Waking up on New Year’s Day (miraculously without a hangover) I felt like Noah looking out from his ark – after what had seemed like 40 days and nights of nonstop rain – the morning had finally dawned: washed clean with brightly blue sky and crispy sunshine – the perfect start to a shiny new year.
So what to do with all this promise? First things first: resolutions – or perhaps not! – This was not a day for restrictions, denials and mad attempts at unrealistic self improvement. Last year’s list of failure read: lose stone, no wine o’clock and no shouting. It had been
game over by February (3rd of January if I am honest!)
But, I’m a sucker for a new start. I particularly love September with its organised hopefulness of a freshly stuffed pencil case and the creakily stiff leather of brand new shoes. Without fail January finds me madly pursuing some unilateral home/life/family improvement which has come to be viewed with wary suspicion by my long-suffering husband. He knows that, whatever enthusiasm has hit, it is highly likely to affect him in some way. He has been inflicted with low GI diets, morning walks, wardrobe overhauls, dry weeks and regular weekend dinner parties (being more sociable that year). No
wonder he eyes askance the calendar induced fanaticism.
So in the spirit of the new day/new year, instead of making a list of things I wanted to stop doing and change, I set about cataloguing those things that make me happy.
1. A tidy laundry Room (and larder, bathroom cabinet and knicker-drawer)
I find impossible write with a messy desk and have an overwhelming urge to clean the kitchen before settling to any work but have always thought that this was just procrastination. However, thinking about what makes me happy has made me realise that this fixation with the orderly is actually more rational than it may at first appear – ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ really makes me content – in a deep breath ‘God is in his heaven and all is right with the world’ sort of a way. I will embrace my inner Mrs Beeton. The smell of bees wax furniture polish, hot starch and the whiff of bleach will be my signature scents this season! Whilst I am sure this is a sign of a truly mundane and banal mind I am now prepared to acknowledge my ‘dull side’ – not nearly as sexy as a ‘dark side’ but there it is.
I suspect that great thinkers throughout history have had housekeepers. It is difficult to have brilliantly clear and insightful thoughts while surrounded by the distracting and undeniable detritus of family life. I bet Plato wasn’t sitting on Rice Krispies when he described the perfect state in his Republic. So allowing myself time for a big spring clean will probably make me happier and more productive in the long run.
2. Looking well groomed and well dressed
This is not dependent on losing the extra stone that has been dogging my footsteps for the last four years. I have a terrible tendency to keep things for best – for when I really deserve them – for when life is perfect (and I am thin).
This is a common form of female madness: I have saved beautiful lingerie and delicious body lotions for special occasions only to find that, by the time an occasion special enough comes along, the bra doesn’t fit anymore and the cream has gone off in the jar. While reading the fabulous Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck I had a moment of epiphany when she said “life is too short not to use the good bath oil.”
So, I have been shopping and bought lovely clothes that fit today – not when I am a size smaller. I will be wearing, at every opportunity, the beautiful silk underwear that my kind husband gave me for Christmas (presumably in the hope of seeing me in it now rather than some-day-when-everything-is-perfect) whilst slathering myself in various expensive body soufflés. I think it is called ‘living in the now’.
3. Getting to the gym
I do love my Pilates class, it is not a chore and it is so much better if I pack my gym bag the night before with everything needed for a swim, steam, shower (even blow-dry and makeup!) So a little organisation will produce actual pleasure. I will be doing it.
4. Lunch with a friend (or even a husband)
Time for lunch should not be a luxury – I bet I can do it once a week if I really try.
5. Playing a board game with the children (not Monopoly or Scrabble as they are too tear-inducing all round)
Christmas reminded me that, much to my husband’s horror, I actually like doing this. Family movie night is a regular feature in our house but I think perhaps this might be the year of the game!
6. Family bike rides
Other people rave about these and cycling is OH’s only remaining sport. So I hereby pledge to buy a tagalong for the youngest and get on my bike and ride.
7. My Christmas Tree
Sitting in front of a fire in the drawing room with a glass of coldly delicious bubbles and a book (or, even more sybaritically, a new magazine – Easy Living or Red for choice) admiring my pretty tree has been a highlight of Christmas. I will miss it horribly when it is stripped bare and thrown into the chipper on twelfth night but it has served as a timely reminder that flopping in front of the telly is not a life enhancing activity. Less telly is the only negative resolution I am allowing myself in this list of pleasures.
So here’s hoping for a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR of indulgence and contentment. ENJOY!