How To… let go of the old year.

Out with the old, in with the new. 🙂

1: Shake off all your old anger.

Any grudges, hangups, pains or worries you had, shake them off.

You don’t want to start over with all the bad energy from last year.

Write them down and burn the paper, make concise plans to tackle your problems or shout the anger away in an open field. Get it out of your body tonight.

2: Cross off all your old plans.

So what if you didn’t stick to your NYR? So what if you wanted to be X, Y or Z by now? If you’re not, you’re not. Time to start over and not linger on what you haven’t done.

3: Write a list of goals, objectives and plans for the new year.

Think of all the things you can accomplish in 52 weeks!

Write a list of weekly goals and long term objectives.

Create a weekly schedule where you hit milestones towards each objective and accomplish your goals.

Plan your success.

4: Write a letter to yourself for next year.

Think of how you feel about 2015 right now. And write a letter to the you of NYE 2016-2017. Tell them what plans you have, how you’ll feel about accomplishing or not accomplishing them. Tell them what great things you did in 2015 and ask about what they’ve done this year. Commiserate with them over the tragedies and celebrate their successes. The old you and the new you deserve to be connected.

5: Start everything afresh.

As I’m sure most of you know, I like to schedule my Monday, Tuesday and Thursday posts whenever I can so that if I have a busy day I don’t need to worry about not putting something “to paper” or not posting something. But this is the last one of the year. I have one scheduled for tomorrow and that’s it. Starting in the new year, I start over.

Likewise for almost everything. I’m not beating myself up over anything, or trying to let the tendrils of this year’s work grow into next year. I am sure I will work hard at everything tomorrow as well.

Have a fantastic new year, everyone!

TTFN and Happy New Year!

Let Go Of These 25 Things Next Year.

New year’s resolutions are often about doing more, adding more, holding onto more and more things… Which is very good, to be honest. Doing more exercise, finding more time for family, making more money, working harder in the garden or reading more books are all honourable, valuable things to add to our lives.

But for everything we add, we need to make some space. So why not balance every addition with something we can let go of?

1: Hopelessness.

Why let go?

There is nothing we can’t work on, there is nothing we can’t fix or live with. There is always a way and there is always something nice left.

How do I let go?

Whenever you feel hopeless, write a list of everything you still have by your side and everything you have to look forward to.

What does it pair with?

Goal-oriented resolutions, such as weightloss, strength gain, work goals or creative work.

2: Keeping up.

Why let go?

You aren’t anyone else. You have a different life, different means and needs and different end goals than them. If you compare yourself continually, you will never be enough.

How do I let go?

Set yourself personal goals and keep detailed track of your progress and setbacks. You are your main point of comparison.

What does it pair with?

Shared goals and group activities, like gym attendance, courses and family resolutions.

3: Hang ups.

Why let go?

A hang up leaves you constantly slightly concerned about unlikely events and overly worked up about inevitable events.

How do I let go?

Look at your situation for what it is, rather than what it could be. Focus on reality and now and try and work for the best realistic result.

What does it pair with?

Relationship goals, work goals, anything where you depend on other people for your success.

4: Boredom.

Why let go?

Boredom is a choice, not a state. You have endless books, tv shows, music, hobbies, projects and ideas within your grasp.

How do I let go?

Whenever you feel bored, try and pick up one of your hobbies. If you haven’t got enough to go around, then you might need something new!

What does it pair with?

Tedious and repetitive goals, like dieting, studying or keeping accounts.

5: Perfection.

Why let go?

Nobody is perfect, nothing is perfect. It’s fine to aim for the stars, but if you can’t accept anything less, then you might be stressing yourself.

How do I let go?

Rather than set yourself a pass-fail test, set yourself percentages. Aim for 100% always, but 80-90% is still great.

What does it pair with?

Any goal that feels like all-or-nothing to you!

6: Miserliness.

Why let go?

We don’t need a quarter of what we own, let alone of what we want. Clinging onto things rather than people can make us weak and nervous.

How do I let go?

Share openly and freely. You don’t need to give everything away, just to balance your savings with your socializing.

What does it pair with?

Money and savings related resolutions.

7: Grudges.

Why let go?

A grudge does no good. It makes you feel bad and treat others badly.

How do I let go?

