Love is in the Air

Crikey, where did January go??

So, I bet you’re all on tenterhooks wondering how the happiness project is going? Well…

January’s focus was on energy and having fun. Now, I didn’t get very far with ticking things off on a resolutions chart, and I didn’t change my whole style of life to suddenly have bags of energy. I think my family would actually have been terrified if I had, to be honest. And I didn’t have the big cull that I’d wanted to have to get rid of all that draining clutter. BUT I did make some small changes, and big changes can’t happen without small changes first, can they?

I wanted to exercise more, eat more healthily (more about that in a sec), try new things, cull, organize and laugh more. I have started regular exercise (I’m not going to keep saying “not as much as I wanted, but…” Just add that onto all of these things, please? ta) in the form of Pilates – I can’t afford to go to a class but fitness tv and a couple of DVDs from eBay have been my rescuers here and I’ve got a couple of routines and videos that I love now and that really push me. I never, ever thought I’d find a form of exercise I not only enjoyed but looked forward to, so this is a HUGE lifestyle breakthrough. Eating healthily – I don’t do diets. I like food too much and the risk of doing a diet is that I fall off the wagon, hate myself and end up eating to make myself feeling better. Er, no thanks. What I am trying to do is reduce portion sizes and try to choose healthy options at mealtimes, cutting out snacks or replacing with low-fat ones. My rule of thumb is less than 5% fat and I’m doing pretty well at sticking to that. Luckily I’m not fussy and do really enjoy salad so that helps. The other thing with making it a generally healthier lifestyle is that hopefully it will give me better eating habits for life and surely no-one seriously expects me to have no chocolate or cake ever again?? GAH!

A word about “healthy choices” though. In many, many diet books they will try to convince you that it won’t cost you any more than your normal shopping to eat healthily. Um. This is (how can I put it?) misinformed unless you are in the lucky position of genuinely not noticing everything that you spend on your shopping. Fruit and vegetables and low-fat yoghurts and healthy cereals etc etc etc DO cost more than junk. They do. It’s a fact. Rubbish food on the other hand costs relatively little and bulks out four good appetites cheaply. A sponge cake for 6 for example can cost 50p. Seriously. You can’t buy 6 bananas for that. And that’s if you’re doing a straight swap, unhealthy for healthy. If other members of

the family are not giving up sweets and biscuits etc you still need to buy at least one or two things for them. Swap white rice for brown or white bread for wholemeal? Great, if everyone is happy about that, otherwise it’s just double the amount of bread. Anyone with genuinely helpful suggestions on this subject, I would seriously love to hear them.

So, to sum up, I’ve done a few changes for the better, I’d say I do have more energy than before Christmas. And I did lose 4lbs, hooray!


February, now. Following my mentor’s advice (The Happiness Project), I’m focusing on my marriage this month. I am incredibly lucky to have a strong and meaningful relationship that’s going strong thirteen years on, since I left school. But in Gretchen Rubin’s book, she sums up February as “Remember Love” and that is always good advice, no? So I’m making a conscious effort to try and work on my little negative traits and remind my gorgeous husband how much I love him. One of the resolutions she makes which I love is to “Give proofs of love”. This is is biggy for me actually – you remember when you first get into a romance and you do silly little gestures, just because you love someone? After thirteen years, especially thirteen years of life as a grown up hitting you round the face with a wet kipper, you let those slide and work everyday on dealing with the big monsters together (too many metaphors? Tough, this is MY blog post). Well, we deal with those pretty well together now. So there you go, that’s February… Oh, and by the way. If you want to follow my lovely husband on twitter (he doesn’t tweet often but, and this is in no way biased, he’s funny when he does), try here.



PS I also read a very inspiring post on exmoorejane’s blog the other day, about why writers blog. Mine has been rather neglected lately but Jane’s post reminded me that I just love words and writing and my blog isn’t about being a mum or a writer or whatever, it’s just about being me. I need to remember that more, and so MY blog will be more of MY ramblings and less about building a platform or trying to force a post into narrow categories and hopefully it will also be more frequently updated! Thanks for bearing with me (again) so far. You rock!


Music and Down Time

So, how did my first week go? My first week of being super-dooper, extra happy with all the toppings and a side order of energy?

