So this must be it, welcome to the new year

They say you should start your new year the way you mean to go on, and I started mine with a glass of (good) whisky, cuddled up on the couch watching The Big Fat Quiz of the Year. If that’s how my year works out, I’m 100% on board.

I know no one cares about anyone else’s new year’s resolutions but I’m going to talk about mine anyway. Last year, I called them goals. And I achieved two of the six. One of these goals was to read at least 8 new books (cause 2015 was appalling for reading) and I smashed this target by reading 27. Most of these were good feminist type reads and I’m very pleased with myself. So, inspired by my success, I decided to plot out some new goals only this year, I’m calling them ‘aims and aspirations’.

I want to keep reading cause it was legitimately a high point of last year. I forgot how much joy a good book brings me. As I’ve rediscovered my love of the library, I also don’t feel hamstrung by a budget – that’s a big help! Because there’s a lot of things I want to do this year and only so much time, I’ve decided to aim for a reasonable 12 books. One a month, simple right?

My second aim might sound a little weird but…I want to actually enjoy going to the gym. I started going to the gym regularly last year but it’s always been a chore. Unfortunately I’m not one of those people who gets an exercise high. My endorphins just don’t want to jam that way apparently. I get really annoyed by this fact because I don’t want to spend my time doing something I dread but I also know going to the gym makes me sleep better, lowers my stress and makes me generally happier. It’s the act of it that fucking sucks. I don’t know how much of that is a mindset thing though, so my aim this year is to think positively about going, rather than spending all my time dreading it, and telling my friends how much I hate it. Maybe if I do it enough times, it’ll become true. Related to this, I have a gym goal which is to squat 80kgs by the end of the year. So let’s see how that goes.

A friend from uni recently moved to town and asked me how my writing was going. Ummmm. It’s been such a long time since I’ve written anything, I almost feel like I don’t know how anymore. So this year, I want to write regularly. I have a vague story idea and I want to actually give myself the time to write it. And the permission for it to suck. At least it’s down on paper.

I want to save money and be better with my budget. Adulthood is expensive, yo. It’s a constant source of stress because I stick my head in the sand and hope that it all goes away. I’ve been better the last two months so it’s only a matter of self-control (ha) and discipline (haha). I’m hoping it’ll get easier in March when the boyf and I move in together. At least I’ll have someone to help share the load.

I also want to be kind, to myself and others. Be less critical and allow for the fact that people are just people. So I can’t expect so much of them. Related to this, I want to be more positive at work as opposed to the raging ball of frustration I normally am. I have a load of new productivity and management techniques lined up that I want to try out and I’m hopeful all of that will help me be less of a lunatic.

This on my list every year; I want to be happy. This year, I’m focusing on prioritising my own wellbeing, rather than putting work or other people’s goals ahead of mine. This means saying no to things I don’t want to do, and not beating myself up about it. It means being brave and having the courage to actually try things even if they’re outside of my comfort zone (hanging out with new people, I’m looking at you). It means volunteering at the SPCA and getting some puppy time while helping a good cause. It means having a solid morning routine and actually sticking to it so I’m not running late every damn day. And it means taking the time to eat properly and not just having a bag of chips cause I’m tired and it’s easy.

Finally, I’m fully embracing the do no harm but take no shit ethos and that means I’ll continue to be an insufferable feminist and calling out bs where I see it (mostly at work.) And in saying that, I’ll be embracing all the things on the Cattitude & Co new year’s resolutions for feminists list – check it out, it’s a good read!

I’m actually really excited about 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing what challenges it brings, and the ways I’ll be challenging myself. And if I make it past September while living in Wellington, it’ll be the longest I’ve spent in one city since I left Sydney in 2012. It’s feels nice, really, to put down some roots.

mani22

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Gone Away

“I am the spectrum of discontent, and each colour takes me far less than a whole winter.”

Nick Harkaway, The Gone-away World
(If you haven’t read it you’re doing yourself a disservice)

Jazz baby

“Things are sweeter when they’re lost. I know—because once I wanted something and got it. It was the only thing I ever wanted badly, Dot. And when I got it it turned to dust in my hands.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

Quintessence

If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Stay in it?
Yeah. Right there. Right here.

This is so important. So relevant. And poignant.

the-secret-life-of-walter-mitty

If you’ve lost, or travelled, or felt the pangs of wanderlust, or have an instinctive understanding of fernweh, or if you’ve written your life away, or worked damned hard and got trapped, or dreamed of something beyond the normal existence you regularly find yourself in…if you understand, watch this film. Yeah, sure, maybe it’s a little saccharine but it’s also beautifully made, and relatable, and painful, and sweet. What more could you ask for?