Write down your grudges. Write down how they make you feel and in what ways they continue to affect you. On a separate piece of paper, write things you can do to actually improve the situation. Burn, bury or bin the grudge list and keep the improvement list.

What does it pair with?

Everything and everyone.

8: Fretting.

Why let go?

Once you’ve identified a problem, any further worrying is just bad for your health.

How do I let go?

Work out what the problem is, work out solutions and try and distract yourself from it. Consider a mantra, such as “this is finished/solved now”.

What does it pair with?

Any high-end resolutions where the 100% target is quite hard to reach.

9: Procrastination.

Why let go?

Putting things off only feels good in the short term. In the long term it can ruin plans.

How do I let go?

Try and set yourself a list of tasks and goals and stick to it. Make sure everything is done.

What does it pair with?

Unscheduled resolutions where your goal could be accomplished at unspecified times.

10: Despair.

Why let go?

Despair is like a grudge, hopelessness or fretting. You’re letting yourself stay sad over something rather than working with or against it.

How do I let go?

Try and find the positives rather than focus on the negatives. Don’t desire to feel sad, desire and seek happiness in everything you do.

What does it pair with?

Resolutions where setbacks are part of the game, especially self improvement.

11: Compulsions.

Why let go?

Compulsions are like faulty instincts. We do them without thinking and they can easily hurt us or others.

How do I let go?

Find out what you do compulsively and make a point of stopping it for up to three months. Replace it with healthy behaviours. After then, a new habit could have formed.

What does it pair with?

Quitting-based resolutions, like diets, kicking drugs and removing maladaptive behaviours.

12: Stress.

Why let go?

Stress is a part of everyday life and often the only thing that keeps us going. But it’s also destroying our bodies and our sanity.

How do I let go?

Practice meditation and mindfulness. You can meditate to leave the stress behind and be mindful to push it out of yourself. You can use meditation and mindfulness techniques anywhere, at any time, for however long you like.

What does it pair with?

Time-restricted and work based resolutions.

13: Weakness.

Why let go?

Nobody wants to be weak, or chooses to be weak, but we can choose to either embrace or defeat our weaknesses.

How do I let go?

Make a list of things you cannot resist, things you cannot do or cannot fight. Systematically work through them until you feel more accomplished.

What does it pair with?

Generic, intangible or unmeasurable resolutions, such as “be better at maths” or “spend less”.

14: Talking down.

Why let go?

Talking down to yourself and others is a bad habit that encourages negative thinking and asocialness.

How do I let go?

Try and find something positive in someone every time you have a negative thought about them (even yourself) and say the positive instead of the negative.

What does it pair with?

Social, positivity and self-esteem based goals.

15: Fear.

Why let go?

Fear makes us reluctant to try new things, to return to places that upset us or to act as we would want to. It stifles action and keeps us in one place.

How do I let go?

Think of all the things your fear prevents you from doing. Think of how much better your life would be without the fear. Bit by bit, build up the courage to face your fear.

What does it pair with?

New and exciting resolutions, resolutions to change, self improvement resolutions.

16: Social anxiety.

Why let go?

Social anxiety stops us from being our true selves and keeps us far less or far more socialized than we would want to be.

How do I let go?

Unless it’s at a clinical level, you can cast aside social anxiety by making a point of socializing as much as you want, being yourself around friends and family and talking yourself up for important events.

What does it pair with?

Any resolution that depends on other people for success.

17: Pain.

Why let go?

Pain and suffering are an inevitable part of human experience. But when pain becomes who you are and devours your life, you start to lose control everywhere.

How do I let go?

Write a list of things that pain interferes with. Decide whether they’re reasonable or unreasonable to you. One by one, address the unreasonable points on your list, until pain is no longer restricting you.

What does it pair with?

Recovery resolutions, health based resolutions and emotional resolutions.

18: Hoarding.

Why let go?

Hoarding things can make us feel temporarily good, but when our physical, mental and emotional clutter becomes too much, we lose sight of true priorities.

How do I let go?

Make a stock-list of the items you hold onto and hoard. Write down your reasons for keeping them. For every reason you have to keep them, write down two reasons to throw them away. Persuade yourself to part with a few items a week, until you feel in control.

What does it pair with?

Cleaning, organizing and decluttering. Mental health and destressing. Emotional health and healthy relationships.

