Author Archives: Katie

C is for Candle

I find that there is something ethereal and about a candle. Soft, calming, and welcoming, a tear drop of colours from yellow, to orange to blue. A candle to me can conjure up a whole of host of images, from Icelanders in their turf houses telling each other stories by candlelight, or perhaps four children on an adventure, wandering around an old house, with just a candle its holder to lead their way, or Ebenezer Scrooge creeping through his house as ghostly chains echo around him or his ill-used assistant Bob Crachit sat at his desk, warming his hands by his flickering candle.

I like how a candle can create instant relaxation, set a calming atmosphere and how it can make a large room small. It’s that time of year when all we want to do is stay indoors, hunker down and get cosy, as the rain batters down, the leaves swirl, and the dark nights crawl in. I do have a candle burning for most of the year, different scents for different seasons, but autumn and winter the candles seem even more soothing. As I write, the candle by my side has the scent of a Pine Forest and I am instantly transported north, to pine and fir trees, crisp snow, a dark night full of stars and if I am lucky the northern lights may appear.

During lockdown in my writing workshops, we wrote about the home and what things or objects we were grateful for to have around us. I often wrote about candles and the calm they would bring, I bought lots of them during lockdown. There wasn’t much any of us could do, or control at the time, but for me a candle was a simple pleasure during a terrible time. I have always loved them, candelabras filled with white candles and twists of ivy filled the tables for our December Wedding, candles to distract me from the horror of a green and orange living room when we bought a house to renovate and had a baby at the same time. There are candles for celebrations, for beginnings, middles and ends, for milestones and birthdays, remembrances and for advent. There are always candles on my parents Christmas dinner table.

I most often use a candle for when I’m writing, and I have been pleased to read that many other writers do the same. Nigel Slater in The Christmas Chronicles writes “I wake early, sit at my desk and write. A daily ritual which if missed sets my world briefly off its axis. For the best months of the year, it will still be dark, a prickle of cold in the air; slightly-too-long arms of my sweater (my writing jumper, a dear old friend) slipping softly over my fingers as I type, as if I was wearing fingerless gloves… I do most of my early morning writing by candlelight. There is a warmth to the light given by a single flame that no electric filament bulb can ever match” I couldn’t agree more.

Writing From Home – a creative and therapeutic writing project.

It was during the height of lockdown that the idea for the Writing from Home project came to me. I was sat at the table in the dining room, sharing the space with the Harry Potter Christmas Lego, two cups of water, a cold cup of coffee, tablemats and one daughter on a tablet with headphones undertaking homeschooling lessons. I was relegated to a tiny square of this table, with just enough room for my laptop, my notebooks piled on the dining chairs beside me.

I spent a few moments thinking about the room I was in, and the table I was sat at. This room that in its time has hosted a christening, countless family meals, dinner parties for friends, buffets, games nights, Christmas dinners and meetings over coffee. The table in this room that has gone from a family Christmas table, to Lego display unit, to school room, to study in just a short space of time. I was utterly grateful. Grateful I had this space, grateful our home was keeping us safe. Just grateful.

It led me to the idea of a project exploring and celebrating our homes through writing. Through my work in delivering writing for wellbeing workshops I have seen the benefits of creative writing as an aid to mental health and I wanted to bring and share these benefits to new audiences. I wanted to help reduce isolation, communicate and help develop creativity.  I also sought connection with other writers and participants and wanted to be inspired.

After securing funding from The Arts Council and support from three other tutors, starting in February 2021 we delivered 6 weeks of sessions across in the East Midlands, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland. Through our writing we explored what our homes meant to us, our hometowns, we created maps and poems and shared reading of our work at the end of March. Feedback has included:

“Thank you for the effort you and your team have given to bring such a joy to lockdown days”

“Taking part in these workshops has helped to build my confidence in being part of a group and has also contributed towards building my courage to share. I felt more connected and enjoyed being able to write and share in a supportive environment. It has given me a lot to think about and reflect on in terms of the topic as well as my creativity and personal achievements, I’ve really enjoyed it”

“I so look forward to these inspirational sessions every week. I do hope we will have the chance to do something similar again in the future. Thank you to everyone who had made these workshops happen, they have been invaluable especially during these difficult days of Lockdown”

I would like to thank the participants from across the midlands and beyond for joining us on this project I hope you enjoyed it. I’m grateful to The Arts Council for funding this project – particular thanks to Pete Stones for his support. I would also like to thank my fellow artists – Helen, Sam and Thom for sharing their thoughts, their creativity and being generally brilliant.

