Being the Happy Tortoise

1BA1F5C8-6863-4ECF-92EE-2770B0914233.jpegI started 2019 full of enthusiasm and with plenty of goals I wanted to tick off.  For the first time I did a 19 for 2019 – 19 things I wanted to accomplish.  Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft talk about this on their Podcast Happier.  These vary from the easily achievable to the more lofty expectations I had for myself.  My 19 for 2019:

1.       Plant Onion Seeds for Competition;

2.       Find a Placement (requirement for my MA that I complete a volunteer counsellor placement);

3.       Get advice on what work will best add value to the house;

4.       Read at least 52 books;

5.       Run a race with Chicky (BFF) – surprise @cbruce!;

6.       Have a Girls’ weekend away;

7.       Go rock climbing;

8.       Find a yoga class to attend ideally once a week (whilst also restarting home practice);

9.       Buy a new practical but beautiful handbag for the weekends;

10.   Date night twice a month;

11.   Run a half marathon in under 2hours 20minutes (I amuse myself);

12.   Go to Italia (somewhere new);

13.   Get the tree pruned in our garden;

14.   Get a dog (PLEASE, for the love of GOD!);

15.   Pray every day;

16.   Aim for two blog posts a month;

17.   Complete 3 Bible Study Plans;

18.   Get our windows cleaned;

19.   Sort pictures:

a.       Hang wedding ones in frames;

b.       Complete Honeymoon album;

c.       Complete photo books for other years and one for Hen Do.

20.   BONUS – get sugar habit under control.  For me this means not having sugar every day and not craving it all.the.time on days I don’t have it.

January is a funny old month.  I found that my enthusiasm quickly faded, it’s still cold, dark and I had no money.  In addition I found out that I am getting TUPEEd over to a new employer by 1st April, having to say goodbye to my beloved team and start somewhere else in a different role.  Now, this may work out positively, but the news has still been unsettling.  In addition, I lost a very lovely client suddenly and unexpectedly and it shocked and upset me.

It meant that the Louise Parker Method Transform that I had started so promisingly at the start of the month has halted somewhat.  I was getting frustrated about this, annoyed with myself for not being more disciplined.  Our society values quick, goal orientated, fast solutions and people who achieve all the time.  Slowness, steady progress and small changes are not celebrated.

I am slower though, I struggle with changing habits.  I want to make lasting changes, more practices than one offs.  So I decided though to look at what I have done rather than what I haven’t. 

So, I may not have been completely inner circle but I have eaten better, tried out 4 new LP recipes which are now in regular rotation and got back into the habit of meal planning and prepping.

I am 15 days behind my yoga challenge for January. I could see that as a failure.  Or I could say I practiced yoga a minimum of three times a week for January which is a massive improvement on my maybe twice a month between August and December.

I haven’t found a placement, but I have sent out introductory emails, completed a CV and shortlisted places to apply to.  Steps in the right direction.

I have completed week three of Couch to 5k so that I am closer to achieving my running goals this year.  That means I have run three times a week for the last three weeks, beating my total number of runs between August and December last year and feeling all the better for it.

I have read four excellent and varied books this month and I am halfway through a fifth.

I have prayed every day, even if it has been a quick 30second thought directed to God.

We had two date nights – the theatre and Mary Poppins Returns.

When I hit publish on this blog post I will have published two blog posts in January.

So if you are like me, feeling a bit disillusioned with your goals, yourself and your “better 2019” that seemed so achievable just five weeks ago give this a go.  Play a version of Pollyanna’s Glad Game, turn it on its head, find a different point of view, focus on your have done(s) rather than your have nots.  You might be pleasantly surprised by what you have achieved and you might find it makes you feel more positive about what you can achieve in the next four weeks of February.  The tortoise won the race after all.

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Books I Finished in 2018

Happy New Year, friends!

A list of books in chronological order – come find me on IG (@nackandnace) where I post books finished for that month and write a little review on them.  Here I have just reviewed my favourites (in bold).

  1. The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny in the Inspector Gamache series, on point, as always;
  2. Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend, a very helpful book which I will return to again and again.
  3. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Tubman, an important read of a first hand account of slavery, heart-breaking and was clearly written for a white audience when slavery was ongoing almost pleading for the audience to understand her having children with a white man (not the one that claimed to “own” her).
  4. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire, poetry that everyone should read.
  5. Bill’s New Frock by Anne Fine – a great children’s classic!
  6. The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, what a beautiful, beautiful book. Ann’s way of expressing her faith will stay with me for a long time to come, this will be a re-read for sure.
  7. Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg;
  8. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie;
  9. She Wrote it Down by Laura Parrott Perry. A book that will stay with me for a long time. I found Laura through Glennon Doyle and have read her blog posts and followed her on social media for a while now. The book was just like her- full of truth and love and light and hope.
  10. A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny, again Inspector Gamache – I cannot get enough of this series.
  11. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, this really helped me change the way I view my body – I often feel stress in my body before anywhere else but I found this and the research on trauma absolutely fascinating.
  12. Henry and June by Anais Nin;
  13. Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig;
  14. The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright;
  15. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. What, A. Book. Read immediately.
  16. Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth;
  17. Farewell to the Eastend by Jennifer Worth;
  18. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans, I found this hugely helpful particularly as at the time I was searching for a new church to call a spiritual home.
  19. The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells
  20. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, there’s been mixed reviews about this one but I absolutely loved it. I actually ended up in Lewisham Bus Garage because I was so engrossed I missed the last stop. It is so British. The humour, the prose, the style, everything. I really, really enjoyed it.
  21. Room by Emma Donoghue;
  22. The Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heurtz;
  23. Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest;
  24. The Power by Naomi Alderman, this book will also stay with me for a while. A great story of an alternate “Matriarchal” World. Food for thought.
  25. What is the Bible by Rob Bell, I found this so entertaining and interesting, it explained the Bible in a whole new light giving lots of context, I really enjoyed it.
  26. The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory;
  27. Adultery by Paulo Coelho;
  28. I’m Still Here, Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. This book is easy to read and digest and is important for white people of faith.
  29. The Four Tendencies by Gretchin Rubin, a Game changer that will help you understand how you are wired and how you respond to both internal and external obligations.
  30. Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, this was tough going, I actually red it over several months. It was a very feminist book full of ancient stories and fables about what it means to be a woman.
  31. Watching the English by Kate Fox, a very funny and insightful commentary on the English, made me cringe and laugh in equal measure.
  32. The Cows by Dawn O’Porter;
  33. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis;
  34. Heartburn by Nora Ephron;
  35. Suffering Without Pretending by Anne J. Townsend;
  36. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, a wonderful idea which really encouraged me to start my own and work out what gives me joy.
  37. Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin;
  38. Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller;
  39. Why We Get Fat (and what to do about it) by Gary Taubes;
  40. The Thirteenth Apostle by Michael Benoit;
  41. Around the World in Seventy Two Days and Other Writings by Nellie Bly;
  42. Becoming by Laura Jane Williams;
  43. The Man I Thought I knew by Mike Gayle, I loved the style of writing and the story. Part of it is told from the perspective/voice of a man with a head injury and I thought it was a really interesting commentary on how depression and mental health can affect anyone.
  44. The Child, The Family and The Outside World by D.W. Winnicott;
  45. The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper. This gave me so much to think about. I loved it, so much wisdom between the pages.

Goals for 2019 Reading:

  1. Read 52 books or more next year (down by 10 books in 2018 compared to 2017);
  2. Read a minimum of 12 books authored by people of colour (2018 was 6);
  3. Get back into reading on my commute.