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Things I've Learned In 2018 December 28, 2018 00:00

Does any year ever feel easy anymore? It’s been so long since I’ve experienced it that I wonder if it exists at all anymore. Perhaps it has always just been a figment of my imagination.

But all in all it hasn’t been too bad. There have been obstacles but some great wins as well. And besides the usual adulting which is relentless, there haven’t been extraordinary challenges to tackle.

I feel like this year was about finding my feet again. After being in survival mode for a long time where it was as if the world could be snatched from under my feet at any second, I feel I have my footing. Of course the world can turn on its head at any second, but the day to day stuff looks like it’s manageable again.

Being out of crisis mode is good for reflecting, here are a few things I’ve learnt this year.

 

  1. Honour Your Promises To Yourself

I promised myself a lovely trip once my late husband’s estate was wound up.

Wow was it hard for me to keep that! I looked forward to it as one does when something is far in the future, but as it got closer to the time, I felt myself starting to back out.

It was going to be a big expense. I’d have to close the business for that time. I couldn’t leave the house unattended for a month. All lame excuses.

I’m so glad I didn’t entertain this nonsense too long. I booked my trip and the memories I made are so special to me.

For the first time in a long time I had a sense of freedom and joy that I had been yearning for for so long.

Instinctively you know what’s good for you. If you’ve promised yourself something, do it. Whether it’s a trip, a slice of cake or a nap.

  1. Know Your Stuff But Ask For Help

After my husband passed away, what I found incredibly overwhelming was learning to maintain the house by myself. We shared the running of the household quite fairly so when he was no longer there, I didn’t know half of what I had to do. Literally.

Figuring out the pool pump and the floodlights was the last thing on my mind, but it had to be done.

I promised myself that I’d never be in that position again and went about learning everything I knew I didn’t know – this is an ongoing process. There’s so much I don’t know I don’t know!

I’ve gone through a period of being a total control freak as a result, which just adds unnecessary stress and anxiety to my life.

I’ve learnt that while I don’t want to be ignorant of the practicalities of life, I also don’t have to do it all alone. When it’s offered I accept help gladly, and if I can’t manage, I now ask.

  1. Naps Make You More Productive

I should know this already, right? I tend to get into a vortex of working and then flogging a tired horse, so to speak.

My time is my own so it doesn’t actually matter if or when I nap. Some days I’m so tired from my late night working, but I keep trying to push through, only to realize hours later that I’m so tired I’m barely actually getting anywhere. 

A half hour break with a nap and a cup of tea does wonders. I always come out feeling rejuvenated and ready to work.

  1. Enjoy What You Do

It doesn’t matter if it’s work, exercise or leisure. There’s really no point if you no longer enjoy it.

Yes there are always unpleasant patches here and there, or challenges you have to face, but as soon as that anxious stress kicks in whenever you think about the concept of what you’re doing, then make a plan to change it up and move onto something else.

  1. Keep Your Admin Up To Date

This isn’t sexy, and despite what I said in point 4, there are always things have to do whether you like it or not. Admin is one of those things.

Just a little bit every week or every day, depending on the amount you have, is all that you need. It’s one of those things you need to do consistently in little bursts. Otherwise it piles up and becomes an almost insurmountable task to get through.

Just do it.

 

What are your greatest learnings from 2018?

 

Image by Peter Driessel.


Contemplating The Summer Solstice December 21, 2018 00:00

There’s something bittersweet about the summer solstice for me.

I’m not a particularly fluffy person. I don’t buy into all sorts of weird and wonderful concepts based on nothing more than opinions. For the most part I think they can be a great big ego trip.

But the summer solstice is significant for me. It’s the peak of summer and this aligns quite beautifully in some respects to our December holidays, but is also a little at odds with the energy of a new year.

In times gone by, it’s been marked with great festivities. Crops would have been planted and the work day would be slightly less strenuous for a short time. Very much like South African business shutting down for December!

It’s a time for celebration, as is our festive season, but also a time for reflection.

At this point, the sun starts edging its way back North. The days will slowly become shorter; the nights longer. We’re headed back to the cold and a time of reduced energy. There’s a sense of something coming to and end and a desire to look back at significant moments.

With the sun being at it’s zenith you’ve reached the pinnacle of a vigorous season and things will slow down soon. While it’s festive, there’s an underlying feeling of laziness.

While everyone is in the throws of partying and a sort of spending, feeding and drinking frenzy, I prefer to take some time out, consolidate my year and in the full glare of the light of the sun, take a look at my choices and reactions. “In the full glare of the sun” is only figurative of course. In reality I scurry to shady spots like a mole.

While many people feel revitalized by January, this has never worked for me. I’m more of a tortoise making slow, steady progress. I prefer consistency in energy and effort, so I never get gung-ho about something only to let it fizzle out. My January is very much like this as well. I try to make considered, sensible choices and set realistic goals. Yeah, yeah…I know it’s not sexy, but it certainly gets the job done!

So here’s to the Summer Solstice. Light a bonfire. Take a walk outside. Enjoy the warmth and the feeling of reaching the summit of the year. Appreciate how far you’ve come. Take pleasure in the light and the perspective.

Have a slow lunch and a lazy afternoon.