I am very pleased to share the website with you all.

Why I write with Katja Pantzar

Dear All

I hope you are keeping safe and well during this difficult time. During the summer I read “The Finnish Way – Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the power of Sisu” by Katja Pantzar. She writes of the meaning of Sisu that “It’s about not giving up, especially when things get tough”

I think we could all do with the power of Sisu now and I am going to read this book again. I urge you to read it too. I found it so inspirational that I felt I had to write to her and Katja kindly agreed to be interviewed. I’m delighted to share this with you. Thank you so much Katja.

Katja Pantzar was raised in Canada with stints in the UK and New Zealand, she is a Helsinki-based writer, editor and journalist. Her most recent book The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu (Penguin Random House USA) is about the Nordic lifestyle, wellbeing and resilience. She’s currently at work on a non-fiction title called Daily Sisu, a follow-up to The Finnish Way, which has been translated into 20 different languages.

What brought you to writing? Why write? 

“As a child I fell in love with reading books. I started writing and making my own little books, complete with waxed paper jackets to emulate the library book covers of the time. I started writing because I love storytelling for the journeys it takes me on. Growing up, I was the slightly odd immigrant kid (my family immigrated to Canada from Finland via New Zealand) and I cherished how disappearing into a book often made me feel accepted and provided a great escape from daily life. I wanted to share that good feeling with others by writing stories they would (hopefully) enjoy.”

Why do you write?

“I write for a living so it’s everything from journalism (the daily news) to copy-writing, non-fiction books, and hopefully fiction some day. Two of my areas of specialism are wellbeing and mental health. I write because it helps me to make sense of the world and it makes me happy— it has been my dream to be a writer since I was about 9 or 10 years old.”

How does it make you feel? Is it helpful? 

“Whenever possible, I try to choose writing assignments that offer solutions and inspiration to readers, i.e. text to make the world a slightly better place by sharing useful information. This type of writing and so-called solutions journalism make me feel as though I’m making a positive contribution, which is important to me, especially during these very unusual and challenging times.”

Do you have a routine or process as you write? 

“I have an ancient but beloved laptop that I use for writing. I always have a notebook and a black pen beside me as I find making notes is essential to my idea-generating and writing process.”

Any further thoughts?

“Writing, like reading, helps me to make sense of the world. When something is bothering me, journaling often brings about a realization I would not necessarily have arrived at without pen and paper.”

You can find Katja on Instagram @katjapantzar

C is for Christmas Cards

Hello All.

I hope you are keeping safe. Well. We are almost there aren’t we? We are in the last month of what has been one of the most horrendous years most of us will have ever known. I never usually stay up on New Year’s Eve but this year I will – just to check it definitely gone!
Anyway I digress – usually at this time of year I am giddy with the excitement of Christmas, it’s usually a whirlwind of theatre trips, meals out, toasts in the local, catching up with friends, Christingle and carol in the parks. I’ll be making my lists (and checking them twice…) shopping for gifts, watching Christmas films and writing Christmas cards. Then there is the big day amongst family, followed by visits and a big family party heading towards new years’, lots of whizzing up and down motorways and by the 1st of January we are happy and exhausted.
This year will be different for all of us, I’m in Tier 3 and many traditional events cancelled and there’ll be no whizzing up the motorway for family get together for us. It’ll just be my family of three, with a helping of family facetime and a splash of Tia Maria in my morning coffee. It’s all rather strange, stilted, quiet and subdued, I’m not excited like I usually am but it is what it is and there will be more Christmases to celebrate in the future.

