Purplegerberas's Blog

A rambling collection of my thoughts about life, my children and crafty things

Positive steps for the New Year

A week into the New Year and I’m feeling settled and positive ready to tackle a busy year.

We have a number of plans, nothing concrete but I’m waiting on the outcome of a few other things first.

I’ve decided to be more active to help the weight loss but also my sanity. I read about ecotherapy the other day. A very simple concept that being outside, doing something improves your both physical and mental well-being. Something so simple but another thing on that list of good advice that I generally ignore. I’ve made the effort this week and we’ve been out and about when possible. I’m even debating buying a season ticket for the car park so we can be country park regulars.

After all of the recent rain it has been very muddy

And the kids have got their money’s worth out of the wellies they got for Christmas

Samuel has also suddenly got better at walking a distance. Before Christmas he was firmly back in the buggy or asking to be carried after a short distance. This had led to lots of contemplation over whether it was his heart restricting him or Samuel just being awkward. This week has shown that its him. We’ve walked for over an hour at a time with out any moaning or requests to be carried. The test will be walking to school this week but I’m feeling optimistic.

I’m trying to increase the average number of steps I do each day. I’d struggle with getting a set target each day so I think its easier to simply say increase my average daily steps. I’m not feeling too good this weekend with a cough and cold so rather than heading to bed this evening I went for a walk on my own to clear my head. My aim is to do this more often.

After weeks of struggling with my workload I’ve had a catch up with my masters. Its helped my conscience more than anything. I’ve booked lots of study days in my diary and intend treating them as sacred. I book them in my diary and normally its the first thing to get cancelled whenever work gets busy. After long discussions about this with various people I know that my studies are just as important as everything else and I need to consistently give it the time it needs.

Along with this I’m tackling my organisation at work. At times I’m too reliant on a million post-it notes and my overworked brain to keep track of everything. I multi-task in a very dodgy way to the extent that I feel like I have ADHD at times.  I’ve created a new plan of attack starting tomorrow. To do lists in one place, not having my emails open all the time, planning my day and focusing entirely on the most important task of the day first. I’m giving it a weeks trial and will see if it makes any difference.

 

 

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Focusing on the important things

The week before last was my final fellowship module. As always it was an excellent and inspiring few days away. The overall theme was personal resilience – something that I feel is an issue for me as I tend to get a bit defeatist when things aren’t going smoothly. That said, my outward appearance is probably one of calm and in control whereas in reality in my head I’m sick with worry, know that I am unlikely to sleep that night and visualising the worst case scenario. So yes, I was looking forward to this module.

Jeremy Snape from Sporting Edge came to speak to us and gave a really simple but powerful message on focusing on what is important. A number of things really struck me – focusing on goals and differentiating that from a dream. Making a target practical and tangible on a daily basis is important to increase the chances of success at a later date. All the small daily actions add up and remembering each day will contribute to that end goal. He talked about a ‘to don’t’ list to help avoid distractions and to ensure the things booked in your diary are ones that actively contribute to your long term plan.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my work life balance and the feeling that I’m struggling to manage things well and keep my sanity in the middle of it all. I’ve had a minor work epiphany and made a few changes to put myself (and my happiness) first.  I’ve stopped answering my phone on my day off, I no longer look at work emails in the evening and I am doing my utmost to keep work at work.  I’ve started saying no and been surprised that no-one has been horrified by my reaction. Its encouraged me to say it more often. I had a coaching session yesterday and we discussed this. I’m currently working at setting boundaries for my service and I’m now in the process of setting my own personal boundaries and making it clear to people that I am not an endless resource that can be used constantly.

I’ve joined a gym as part of the plan to look after myself. I’m making sure that I get time on my own and  can use my stress in a constructive way. The steam room is also a bonus. My weight is still an issue and I’m getting disheartened by the lack of progress. I’m hoping that the regular exercise will have an impact soon (if not I will be seeing my GP and demanding my thyroid is checked!)