It reminded me of this quote I found once, years ago. It was attributed to Hemingway but I sincerely doubt that somehow (I’ve never been able to find the source and to be honest, it doesn’t really sound like him – but it’s a good quote all the same)…

To stay in places and to leave…to trust, to distrust…to no longer believe and believe again…to watch the changes in the seasons…to be out in boats…to watch the snow come, to watch it go…to hear the rain…and to know where I can find what I want.

Music:Hinnom, TX – Bon Iver

House of Queens

‘When I first looked on her and perceived her unhappiness, it seemed to me that I saw a white flower standing straight and proud, shapely as a lily, and yet knew that it was hard, as if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel. Or was it, maybe, a frost that had turned its sap to ice, and so it stood, bitter-sweet, still fair to see, but stricken, soon to fall and die? Her malady begins far back before this day…’

Eowyn

The Return of the King – JRR Tolkien

We pick ourselves undone

I remember this quote that said you became an adult when you stopped dreaming. I think it was Neil Gaiman, but I’m probably horribly misappropriating it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week though, the idea of adulthood, of having a dream to pursue. Call it birthday existentialism, if you will, but then I seem to have an existential crisis at least once a week these days.

It’s the nature of having a dream…or, more specifically, want. What do I want, truly? I mean, I say I want to be a writer, but every passing day makes that feel more impossible. Neil Gaiman had already written a published book by my age. He wanted to be a writer and worked towards it. I don’t work towards it. It’s this thing that sits in the back of my head that I toy with, but I don’t write every day. At least, I don’t write on a project every day. So, does that make it more of an abstract want? The same kind of want as when eight year old me wanted to be an astronaut? Or eleven year old me wanted to be a marine biologist? Or twelve year old me wanted to be a pilot? A want that is in the faraway, a space in the future that’s weirdly divorced from your actual self.

I fear I’m verging on the edge here, that I’m going to stop dreaming. That the future is not going to be a place where I have aspirations but a heavy here-and-now. That this is all I’ll be. I like where I am. I like who I am. I have regrets but I’m glad to have them. I like my job, my friends, this city…everything. But on quiet Sunday mornings, when the sky is one solid cloud and the world is grey and the long dark of winter is ever present in the air, I can’t help but examine everything. What do I want? What? I want to stay but I want to travel. I want to stay but I want an unconventional life. I want to write. I want.

Must I always contradict myself? What’s stopping me? My paralysing fear of failure? Probably. I’m always scared, deep down. Always terrified of disappointing, of failing, of not being enough. I balk at doing things that aren’t a sure success because I cannot deal with even the thought of failing. Of losing. Of not being enough. It has been ever thus. It’s the foundation of everything I am. A crippling perfectionism. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at keeping a lid on it, but maybe that’s just my well-honed ability to supress my emotions talking. Either way, I’m definitely better at handling it, but it still forms a core part of who I am, how I make decisions.

I don’t want to stop dreaming. I don’t want to compromise. I don’t want to give up. I fear normality like I fear enclosed spaces, wholly, completely, to the very fibre of who I am. Could I live with myself, if that was all that I became? I wear my lack of interest in societal convention like armour, and if that was curtailed, if I gave in, I’d become a caricature of myself.

Do I dare, then? Do I dare?

Just because you fell in love doesn’t mean you can’t still be on your own. Just because you leave doesn’t make the friendships you have any less significant. Just because you don’t have a permanent home doesn’t mean you don’t have a centre. Just because you’ll always be a plane ride away from at least one person you care about doesn’t mean you don’t have a family.

This is it. Your unconventional life. This is what comes from wanting to be a nomad, so you better work on strengthening that gypsy heart. Don’t ask the question, you know it’ll hurt. Don’t force the situation, you know it’ll break your heart.

Whatever happens now, whatever decision I make, I am not going to come out of it unscathed. I’m in too deep. I’ve committed too much. But I cannot waver, not this time. If I waver, I will break, and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. Through the wants and the dreams, whatever they turn out to be in a year, three, ten. So malleable and changeable and fickle. Maybe that’s what life is about, though – the change, the not knowing. Never being certain of anything, really, not even yourself. But you can’t really escape yourself, can you? So you may as well trust in it. And keep moving.

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”
– Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Fables & Reflections

Music: Flaws – Bastille

Don’t ever tell anybody anything

That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write “Fuck you” right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say “Holden Caulfield” on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it’ll say “Fuck you.” I’m positive, in fact.

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger