The end of the year is often a time for self-reflection.
We can all be super critical of ourselves and while analysis of what we didn’t do can move us forward it can also pull us down. So in pursuit of optimism and to see 2016 out with a bang instead of a fizzle, I’ve pulled together some ways to reflect on the year with a softer, kinder lens. Take a moment to reflect on what you did do, not what you didn’t…
- I bet you loved unconditionally.
- I bet you learned things you didn’t know last year.
- I bet you have supported someone other than yourself.
- I bet you maintained, rekindled or developed a friendship which brings you joy.
- I bet you have got through a personal challenge.
- I bet you indulged yourself and didn’t feel guilty about it.
- I bet you accomplished different things than you intended.
- I bet you got knocked down but you got up.
- I bet you had a really good laugh.
- I bet you did many acts of random kindness.
- I bet you were braver than you thought you could be.
Imagine reflecting on your year as a friend would and I bet you’ve done a pretty awesome job…
Last week there was a black out in the city where I live. Plunged into darkness as the lights went out across the whole state, families and individuals had to change plans. We had to come up with inventive ways to tackle the problems of no power and ways to entertain ourselves without technology.
Once the terror of having no internet had passed, the world didn’t stop and people didn’t sit round like pumpkins waiting to be picked, on the contrary we found other things to do. Over the next few days there were stories of how families had played games together, how neighbours had rallied around the one house with a gas cooker and shared meals, how people helped strangers and the needy. It did get me thinking about why it takes an event like a power outage to make us do what we really like to do anyway; family, community, sharing.
Perhaps it’s more a question of balance. Technology makes our life easier in so many ways. Once you’ve had access to it you realise know how hard it would be to be without it. I’d wrestle any pickpocket who tried to take my smart phone. But the trick is we can, and maybe we should, put technology aside a little more often. In the blackout a lot of people went back to small pleasures, reading a book by candlelight, playing an instrument, board games with children. The fix it folk rigged up ways to heat and light homes and a lot of people went to bed earlier.
The power came back on, modern life resumed, but it showed how resourceful we can be and the entertainment we can find when we go off the grid for a little while.
There’s no denying I’m often sucked into the latest health crazes and judging by the size of the industry I’m not alone. So what is it with the health world which lures us to rush head long into a mambo class, when you’ve got as much dance experience as a corn cob, or buy a juicer which you can never clean? Anything branded to get me blooming and in better shape has me chomping at the bit.
It was my recent encounter with beetroots that got me thinking I need to be a bit more discerning in my health choices. There’s no deny beetroots are a wonder veg, packed with nutrients and all the healing powers of a mighty root vegetable. But they are tough things to master.
To being with my bunch sat in the fridge for weeks and while my carrots went limp around them they remained fat and firm, no wonder they sustained the peoples of the Russian tundra for centuries. Eventually I had to deal with them. But cutting and peeling a raw beetroot is like penetrating a rock. And once you get at the flesh, bright red, inky juice, pours out of them. By the time I’d got them in the pan to boil my hands were stained like a butcher’s.
Unfortunately, after all the effort they didn’t taste too good, sort of like pink, vinegary mashed potatoes. Now while it was my cooking, and serious lack of seasoning, which rendered them mushy and tasteless I also realised I can get all the nutrients they provide from other foods I like far more.
I’ve done this before. I’ve got jars of superfood gazing out at me from the pantry in glorious shades of beige and all tasting a little like cardboard. Following what’s in health fashion for the sake of it is not always the best idea. What’s better is too think about what you want to achieve rather than the next quick fix. Health change, like all change, is about sticking with the goal and not changing it because of fashion. There are no short cuts.
The beetroot was a metaphor. We have so much choice in health and diet but don’t need it all to be healthy. Just because something is, good for you, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s, good for you. Many people love beetroots but personally I’m sticking with carrots and parsnips… but have you seen the purple ones…
I have a friend who has a cat, Morris. She has had that cat for twenty two years. You’d think he’d be some sort of world record holder but in fact that belongs to Crème Puff who died in Austin, Texas, aged thirty eight! When I went to see her last week I was stuck by Morris and his longevity. With the average cat life expectancy around fifteen years he’s doing pretty well.
I asked her why she thought Morris was still with us and there were a few reasons. He keeps an even temperature. Most of his day is spent lying near a heater if it’s cold, or near an air conditioner if it’s hot. He eats well. Yes, no expense is spared, he dines on cat food garnished in parsley and unidentifiable greens. And lastly he keeps his stress levels down. No frenzied mice hunting for Morris, he’s locked inside at night and his cat flap secured so no strays or uninvited felines can bother him.
This seems like a longevity recipe for all of us.
And keep your home environment perfect for you.
Thank you Morris and I hope one day you can snatch that world record from Crème Puff.
When I was little I often visited ornamental gardens with my family. On one such day trip I discovered a summer house. It was decorated in the richest, most glorious wallpapers and fabrics, which just sung out at you. They were the creations of William Morris, the celebrated C19th British textile designer. But what was wonderful about that summer house was the composition of the rooms. No clutter, everything was in its place.
Physical disharmony and clutter can be very unconducive to creativity and action. Mess bombards us with distractions. We forget where things are and waste time looking for them. We get sidelined into dealing with the consequences of our disorganization, and that’s time consuming. By decluttering you significantly lessen the attention grabbers.
The clutter that evolves around us can be a visual sign of our own procrastination. It can be overwhelming to decide what to keep or where to move things to. So start small, if you cook declutter cupboards in the kitchen, if you garden try the shed, if you work from home, your desk. By tidying, donating, recycling, we create an energetic living space and can celebrate our active decision making.
Clear away to refill. If a jug is full you can’t keep pouring more water in it, there’s nowhere for it to go. It’s the same for our home environments. Hopefully, we’re alive for a long time; fashion, tastes and technology changes, we need to make room for the new phases of life. Which also means we have to deal with the old.
Now, I’m not advocating a frenzied attack on all possessions. The history, sentimental value, and relevance of belongings to our identity should always be preserved; but anything other than that really does have a shelf life. As William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”