Tuesday, 5 January 2016

New year, new habits


I have had a strong feeling for a while that I need to try a new way of living my life.  It has felt kind of dull, static, and in need of a change.  I am not really one for new year resolution's as such, as they are doomed to failure as the expectations are often too high, but I can manage a few new habits that I can work on each day, gentle changes that I can incorporate into my life to make it feel happier and fuller.

I spent much of 2015 procrastinating and feeling wistful for something, I know not what exactly...just a feeling that there had to be more to it all, and in the midst of feeling like this I stopped looking after myself, choosing to stuff these unpleasant feelings down with food and so I ended the year much heavier than I have ever been, feeling sluggish, with poor skin and stomach aches and feeling worn out from the struggle with fluctuating hormones, migraines and all the other stuff being a 40 odd year old woman can bring.

Reading up on these things has given me greater clarity and I felt relieved to know I wasn't going mad, it was all perfectly normal for me to feel like making changes and it's not just me that feels like this.  Phew.
I have started taking some vitamins to support my body, as well as flaxseed oil to help keep my omega 3s levels happy.  A vitamin D spray was also purchased in an attempt to stave off the winter blues which has been something that happens every winter in memory to me.  I am not a person who enjoys the dark, cold climate, especially this bloody awful misty, wet and soggy weather we have been experiencing here in Yorkshire.

So January dawned, a bright, sparkly new year full of possibility.  It felt like a good time to take stock, to decide what to do next, and have some kind of direction rather than wandering through life like a car with a broken sat-nav.

My first quest was to become healthier again, to start eating better and exercising every day.  Yes, that's right. Every day.  I am very much an all or nothing person so it made sense to me to embrace this and create daily goals for myself.  So I set out to do yoga at home (check out Yoga with Adriane on You Tube), or take a walk at lunch time, maybe some resistance work with my kettle bells or a good workout with a new Davina McCall DVD.  Just half an hour to an hour every day. Totally do-able if I commit to it and allow for it to be a part of my day rather than an added extra that I try to squeeze in somewhere. 

The second thing was to paint every day.

I have been following August Wren over on Facebook and through her Instagram and blog for a while now, and she is a most inspiring soul.  A recent post she wrote could have been written by me, it was remarkable how similar we are both feeling about things! 
So, I am joining her with a painting a day, and some friends and I have also started our own hashtag #paintdrawcreate366 for this year as a way to be accountable for getting this done.  It seems much easier to blag off if there is only you to answer to, but if you have friends who are doing it too then you don't want to let them down, you get on with it to prove to yourself and to them that you won't give up here.
If you like, you can join us.  It doesn't matter what you do - paint, draw, sew, knit, if its creative - do it - and share pics of your makes with us on Instagram using the hashtag #paintdrawcreate366.  Already there are a few people adding their art to the stream, and it's good to have a group of people to follow as it's also very inspiring watching them progress.

The third thing is, to write.

Two years ago this February, I was away in north Norfolk for a few days, and I had this absolute gem of an idea for a story.
I never wrote it.
Two years later, and that story is still in my head, except, it isn't because I forgot most of the plot and moved on to different stories that I still haven't written.
I have a deep desire to write a book, a good story book.  This year, I am making daily writing time - if it's just ten minutes, or an hour it doesn't matter.  I am writing in my journal, on my blog, short creative writing pieces on my laptop.  It's all good practice and with each day I hope I will get a bit better at it, and all the ramblings might actually lead somewhere.

It feels good to feel positive again, to have a focus each day.  Almost like a school timetable I am structuring my days to accomodate these pleasing pursuits, discarding things that no longer fit in or work for me, and including ones that do.  I am still painting, I am still working and illlustrating but I am also doing other stuff that I had forgotten I enjoyed so much.

Your life, your choices.

Happy 2016.
Julia x


  1. Sugarfree - with a big reduction of fruit as well as added sugar has made a big difference to my migraines. The only thing that has. I also only eat wholefoods. The first week is hard, the second less so and in the end, there are simply no cravings to give into. At least I found that. Chocolate could be wafted in front of my nose and I would say no thank you.

    Interesting post today, I hope you continue to be creative in the ways you want. I love the work of August Wren, that you have directed us to, she is new to me but her work looks lovely.

    I did some online art classes last year and they released me from the many years of not feeling 'good enough' to make art. I had so much fun. Unfortunately family matters took over and no art was made for many months. I would love to get back to it, as I was literally exhilarated while immersed in what I was doing.

    I am such a slow and dragging procrastinator and it is very frustrating at times. I just seem to find it hard to start to get stuck in. When I do it is marvellous. Sometimes I just find creativity daunting and I don't like to feel that way. The best way to break though is by doing. So I will try to do that.

    I don't have an instagram account so can't participate there but I will keep looking to see what everyone is doing. I know something like a painting a day is too much for me, but creating everyday - doing something for some of the day, is something I can certainly do and I really should commit to it and hope to make it a habit by doing so. So yes that is what I shall do. Off to get my paint box out! Thank you.

  2. Thank you so much for your reply, it's good to hear your thoughts. I am trying to cut down on my refined sugar intake and not eat as much wheat too. It's often really hard to begin, that is why I like the book I found '104 Things to Paint' as each page has a prompt to give you a starting point. Maybe you will look it up, it might be something that you'd like?
    Love, Julia xxx

  3. Firstly, I love the watercolour at the head of this post! I regularly read your blog, but wanted to say how much of what you have written strikes a chord. It is so reassuring to read of someone else who struggles at this time of year. Your resolves sound very positive and productive. May I recommend on the yoga front Yoga 2 Hear? When my class folded I found these CDs really helpful and you can choose 15 minute sessions or an hour, depending on your inclination! I shall follow up the painting suggestions. I have made the pledge this year to resume painting career (put on hold 20+ years ago!) and handed in my notice on Monday! I now have six months to build before I finish. Very scary and exciting! I wish you all the best this year and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Hi Deborah,
      Thanks so much for your reply, great to hear that you are picking up your paints again! I hope you have lots of fun playing with them again! Thanks also for the yoga recommendation, I will certainly check them out!
      Good luck, Julia xxx

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, plans and ideas with us. I also try to create something during the week. Sometimes, I paint but mainly I do other things like a bit of crochet , decoupage, decorative wreaths etc. I also want to start doing some exercise to keep fitter as I firmly believe that exercise is not only good for your body but for your soul , too.
    Have a really good, creative year!


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