We’ve also been busy tidying up part of our garden – the plan is for this area to be a child free relaxation zone. I’d like an arbour so I have somewhere to sit out in the evenings. I also have a mild irrational desire for a japanese maple.

So at the moment life isn’t too bad. The only sad thing is that our cat died at the weekend. I had the difficulty of explaining it to the children. I still have to work out how I’m going to explain burying his ashes in the garden. Samuel keeps asking after him, Eloise wants to know why I took him to the vets after he died and I keep thinking I’m seeing him waiting at the back door as usual. Still a little strange and foreign without him.

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Happiness Online: March

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The theme for this months resolutions is work. I did laugh quite a bit when I found that out.

It also helped that someone sent me this link last week – The happy secret to better work

I really liked it as it was giving a simple message that happiness does make work more productive and essentially its not difficult to achieve.

Focus on one thing

The video talks about ‘cultural ADHD’ where people try to do too many things at once. I easily fall into this category. I struggle to focus on one thing – at the moment I have 8 tabs open on my browser and writing this post will probably take far longer than it should do as I will keep flicking over to facebook, twitter and a forum. I do the same at work and I know it is unproductive. I’ve also read that too many browser tabs increases stress. So, this resolution means I will focus on one thing – starting with my internet browser.

Remember that I am not an endless ‘resource’ for others, I must stock up on ‘reserves’ and not get too drained

I stole this from the 10 Golden Rules for Myself that my mum sent me last week. Very self-explanatory.

 

I must be fair to myself and remember, at all times especially in the face of criticism, anxiety and difficulties, THAT I AM DOING THE BEST THAT I CAN!!

Another steal from 10 Golden Rules. I need to remember that my best is good enough and nothing in life is perfect. I have a limited amount of time available to me and as long as the important things are sorted and I am doing my best, the rest will get sorted.

Delegate

I’m useless at delegating, although better than I was. I find it frustrating at times but know why I need to do it – not just for myself but also to help develop others.

Do a daily priority list

I love lists. They calm me down and help me get things sorted out in my head. I often worry that I’ve forgotten something and having a list helps allay that fear. I’ve also found that writing one out in the evening helps me plan the next day and go to bed with a clear head. Simple but it works for me. I’ve been trying various apps and online list things but so far nothing has really clicked. Pen and paper seems to do the trick.

 

I’m debating doing more resolutions for this month – I could go on. Does that say a lot about my work?!

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Happiness Online: February Round up

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I’d like to forget February really. It’s been far too busy and the happiness project has fallen down the priority list. I’m not even certain of what my plans were as I write this. I’ve been away from home far more than I’ve been here and it hasn’t really helped.

So, my resolutions were  –

  • Make the most of time together
  • Love myself a bit more
  • The little things matter
  • Do a random act of kindness once a week
  • Stop keeping a mental tally of everything

I feel I didn’t really do any of this. We had a family holiday in the middle of the month so that has got to help with the relationship!

In my defence I’ve found it easier to stick with January’s resolutions and have kept going with those. I’m not sure if this is chance, or they have actually become a habit. Maybe they were easier to fulfil in the first place. I’m not sure. I did write out the January ones and stick them on the cupbaord where the mugs are kept. This means I think about them first thing in the morning when I’m making a cup of coffee (a habit that is the very first thing done each morning without fail). Tonight I will write out February and March’s resolutions and stick them up as well. Hopefully that will bring them to mind more easily in the future.

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Small victories

I wrote this post last night in its entirety and then my computer crashed and it disappeared. The autosave version was fairly early on (grr) so I apologise that this re-hashed version doesn’t have my heart and soul put into it.

I’m getting back into the swing of things and starting to feel more positive and in control.

My Mum very helpfully sent me this –

Ten Golden Rules For Myself

The timing was very apt and it has been duly printed out and stuck on my wall. I’ve also reminded myself that I do not want to fall into the ISFJ trap of doing too much and putting myself last.

