Archive | December, 2012

Goodbye 2012

31 Dec

As the year draws to an end I feel the need to mark it. I will not be giving the year a thorough post-mortem as I feel I have been quite good at doing that as it has occurred.

2012 has been a hard one, with some good bits thrown in. I am very pleased that I have gotten myself through it. It’s been hard work but luckily enough, that work has paid off. I’ve learned a lot through the hardship and have been reminded (time and again) that we only really grow as people when we are put in an uncomfortable position. If we are always comfortable there is just no need to change.

That said, I have also realised that I do not want my life to look like 2012 did ever again. A lot of the hardship was caused by my desire to prove something, something I now realise, I didn’t really need to prove. I made myself uncomfortable, when actually, life is pretty good at doing that anyway.

So to summarise: 2012, you were uncomfortable and I don’t really like change, but it happened and I am better for it happening.

I am looking forward to a new year of new (hopefully calmer) possibilities to include continuing to develop myself, but in kinder ways!

Happy Old Year’s Night Folks!

Alice’s Adventures in Perfectionisim

30 Dec

Perfectionism is a cognitive distortion or thinking error. It is characterised by wanting to make something perfect. The problem being, of course, that there is no such thing.

We all fall into this trap, to a greater or lesser degree, at some point. It is normal. Whether it is trying to lose weight, bake a cake, entertain others, work out, or write an essay. There will have been a time in your life when you strove for perfection.

Plenty of people have built successful careers, fine works of art and even relationships by striving for perfection. Are they happy?

NO

Why not?

Because their standards are so high, they will never meet them. The task will never be ‘finished’, they will never manage their ‘best’.

My Father was once accused of being a perfectionist, he responded with the following statement:

“I’m not a perfectionist, if I were, my work would be perfect”

His family talk about perfectionism as if it were something to strive for, a desirable characteristic.

While I understand the logic, I also find it difficult not to be seduced by the idea of being a perfectionist. To me, it sounds like an ideal, a self-sacrificing commitment to excellence that I wish I could achieve. If I am ever described as a perfectionist, I can’t help but cringe. I fear I give up too easily, don’t try hard enough, can’t find it in myself to keep pushing for perfection.

And there it is: my own error. I believe that it is possible to deploy a perfect level of effort. A level which I can never achieve. Leading me to believe I am basically lazy. Which unhappily leads me to be judgemental towards others; those who deploy less effort than myself: They must also be lazy.

When I am criticised for having standards too high I fear the person accusing me just doesn’t care enough. If I am accused of having standards too low I feel terrible, as if I have failed in every way possible.

In an attempt to manage parts of ourselves we find unbearable we identify them in others and attack them for having those characteristics. I attack others for being lazy. As a passive person (who dislikes even passive aggression) I find the desire to attack others quite unpalatable.

So, what is the answer?

Drop those standards.

Not all the way. But maybe just down a notch or two. It is hard to find the right level and perhaps that’s what causes us to aim too high in the first place. For me, and for now the aim is to try ‘hard enough‘ and to be ‘good enough’, I feel this is the best marker for the ‘middle ground’ I can find and I think it’s okay to put in a little more effort than this without having set standards ‘too high’.

I am working on this one and will keep you posted!

Christmas 2012

30 Dec

I hope you have all had a very Merry Christmas!

We (as you might have guessed) are not exactly Christian, but we do celebrate: Family; Friends; The passing of another year; The Winter Solstice; Time Off Work; Good Food; and of course, Good Booze!

For the last Five Years Dan and I have spent Christmas together, alternating between his mum’s and my mum’s house, usually getting back into the car on boxing day to drive for three hours to see the other mum. I love seeing everyone, but this can mean we take a week off work without managing to spend time in our own home.

This year has been a bit different! It was Dan’s mum’s year so we went to see her from Christmas eve through to boxing day, however, she only lives an hour and a half away now, so this was no big mission. The day after boxing day the script changed entirely and my parents came to see US!  It was truly lovely to have them here to see the house for the first time and spend time making it feel homely.  It also meant it was totally worth getting a Christmas Tree!!!

Our First Christmas Tree

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I don’t usually bother insisting on a tree, this is mostly because we don’t get a chance to look at it if we are off traveling the UK.  This year, it was decided, new home, new life = new tree!  It has been a joy to have and to look at and I am hoping he will survive to come in again another year!

Puppies at Christmas

This was the Puppies second Christmas with us.  So I suppose they are hardly puppies anymore.

Here they are a year ago..

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And this year!

How things change! (and how they don’t!)

Anyway, once the obligatory hat shot was out-of-the-way, they quite enjoyed Christmas. Lots of walks, attention, and of course, gifts.

