I don’t do new year’s resolutions. I never have. They seem a bit daft ‘I will be a better person…. later’. As someone who always pretends that things will be easier when…. (fill in blank) I smell the lie. If you can’t do it now, an arbitrary month passing will not change it for you. But I’ve always liked christmas and new year as a time of reflection. It’s a pause in the year, it’s a marking point. What was I doing this time last year? The year before that? What were my friends and family doing? How have I changed?
This year, reading the blogosphere, some things have been sparked off. People have been asking each other – what do you want this year to be? Who do you want to be in it? Where will you go, what will you do, if you could change things by just saying what they should be, what would you say?
And it’s made me think, and in thinking, a few responses have come up over and over. I’m not sure I’ll get them all down how I wanted, because I’m at work and distracted and sleepy. But if I don’t now, I wont ever.
Find my rythm. Find the small routines and relish them. This year I let a lot of that go, because it was just too hard to maintain. Emotionally, physically… also, living with my sister, who has pretty much the exact opposite schedule to me. And is 19 and doesn’t care about things like doing the dishes in a timely manner. I have been trying not to be too anal about that, to relax and not make my sister’s home unpleasant for her by fussing about whether she puts the butter back in the fridge, etc.
On the other hand, it means I can’t find that flow that you get sometimes, when your house sort of wraps around you and everything works. Everything has a place to be, and it is approximately there. Everything functions. Things get put away and there’s nothing to trip over. If I believed in it, I’d say something about Feng Shui here, or maybe ‘something something energy of your home.’
I love when it’s like that, and when I lived by myself, I used to really truly enjoy spending a morning on the weekend, listening to podcasts and puttering around, cleaning and tidying. Spending time with my home (seriously, I used to greet it when I walked in the door. I loved that flat, low ceilinged though it was). Now I find cleaning depressing – it’s just going to be dirty again in a minute, and I can’t clean properly because I’m cleaning around things, whether that’s a bag my sister has left in the middle of the floor, or the fact that she doesn’t get up until the afternoon (fair enough, she works until well after midnight) so I feel bad making loud noises too early. It’s a chore, and the benefits seem hard to see.
I realise how much of a luxury this thing I want is. But it’s also something that I can have. I want to live by myself – probably not until the middle of the year, which is when I estimate my sister will have saved up enough to go overseas. But by this time next year, I will be by myself. So much luxury! I will have things as I want them, and I will be able to put something down and have it freaking stay there. I will be able to settle down for an evening of crafting without feeling bad because I am cross when she bounces in and interrupts me. And I want to take full advantage of this luxury – to maintain the systems that keep a house ticking over, and to enjoy it.
Not having a rythm spills over from just doing the dishes to everything else. I don’t eat as well as I used to because it’s a pain to get anywhere to shop – shopping for essentials for two instead of one means that I can’t just nip in somewhere with a green bag. I have to lug several, or take a trolley. I don’t have a car, so my sister is supposed to buy milk and bread etc. She usually buys it before we run out completely. Then the fridge is full of half empty jars of whatever, so I either have to clean it out or just shove everything in so that nothing can be found. (Also, I hate my fridge. The light goes out and the bottom shelf gets wet.) And the dishes are all filthy. Then by the time I’ve done the dishes myself, even though it’s the third time I’ve done them when it’s not my turn and also reused the same glass and plate all day – how are there ten glasses from just one day? – I am cranky and lazy and end up just having a sandwich or whatever.
I don’t use my time as well as I could, because I spend a lot of it waiting for my sister to do something she has said she will do in a minute (take the bins out, do the dishes, take her clothes off of the line) before I can keep doing what I was doing. And then I spend more time doing things like frittering away hours on the internet because that way I do not have to go into the areas of the house which I am not cleaning because it is too much of a muck around to do. Because if I clear the table, I realise that more than half of the detritus is my sisters, and then I either have to put it back where it was, or put it passive aggressively somewhere where she will have to do something with it.
Now, admitedly, I could just fucking quit whingeing and DO THE DAMN DISHES MYSELF. Revolutionary notion. And most of the time, I do. But the whole point of finding and maintaining a rythm is to make it easy for you to do the things you want to do. You do the work when it’s not as much of an effort, so you don’t have to do it when you’re tired and whiney and too willing to make excuses. You take things with you when you leave the room so that by the end of the week there’s only one discarded jumper in the living room, not a whole wardrobe (and you’re swearing in your room looking for them) and there’s not five empty toilet rolls sitting on the toilet windowsill.
Wow. That wasn’t meant to be a rant. But I don’t feel that I can adequately explain what I mean by this without explaining some of the things that have made me cranky and uncomfortable this year. Things that, on the surface, are no big deal. But I want my house to be a home, a haven, a retreat, and I want to use it well. I’m an introvert. That means that while I love people, I find them exhausting. And if my home isn’t a place of rest and retreat, I find myself saying ‘no’ more and more often. I don’t like that, because friends are refreshing and revitalising and fun.
All of this will be easier with my sister gone. I love her but, frankly, I don’t love living with her. It’s not like we really spend much time together, what with opposite schedules. I don’t want to be an a-hole about it while she’s still living with me. But we will be moving into my house which, frankly, will be inconvenient while she’s there. I won’t have anywhere to put my sewing machine, and there’ll be way too much furniture for the space. So I feel ok about being a bit more insistent about this stuff. And I will make an effort not to let myself get derailed.
Spend more wisely. Time and money. I want to spend less time on the computer, and more time reading or doing. I want to evaluate my expenses and make actual decisions about what is worth giving up for what, instead of just reacting to what I want and can have right now. Is a new fridge worth not eating out for a month, two month, many months, and all the associated social consequences? (Did I mention that I hate my fridge?) Is a new fridge worth more than a skylight? Or getting the concrete torn up in the backyard? Or not having a spending capacity for those things on the borderline between want and need – new shoes, for example? I’m not sure about any of those answers, but I want to actually make those decisions rationally. Havign a rythm will make small things easier, too – better food so that I don’t feel like buying, saving money by beign organised and buying bulk and not losing the things I already bougth. You know the drill.
Be more active. I don’t mean get fit, or even exercise more, per se. This one is playing out immediately int hat I have vowed to ride my bike to and from work 1-2 times per week for January. With the idea that this will increase, but at least that much, for that time. I stopped riding in winter when I had a cold for months and months, and then I was horribly unfit and it seemed like such an effort…. I rode my bike several places on the holidays, and yesterday my sister and I went for a short ride (she on our grandfather’s old bike with two compltely flat tires. It was hilarious). Just getting off my bum felt good. Spending actual time with my sister felt good, too.
But this one also means being less sedentary in general. Get up and do something – housework, gardening, walking, anything. Move around.
Be more positive. I don’t mean be less negative. I see the crap, I call the crap. But maybe I could work on that not being my only response? I’m sure I would be happier, as well as others around me!
Well… that sounds simple enough, non?