twentytwentyone

I mean, how do you even begin this post? I love writing these yearly posts but this year is just hitting a little different isn’t it? I don’t want to spend much time speaking about the elephant in the room, cos at this point we all know what’s up. I’m finding that constant mention of the pandemic is making my heart race. I’m sure it’s the same for many of you. So instead I want to just keep this post short and hopeful. Short because I don’t have much hope in me right now. Hopeful because we can’t exist without it. Whatever the situation, no matter how deep into it you are, no matter how much your mental health is holding on by a fraying thread, no matter how much you want to give up, no matter how much you’re dying for a hug or a proper pint or a maskless breath of fresh air, I think there is always hope.

Every single thing that happens in your life is temporary.

Read that again.

Every single thing that happens in your life is temporary.

I’m obviously not talking about death (etc.) here, don’t try and get smart with me. But what I mean is that every feeling and mindset and set of circumstances you find yourself in will be fleeting. Your world twists and turns and evolves constantly. Often quicker than you can keep up with. (2020, am I right?) A lot of things in our lives will feel out of our control, and honestly, a fucking lot of it is. But a lot of it isn’t. And that’s all we’ve got. So that’s what we should focus on. That’s where we find our hope. Make it tangible not abstract. Regain autonomy of our lives amongst the madness and fear. So I think that’s what we should all work on this year.

Just take a deep breath. Right now, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay. Push out of your brain all the things in your life right now that are unchangeable. I won’t list any because we all know the things that relate to ourselves specifically. Now I want you to let the things you can control float to your mind’s forefront. What is there? Maybe make a mental list. For me, a couple of things popping up are what I read, what activities I give my spare time to, how I nourish my body (mental/physical).

These are the things that are going to give us hope this year. So spend a little time thinking about what you would like from them. Maybe you’re into resolutions so you quantify your thoughts and write a list of goals. Maybe you’re not and you just think abstractly for a moment. Whatever works for you. But what I want you to do, any time over the next few months that you feel overwhelmed or hopeless or that you’re spiralling. Just stop. Everything. Pause for a second. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Then circle back to this little list and think of one small thing you can do that day to develop one of them. Could be a walk. Could be putting a frozen pizza in. Could be watching your favourite tv show. Could be a nap. Could be as simple as getting yourself a cup of water. The things we’re controlling this year are not big. They’re the inconsequential every day, that all link together to become the most important parts of our lives. You might not be flying to Bali this year but you might give yourself ten minutes each day to journal and that is equally magical.

So what am I focussing on this year? A couple of little things.

  • I want to move my body more, however that feels right each day. Could be a run, yoga, some pilates. Could just be a walk. I’d like to incorporate more walks into my week, something positive I’m taking out of 2020.
  • I want to drink more water. I used to drink a lot but I’ve noticed now I’m usually sipping a black coffee. Oops!
  • I want to start working on my novel again. I didn’t touch it at all last year. Yikes. But I’m starting super small with just reading what I have and fixing any typos. You can have bigger goals but just break them down and down until they’re achievable little actionable tasks.
  • I want to read widely but slowly and intentionally. I had a very intense reading year last year, and I’m glad I did it and I had a lot of fun. But it was a lot. This year I want to find some new favourite books but I also want to fit in some tv, haha.
  • I want to connect better with my friends. I’m a famously bad messager but I don’t want to be. And checking in with people is so important, even more so now. So I’m working on it.
  • Oh and I want to buy a house. That’s not small but damn it, it’s happening!

So this ended up being a medium sized post. Turns out I had more hope than I realised. I hope you do too.

If you need help, reach out. To somebody, anybody. Could be me, doesn’t have to be. But don’t suffer alone. We truly are all in this together. And we’re surely reaching the home stretch now.

I hope your twentytwentyone is sublime.

Peace x

Kyoto – Phoebe Bridgers

My No Buy Year: Rules and Exceptions

So I mentioned in my last post that I was undertaking a no buy year.

What the heck is a no buy?

Well! Simply, it’s whatever the heck you want it to be. Or, rather, it’s what you need it to be. The aim is to cut your mindless spending habits. The outcomes are numerous. It’s supposed to help you:

– save money

– decipher needs from wants

– declutter and minimalise

– spend more mindfully

– break your advertising brainwashing

I’m using it as a way to hit reset. I want to spend this year seeing how I feel when I spend less money. What do I need to be happy? That way, I can move forward into the rest of my life with good spending habits and the ability to stick to a budget (this is something that still escapes me). I think it’ll be challenging but I’m excited to see what happens!

So how does it work?