I had my appraisal yesterday and its left me feeling happy. I’ve achieved my targets for the last year. I’ve combined my goals for the next year with those from my fellowship so I’m not putting more work onto myself.

Eloise is much better and went back to school yesterday meaning I finally got back to work (was very difficult dragging myself out of bed at 6.30am!). I’d planned to have a study day to work on my essay but felt it was important to be in the office and get on top of everything there. So far so good on that one.

I spent the weekend putting up shelves. The are still on the wall (major victory). After we had our bedroom decorated I hadn’t got round to putting the pictures and shelves up so that was sorted this weekend and I’m pleased with the result. Over the weekend I seemed to get into catching up with lots of bitty jobs in the house and I feel like I’m making progress. 40 bags in 40 days is going well and I’m keeping up with the pace even though I’m not putting pressure on myself to get through it all.

So overall things are better and feels more manageable. I still haven’t thought massively about my essay and I’m not entirely sure when that’s going to happen but I’m sure it will (she says with overwhelming optimism).

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40 bags in 40 days

At the end of last year I found a Lent related challenge to help with decluttering.

I’m not entirely sure where it originates from, there are many people blogging about it in one form or another. It involves listing and then clearing 40 bags of clutter from your home over the course of Lent.

I don’t usually officially do anything for Lent – just the pancakes at the start and the eggs at the end! So often I put things off thinking I will get round to it one day and then it never happens. I like the fact that this will make me focus on a quick intense challenge to feel like I’m making some headway in clearing the house.

I’ve decided to keep it simple – quick 10-15 minute attacks on each area. I’m just going to be ruthless with a bin bag rather than get involved in any major reorganisation or moving of furniture. Any other major work can be done at a later date once this is finished and I can review what needs to be done next. If I don’t have it completed by Easter then I will not be beating myself up about it. It will just be helpful to have a list printed off and stuck on the wall to be steadily worked through. I’m hoping to be half way through by Easter, or closer to three quarters of the way through.  I’ve got some very busy weeks coming up with work and essays so I’m being realistic and not setting myself a stupid goal that I know I will struggle to complete.

 

So this is the list….

 

 

 

 

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Managing to say no

One of my aims for this year is to say no more often. I tend to take on too much, worrying what others think or wanting to be as helpful as possible and end up in a mess and feeling resentful because of it.

I’m a typical ISFJ

 

I had a phone call last night regarding the flowers for a funeral that we are going to in a couple of weeks time. An assumption had been made that we would be getting a floral tribute spelling out the name. I was asked if I could order it and co-ordinate with the other family members, letting them know how much they needed to contribute.

We go on holiday in a couple of days and return the day before the funeral. I know that I want everything sorted before we go away so our flowers were ordered and paid for on Friday. I do not think that I have the time (or energy) to ring round the rest of the family to organise their flowers for them.

As for the flowers themselves, and I apologise if this offends anyone, I cannot stand floral letters at funerals. For many years I’ve told Steven that if I die before him and he allows letters at my funeral I will send curses from heaven. Googling to get this picture has also enlightened and horrified me at the cost of them. Also I was told to get ‘Grandad’ but we never called him grandad. That puzzled me more than anything.

 

 

This situation comes back to the resentment that has been building for the last six months. I’m asked to do more and more for the family whilst the rest of the grandchildren remain elusive. In the past when I’ve asked if someone else could help I’m given a list of why their life is busy/complicated/tragic with an assumption that my life is simple and carefree. In total there are seven of us in this specific generation and I seem to be called on to sort the others. All are over the age of 18 and very capable, so why me? My husband is also included in that list. I  frequently have to point out to people outside of the family that I am just an in-law.

So, at the crucial moment last night I managed to say the elusive word – ‘no’.