There will be a few traditions that we are able to continue, such as going through the radio times with a yellow highlighter, Christmas telly with carols from kings, The Queens Speech and Doctor Who, gift giving and receiving and of course a sumptuous turkey dinner. I’m also going to continue sending Christmas cards this year.

In the year of social distancing and life being topsy-turvy I think we are all feeling distanced and separate from our friends and family and seeking ways to connect more than ever. I’m definitely feeling it so this year I’ll be making a special effort with my Christmas cards and will include a note or two rather than the usual scribble of “Merry Christmas!”
I’m pleased to share with you all that I have been featured in the Christmas edition of Prima magazine talking about connecting through Christmas cards. I talk about how when writing your cards, to do it mindfully and enjoy being in the moment, slow down. “Writing by hand slows everything down, encouraging us to really think” I talk about personalising the cards – I think there is something very powerful in receiving a letter or personalised card, to me it shows that someone has had you in their thoughts and it means so much.
“This year when many people have not seen friends or relatives I think it’s more important than ever to connect with others. Hearing from a friend after so much distance cannot be under estimated”
It’s just a small thing that I can do to keep busy and let my friends and family know that I am thinking about them albeit at a distance. I hope you enjoy writing your cards and however you are celebrating – Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year.

Why I Write – with Paul Anthony Jones

Why I write – with Paul Anthony Jones

Hello All, how are you doing? I have written here before about why I write, how I find it helpful as a way to create, to express and to empty my mind. I thought it would be interesting to talk to other writers about their writing process and why they write, so I am very pleased-delighted-over-the-moon-excited-proud to present a mini series of “Why I Write” with some lovely authors…..

If you are an avid twitter user (just me) you may have come across the page @haggardhawks written by the fantastic Paul Anthony Jones (if you haven’t go check it now… and what have you been doing with your time??!) Haggard Hawks is a twitter feed devoted to bring back long forgotten words etymological stories” it is truly fabulous.

As it says on his website – Paul is author of eight books about language and etymology: word origins guide Haggard Hawks (2013); its sequel Jedburgh Justice (2014); language trivia book Word Drops (2015); The Accidental Dictionary (2016); language yearbook The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities (2017); etymological journey Around the World in 80 Words (2018); and The Cabinet of Calm (2020), a collection of hopeful and inspiring words.

Paul kindly chatted to me about his enjoyment of writing and his process, I am very pleased to share it with you below. Thanks Paul!

What brought you to writing? 

I honestly think as long as I can remember I’ve written for pleasure – there are countless pictures of me as a kid sitting with a pencil and a bit of paper while all the other kids in my family are playing with action figures, so I think it might be in my DNA! It really is all I’ve wanted to do. 

Why do you write?

Two reasons, I guess. 

On a personal level, I write simply because I enjoy it! I’ve never understood the classic writer’s fear of that first blank page; putting words down on paper and creating something is just what I love doing! Even if writing weren’t my career, I know I’d still be putting pen to paper in my spare time. It’s just a way of expounding and expressing thoughts and ideas, and recording things I find interesting. 

More broadly, given the kind of writing I’m involved in at the moment, I guess I’m also driven by a love of getting what I think is the most fascinating subject in the world out to a larger audience. Working and studying in academia really fostered my love of language and language study, but I was constantly frustrated that academic research is so closed off – secretive, competitive world that keeps all the best bits to itself! So I walked away from that with an eye to taking all that wonderful research and knowledge, and repackage it for a wider audience. So you could say I’m driven also by a love of communicating a subject I find fascinating, too. 

How does it make you feel? Is it helpful?

Whether its nonfiction, fiction, poetry, plays, journals, diaries – I think a lot of people’s writing is an outlet, a kind of release. Writing is all about expressing yourself, and getting those ideas and thoughts you have swimming round your head down on paper and out into the real world – crucially, in your own voice, whatever that may be. I sometimes read back over my first books and blogs and cringe a little, because I can tell instantly that I was still writing with quite a dry, professional, academic template still in place. I write much more relaxedly now, in a more conversational way, and it feels so good to be able to express myself in my own voice.  

