I start to get my life back now please? As Bonnie is approaching her first birthday, I’m ready to pat myself on the back and move on with our family life.
This year I’m making all the resolutions. Here’s what I want to change and here’s how I plan on doing it. Writing them down is almost the same as having them done, right?
Probably the top of everyone’s list. Damn you society and all the beautiful addictive sugary foodstuffs you provide. I have never been as heavy. Instead of losing my baby weight, I’m going in the opposite direction. Coming up to my book launch last year, I had to accept that I wouldn’t be in the shape I wanted and I had to let the pressure go I was putting on myself. I bought a dress that covered me up and I knew that I would look back on the photos and remember that I wasn’t happy with how I looked. I don’t mind having a bit of weight on and a few curves – it’s hardly the end of the world and I have to accept that I’m not 20 years old anymore. But; I’ve realised that I’m using food and alcohol as comfort blankets and pouring whatever I want into my already malnourished, fatty body. I am determined to change this in 2018. DETERMINED. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to achieve it.
This week I’ve already considered hiring a personal trainer, getting up early to go for walk before the kids get up (bahahahaha), not going on a diet but making small changes here and there, joining Zumba and only allowing wine on Friday nights. I may have toyed with the idea of giving up alcohol completely and I like the idea of becoming a vegetarian. But then you know, steak. I’ll have to see what will work best for me. I’m going to do it slowly and try to make it a lifestyle thing rather than a faddy diet. Due to another big change I’m making, I’ll have more time from January onwards to concentrate on cooking, shopping and not being so stressed out and busy that takeaways make up most of my meal planning. By the way, I know I’ve posted some Instagram pics lately where even I think I look slim, but they’re a complete lie and I haven’t been able to fit into most of my clothes for ages now. Fact.
I’m putting health as separate to weight, because they are two different things. When I’ve very anxious or upset I cannot eat at all. When I was at the height of PND after having Bonnie, I could barely eat a morsel and there were days when I was breastfeeding a newborn and surviving on two slices of bread a day. I knew I was starving myself, but my stomach felt like it was full all the time – it was like the anxiety had filled me all out. Now, I don’t beat myself up for having an appetite and eating – I see it as a much more healthy way to be. Hungry.
When I say I want to change my health, I mean in an overall way. I want to be fitter, slimmer and more balanced. I want to get on top of health problems that have been niggling me all year. I suffer with bad neck pain and after a long period of not being able to turn my head or even look down without pain, I finally gave myself the permission to go and spend money on regular physio. I’ll probably always have poor posture and some pain but getting moving I think will help all round – more blood flow to take away all the toxins. Warmed up muscles that don’t creak under the strain of walking up the stairs.
I hope by changing my diet I’ll tackle random skin issues, such as scarring spots that have appeared all down my legs. It may take a trip to the docs to heal some of the issues, but I’m pretty sure if I just started nourishing myself bette, these things would start to disappear. In early December I got another diagnosis based on some inner ear issues I’ve been having. I lost my hearing in my left ear and suffer from tinnitus and the issue has been getting worse. I’m still waiting on the official diagnosis and I’m not quite sure what the treatment will be – there may not even be any, but with my new healthy attitude, better diet and all round vitality, I’m hoping I will work towards easing some of the symptoms. Hey, I might even treat myself to a hearing aid. Or sign language lessons. Or lip reading lessons. I’ve always wanted to be able to lip read!
3) Mental health
I’m not quite sure how to tackle this one. It’s not something that I feel I can quite control, as mostly, I don’t understand it. 2017 was the most rollercoaster year for me, one of the hardest I’ve ever faced personally. Since suffering from PND I have completely and utterly changed how I view mental health and my attitude towards it. Up till then, I had a somewhat sneery attitude towards the issue. I thought some people who said they were depressed were joining in a fad. Looking for attention maybe. I’ve come to understand that mental health issues can strike anyone at any time and that many many poeple are dealing with demons in their daily lives, through no fault of their own. No one would ever wish it on themselves. At times, it is complete and utter hell.
I had some counselling this year and I found it really useful. It helped me understand why I might be feeling certain things. It gave me a way of allowing myself to forgive ‘me’. We can be very hard on ourselves. No one dislikes me more than me. No one beats me up more than me. Who needs enemies when you have a depressed mind ready to attack your mood whenever the bloody hell it wants?
And as for the emotions. Jaysus. I could take out shares in Kleenex at this stage. I’m hoping that finishing up breastfeeding, getting my diet and health in check and allowing myself more down time and time to actually relax will all help in ‘straightening’ me out. But isn’t it the crinkles that make us interesting? Well, that’s grand, but I for one, would prefer to keep ironing myself out. 2018, more level please, thank you very much.
