19 for 2019

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my 19 for 19 goals.  Inspired by the ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’ podcast, I decided instead of New Years resolutions I would instead set myself some goals for the year.  These are by no means all my aims in life as I can’t afford to do everything I want to do this year.  But I have put some in there that will cost me money, some that will cost me nothing but time, some that will be hard work, and some to bond with family and friends.  So I hope there’s a good challenge that’s doable, but enough to keep me going and feel like I’ve achieved something by the end of the year.

 

So here are my 19 for 19:-

 

Night away child-free with A

We went abroad last year and I found it a massive guilt-trip to be away from the children for so long and so far away, yet I don’t want to not have a child-free break this year.  So I’ve opted for one night, maybe in the Lake District, to just relax, have a nice meal and see some sights.

 

Get the girls in their own bedrooms

The girls are desperate for their own space, but it’s going to be a massive expense and amount of work to move the boiler out of their playroom and plaster where it once was, re-lay new carpets, decorate, furnish and do all the other work involved in converting the playroom.  But it’s definitely something that HAS to happen this year, so it’s on the list to motivate me to get started.

 

Clear the loft

We’ve never used a loft until this house and having kids, and it’s quickly accumulated stuff.  I don’t want it to get to the state of my parents’ loft with a lifetime of hoarding, so I’m clearing it this year as much as I possibly can.

 

Complete my happiness project

I was so inspired by the book ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin (I know; a bit of a theme going here) that I wanted to take the 19 for 19 further and really focus on areas of my life throughout the year.  I wrote about it further in my blog post ‘Bring on 2019’, but I’m excited to get started on new ideas to improve my life as it is.

 

Have a gong bath

I can’t wait for this and it’s already booked for this Wednesday.  Now I’m not presently sure how it all works, but I know I won’t be sitting in any sort of bath, as my friends envisaged.  It’s a very relaxing experience where we lay on the floor, all comfy with pillows and blankets, whilst emersed in the sound of gongs chiming.  I’ll be able to write more after the event, but I’m totally intrigued by it.  And as the lying down under a blanket bit is my favourite bit of yoga, I thought why not do a whole session of it as a treat!

 

Get my spends out of the red

I’ve done it before but I need a little focus again, and putting it on the list may just stop me from wasting money on junk food and all the other unnecessary spends that keep me in the red.

 

Get M swimming with 1:1 lessons

Poor M has a perforated ear drum, and at 4 years old isn’t allowed to swim in case it causes further ear infections.  But at present it won’t be operated on and fixed until she’s about 11, so I want to push for an ear guard to be made to enable her to start swimming.  Once I feel her ear is a bit more protected I want to invest in 1:1 lessons so she can catch up to what stage she would have been at had this not happened to her.

 

Get the girls photographed in my wedding dress

People think I’m mad to want to get rid of my wedding dress, but it’s pointless keeping it in my eyes.  That said I want to do something special with it, so my plan is to have the girls photographed in it before I donate it to a charity that will very skillfully and careful re-sew it into burial gowns for stillborn babies.  I can’t think of a more special thing to do with my wedding dress, so my aim for this year is to get the photographs done.  Then it will be on my 20 for 20 list to get it professionally cleaned and donated. 

 

Knock down the shed

Another job I’ve been putting off, but now it’s on the list I’m more motivated to get it done!

 

Trip to London

I like to go several times a year, but for some reason we didn’t make it to London last year at all.  It’s one of my favourite places, and whether I go on my own or with friends I’m wanting to go in May and just soak up the atmosphere and revisit my favourite haunts.

 

Climb Kinder Scout

Now I really wanted to do a longer hike, something like 70 miles over 3 days, or another challenge I’ve wanted to do for ages that is 40 miles to be completed between midnight and midnight.  But for this year I will have to settle for just climbing this local mountain.  The only reason I’m not going for a bigger challenge is money and knowing I have no-one in my life right now that is up for that challenge.  But Kinder Scout is doable in a day at about 18 miles on the route I want to do.  I walk every week, but I want the kind of challenge that’s going to turn my legs to jelly for a couple of days after, and this is definitely it.

 

Go camping with K and the boys

I desperately want to take all the kids camping.  I’ve done a few trips on my own with the girls, but this year I want to take my sister and my 2 nephews too.  They’ve never really camped further than their back yard, and I have a fabulous plan to take the kids crabbing off a pier in Anglesey and then set up camp on a site with a private beach just inland Wales overlooking the Irish sea.  The hope is we can toast marshmallows on an open fire on the beach and watch an amazing sunset.  If I only do one camping trip this year that’s the one I want to do, and I know the boys will just love it!