Do you have a routine or process as you write?

When I first “quit my day job” and began writing full time, I really struggled to keep to a routine. Not having a regular 9-5 framework to work around, I ended up writing at all times of day, often into the early hours of the morning, and my work really suffered as a result. Some people really can work like that, but I learnt quickly that it doesn’t quite suit me. 

Since then, my day to day routine has become much more structured: I always do an early morning class at my local gym (when we’re not in lockdown…!), which gets me up and about, then back home and in front of my laptop or a pile of books by about 8.30am. For me, I find it’s too easy to let the morning drift by without something to get out of bed for!  

I’m typically working on several projects at the same time – my latest book, pitches for new ideas, freelance articles, promotional work and articles, blog posts for my website, Twitter posts, podcasting ideas… The list goes on. As a result, I quite often work in a fairly scattershot way, switching between one project and another; I’ll quite often work on three or four different pieces or ideas in a single day. That wouldn’t work for everyone, certainly, but I find it really helps to work on one thing, step away for a time to work on something else, then come back with a clearer head. It’s too easy to get bogged down, working on a single idea for days at a time, I find, and lose track of the fact that you’re writing for other people to read, not yourself. 

Whenever I’m asked about the writing process, I always like to make a point that what works for me may not be what works for anyone else. There’s quite often an awful snobbishness surrounding professional writing, that can make people who are just starting out think that if they aren’t writing thousands of words every day; or they don’t keep a diary; or they write on a laptop rather than longhand; or they don’t have a notebook and a fountain pen with them every moment of every day, that they’re not a “Proper Writer”. It drives me mad! 

Yes, many professional writers write and act like you would expect a professional writer to – but many, many writers don’t. You’re a writer if you write – it’s as simple as that. And whether that means moving to Paris and writing a novel on an old iron typewriter, or sneaking away from the kids for half an hour to write a couple of paragraphs on Microsoft Word on the family PC, it doesn’t matter. Your writing method is your own, no better or worse than anyone else’s – so don’t let anyone ever put you off! 

Thanks so much Paul. Cabinet of Calm is out now.

S is for September

“Autumn seemed to arrive early that year. The first of September was as crisp and golden as an apple” Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows JK Rowling.

My daughter returns to school today for the first time in almost six months. The first of September – I’ve just learnt is also the day when readers celebrate Harry Potter going to Hogwarts. We’re big Potter fans in this house so it is quite apt that it’s the same day – this never happens – schools in Leicester are usually back a few days earlier – but everything is a little bit different at the moment. The first of September seems like a good day to start a new term a new beginning.

I’m somewhat apprehensive I must admit, but I couldn’t be more reassured by the measures her school have put in place and I’m pleased to know that some sense of normality is returning for many of us.

I’m typing away very content to be back in my little study that had been recommissioned as my husband’s office as he worked from home and I’m pleased to return our dining table back to its intended use having served us well as study and school room.

I sit at my desk, the house is quiet and I have the solitude I craved for months. I have my cup of coffee, a candle on and classic FM twinkles in the background. It is the perfect time for some reflection. Each season in my own writing and in the workshops I deliver I encourage a seasonal reflection, to think about what we are happy to let go of and what we are grateful for.

In thinking and reflecting – it’s been quite a spring and summer for us all hasn’t it? Probably the worst, most terrifying and concerning that any of us have ever encountered. Our normal lives stripped from us for a time, separate from family and friends and the whole world is crisis and turmoil. We all stayed at home.

Life is slowly returning to what it once was, however lockdown is still somewhat in force here in Leicester. There still can’t be visitors in our homes or gardens, indoor pools and dance schools remain closed and families still separated. There hasn’t been the grand opening of society that I yearning for, it’s all been rather slow and in dribs and drabs. In an effort to encourage normalcy before the return to school, as a family we’ve been for burgers in our local pub, and had a quiet trip to the cinema – normal things we used to do. It hasn’t been as exciting as I thought it might be – it’s all so different, booking ahead, it’s all more subdued and less spontaneous. I know it’s all for our safety but it’s all quieter, underwhelming, different and strange.

