Eeeeek. So a slightly unplanned start to the New Year threw me off-balance temporarily. A romance ended, and all of a sudden all the plans I’d had in my head had gone out the window too. Once the bruises had healed, I realised I needed something to fill the void.
I like to keep myself busy, I like to have projects on the go. The sad thing is, since becoming single, I fear that this busyness is a cover-up for another issue, loneliness.
I am achievement driven, I like to set goals and achieve them, but I have of recent times challenged myself on the goals I am setting.
I read a book, ‘Essentialism’ – which made the point that we can be busy doing many things that may be good, but if they are not ‘essential’ to our happiness they could be damaging, as they may be stopping us achieving our true potential. Some of this felt slightly uncomfortable for me. I have so many goals and things I want to achieve and I find it impossible to prioritise them. It’s like my life has so many different categories and I have goals in each of them. So of course I did some thinking. My children and my home life came out as my top priority, so every other goal has to fit around that. Now that does not mean that I put my children’s needs above mine in a detrimental way, it just means that I want to strike that all important ever so elusive balance between fulfilling my needs whilst creating a great home environment and great memories with my family.
So one of my new goals that emerged out of this thinking, was that I could have a big ‘push’ on getting my house in order. Literally. I am in a big house, and for as long as I’ve been here (10 years) it’s never been completely finished – always a room or two that needs decorating, always some clutter somewhere that needs sorting, and always a sense of I’ll never quite be able to manage to get to it – with working full-time and family demands. Also there’s the slightly daunting aspect – without someone else to bounce off, with decisions to make, things to buy, things to fix that I have no idea about – it has been easy to put it all off.
Getting the house ‘in order’ and looking at its best is a goal that will help me as I now work from home a lot, and one that will help my children, so we can entertain friends and have fun with each other in a comfortable environment. (Not that we don’t do those things now – but it will help my stress levels when my children announce their friends are coming over if I don’t immediately feel embarrassed about the chipped paint/worn carpet/cluttered chaos.)
So even making this decision and verbalising it to anyone that would listen was an important first step. There was/is so much to do it has felt overwhelming in the past, and I felt I could only achieve it if I tackled it as a large-scale project that would take a few months – using weekends and holidays from work.
It was a few weeks in to this process, I had made a good start, a few trips to the tip from emptying out a loft, the first room painted, some items sold on e-bay, when I came across a post from a fellow blogger talking about ‘Konmari‘. Konmari, it turns out, stands for Marie Kondo, who wrote the book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever’. No, the title is not a joke, nor is it tongue-in-cheek. At time’s its an irritating read, but once some of the ideas get into your head they stay there.
I’ll tell you about the book and my house project in my next blog. For me, this year is about tidying up but not in the physical-space sense, but in a life-sense. But of course they both go together. After my bruising start to the year I retreated to my core – what’s important to me, my children, looking after myself, working on projects to help others, things that will make a difference. Lots of reflection and introspection, not easy, still 18 months on after losing my Dad. He and I were so similar, and I’ve decided to be braver, to embrace that, and to ‘step out’ whereas I may have held back in the past.
But what I take satisfaction in, is progress. Step by step, little by little. I can look at my garden, and even though it’s not quite finished, still one corner to go, I can see the progress I’ve made by myself over the last few years. From single-handedly dismantling a trampoline, recovering a neglected lawn, adding some vibrant colour. These things can not all be done at once, but one at a time. Progress in all areas of our lives is like that. The big problems can’t be fixed all at once. We just need to know where we’re going and how we want to get there.