1. Relax more. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t really relax much. Even when I’m sitting down, my legs are jiggling away – I don’t even notice until whoever I’m sitting next to whacks me! When I’m off work sick, I see it as a great opportunity to get annoying household tasks done, like washing the bathroom floor and cleaning out the fridge, rather than lying on the sofa like normal people. I feel the need to jampack my weekends and nights after work with seeing places and people and all that results in is making me feel stressed and exhausted rather than enriched and fulfilled. So, this year I am going to force myself to relax more. If I don’t get to see that play this week, it’s ok! If I can’t manage to fit in catch ups with all my friends at least once a month, they’ll still know I love them! If I don’t get time to swing by the latest exhibition at my favourite museums, tant pis! I’ll survive! I need more tea, sit downs and biscuits in my life. I don’t want to underestimate the importance and pleasures gained from relaxtion. Even if it does have to be enforced!
2. Write more. Writing my blog brings me so much pleasure. I love the process of setting down my thoughts on whatever it is I’m writing about; crafting the words, creating the imagery, bringing to life my feelings and emotions on the page. I also love the interaction with those of you who are so kind as to enjoy reading what I write. That is such a joy. However, I want to branch out and write more. I have always wanted to write a novel, or a book of essays, or a biography, but I let my fear of failure hold me back. This year I am not going to let that happen. In all the spare time I’m going to have from relaxing more, I’m going to make a concerted effort to plan and write something that could go somewhere…and I’m not going to hit the delete button on anything I write!
3. Read more classics. I watched the wonderful BBC adaptation of Great Expectations over Christmas. I’ve known about it airing for ages as my one and only claim to fame is that my brother in law is Douglas Booth’s (Pip) personal trainer – and I found myself mesmerised by the setting, the characters and the brilliant storytelling. It reminded me of how much I love his writing, but I haven’t picked anything of his up since finishing university in 2007. Also, as you know, last year I re-read Persuasion, and that was the first Austen I’d read in quite some years too. I have let my reading of the classics slide significantly since leaving my official studies of English Literature behind and I want to put a stop to that right now. 2012 is going to be the year of Austen, of Dickens, of Bronte, of Trollope, and of Gaskell. I can’t wait! (I will be starting Mansfield Park at the weekend, by the way – get ready if you want to join in!)
4. Cook more adventurously. I always make my dinners from scratch but they’re never particularly inventive – roast potatoes, some form of vegetable, some form of meat, or sometimes I’ll go crazy and make a lasagne or a toad in the hole or a broccoli cheese or something along those lines, but it never gets more exciting than that. This is mostly because I hate faff and I’m always worried that if I try a new recipe, it’ll go horribly wrong and then dinner will end up being beans on toast. However, this week I have already branched out – I made Rachel Allen’s bacon and potato gratin on Monday night, which went down a treat, and tonight I have made mexican bean burgers, based very loosely on this recipe as I didn’t have an egg or any coriander or any salsa (I made my own) or any bread to make breadcrumbs. In case you’re interested I added red onion and garlic. They were delicious! The ease and fun of trying new things this week has given me loads more ‘kitchen confidence’ and so my Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and my Rachel Allen cookbooks are going to get a lot of use this year!
5. Finish my quilt. I first posted about making my quilt in 2009. This was back when I still worked at the glorious V&A and was part of the team putting together the Quilts exhibition. I’m in the exhibition book – my hand, my quilt…we’re both in there, looking like we’re having fun. Little did I know that 2012 would tick around and that quilt would still be unfinished. I’ve done a lot, and it is nearly there, but I really need to push myself to get it finished. I have a sewing machine now which means I can bind and quilt it myself too, so I really have no excuse. After all, my new relaxed self should have plenty of time to stitch hexagons together this year!