I was lucky enough to continue to work from home – transferring all my public facing workshops to delivery via zoom, whilst being able to home school my daughter and dedicate much of my time to her. As I reflect – I am grateful for this time I got to spend with her. Our little family of three were so busy, particularly my daughter – in a whirlwind of after school clubs, guides, dance lessons and music lessons, running, and for us as well as full time work, part time workshops, house chores, house renovation and our own activities any dedicated family time got lost in all of that . I’m so glad we had the opportunity to slow down and spend this time with her before she grew up too much – as normal life returns we’ve all resolved to spend more time together – Sundays on walks and tea at the table instead of in front of the TV (easy done) more board games and taking things a bit slower. This is something I’m taking from all this horrendousness.

September for me has always meant a new term, going back to school (even though I’ve not attended for 25 years!) it has always seemed a good time to start something new. A new season. Here’s to conker collecting, jumper wearing, apple eating, squash roasting, blanket curling up in …. autumn. Here’s to a new start – a new term.

A is for ASMR

Hello, how are you holding up during this unusual and strange time? I hope you are taking the chance to slow down, simplify and enjoy quiet moments.

A while ago I had an idea to write an A to Z of mindful moments blog series, where i’d share ideas and notes for finding a mindful moment or two, which I never got round to starting. I think it might be quite apt to begin it now … I hope you enjoy these suggestions and I’d welcome any of your ideas. So here we go…

A is for ASMR

ASMR – you may have heard of it, or you may experience it yourself. ASMR means Autonomous Meridian sensory response. It’s those tingles you get down your back when you are getting haircut, or a massage. Or perhaps it’s the shivers when someone is whispering to you, reading aloud or turning pages, playing with your hair, or it could be writing on paper sounds, or typing and tapping sounds.

It could be when you experience a really nice moment of customer service in a shop, someone packing a bag for you or perhaps some crinkling or humming sounds.

These tingles can come in waves or short bursts and can help with mindfulness, anxiety and falling asleep. I’ve experienced these tingles since I was a child without really knowing what they were or how they appeared. ASMR is the first thing I go to now if I need help falling asleep, or if I am in an anxious moment an ASMR video has been known to help calm me and ground me. It’s perfect for relaxing, whether you have an hour or only a few minutes.

There are many artists in the whispering community (as they call it) on You Tube all offering us a mindful moment or two, you just have to find the right trigger that works for you. I came to ASMR around seven years ago, we have an old house that needs a lot of work and at that time I had small toddler running about the place, so for some downtime I started watching organisational videos on You Tube, how to fold clothes, sort pantry cupboards and such, then one day I came across a towel folding one from an artist called “Gentle Whispering”. I watched it and had tingles galore.

The word ASMR was used a lot in her videos so I looked it up and thought “oh that is what it is?” the tingles and shivers I’d had since childhood. Watching Maria – Gentle Whispering Channel led me to another Channel – Whispers Red. Emma, whom I’m pleased to say I know IRL (in real life!).

A few years ago now I contacted Emma and we started corresponding – she’s lovely! We’ve chatted quite a bit and some time ago she commissioned me to write a mindful meditation for her ASMR Happens live event that was held in London in April 2017. This was followed up by another live event in San Francisco. You can follow the link here to read her blog about her live events.
Emma, when not working on her channel, or undertaking various collaborations, has two dogs, two children, a husband and a new book to promote Unwind your Mind – The life Changing Power of ASMR I caught up with her for a few moments to chat about it all.

How did you come to ASMR?
I have experienced the ASMR sensation my whole life. It has always been a part of my normal sensory experience. However I didn’t know there was a name for it and assumed that perhaps everyone experienced it, maybe it wasn’t important enough to have a name? It was a lovely experience though and I felt it all the time. Haircuts, eye test, having may hair played with, whispers in the playground etc.. I first discovered ASMR videos on youtube in November 2012. After a car accident and many operations I was struggling to sleep. I searched for nature sounds to play in the background but came across asmr. It took a while but then I realised this was a name for my feeling and I haven’t look back since!