 

Start going for coffee on my own

This is quite daunting for me, but I like the idea of sitting in a café with my laptop and getting to the stage where I don’t feel self-conscious. 

 

Sort photos and make albums for the girls and fill frames in the house

This is a mammoth task, and just downloading the latest photos from my phone took me most of Sunday morning.  I have somewhere in the region of 35,000 photos to go through and organise.  And from those photos I want to make some photo albums of happy memories for the girls as they love flicking through photo albums, and I need a broader range of frames filled in my house as I haven’t updated most since the girls were tiny.  I’m chipping away at this task every day and am determined to keep my photos under control this year!

 

Paint the kitchen ceiling

Yawn!  Another task that needs doing that I’m hoping I’ll be motivated to do now it’s on my list

 

Read a proper book with M

I really want to get M reading more as in the past when she’s found a book she loves she can’t put it down.  But unfortunately the material school send her home with has just knocked any enthusiasm out of her.  M is a rebel child (more to follow on this in a future post) so I have to handle this carefully as buying her a book and saying I want to read it with her will make her do the opposite.  But she has dreams currently to be an author and I would love for her to find the same enjoyment and inspiration in books that I have.  Life is perfect when I have an inspirational book to read, and I’m hoping we can spark that same enjoyment in her too.

 

Clear my credit cards

A massive source of anxiety for me as we went massively over-budget on an extension 4 years ago, through an unfortunate set of circumstances, and had no choice but to put the remaining £16,000 on credit cards and loans.  We’ve been chipping away and balance transferring for all this time, but the end is in sight and this is the year I’m determined to have those credit card debts gone.  We’ve never overly lived off credit, and it’s been a really difficult way to live for us.  But it’s something that was unavoidable and has been a great lesson in gratitude for living the debt-free life we used to, and that I’m determined we can get back to.

 

Do a life coaching course

I’ve already started on this one too and have bought and started a life coaching course.  What I’ll do with it I’m not sure, but I know it will be a great skill just as a friend, parent and partner to have life coaching skills.

 

And lastly…

Book a yoga retreat

Now I may not have the money to attend this in 2019, especially if I want my spends out of the red, but all I have to do is book it for it to get ticked off the list.  I’m thinking of the Lake District again, but I know I want to meet interesting people and do lots of hiking, lots of yoga and meditation, have a complete break and eat some beautifully healthy food.  It will be a massive achievement to go on holiday on my own and put myself in that social situation, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. 

 

So that’s all my tasks for this year.  And while it seems like a lot, I think it’s all doable, but enough to keep my mind occupied and life exciting.  And that’s what’s going to distract me from all the stuff that used to weigh down on my mind.  So I’m excited and motivated to get started.

 

Have you set any resolutions for the new year?  Do we even need to start at the new year?  Surely we can just pick up a pen and paper and plan a bucket list any time we want.  And does it even work for you to have a tick list, or do you have another way to motivate yourself to do things? 

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Give me a Break From my Thoughts!

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Have you ever felt like everywhere you turned you were being given a message?  And that message was so relevant to your life right now that it couldn’t possibly be a coincidence?

 

Many years ago I read a book called ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.  At the time I wasn’t in any way open to the type of wisdom and understanding of the universe that I am now.  It was just recommended to me by someone that knew I was feeling a bit down and said it had changed her life.  I remember starting to read it, climbing into bed straight from work, and reading for about 3 hours straight.  I was totally absorbed in it and really understood the concept.  I thought it was going to change my life.  But I soon forgot all about living that way.  And many years later when I tried to read it again in an attempt to feel the same way, that this was the answer to all my problems, I just couldn’t get into it.  Yet it’s an international bestseller, often on people’s ‘must read’ lists.  I think at that point I was just at a place in my life where I needed minimum effort to feel better; not too much thinking!

 

But since my second try with this book I’ve spent literally the last 2 years all consumed in my thoughts.  They drive me absolutely crazy.  I explained to someone I trusted only 2 weeks ago that 98 per cent of my waking day is spent thinking about a string of incidents that just felt like it had destroyed me.  They call it ruminating: going over and over AND OVER something in your mind.  And it’s totally overwhelming to live like that.  I spoke to another friend who has had an awful life in comparison to mine about it a while ago, and she admitted she barely thought about the events of her life.  She just switches her TV on at night and basically forgets all about what has happened to her.  She admits she is depressed, but she just wasn’t constantly thinking about the reasons why like I was.  She told me my biggest problem was that I think too much.  And as true as that was it made me feel like I was the only person feeling absolutely tormented by my thoughts.  Yes, her way of living wasn’t alleviating her depression, but at least she wasn’t re-living events over and over again, years after they had happened.  And I fell into more feelings of despair as I felt my ruminating was absolutely incurable and that nobody else was dealing with it like I was.  I tried meditating, but I just couldn’t concentrate.  I tried keeping busy, but I just ended up busy whilst in a daze, distracted by my thoughts.  I just wanted a break from it all.  To sum up the extent of what I was living with, I would drive to work and not even remember how I got there, totally lost in my thoughts.  I do a mundane job, and I found my day consumed with re-living events.  And worse still I’d be so lost in my thoughts that some time later I’d realise I had taken those thoughts, imagined future scenarios, and I was now having imaginary arguments in my head with these people over things that had never even happened.  And I would only stop myself when I got so angry and thought, “Hang on a second, this hasn’t even happened and may never happen.  So why am I preparing for it, and in doing so feeling all the emotions that go with that?”  Can anybody else relate to this? 