19: Wastage.

Why let go?

As the opposite of hoarding, wastage is when we let too much go. We are often denying ourselves things we want and throwing away valuable resources in the process.

How do I let go?

Find a use for everything. When you’re about to get something new, ask yourself if you already have something that does the job.

What does it pair with?

Reducing spending, fighting shopaholism and any resolution based around simplicity, minimalism and saving.

20: Disrespect.

Why let go?

Disrespecting others only makes social situations uncomfortable and awkward. It can feel good briefly, but after the event you are in a worse situation.

How do I let go?

Try and treat everyone with a minimal level of politeness. For example, make a point of not swearing, even around friends and family, so as to get in the habit of not swearing around anyone else.

What does it pair with?

Social-based resolutions and any resolution where you depend on others. Stress reduction and self-esteem boosting.

21: Blame.

Why let go?

Holding onto sadness sometimes makes things feel better. After all, it’s harder to recover and move on than it is to keep blaming others again and again.

How do I let go?

Find what actions and behaviours of yours are causing some of your issues. Try and find at least one thing you did to cause your situation.

What does it pair with?

Stress reduction and general life improvement.

22: Self-loathing.

Why let go?

Sometimes it can seem as though self-loathing hurts nobody… which is why it’s a problem. If you feel that self-loathing and self-depreciation doesn’t hurt anyone, you are doing yourself harm.

How do I let go?

Try and find something nice about yourself and focus on it whenever you feel down or bad about yourself.

What does it pair with?

Every goal you expect to reach needs you to love yourself enough to go for it.

23: Stubbornness.

Why let go?

When we’re too stubborn we can sabotage ourselves and stop ourselves from reaching goals or accepting constructive criticism.

How do I let go?

Ask yourself what you’re guarding against. Make sure that whatever you’re scared of or angered by isn’t causing you to be unnecessarily restricted. Try and be conscious of when you’re being stubborn and try and let your guard down once a week.

What does it pair with?

New experiences, social resolutions and anything where advice and support from others.

24: Loneliness.

Why let go?

Loneliness is as much an internal experience as a physical reality. The feeling of being alone in a crowd, or in perfect company on your own is internal. And when we feel lonely, whether we are around people or not, we aren’t comfortable with the safety and support our friends and family have to offer.

How do I let go?

Reach out to people. Find people who you can get along with and talk to them. Go and visit friends and family. Find a place where you feel welcome.

What does it pair with?

Letting go of loneliness pairs very well with any solo resolutions. When you’re on your own and working hard at something, having people to return home to could be a comfort.

25: Anger.

Why let go?

Anger is a fire that consumes your energy and your mind. It can interfere with healthy processes and relationships.

How do I let go?

Practice meditation and mindfulness. Learn to calm yourself down even at the most tense of times with breathing and mantras. Learn to focus through.

What does it pair with?

Any self-improvement resolution. We can all get frustrated and learning to control our anger will help.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

At Peace.

The Solstice is over and the days are growing longer. The year is almost out. Stress levels are declining around here, and they probably are dropping at your home too.

There’s a strange peacefulness this time of year, when the guests are gone and the visiting is done and we take a few moments to ourselves. A stillness in the air. A silence around. A stagnancy behind the decorations and pamphlets and present wrappings. Like everything decided to pause until it’s time to get back to work again.

I’m glad for it. I’m not the most sociable person anyway. I like a bit of time to myself and a bit of time for Jon and I after so much time around other people.

Everything is cold and dark and empty and quiet. It’s pretty nice.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… sit back and chill.

