I have kept a Gratitude Journal since the start of 2016. Over that year it made a MASSIVE difference to my mental attitude; I now more naturally see the positive in things. My blog is a place to share thoughts and opinions. But more than that, it’s a place I record life so I can look back in the future and remember how things were. Whilst I will always have my private journals, I also decided to take a leaf out the books of other bloggers and create a monthly gratitude feature. Here’s what I am grateful for this month:
Happy Christmas and New Year Little H!
Your second holiday season has arrived and this year you are a lot more aware of it that last year. Although you are still too small to fully appreciate it all. I can only imagine what you’ll be like next year but I suspect there will be a lot more excitement and anticipation! We’ve had an awesome month though.
I’ve seen ‘The Christmas Tag’ mentioned on various twitter posts and Linkys. After reading Me and B make tea’s Q&A, I decided to give it a go too! Christmas always evokes mixed emotions for me; part of me finds it overhyped, stressful. But the other of me finds it a wonderful time to switch off and focus on family, relaxing at home and eating. Also, having Little H now, Christmas feels more and more exciting each year. This year there has been such excitement over the lights, it’s been hard not to feel excited too! So here’s how Casa Watling enjoy Christmas!
It’s a real toss-up between ‘Home Alone 2’ and ‘A Muppets Christmas Carol’. Sam is not a big fan of either, especially not the latter. So tend to try and watch them in the run up to Christmas on my own. I don’t own either though so have to try and record them off the TV. Come on Netflix, get them into your library please!
Tomorrow is my first day back at work after 16 whole days off (18 out of the office if you include the two days I was working in the store) for Christmas and New Year. This is the first time I have had such a long period off in one run since 2006 when Sam and I went driving round the Netherlands and Belgium. Since then we have typically taken single weeks of annual leave, 10 days tops – even when we got married.
What I have learnt from this break is that you really can switch off with two weeks to clear your head and re-group. People have continually said it to me and I always nod in agreement, but this is the first time I have managed to do it. Of course, Christmas does immediately provide a distraction that makes it easy to switch-off; But on the flip-side, Christmas comes with it’s own stresses so in the round it’s no different to any other time of year.
Whilst I am not looking forward to getting-up early tomorrow, battling the un-ending wind and rain to commute to London, I feel (for the first time in a long time) well rested, well organised and like I don’t have lots of outstanding things to do. That’s a nice feeling and I only hope I can make two week holidays a little more of a common occurance than once every 8 years!
So another year has gone by and more so than ever before, it feels like it has flown by. Following last year’s structure, I have broken the year-up by month and called out the top highlights (of varying degrees of interest!) for each. I decided to start this entry with a new section though – some ‘Of the Year’ callouts – it’s the sort of information you quickly forget and I wish I had for the last 4+ years, but better-late-than-never in starting to capture this stuff! As always, this is a long blog post, but it would have made for a dull year if it wasn’t.
After my last blog post, Room 101: Christmas Craziness, it felt right to do a blog post which showed I am not in fact all ‘Bah Humbug’ about Christmas. So I have had a think and here is my top 5 for the ‘Best Things About Christmas’:
2. A long break from work – (or if you have to work, a time when you can actually do some work rather than spend 70% of the week just fielding emails). I find it easier than almost any other time of year to switch off from the stresses of work. This year is better than ever – I have two whole weeks off!
3. Being able to sit and not feel guilty for doing nothing – some people might be able to do this all year round but I am always thinking about various tasks I haven’t done. At Christmas though, my view changes and it becomes totally legitimate to make a brew, grab some mince meat based accompaniment (mince pie or cake) and then sit and watch telly / read / browse tinterweb / do a combination of them all.
4. Catching-up with friends – either in person, by phone or by email, it doesn’t matter. Arguably it shouldn’t take Christmas to force me to get in touch with people but both the previous 2 points combined with the general festive cheer / family focus of Christmas allow the perfect opportunity to catch-up with those I haven’t been in touch with for far too long.
5. Presents – both giving and receiving. The cost and trying to find gifts can also be a negative but once the shopping is done, it’s always lovely giving people gifts that they like and also getting some things you want in return!
Happy Christmas Everyone!
It’s been a while since I have done a ‘Room 101’ post, mainly because I was trying to grumble less (me being me, I haven’t done well and have just grumbled more verbally to people / myself instead). But something has happened to the British nation in the last fortnight which has prompted me to revive the ‘Room 101’ posts: they have all been hit my ‘Christmas Craziness’. I am typing whilst working from home, safely tucked away from the insanity which seems to be hitting the nation. But for the last couple of weeks, my commutes, work days and weekends have been heavily impacted by this sudden change in behaviour affecting the British Isles.