Well, with that kind of set-up, it went pretty much as you’d imagine. Although I don’t think (really) that I was expecting EVERYTHING to be suddenly wonderful, I did kind of give myself an awful lot to tackle, lots of expectations; and with the run-up to Christmas being so, so good and all the happiness stuff I was reading, I think it was to be expected that I had to crash back to earth sooner or later. And at the weekend I crashed.

Up and at ’em though and after a good cry and a heart to heart with Beloved Husband, I’m having another shot at it. The Happiness Project book (see here if you’re a latecomer, tsk) talks about using a chart to keep yourself accountable and that’s certainly always been one of my motivators. So I’ve done myself 2 charts, one for Resolutions and one for Writing, and I’m starting from this week to use those. And we identified that sleep is such a huge problem for me that I really need to be getting more of it. This is harder than it sounds – obviously I don’t get that much say in it as getting up time is pretty much dictated by the children (just when we’d got Daniel to understand “Stay in bed until 6am” Emily decided that 5.30 was much more fun) and a full, undisturbed night’s sleep is almost unheard of. So the only option is to go to bed early and since I work better later in the day, have things I want to do for myself like writing or reading etc, and it’s a chance for Andrew and I to sit down together, it feels like a big deal to sacrifice that time to sleep. But we’ll give it a go.

On to the other part of the post – music. One thing I keep noticing is how effectively music lifts my mood – even a fairly bad mood becomes slightly less bad when I put some good music on and have a sing and a dance. Whether this makes other people feel better is debatable; although it should be good for a laugh if nothing else because although I can sing ok I’m more like Mr Bean dance-wise than anything else. I thought I’d finish off today’s post by sharing some of the songs I put on my Good Mood Playlist – the ones that really get me dancing and energised more than the others.

Top 5 songs to dance madly to in the kitchen

Jump by Girls Aloud. The old one’s ok  but I like the Girls Aloud one better.

Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen

You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness

And finally, a bit of culture-type-stuff – Toréador from Carmen by Bizet.

There’s other stuff on that list too, some musicals, some reflective. I’m in love with Eva Cassidy’s Songbird which somehow I hadn’t heard properly until a few days before Christmas. But those songs are the ones I’d choose if I really need to wake myself up and get a bit of energy.

I also have a little plan, which I will hopefully reveal later in the week but I’ll need help in the form of commenters…

Harvesting Energy

When most of your interaction is with writers – I mean online interaction, blogs, tweets, facebook, etc etc etc – you inevitably meet messages such as “Congrats to X, her debut book is out today” “Just got a call from an agent” “Just got partial request” “Just got request for full ms” “Just got offered contract with multi-million advance and Cameron Diaz is booked to play me in my biopic”. Ok, maybe not the last one.

You have two options. Well, three, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t help and the sand is murder to get out of your ears.

You can 1) get cheered on by everyone’s success, feeling energised and motivated by the fact that publishers are buying books, the public are buying books (otherwise the publishers wouldn’t be), there’s room for rookies in the market, hard work generally pays off in the end. You harness this positivity and steam on with your own work just knowing that it’ll all come right in the end.

Or, you can 2) sink into gloom seeing that everyone has success but you because they’ve got the talent and determination to get words down, polished, edited, submitted while you’re sitting here tweeting or blogging or drowning in ironing and collapsing exhausted on the sofa at the end of the day; publishers and the public ARE buying books but obviously they won’t want yours because it’s a pile of poo that doesn’t say anything or have any deep and meaningful relevance to young people today.

Hmm. No prizes for guessing which camp I’m in right at this very minute. Now, I know I answered my own question – I’m not sitting down getting the words written; or I am; but only about 750 words at a time. To be honest, tweeting is quicker, easier and requires less energy which is one thing I’m a bit short of at the minute. I am very proud of the progress I’ve made on A Perfect Mess so far, and of the few reactions I’ve had to the start of it, but right now the end seems a long way off. I don’t think it’s a pile of poo, but it will be if I keep sitting on it. I need to stop this analogy now, the pictures are getting a bit disturbing. I’m just at that point where I’m doubting myself and I’m too far involved with the story to let it go and move onto something else but there’s an awful lot still to write.

Anyway, now I’ve let that off my chest, I actually feel a bit better. Maybe I can go harvesting some positive energy from my Twitter friends’ streams…