I politely explained that we’d sorted our flowers and that due to time I could not ring anyone else to help them. I’m not sure how it was received but have decided to not think about that. I know that if I do, the guilt will kick in and I’ll end up going back on my decision. I also refrained from saying how much I hate flowers of that type.

So, I’m sticking firmly to the thought that our flowers are sorted. They will be nicer (and cheaper!) I also know the rest of the family are capable and will sort themselves out without the need for any organisation from me. Our bit is sorted so why lose any sleep over anyone else?

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Happiness Online: February

A new month and a new set of resolutions. This month the focus is love. I don’t really do gushy love love so am tackling this in hopefully, a realistic way.

1. Make the most of time together

Steven and I work opposite shifts and days and often I feel we live quite separate lives. We rarely get any time together to just do nothing and be at home.  I really enjoyed this Christmas and I think it was because we just had a simple relaxed time at home together. Nothing fancy, just time in each others company without the pressure of daily life. An example of this would be spontaneously going to a pub one afternoon. It never happens! I also think I’m guilty of not making the most of the precious time we do have together. Too much time is wasted online. This needs to stop.

2. Love myself a bit more

This comes back to my recurring theme of looking after myself and putting my needs a little bit higher on the general list of priorities. My skin is awful at the moment and it is getting me down. Sorting out the little things like that (little but matter to me) fall into this category.

3. The little things matter

Steven and I struggle to get time together, or go out without the children due to work patterns and childcare issues. We try and plan weekends away and then give up because it all seems too difficult. This resolution means we stick to the little things. The simple things we can do to spend quality time together without the need of a Gantt chart

4. Do a random act of kindness once a week

I don’t feel this one needs an explanation. Lets spread some karma!

5. Stop keeping a mental tally of everything

I tend to mentally keep count of things to compare who puts in the most effort at home. I resent that Steven goes out more than me. I know that in reality we are probably equally split in what we do. We do generally help each other where possible but I still insist on mentally keeping tabs on things. I easily recall this information during an argument or use it as a weapon when I’m fed up.

We’re away on holiday this month which I think will help in all aspects of life. I’m looking forward to time away from work, being detached from the internet and spending time doing as little as possible with my family.

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Happiness online – January round up

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So its the end of January and the end of the first month of the happiness project.

My resolutions were –

Take my supplements each day – I often take supplements but sporadically. I think I never really take them for long enough to appreciate if they are doing the trick. I also take supplements when I’m feeling run down as a desperate sort of ‘I’ll try anything’ approach to make myself feel better. My current batch is gingseng, coenzyme Q10 and evening primrose oil.

Journal twice a week – this has been identified as something I need to do as part of my fellowship. I know it helps but struggle to get into it or make the effort to sit down and do it. I hoped that this resolution would help create that habit.

Sort the paperwork/shredding mountain in the kitchen (15 mins a day in the Flylady style) – my kitchen (well, most of my house) is a clutter magnet that depresses the life out of me.

Eat more healthily – I’m overweight again. I’m doing nothing to sort it. I need to.

Go to bed early one night a week – December was a bad month for sleep as Samuel was up too often having tantrums in the early hours. Steven works nights so its usually me sorting it out on my own. I then work all day and I constantly feel exhausted. I know that this problem is not going to be sorted overnight so a short term help would be for me to have one early night a week to try and increase the amount of sleep that I get.

 
What has worked well? How has it made you feel? 

Overall, I’m feeling really positive and that I have achieved what I wanted.  This month has been busy and difficult at times for all sorts of reasons. Although I’ve felt tired I haven’t been at the end of my tether stressed. I feel like I am coping better. I’m viewing the whole month overall as a success.

My biggest source of happiness was the removal of shredding mountain –

It has improved further since the second photo (I do not have the energy to go and take another photo at this precise moment). I think it is a feng shui thought that clutter can zap energy. Just sorting this corner has helped hugely. It wasn’t that difficult to do tackling it bit by bit and it has inspired me to move onto other problem areas.