What does it mean to you?
Nowadays ASMR means such a lot to me. I have lived it for the last 7 years since discovering it and becoming active in the asmr community online. ASMR means connection, kindness, mindfulness, calm, sleep, therapy, self discovery and so much more. The sensation is very calming and allows us to relax sufficiently enough to fall asleep. The videos are a way to trigger the feeling but also to connect with likeminded people all over the world. They really do bring people together from everywhere. 

You’ve written a book!! How did that come about?
At the beginning of 2019 I was contacted by Rider publishing, part of Penguin Random House. They wanted to see an introduction to ASMR on the book shelves but also a book that can serve as a way to explain how to utilise asmr in our daily lives. I have always spoken of ASMR as a mindfulness practise and have studied all aspects of it for many years so was very keen to take up the challenge. 

Current favourite triggers or artists?
My current favourite asmrtists are Bluewhisper & Somni Rosea for their voice and presence. I love a soft spoken kind voice, relaxing visuals and natural ambient sounds. My favourite triggers are light tapping, nature sounds and soft spoken voices and whispering. 

Next projects for you…

Years ago I began testing out various formats of live asmr and this year I continue to do that. I’ve just returned from delivering a workshop and live stage performance in Gold Coast Australia soons I will be launching an academy to train spa professionals in ASMR treatments which they can provide to their customers. I have also made an ASMR music album which will be released over the next few months called ‘Dream Away – Sleepy ASMR Songs’

You can find out more about Emma’s work on her You Tube Channel – Whispers Red ASMR

Thanks for reading and see you next time for another mindful moment.


S is for Solidarity

Hello All. How are you?

I dropped my daughter at school this morning for what might be her last day in her current year, I noticed the roads were quieter, less parents on the school run, less people around in general, all was more subdued. I took a slower walk home , instead of my usual head down, rushing to my study to begin my work from home, I took it slower and noticed people, all nodding and smiling at each other, being that little bit more friendly.

At this strange time, I’m heartened to see how we are all sticking together. In my small corner of Leicester, mutual aid groups have been set up, leaflets offering help posted through doors, local mums have set up facebook groups to help keep the children busy, our local pub is offering free soup, friends are posting school packs through my door and one lady from my Writing for Mental Health group has treated us all to a series of e books to read. I’m reading of singing on balconies in Italy and children in Spain putting up pictures and drawings in their windows. Small acts of kinds, simple things, simple pleasures its all amazing to see.

I’m currently flitting between concern and calm at the whole situation, with a few close family members working for the NHS, frontline and non-clinical – key workers – I am hearing of their daily reality now , elective operations cancelled and meetings postponed, hours of availablity required and the recall of those in retirement. I have always been thankful for the NHS and what they have done for me in my own life – but today more than ever… To the NHS superstars – thank you for all you are doing for us.

I get to spend extra time with my daughter, which we are both looking forward to. We have plans – we are going to bake, read, play, craft, learn about the planets, cloud spot and visit virtual museums. I am going to make this a positive experience for her and truly embrace this quiet time as society slows.

People are saying we are all banding together again, like in wartime – standing together and supporting one another. This can only be a good thing. We are being asked to hunker down and stay indoors, we can do this. We’ve got this.

Stay safe all. See you on the other side and soon this will all be a memory, a story.

W is for Worry

Hello, how are you?

I’m worried. I’ve woken up in the past week or so with a heightened sense of anxiety and nausea in the pit of my stomach. I probably don’t need to tell to you what’s on my mind, it’s the same thing that is concerning us all right now.

Speaking to a friend and fellow freelancer this morning she felt that there was a “weird energy about the place at the moment” and I completely agree with her. The world has changed for a time, it is a different place to what it was a month ago. It seems almost subdued and quieter. Smaller.