  1. Relax. Think of something nice.
  2. No, the turkey won’t be done after 30 minutes, just leave it.
  3. Phone calls. Breathe deep.
  4. Yes, you remembered to send everyone cards. If someone didn’t get one, insist it was lost in the post.
  5. No, the turkey still isn’t done.
  6. Write a schedule.
  7. Realize there’s no way that schedule is working now that other people are involved.
  8. Try and sit down for another five minutes.
  9. Tell someone not to look for or open their present yet.
  10. Pour yourself something to drink.
  11. Go and check on the turkey. Baste, feel proud.
  12. Fiddle with the decorations before guests arrive.
  13. Make sure the puddings are chilled or frozen well and that the snacks are laid out just so.
  14. Remember your drink.
  15. Light a scented candle to get rid of the strange smell in the entry (why is it the only place that doesn’t smell quite right?).
  16. Chase the dog/cat/child away from the ornaments again.
  17. Fetch your partner a drink. Try and drink yours.
  18. Panic over the roast vegetables and turkey again.
  19. Start making the pie to calm your nerves.
  20. Sit down for a few seconds. The turkey needs more basting.
  21. Put on some jolly music.
  22. Have the second sip of your drink.
  23. Get caught dancing to the jolly music by your recently-arrived guests.
  24. Continue making pie in silent shame.
  25. Will nobody else serve?
  26. Manage to convince someone else to serve.
  27. Say grace as nobody else wants to.
  28. Vow to opt-out for the next two hours.
  29. Find it impossible to relax and keep serving people, checking on the pie and humming along to the music.
  30. Shoo the dog/cat/child away from the very, very, very hot pie.
  31. Serve pudding. Feel proud.
  32. Clean up the awful mess that seems to have spontaneously appeared between bringing out pudding two and pudding three. (Nobody else knows how it got there.)
  33. Let everyone open ONE present.
  34. Now everyone is fed and watching TV, you can relax as it sort of feels like your work is done. It’s a satisfying feeling.
  35. And the dog/cat/child is in the tree. Oh dear…

Can’t win, but it’s all in good fun!

Merry Christmas!

10 Things I Am Grateful For This Solstice.

Staying up late on the Solstice gives plenty of time for reflection. This will be the longest night of the year. When it’s over, the days begin to draw out and Spring is officially on its way. Life is reborn from here, even if we can’t see it yet. And as life is conceived again, there are many things to cast aside, but many things to give thanks for.

1: My perfect husband.

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t start with the one thing I genuinely am amazed I have.

I’m grateful to have met such an intelligent, handsome, loyal, dedicated, witty, random, like-minded man. I am a thousand times more grateful he was single, interested in me and happy to wait through all my anxiety and doubt.

2: The roof over my head, the food in my stomach and the fire beyond the hearth.

I am grateful to be alive, safe and sheltered from the elements. I am grateful to be able to eat every day if I want to, to the point of obesity if I ever wanted to. I am grateful to have a home of my own and not share it with anyone I don’t choose to welcome inside. I am grateful that in this chilling cold our house is warm and safe.

3: My art and my writing.

I am grateful that I can paint and write, that I can do it to relax, that I can put my mind to paper with ease and that I can make a small portion of my income on highly creative work.

4: What health and youth I have.

I am grateful that despite my ups and downs, my physical health is incredibly robust. I am grateful to have never broken a bone. I am grateful to have blood tests coming back as perfect. I am grateful to be in the middle of perfect childbearing age and soon to try for my first.

5: My grandmother in law and her help.

I am grateful that my grandmother in law is with us and is so kind, generous and caring. I am grateful that she shares her tips and hints about cooking and gardening with me. I am grateful she is there to help with the dog or just to talk should I need it.

6: Our friends and their support.

I am grateful to have friends as weird and wonderful as Jon and I. I am grateful for the fun things we arrange together, the places we go and the things we do and make. I am grateful to have a few close people in my life, rather than a thousand distant ones.

7: My business, my clients and my students.

I am grateful that I can make money from home. I am grateful that despite my location I am bringing in a comfortable income whilst tending our house, as well as a tidy passive income. I am grateful that the vast majority of my clients and students are polite, well-informed and work with me, rather than having me work for them only.

8: The spaciousness of the British countryside.

However many people I am grateful for, I am also grateful to live so far from most of them. I am grateful for fresh air and long country walks and dead quiet nights. I am grateful for our cheap cottage and its big garden and my potato harvest and the possibility of breeding turkeys.

9: Our pets and their company.

I am grateful to never be home alone. I am grateful to have a quickly growing puppy to motivate me to exercise, to cuddle when I feel down and to make me laugh when I’m struggling to focus on work. I am grateful to have an insane cat that clears the area of rats (and voles, whoops) and purrs like an idling engine whenever he sits next to me.

10: The modern world… and opt-outs.