Typically, a lot of people use it to curb their material buying habits, ie. clothes, makeup, shit you’ve seen your favourite influencer use. Now, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been known to buy a thirty quid water bottle and purchase more books than I can possibly read. However, for me, I know material items is not really my problem area. I don’t really own many clothes, instead favouring a Marge Simpsonesque uniform. I own five of the same black t-shirts, a black hoodie, a couple of shirts and a pair of docs. And, I mean, that just works for me. But, if you’re someone who can’t get through the day without scrolling fashion websites, or can’t walk past a sale in H&M without going in, then this is going to be a great area for you to work on.

This doesn’t just go for clothes though. As I say, books is a big one for me. It could also be video games, anime figures, candles, kitchenware, homeware, tech. Like, it’s not about completely quitting your passions. It’s just about wondering whether we need every single thing we set our eyes on.

So when it’s not about material objects, what is it about?

Oh, where to even begin! It’s eating out, it’s eating takeout, it’s coffee, it’s the cinema, it’s gigs, it’s the theatre, it’s exhibitions, it’s lunch. And more than anything, it’s booze. We’re British, we love the pub. It’s not our fault! Haha.

But no. This is my trouble area for sure. ‘Activities’. But mainly, drinking to excess. And don’t get me wrong, I love doing that. I have some of my fondest and funniest memories from nights out or unexpected daytime pub crawls. And I have no intention of stopping them entirely. But I’m getting to a point where I look at my bank account and think, fuck, what have I got to show for it? Good times, yes. But a house? Savings? Trips to California? Nope! And I’d like those things. So that’s my main intention for my own year.

But you’ve just got to find your own.

Traditionally, some people will take the ‘no buy’ idea at face value. They pay bills and buy groceries but aside from that, absolutely nothing is purchased. And I totally respect that. I couldn’t do it. However, I’m not doing my no buy to punish myself. I’m doing it to learn how to be more responsible with money. To be minimal. To focus more on relationships and relaxation than expensive tech and bottomless pints. And that’s okay too.

Some people will probably tell you that you’re doing it wrong. You are not doing it wrong. Because there are no rules. It is not a contest. It is a self-development project. So set yourself some rules to stick to but also list your exceptions. Write them down and then cement them. Having clear rules will help you each time you go to take your card out of your purse. Having clear exceptions will also help you stick to your ultimate goals whilst having fun. If we didn’t have them, our desperate selves would find a loophole and that’s just not what we want.

I think the overarching idea is to have fun. It’s not extreme to take control of your finances and consumerism. It’s actually quite responsible. But with this challenge comes the chance to have fun where you never would have looked for it before. By eating out once a month, you’re not telling your friends you hate them. Simply find ways to hang out with people that are free. Go to the park, go to a free museum, go for a hike. There’s so much out there waiting to be discovered.

I’m really excited about this year. And whether you decide to embark on your own no buy (or low buy, less intense version) or not, I’ll keep you posted on my journey. And maybe you’ll start to think a little more mindfully in your own spending habits!

My No Buy Rules + Exceptions

– No books

– No physical objects

– Replacements/repairs are fine (deodorant, jeans, think one in one out)

– Gifts are fine, so are birthdays (if someone invites me to celebrate their birthday I’ll say yes)

– No new subscriptions but existing are fine

– Things for education/fitness are okay (gym membership, driving lessons etc.)

– Things for the wedding are fine (my sister’s wedding is due to be the event of the year!)

– One day in Dublin (I made a pact with my mum that I’d go there every year of my life)

– One trip each quarter (these will have spending limits. Glastonbury, Scotland..)

– Eat out with Danny once a month

– Eat/drink out once a month with friends

– Six visits to friends outside of Liverpool

– Twelve cinema trips

– Twelve theatre/gig trips

– £15 for food/drink with each theatre/gig trip

– £20 monthly in house budget (beers, ice cream, treats and such)

– A couple of extra Christmas outings is okay

And there you have it! Those are my rules. I don’t know if people think that’s a lot of trips out or barely any. For me, that’s a lot less than I’ve gone out this past year so for me it’ll be challenging to stick to! As I say, you can choose to do your no buy however you like. Some might cut everything but essentials. Others might just do physical objects. Some might do a mix like me. Anything goes, kids. You should know this on my blog by now! Also remember, you can start a no buy whenever you want, it doesn’t have to be January. You also don’t have to do a year. You could do a month or even a week!

Let me know what you get up to!

Say Anything – Girl In Red

twentytwenty

So I haven’t written a blog post in a long time but let’s just skip over that! I’ve kinda made these beginning of the year posts a tradition so I didn’t want to miss it.