We made a decision in this house towards the end of 2017 that it was time for me to hand in my notice to work and to take a break. I’m not sure how it will work out – financially, it’s going to be tough. I’m really worried about paying the bills and making sure our family are fed and secure. But, at the moment, if feels like the right thing to do and I get a shiver of excitement just thinking about what I want to achieve with my writing in 2018. I finish up in a just a few weeks. Taking the plunge to leave a secure job is a massive decision and not one taken lightly. Watch this space!
Speaking of writing – one of the things I want to change in 2018 is just… doing more of it. I probably think and talk about writing more than I actually do of it. 2017 was an unbelievable year for me, one I’ll never forget. Publishing your debut is an incredible fearful, risky thing to do. The reaction to December Girl has surpassed my expectations. But I had to put a huge effort into marketing the book and while I love it and enjoyed most of the publicity trail, it took away from writing completely. In early 2018 I’m hoping to complete the research and first draft of my second novel and if that goes well, maybe by the end of the year I’ll have a good manuscript and another book contract. I’d also like to do some children’s writing and learn some new skills. I might even give my first author talk. Woo!
6) Our home
Our home has slowly been driving me insane over the past year. Four of us squashed into our 900 square foot of space, with endless clutter, laundry and a landing carpet that has been peed on more than once (and not just by the dog) has been building an anxiety bubble around my often fraught mind. I spend hours piling things into overstuffed drawers, and flattening out surfaces to be wiped just to free up some ‘space’. Two hours will pass of this frenzied ‘tidying’ and I’ll look around and still feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff looking back at me.
Well, no more. In 2018, I will finally get the house into the shape I want it. It won’t happen immediately and all the decor I’d like to change will be completely dependent on budget, but I swear, by the end of the year, it’ll be a more organised, less overwhelming space. It’ll be a cosy hideout, that I enjoy living in. My plan to change everything is going to be based on the famous KonMari method, which is all about getting rid of the endless amount of things you don’t need. I’m only a few pages into the most recent book Spark Joy but I can clearly see that my issue is not that I’m very messy but more that I find it difficult to throw things away. My tidying usually involve putting things out of sight, out of mind, instead of actually deciding what to do with it. I thought we have very little storage space but when I made a list today of all the storage spaces we do have I realised that I’m just using them wrong. I’ve taken pictures of all the clutter for a before and after blog post. It’ll be embarrassing to show those photos, but I can guarantee I’m not the only one living like this – in fact, it couldn’t be more normal. Bring on the minimalism!
This year, I shut myself away a lot. Going out to see people, making plans and sticking to them and in many cases, just leaving the house, could not have appealed less. This may reflect my personality, which sees me more than happy to sit with my laptop and tap type away. More likely, it’s wrapped up in the sheer effort of getting myself and two little ladies out the door, clean, fed and dressed. In 2018 I would like to make up for lost time, meet up with more friends, and make lots of new memories for my family and I. More days out, more places visited, more travelling done. Quality events. And lots of fun. I might consult my friend Kellie at My Little Babog who runs her Adventures of Eire series. She forever inspires me with her sheer energy to get out and about, all the time with FOUR smallies. And she has a really clean house. Gah.
Being late is something I inherited from my father. If I’ve to be anywhere, I always underestimate how long it will take me to get there, as well as all the things I’ll need to complete before I can get out the door. To save on stress I am aiming to start getting ready at least half an hour earlier than I normally would to try and tackle the tardiness. I can’t promise much, but hey I’ve written it down now so it’s on the list!
Never before have I looked forward to a New Year so much. I feel so excited about what we as a family hope to achieve this year. Of course, our lives are not roadmaps that we can plan out in listicles. A year will always have its up and downs. But with a positive attitude, a forgiving mentality and a strong determination to be happier and healthier, I hope, in a year’s time, to look back at this post and say that I’ve been mostly successful.
What would be the eight things you’d like to change or improve on in your life in 2018? Go on, tell us. Write it down, put it out to the world. You never know how far you could get.
If you are interested, I’ve created a wall planner to help me achieve my goals. The idea is that you break down your goals into small things to change and by implementing them every day or every week, you’ll start to effect real change. If you follow the suggestions, you’ll end up with 20 small steps you can stick on your fridge or on your desk as reminders. Let me know if it’s of any use. (Click on the planner to download as PDF). Good luck : )