I am grateful to live in a day and age when any item or service I need is a click or a call away, when I can make friends thousands of miles from me, when I can relax and read anything I want whenever I want. I am grateful for this blog, for my followers, for the blogs I read. I am grateful for social media and free tv streams and music downloads. But I am also grateful to be able to turn it all off once in a while and sit by the window watching the snow fall…

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

We Are All Blessed.

Nobody’s life is easy. Some are easier or harder than most, but to every person, our lives are going to present us with challenges and dilemmas that are serious business to us.

And sometimes, when we see everyone else gloating about their happy lives, their happy families, their great incomes and great jobs and great friends and great hobbies… we can start to wonder why everyone else seems to have it so much easier.

But this time of year isn’t the time to be jealous, because however much or little you have, relatively speaking, you are deeply and truly blessed.

You are blessed for having had any family or any friends by your side. However alone you may be now, that acute pain is there because you were, and most likely still are, loved.

You are blessed for having an internet connection with which to read this, a way to reach out to others and simply talk.

You are blessed to be alive and breathing, to have enough food, freedom, shelter and healthcare to keep you going until now, and hopefully longer.

Those are things I know for certain you are blessed with.

Furthermore you are supremely blessed for every single thing you have above that. Every penny, cent, yen or centimo to your name. Every person by your side right now. Every gift you receive, every bite of food. For being able to hear carols and see the lights strung up about town. For having children or pets to shower with love. For all the faith and love and happiness you can hold in your heart. Not because others don’t have these things, but because you do. If everyone on the planet lived a perfect life, you would be no less blessed to be their equal.

However much or however little you have today, you are blessed to have it. Not blessed in guilt of what others don’t have or in envy of what others do, but purely and simply blessed.

And I hope you’re continually and consistently blessed with more.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… make some quick Christmas treats.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone is a bit pressed for time this season. So what’s worse than remembering you have no goodies to give guests or passersby? Of course, we can always buy a few, but if you want to stand out and cut costs in a relatively stress-free manner, here are some super quick treats to make.

1: Shaped Flapjacks.

Simple, quick, can add as much or as little as you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • an equal balance of wet and dry fillers

Recipe:

  1. Mash all the wet ingredients together.
  2. Fold in the dry and stir until smooth.
  3. Pour out into a flat baking tray.
  4. Bake until firm but springy.

Then, just use a cookie cutter to cut them into adorable shapes!

2: Cocoa Dusted Meringues.

Meringues are actually really easy to make and the cocoa dusting makes them extra luxurious.

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 175 caster sugar
  • 2tsp sweetened or unsweetened cocoa powder

Recipe:

  1. Heat the oven to 140C.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until peaks form, but its still smooth.
  3. Slowly whisk in the sugar.
  4. Place dollops on baking paper on a baking tray. Put in the until pale and dry.
  5. Air cool. Lightly sieve cocoa over the top.

To mix and match, try making cocoa or caramel meringues and dusting with white chocolate.

3: Woven Biscuit Baskets.

More of an arts and crafts than a culinary crafts person? Make some simple sugar cookies and cutesy them up by handing them out in these adorable baskets!

Link.

4: Cute Biscuit Jar.

Or you could also look up some cute ways of decorating mason jars and candle jars to become snack-containers to give to friends and family.

5: Snowman Ice-Cream.

An adorable pudding you don’t need to make on the day!

Instructions:

  1. Roll out two or three differently sized ice cream balls per snowman. Pick a pale ice cream!
  2. Stack them up.
  3. Use raisins or chocolate chips for the eyes and buttons, maybe the mouth.
  4. Use strips of candy and fruit for a scarf and the mouth if you didn’t do it in raisins or chocolate chips.
  5. Use a round slice of chocolate wafer and a round chocolate (like a peanut butter cup) for a hat.
  6. Use thin slices of wafer for arms.
  7. Put back in the freezer until needed!

6: Festive Fruit And Cheese.

For something simple and adorable, make a festive cheese board.

Instructions:

  1. Lay out crackers and sliced hard cheeses in triangles until you’ve formed a tree.
  2. Sprinkle crumbly cheese for snow on the ground.
  3. Make a snowy log of goat’s cheese.
  4. Decorate your tree with half grapes (baubles) and ribbons of apple and pear (streamers).

And those are a few quick snacks to hand guests at parties and passing friends these holidays! Cute, cheap, festive, simple.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!