“What do you mean by Christmas Craziness?” you might ask. Well, it is a number of things. It started at the beginning of December with more obvious erratic driving, especially in the early morning; People driving faster, cutting past me on my bike even closer than normal and not bother to de-mist or de-ice their windows and effectively rendering themselves partially blind. Then the levels of traffic just rocketed, both morning and evening – I have struggled to get out my road end for the last two weeks where for months (at the exact same time of day), there was barely a car. Why people need to go to work at different times, I’m really not sure. Moving on to the shops, people have become far more pushy and completely unaware of those around them. Even more than normal, people keep stopping in the middle of shop walkways to chat and debate gift ideas (or stand glued to the spot looking bewildered and slightly scared) whilst everyone else piles-up behind them. Then, on the flip side, my commute has become full of people who seem have be almost devoid of energy. Commuters dawdle along through the tube veering from left to right all over the place (KEEP LEFT people!), walk out in front of traffic because they are paying even less attention to the road and generally look miserable even more than normal (Yes, that seems to be possible even in London!). The other day, two women even had a bit of a verbal altercation because they were fighting for a seat at Finsbury Park – the chap next to the free seat offered up his before there was any blood shed as I was too busy watching in amusement (I know, that’s not very nice of me).
This is not uncommon for this time of year, but it’s the thing I enjoy the least about Christmas. Everyone is trying to fit in shopping amongst their already busy lives and are out for bargains too as money is still tight. Then, once the shopping is done, the shining light of Christmas holidays means a large proportion of the population are in ‘hanging on’ mode from early December, struggling through each day at a time until they reach those days of lie-ins, lazing in front of the telly and binge-eating chocolate. At no other time of year you get so many people taking holiday at the same time, so we are never subjected to the compounded effect of so many people longing for some time off from the daily grind.
So, roll on Christmas for so many reasons. When it finally arrives, we’ll all be on holiday, the shopping will (obviously) have been completed and everyone can sit back and have a rest. Of course, I’m not expecting it to get any better afterwards because, of course, the ‘January Blues’ kick in. But at least after a fortnight off from work, I’ll have more energy to tolerate people again!
Christmas is done – it seems to have gone by really quickly. I have been very bad on the blogging front this month. I have had quite a few ‘topics’ I wanted to blog about, but I have quite frankly felt cr*p for most of the month. The general rubbishy feeling came to a head the week before Christmas when I came down with tonsillitis. I spent my last 4 working days of 2012 sick on the sofa at home but recovered sufficiently in time for Christmas – phew (not least because of the amount of travelling we had to do!).
We went up North for Christmas and it was nice to spend the day with the Cook Family having not seen then for the last two Christmas Days. We also had awesome Christmas crackers: Reindeer Racing!
Mum also made us a tasty Christmas cake to take home. Slightly more pro than my effort from last year, but she has a lot more cake decorating experience than me!
We’re now back home which is always a nice feeling. I’m going to take the decorations down shortly though which is slightly sad. Only a few days and 2012 will be over. So, I will finish up now because my end of year review is due in a few days and I need to try and remember what has happened in the last 12 months. Hmm, I might need tea to help with this…
It’s been a while since I have done blogged. There are a few things I keep meaning to write about, but a combination of training camp, evening commitments and some kind of virus have kept me away from my computer at home. In the last few weeks though, we have moved in to ‘that time of year’: Christmas. I find it an odd time because there are bits of it I enjoy (time off work, giving presents, getting presents, ‘The Muppets Christmas Carol‘ on TV) and bits that I dislike (travelling, trying to work out what to buy people, busy shops, the cost). But, this year, I have decided to try and get in to the Christmas spirit a bit more than normal because it would be nice to end 2012 on a cheery note. So, today we have put up the tree:
made Mince Pies:
listened to Christmas Tunes and watched some festive TV specials (‘Wallace & Gromit – A Close Shave’ and ‘The Office Christmas Specials’)
So, after waiting for what felt like weeks (and was actually weeks) for the Friday 23 December to arrive (signalling the end of work for the Christmas break) Christmas has gone by in the blink of an eye. Now, we still have until January 3rd off work, but time off always goes quicker than time at work (except when there is a deadline looming!). I know there are plenty of reasons people have given for this cruel trick of nature, but explanations aside, it’s still rubbish! However, there are still plenty of days to go until the dreaded return to work* and plenty of fun to be had!
So, without looking forward (because my summary of the year and New Years thoughts are due in the coming days), I shall reflect back on Christmas 2011. This year, there was no big present that I wanted but I got some cool little things: some L’Occitane goodies, an amber bracelet, ‘The Accidental Adventurer’ by Ben Fogle, a book on the Ancient Egyptians (a grown-up one but still with sufficient pictures!), the latest (and final) Harry Potter film and a recipe book for Whoopie Pies, amongst other things. But the coolest gadget I have seen this Christmas is one that my Mum got my Dad:
The iCade: iCade + iPad = old School Atari fun
The iCade is a console which you put your iPad in and, with a special application, some purchased games and a bit of bluetooth config, it becomes a miniature arcade machine full of Atari games. Eeek! Much excitement. It really is a blast to the past, especially after a failed attempt to re-connect the SNES. SNES emulators are now being investigated…
*I would like to be clear that I have no objection to going back to work because of my job – I like what I do for the most part and the people that I work with. My complaint is with going back to work ‘in general’ because it’s a times like these that we all dream the dream of just having money to do as we would please 😉