I’m journalling more as well. I find it easier to just randomly jot down things through the day rather than have a concentrated official ‘I am journalling’ time. I like lists so can easily write a list about a problem eg. ‘why is this upsetting me?’ or ‘what can I do now to improve this?’ I’m keeping it simple so its not big or scary or hard.

Is there anything you’ve learned or would do differently?

Going to bed early does help but it needs me to be more proactive about doing it. I easily waste too many hours in the evening sitting online. I need to stick with this far more and make more of an effort.

The general resolution of ‘eat more healthily’ really amounted to nothing. We’re going on holiday soon and neither of us could be bothered to make the effort knowing that any loss now will be piled on once we go away. I found a photo of me at work on my 30th birthday – I was probably at my lowest weight then. I found it inspiring and I know I need to get back on track with my weight. Steven and I have agreed that once we’re home we are back to weekly weigh ins and point counting. General statements are not that helpful – I need to make it measurable and be accountable to make it work.

 
How do you feel this month has gone generally? Highs and lows of January outside of Happiness Online. 

Its been quite stressful. Lots of things are happening at work – not good things. The number of demands on my time are going up and I feel I have to split myself between my team, my clinical workload and my academic work. Somewhere in all of this I have to do a service improvement project and four 4,000 word essays. The first essay is due in March. I have no days available at work to do this between now and the hand in date. I’m dreading the next few months and am at a point where I may have to put Samuel into nursery on my days off to try and get some work done. Not a happy decision but really can’t work this one out at the moment.

 

 

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January Happiness Project Update

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I’m now halfway through the first month of the Happiness Project. Up until yesterday things had been going well. I’d had two really good weeks where I felt on top of things.  I’ve stuck to three of my resolutions really well but haven’t bothered with the healthy eating. I’ve eaten less rubbish but still not enough of the good stuff. I also haven’t gone to bed early.

Yesterday Steven came home from work early and at 6.30am announced that he hadn’t organised days off for my next fellowship module. When I knew I was going to be away I gave him all the dates I needed him to be off work and at home. This was in November. I’ve asked him more than once if it was all sorted and he told me yes. The next module is in 2 weeks and he hasn’t got any annual leave left. We’d talked about this possibility and we’d decided that Steven would work an extra night one week and take the extra day off another. He’d sorted this arrangement on Friday and told me that I need to take this Thursday off work. I can’t – I have an all day clinic that cannot be rearranged with 4 days notice. I was so angry.

My options were to cancel clinic (not an option) or put Samuel into nursery and Eloise into breakfast club (total cost = £61). When I was offered the fellowship place and saw the amount that I would have to be away from home I nearly turned it down. Steven told me I had to take the place and that we would sort out the childcare issues. Yesterday I felt that it was being left to me to sort out those issues.

Childcare is an issue that constantly rears its head and I get so frustrated that I cannot sort it easily. We do not have a vast amount of family support locally and with Steven working nights I feel I get little sleep.  I resent people who tell me how tough or tiring their lives are when they work far fewer hours than me, have a partner to share the nights with and have a grandparent on tap to take the children for a night just for the hell of it. For Steven and I to get a few hours one evening to just leave the house alone requires such planning or begging for babysitting we generally don’t bother. In the last year we probably went out 4 times alone. A night without the children forget it.

So yesterday I was very miserable and spent most of it shouting. This morning Samuel woke up at 4.30am as he fell out of bed. I spent an hour dealing with a tantrum then just as he had gone back to sleep Eloise and the cat woke up, started making a noise and woke him up again. I accepted defeat at 5.45am and we all came downstairs. I’m miserable, tired and thinking why do I bloody bother. I would just like a break. One night, no children and without the logistical nightmare of organising it or begging for favours here there and everywhere.

So I’m not happy but its only been a two day blip. I’m hoping I can improve things by this afternoon.

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