As first months of the year go, the past two have been good. In previous years, I have found myself struggle in January and February. The dark grey days and lack of natural light can get to me, weigh down my spirit. I try to resist the urge to put the lights on indoors, to avoid an artificial electric glow for as long as possible, yet invariably by midday, I give up and do so. This year however, it has not been so bad. Perhaps it is the fact that the weather has been so mild for this time of year. I have taken to walking along by the river once or twice a week on my way to pick Pip up from school. It’s about an hours walk but I find it energising and inspiring. I plan projects in my head as I walk along, and EB looks out for pirate ships. Perhaps it is the fact that our house is so much lighter since the renovations. Maximising one’s exposure to natural light, especially in the winter months, definitely has a role to play in maintaining a positive mind set. Perhaps it is the fact I have been reading ‘The Happiness Project’, such a positive and life affirming book, it is impossible to not feel enthused about what can do when one has read it.
At the start of the year, I made two lists in my notebook. The first, a set of goals to strive towards; mostly pleasant tasks to try and achieve during the course of the year. Some of the things on this list; hold a dinner party and actually cook for my guests ( I get nervous cooking for friends and as Husband is an excellent cook it allows me to side step the hob very easily). Make the effort to do something special for Husband once a month ( this month it’s a meal at a favourite restaurant). Make the effort with friendships old and new. Carve out some alone time for Pip and I, (so much harder now that he is at school but something I really miss.) The other list was far more mundane and task focused; renewing my passport, getting a photo card driving licence (preferably with the right name and address...oops.) Going to the Dentist. Sorting out the thousands of digital photos on different computers and printing some out. The Builders snagging list.
It’s fair to say, I’ve done much better on progressing with the items on list one rather than list two. But maybe that’s what’s got me through those first two tricky months of the year and within a hair's breadth of March. Today the sun is shining and the sky is blue. I feel buoyant and optimistic. Spring is on it’s way. Hurrah.
I have become better at being present in the moment in recent months, particularly when it comes to the children. I have focused on my lists, my goals, and nothing more. Have tried to spin less plates. Partly because I am still feeling tired a lot of the time so have tried to focus only on the urgent/important stuff, and partly because of the ever present realisation that I will never get these wonderful years with Pip and EB back and thus that I should prioritise helping Pip draw ‘The tree of life’ (as he so requested yesterday) or guiding him on how to draw a T Rex, whilst he still wants to. In all likelihood, this house will probably be flooded with requests for an X Box or Play Station far sooner than I would like and I will then mourn the fact that no one wants to do colouring or drawing with me and feel forlorn when I look at a pristine set of felt tip pens that no one has yet bitten any of the nibs off. (EB does love a good chew on a felt tip.)
Our house is finally starting to look like a home. This morning, I hired a van (and a burly man) and took a load of unwanted furniture to auction, strategically arranged my colourful new cushions on the sofas and set about ordering some garden furniture so we actually have something to sit on in the summer. The builder is coming to complete the snagging on Monday. It’s been a long haul but I feel that we are finally coming to the end and I can give myself a well deserved break from wearing my Sarah Beeny hat. I would not embark on a project like this again, it has been more stressful and overwhelming than I ever imagined but I feel proud of what we have achieved here.
Next month is my birthday month. The big one. Thirty Ten. I have promised myself and given advance notice to Husband that on the two days each week that EB is at nursery during the month of March, I will be taking some time out to please myself. Incredibly indulgent, but I don't even feel the slightest bit guilty. It’s going to be a month of little treats. The luxury of watching a movie in the cinema in the daytime, of spending some time on a photo project I’ve been inspired to start, of giving myself a style makeover, of catching up with old friends, of hopefully finding the time to sit here, like I am right now, at the kitchen table with nothing but the sound of the birds tweeting in the trees and writing at my laptop. Life is full of promise. It feels good.