 

It’s like my narcissistic friend that spread false rumours about me.  I started ruminating on what I knew as a fact that she’d said; the text messages mutual friends showed me.  That did in fact happen; there was no denying the evidence.  But then I took my anger from that and fell into daydreams day in, day out, where I would start to imagine how those mutual friend may have responded; “Oh, I know what you mean about Dawn!”  “Has she really done that?  Just goes to show you never know a person!”  “That’s awful!  I can’t believe we’ve been friends with Dawn all these years and not seen it in her!”  Conversations that may never ever have happened!  I imagined what they did after they showed me those messages, “Of course I’ll never show Dawn what you text me!”  The anger would build in me!  I imagined the thoughts going on in their head, “If I side with Dawn that’s only one friend I save.  If I pretend I agree with these things about Dawn I won’t lose a whole bunch of friends!”  I painted a picture in my own mind that may never ever have been true.  Yes, nobody was showing me anything to the contrary.  But my imagination made me re-live that situation ten times worse.  I guess my brain felt it was protecting me, imagining all the worst case scenarios that hadn’t happened yet and what I could do when they did inevitably happen!

 

And then in our women’s networking group 2 weeks ago it was discussed about our thoughts and not just letting them dictate our emotions to us.  We were told about being the observer of them and realising that they are in actual fact just thoughts.  They talked about how we can just watch our thoughts roll on by, like they were flowing past in a river, and not to get attached to them.  This prompted me to think again about ‘The Power of Now’ and I knew that the message in that book was very similar to what I was being told and that I needed to investigate this way of thinking again.  Then almost by chance I ordered some books and chose ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael A Singer, which is a book I’ve seen people talk about before but never rushed out to buy.  It’s always been on my wish list, but in all honesty if I’d have picked it up in the shop I would have been put off by the small writing.  I needed it simple!  I ironically didn’t want to have to think too much about my thoughts!  But once I bought this book I started reading a sample on the kindle and I was hooked.  I’m only a few chapters in and the parts I’ve read are, to me, all about watching your thoughts and being the consciousness behind those thoughts; the observer of those thoughts.

 

I’ve in no way grasped it yet, nor am I any sort of expert.  But I do know that this is the next stage in my journey.  I’ve spent many years trying to distract myself from these thoughts, thinking that other people don’t have them, that I need to master ignoring them, that I need to think of other things.   But it’s like pushing a balloon under water.  They just spring back up with a vengeance.  And I know now that I need to accept I am always going to have these thoughts.  I will always catastrophise a situation.  That’s just me!  I am always going to question every conversation I have with people and think, “What were they really thinking?  Were they just agreeing with me to my face?  What if they go and do this, this and this now?  Oh my goodness, what if this happens now?  How am I going to deal with that?”  But if I can recognise these thoughts and let them pass without attaching myself to them and forming an emotion from them, I will be so much closer to happiness than I ever have been. 

 

Please let me know if anyone else out there feels this way.   Have you mastered your thoughts or found a way to do so?  Or can anyone recommend any further books to read on the subject?  I’m finding ‘The Untethered Soul’ so easy to read and relate to, but I don’t want to go back to it in the future and find it doesn’t have the same effect like I have with ‘The Power of Now’.  I love learning, and especially all about life, so I’d love to hear any recommendations you all have.

 

 

 

Ever had a problem you were too ashamed to share?

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I keep trying to write this post, but every time I do it just doesn’t feel right to put out there.  It feels petty to talk about.  I can’t condense the story enough to explain it properly, or express how deeply the events actually impacted me.  And I keep questioning why this is such an important part of my life, yet I cannot write on it.  So today I’m biting the bullet and just putting out whatever comes.  And maybe I’ll expand on the whole story in the future if it’s relevant to do so.  In fact it’s too big a subject in my life for me not expand at some point, as it’s impacted me in so many ways.  And that subject is friendships; or rather, broken friendships.