It was too much for one small dog to take…

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Time Off, At Home

I took what was left of my annual leave, giving me a whopping week and a half off work.  Sadly I have been ill since the first day of this!  Just a minging virus, nothing serious. I had felt as if I was about to be ill for the last two months.  I suspect the removal of all the adrenaline, that usually keeps me chipper, left my body ready to give me hell.  I’m starting to feel a bit better (although I still can’t taste anything) today, so, of course my neck/shoulder has decided to trap a nerve.  It’s okay, I’m still enjoying the rest.  Dan bought me an industrial strength Ice Cream Maker for christmas so I have had something new to play with.  I have also had some time, in the last two days without guests, to think about how I want to develop my life a little more in the coming year.  More on that soon.  For now, I have two days left to do a little sorting (yeah, I still haven’t unpacked the office), blogging and relaxing (no I’m not going to clean the house) ready for the new year.

Seasons greetings!

 

 

 

Work-Life-Balance Some More

29 Dec

I’m aware it has been a while since I last posted. This has not been entirely down to a lack of work-life-balance. Indeed, while this remains imperfect, it is getting better:

  • I have been seeing a friend at least once a week
  • I have started taking and making phone calls again
  • I have been working on one of those pesky-now-long-standing-craft-projects; Whilst this is still awaiting its Attic-24-style-ta-dah-moment. it is well and truly on its way off my to-do-list.

I have been busy with all that working-full-time-jazz Which, with the two hour commute and general household tasks doesn’t leave a lot of time. But. It does leave time. I just have to be careful with how I spend it!

When I first started this new job I was getting home from work at 5, walking the dogs until 6, cooking, tidying and making lunches until 8 when we sat down to eat for an hour (normally in front of the telly) Then spending the next hour washing up and getting ready for bed. I was then spending at least a day of the weekend cleaning and getting ready for the next working week. I realised quite early on, that this is not how I want my life to be. In the absence of any academic work and in a child-free lifestyle. I just should not be so busy! Indeed, if I am this busy now, where exactly in this schedule would I spend any time with any potential children?

Ive tried a few experiments:

House Cleaning During the Week

At the moment it is dark when I get home from work, too dark to give the doglets a proper walk (they still get a morning one) without them running off into the dark woods after some nocturnal beast. They seem to appreciate its a bit to dark, cold and (this year at least) wet to have a meaningful run so I have been having a play in the garden with them and spending an hour on three nights a week blitzing the house. I have successfully done this for at least three weeks, the house is still dirty by the time the weekend comes along, but I have resisted the urge to do it all again. I figure that if it’s been done once that week, that’s just going to have to be good enough! This has saved me at least half a weekend day if not more.

Lowering Food Standards

If you have read through enough of my previous posts you will know this is not an easy thing for me to do. If food is love then what does it mean when you can’t be bothered to cook? Also, if what you really look forward to all day is a decent meal, then isn’t it a bit rubbish to be disappointed come dinner time? I have wrestled with these issues and discussed them at length with my husband, for whom fortunately love is love and food is food. We agreed it would be okay to take the focus off food on at least three nights a week and have a get-it-yourself/ shove it in the oven kind of dinner on those nights. It turns out that if I can avoid spending hours of the day fantasising about my evening meal, i’m quite happy with some dippy eggs or soup and my waist-line would probably prefer it that way too! I aim to make a big vat of something once a week, something that we will eat that night, but also have at least two more portions of spare to shove in the freezer for a shove-it-in-the-microwave style dinner another week.

Food Shopping on Alternate Weeks Only

We came up with this one as a solution to two problems:1, my losing hours of my life and weekend every week in the supermarket; 2, my spending embarrassing amounts of money on food. Obviously, dropping food standards has helped with this no end. We have achieved two fortnights of this new way of shopping, to good effect. I estimate I have probably cut our food bill by about 40% and gained 3 precious hours a fortnight.

A Few Telly-Free Evenings

This is a difficult one, it’s often the only time we sit down and relax together, but I (unlike my husband) don’t really value it as quality time. I also don’t really enjoy sitting in front of the telly if I do it every evening. Opting out of this ritual a few nights a week has bought me time to call people on the phone, to do a little craft work, sort out paperwork and respond to emails etc. As for the hubster? Turns out he quite likes some quiet time alone with his PS3.

Enjoying my Job

While it feels foolish to admit it so early on. I think I might quite like my job. For once, I go to bed, not dreading or fearing the next day. I’m not unhappy when the alarm goes off at 5:45 (sleepy-tired yes) and driving for an hour seems to give me some quite pleasant thinking time (I need quite a lot of that). I feel very privileged to be in this position, and am mindful that I need to keep it this way!

For the Future?

I’m aware I will have less evening time once they get lighter and the doglets start getting evening walks again. However, I think, that given a few adjustments to the above this may still be achievable. I am not engaging in any physical exercise at present, I have not had a hair cut for 6 months, I still have not unpacked the office or started on the garden. These things can wait but go to show, there will always be room for improvement!

Have you got any time saving tips? Please share!

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