I really like resolutions. I know a lot of people don’t. But I enjoy setting intentions for myself. Goals. Challenges. Mantras. I like to spend the last couple of days of the year kind of just collecting my thoughts and ruminating on what I want for myself going forward.

And I’m feeling good about twentytwenty. I know right, how? This year, and quite frankly, the three years before that, have been pretty shocking. For all of us. But regardless, I think it’s important to stay hopeful, even when the world is exploding around you. Especially then. Whether it’s things in your personal life, work life, or the greater world around you, you’ve just got to keep fighting. Wake up each day, be grateful to be alive, and then get to work. And believe me, I know it’s not always that easy. But you’ve just got to keep fighting. Don’t let the bastards grind you down, and all that.

So I’m moving into twentytwenty hopeful.

I think my word for the year is simplicity. Because there’s just so much noise and bullshit in the world that I just need to keep my mind clear. So my goals are super simple this year. When I think about my life it always comes back to three words: writing, saving and health. So that’s what I’m going to work on. How? Lots of ways. But my main plans are:

Writing – Last year during nanowrimo I managed to write 50,000 words towards a novel. I KNOW! Still can’t believe it. Also yes, I’m writing a novel now, cos why not. Starting January, after a month break, I’m going to begin organising my work by editing, structuring and then writing to fill the gaps. I’m also attempting to read 100 books, because I’m an idiot but I also love an unachievable challenge. Also, I’m in the midst of a project called Sarah to Zero where I try to minimise my owned unread books to well, zero. We’ll see how that goes.

Saving – I’m continuing to fuel as much money as humanly possible into my house isa. I’m also undertaking a no buy year! Yes, I have jumped on the bandwagon and I’m now consumed by the idea. More on this some other time. The basics are you just stop buying things. Maybe learn a bit of mindfulness along the way.

Health – I’ve recently joined a gym which I hope to work into my daily routine. I’m also five months into a yoga for 365 days journey, loving it so far. I’ve also been experimenting with intermittent fasting for a couple of months so I’m going to keep working at it until I find a system that works excellently for me.

And there you have it. I just want to press pause more in twentytwenty. I had so much fun in twentynineteen but I feel like I was always moving. I want to relax this year, lie in bed and read, journal, meditate, cook, do yoga, go for walks, and just hang out with Danny. So that’s what I’m going to do. Hopefully you’ll see me around here more too.

What are your twentytwenty plans?

Vulture, Vulture – Of Monsters And Men

twentyeighteen

We always make a big deal about the new year, our goals and intentions and how we’re going to be different in the new year. And personally I’m all for it. I know people disagree with resolutions being set this time of year because they think it’s superficial or fleeting. They think you shouldn’t need a new year to begin something or make a change. And that’s fair. The ticking of time is arbitrary and it shouldn’t be what makes you alter your life. But if without it you’re not going to change at all then what’s the harm? Yeah, if your goal is to not drink all year but you’ve already made plans to go to the pub on Friday then that’s probably not gonna happen. But if you’re looking for a lifestyle change and you completely commit yourself then I see no reason why January shouldn’t be an excellent time to start. I believe in you. And I want that for you.

So if you know you’re infamously lousy at new year’s resolutions then make that one of your goals. Consciously make an effort to have more follow through. This is me for this year. I’m keeping my intentions super short. I’m not going to complicate it because I know myself. It won’t work. I’ll blink and it’ll be June and I’ll be sat in bed watching Riverdale or something. And nobody wants that. So I’m focussing on only three words. Writing, saving and health. They all encompass many subsections and twists and turns but I’m not going to trouble myself with those right now. I’m concentrating on these three words because they’re simplistic and self-explanatory. I’ll expand on ideas as the year develops.

My only other intention is that this year is going to be about me. Because why shouldn’t it be? It’s going to be full of positive energy and good vibes. There’s going to be self-care and self-love and mindfulness. There’s going to be meditation and yoga and lots of new plant-based recipes. There’s going to be travelling and music and literature. There’s going to be hikes and coffee and long chats with good friends. There’s going to be me connecting better with my friends, in person, via messenger, through letters and even smoke signals. There’s going to be starry nights and sunny mornings. There’s going to be quiet and stillness and journalling. There’s going to be creativity and careers and spirituality. There’s going to be openness to new ventures. And there’s going to be laughter and I’m sure many tears. There’s going to be good days and terrible ones, but then there’ll be another good one. I’m jumping into twentyeighteen with optimism.

So peace out, 2017, you were a bastard. 2018’s looking better already.

Waking Up Again – Emily Hearn