Posted in Personal life

The Museum of You

Each year, as soon as the clocks go back, I begin to look forward to the fresh start a new year will bring. A pessimist might say that if I haven’t yet mastered time management, financial planning or decluttering, a new year is unlikely to make a critical difference. But I’m an incurable optimist, and in the last few weeks, chance sayings by three people of my acquaintance have inspired me for the year ahead.

    1. Catching up with an older friend after a couple of years apart, I was taken aback when she declared, “I reckon I’ve got another eight good years ahead.”  From a less exuberant, busy type, that might have sounded like self-pity, but she was filled with gratitude. Never mind carpe diem, she plans to seize the next 2922 days and squeeze every drop of life out of them.
    2. Trying to reach an elderly gentleman by phone, I was tickled by his answerphone’s announcement: “I’m busy having fun right now but leave a message and I’ll get back to you.” He’s right: fun is not the preserve of the young. Focusing on fun for however many days remain to you is a sound philosophy.
    3. The third arresting statement came from a much younger friend: “I’m proud of the life I’ve curated for myself.” Curated? I thought. What is she, a museum? Then I realised it was the perfect shorthand for purposeful management of your life. Like a good museum, she takes regular stock of her assets, jettisoning any that are irrelevant or surplus to her personal mission. A good museum doesn’t stash away its best possessions for fear of breakage or loss – it exploits them with gusto.

Curating a Life of Fun and Gratitude

When I went on a writers’ retreat last month, it came up in conversation how sad it is when someone dies leaving gifts or purchases unopened, having saved them for a special occasion that never happened.

My writer friends and I vowed that when we got home, we’d crack open all those fancy notebooks no writer can resist buying but often cannot bear to sully.

By the same token, in my kitchen, I moved to the top of the drawer all the pretty unused tea towels previously nestling beneath the much-laundered, greying, and holey ones in constant use.

In my bedroom, I rejected snagged tights that I’d been eking out to the point of decomposition and ripped the wrapper off a beautiful, patterned pair I’d bought about three years ago, even though I had no plans to go out that day.

My daughter, with the natural assurance of the teenager, has a theory that the older you get, the more you are pleased by small things.

photo of gratitude journal
(Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash)

Given the pleasure I’ve just gained from a fresh notebook, a virgin tea towel, and brand-new tights, I can hardly disagree. But I’m also reassured that whatever the new year brings after the stress of a post-Brexit pandemic year, it won’t take much in 2022 to make me happy.

I wish you a contented and peaceful Christmas, and a new year of living your best life.

(This post was originally written for the December 2021/January 2022 issue of the award-winning Tetbury Advertiser.)

Recommended Reading on the Theme of Fresh Starts

In three of my stories, the main characters are seeking fresh starts for a happier life:

cover of Mrs Morris Changes Lanes
A novella of fresh starts and second chances
  • Sophie Sayers when she moves to the Cotswold village of Wendlebury Barrow in Best Murder in Show, first in the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series
  • Gemma Lamb as she starts a new job at St Bride’s School for Girls in Secrets at St Bride’s the first in the Staffroom at St Bride’s series
  • Juliet Morris when she accepts the loan of a car with extraordinary powers in Mrs Morris Changes Lanes, my stand-alone novella

If you haven’t already read them, why not give one a try?


Posted in Writing

Never Too Late

Mr. Micawber on Happiness
Image by Terry McCombs via Flickr

Do you fight a constant battle to fit more chores into the day than the hours and the laws of physics will allow? I reckon multi-tasking is the scourge of the modern world.

Mr Micawber famously observed that having slightly more income than expenditure is the recipe for happiness, while the opposite leads to misery. I’m sure the same applies to time and tasks.

So I welcome any new idea that will help me make better use of my time. And this month I find a new ally. It’s a handy gadget on my new mobile phone. A “Lists & Things” button allows me to compile any number of action lists with deadlines. I can colour code tasks according to priority and hide or reveal items as I see fit. I can even get the phone to play a tune to remind me when a task is due for completion. I need never miss a deadline again.

Equipped with this app and a phone-based calendar, I decide to do away with my printed diary. (Frankly, I could do with the extra space in my handbag.) From now on, my phone will be all I need.

So I set about inputting appointments, tasks and deadlines. Some have very clear time constraints – dental appointments, print deadlines, term dates.

Having input all these, I start on the tasks for which I can set my own deadlines: when to write my next online blog entry, when to complete the first draft of that book… Scrolling down the screen to set the date for the first of these items, my finger slips and I find myself accidentally advancing the year instead of the day of the month.

And so I discover a major difference between this and my old printed diary: the phone version doesn’t end on 31st December 2011. I scroll down the years – 2012, 2013, 2014… A few moments later, I’m still going: 2087, 2088, 2089. Why was I so worried? There’s still plenty of time to fit everything in. The only problem will be if I lose my phone in the meantime.

This post was originally written for the Hawkesbury Parish Magazine, August 2011 edition.