In wanting to be fully informed as this crisis develops I’m reading the news multiple times daily to check for updates and government advice. I’m worried about my family and friends who work in the NHS. I worry for family members who have cruises planned but not yet had them cancelled, I’m worrying about the old, the lonely and the vulnerable. I’m worrying about the possibility of schooling closing in the UK and the far reaching effect that would have, as this horrible virus blisters its way around the world.

 I’m reading of panic buying and horrible people stockpiling – in effect stealing from those who can only shop weekly. I’m reading of closures of schools and universities in France and Ireland, of the closures of top museums and art galleries, film screenings delayed, mass sporting events cancelled, Disneyland closing their doors and Italy in total lockdown.

On a local level, in my small world there are arts events, conferences and writers events all being cancelled or postponed, events that have been held for years stopping as we hunker down and try to do what we can and wonder how best to protect ourselves.

It’s being described as “the worst public health crisis for a generation” I wonder of the effect of the economy in the world as the world tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus. There are things I want to plan, write and workshops to prepare for but it seems rather futile at the moment.

I’m trying to keep an open mind, and a sensible mind, if only for the sake of my daughter. It’s tricky though as a freelancer and only seeing people at the school gates throughout the day it’s hard not to wish for a group of colleagues to support and to talk these things through. My husband who works in the NHS himself has been a calming influence and if my Grandma were here she’d tell me to stop worrying, wash my hands and carry on.

So I’m going to do what I always do when I don’t know what else to do, and that is write. I write my way through worry, grief, happiness, joy, anxiety, disappointment, stress, depression, I write to celebrate and to commemorate. I write to escape and to experience. I write it down. Write it out. I’m just going to keep writing, its all I know to do.

Thinking of you all out there. Take care of yourselves. Be kind.

I is for Imbolc

We here we are its finally February! We’ve crawled, tiptoed and dawdled through dreary January. A month that seems to have lasted a year.

I decided at the start of this year not to burden myself with resolutions and the whole “New Year – New You” thing. I didn’t want to begin 2020 by overwhelming myself with lists, to do’s, and targets that I will inevitably fail by the 6th of January. I have been thinking about this and is New Year’s Day really that good a day to start being the new you? I’m not saying people can’t change, we can, and there is always something we can do to better ourselves. I’m saying that the 1st of January might not be the best day to start. We’re likely to be slightly hungover on this day, with a house that is filled with stilton, fancy biscuits, after eight mints and seven types of gin, when for breakfast you don’t really fancy a green smoothie but would rather have a snowball?  

It’s cold outside, dark and grey all the time and I’d rather be reading, curled up on the sofa, in the warm, or working our way through all the Christmas telly we’ve recorded. I’m very unenthused about putting on my trainers and power walking through the meadows at this point in the year. It’s just not going to happen so I’m not going to set myself up for failure.

In my writing sessions in January we’ve written letters and reflected upon 2019 of our highs and lows and what we’ve learnt and a letter to the coming year of what we might do and we might hope for. In our group discussions one participant mentioned reading an article that it was better to start resolutions in Septembers, as you’ve had your summer holiday (cocktails in the garden at 4pm and such) and you’re back at work, and children are despatched back to school or university and normal service resumes. It’s the start of a new school year and the weather is warm enough still to get any exercise routines begun. It’s a thought if I don’t get myself organised in the next few months.

I was interested to read about the Gaelic festival of Imbolc – a festival on the 1st of February  that marks the end of winter, a time of change when the nights become lighter and we begin thoughts of venturing back outside as spring appears. We dust of our winter cobwebs (spring cleaning anyone?) and blink into the pale sun. Perhaps this might be a better time to start those resolutions. We are all back at work after the Christmas break and routines are back in full swing, we’ve settled slowly into the New Year. There are a few things I’d like to do, projects to start, books to be written, weight to be lost, skills to learn but I’ve decided not to turn myself into knots trying to do them all and feel disappointed when they don’t come to fruition. I’m just going to be more accepting of myself, faults and all and that’s my new year’s resolution.