 

And the reason why I’m ashamed to share how this has affected me so much, is because I’m nearly 40 and this shouldn’t happen at my age, surely?  I’ve googled it many a lonely night for advice, and all I seem to find is websites telling me to talk to a teacher or adult.  And that just reconfirms it to me, that this is something a child would get upset about, not a grown adult; a Mum with far bigger responsibilities to be thinking about!  But it did happen to me, and I’m just going to put it out there; it’s one of the most difficult experiences I have ever gone through in my life.  And I feel ashamed even saying those words when there’s people out there that have gone through really awful events in their life.  So maybe I have led a blessed existence for this to be the worst thing to ever happen to me.  Except I haven’t had a perfect life.  I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety all my adult life; probably even before; I just didn’t know how to label it as a child.  And maybe that’s the reason why it has affected me so traumatically, because I do feel deeply and I do analyse everything and think the worst as I catastrophise and get overwhelmed by my thoughts.  But on talking to another friend last week whose best friend of nearly 40 years has just completely changed, disowned her, and is actually quite nasty to her now, I realised we do grieve when friendships break down and it’s not been our choice for them to end or for things to change.  We do take it to heart and ask ourselves where we went wrong.  And it does affect our self-esteem as we fear it will happen again and put our guard up.  As my friend quoted to me, “One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is grieve the loss of a person who is still alive,” a quote she’d actually just re-posted to facebook that day in an attempt to grab her ex-best friend’s attention!

 

I’ve recently joined a women’s networking group, which on paper should have filled me with fear, but something guided me to go.  And in the first week we were asked what our experience of other women was.  I started the discussion, which is very unlike me, and shared my hurt over a group of friends that had believed one narcissistical friend’s lies about me.  Or rather I should be more accurate in saying they didn’t believe her at all, but they told me they knew what she was doing and didn’t want her to do it to them, so all but said they were abandoning me to save themselves.  I told this group of strangers how it had led to my children having their own friends distance themselves as guided by their mothers, and as 4 and 6 year olds they had no comprehension as to why everyone they’d known their whole lives had just gone all of a sudden.  And I couldn’t explain it to them either, because I couldn’t explain it to myself!  I told of my anxiety of doing anything within our close knit village in case I bumped into any of them, or even worse the whole gang of them out together, carrying on like I’d never existed.  And I told of how it had put this fear in me of women and how I must in future tone down my personality so as not to rub someone up the wrong way and inflict all this hurt on myself again.  It had fundamentally changed me to the core.  And what followed was other women in this networking group sharing their own fears of women, and similar experiences of maybe being too happy or being too friendly or kind, and just triggering someone to feel threatened by that, and the dramas that followed.  And I felt immense relief at not feeling alone, and yet fascinated that we’d all still felt drawn to come to a group that was essentially about meeting other women and opening ourselves up and feeling vulnerable in front of each other.

 

This week I shared a new story with the group on how someone I thought was a friend had let me down badly.  I said that I couldn’t carry on feeling like this with people, not knowing how to stop it happening to me.  And the girl who ran the group, who is some kind of spiritual energy guru, just stared at me intently and told me I’d done absolutely nothing wrong to invite the kind of hurt I was feeling.  Then she said that I was unbelievably strong.  And I realised in that moment that yes, I am bloody strong.  I’ve felt the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my life these last 2 years.  And yet here I was, sat with a bunch of strangers, crying and telling them all my innermost fears.  And this woman was looking at me and literally reading me as unbelievably strong.  And she really meant it.  She wasn’t saying it just to make me feel better and be supportive.  She could see it in my aura.  She told me I was such a big energy that I will always attract this sort of thing because some people just can’t handle that type of energy and feel threatened by it, and that made sense to me and resonated with what I’d felt myself.  I felt immense relief that someone understood me finally, and someone that barely knew me at all.  And that’s when I realised we can have day to day people, and people we’ve known all our lives that just fill a space and do nothing more, and maybe eventually let us down and abandon us when we need them.  Then you can meet your true tribe in the most unexpected of places.  And you know, even if they’re not the sort of friends you’ll go on holiday with, you’ll grab a coffee with, that you’ll exchange Christmas presents with or ask to babysit your kids; you know that they get you more than anyone you’ve ever met.  And they’re the people you need to meet to know there are good people in this world.  They may only be in your life for a few weeks, months, or even years.  But the impact they make, and the memories they leave your life with makes you realise it’s not women that are your problem at all, it’s just you haven’t found your true tribe yet.  And I can guarantee that it’s totally worth continuing your search.