So remember a while ago (actually about a year ago) I talked about the positive life plan? It stemmed from a lovely conversation with my friend Erica, and was a bit of a life-affirming exercise in which we discussed aspects of our life and added our thoughts about them (adding the rule that everything had to be positive). I now have a notebook especially for the plan, and update and add bits to it all the time (I’m pretty much a notebook nut – my whole life revolves around notes and to do lists and little snippets of things I’ve copied down).
Whether or not you actually joined in and worked through the plan, I thought it was time to revisit it, to see how I got on, and how I feel about it all now, and maybe reflect on whether it helped me or not:
At the time, this topic was all about delighting in the sunny weather with a healthier diet of fresh salads, salsas, grilled meat and fish, and delicious fruit. Over time, it’s morphed into a determination to eat fresher, healthier wholesome food whatever the season, and specifically to make healthier choices when I’m travelling. I’ve read a lot about mindful eating recently and I try to do this when I’m eating. I won’t deny myself something delicious, but I’ll try and have just a bite or two and really savour it. I’m never going to stop baking, but I’ll try a small piece and delight in the fact that my boys scoff the rest. I’m into crunchy textures, bright colours, loads of veggies and throwing things at Mr E when he sabotages me by scoffing M&Ms on the sofa in front of the telly on a Saturday night.
A big thing for me is my relationship with alcohol, which I fear is slightly unhealthy. Instead of guzzling bottles of wine (again, mindlessly sipping in front of the TV), we’ve switched to having the odd G&T (me) or beer (him) if we fancy it during the week, and keeping a nice bottle of wine for the weekend. I feel happier already.
After realising that I had actually forgotten what it felt like to ache after exercise, I was determined to get more active, and over the summer, before our holiday, we cycled and walked loads, and I even started to do a few weights and sit ups at home, but I’ve not stuck to it. To clear my head, I’ve realised that I really do need to do something else. At the moment, sticking on my trainers and heading off with the dog to charge around the field, whatever the weather, is floating my boat, but I still wish I could find another exercise that I really love, and I’ll continue to keep looking. I’ve just signed up for a local yoga class, starting Monday, so I’ll see how that goes too.
Although I’m still completely hopeless with money, I do feel that we’ve developed a slightly more positive attitude to our finances and we certainly give each other a bit more leeway on the topic. I’m not great at budgeting (I’m lucky enough to have that freedom), but I did make a plan at the beginning of the year to start saving, stop spending (yeah, that’s not gone great) and pay off my credit card (which I am actually doing).
4 Beauty/personal style
For me, less is definitely more. As I get older, I feel that my own personal style should be one of choosing special items carefully, rather than rashly grabbing bargains that don’t last the distance, and I do feel I’ve become better at this. Confidence is key, and trying on things that I’ve seen on Instagram that I wouldn’t have considered buying has led me to some interesting discoveries. I still love monochrome, but have added a couple of bright bits into my wardrobe that have made me really happy.
I’ve also started on a bit of a mission (see my post 40 beauty diary for details) to try out a few beauty treatments to address areas I was starting to feel a bit self conscious about too. I definitely need to keep looking into this.
Living in a house with four (opinionated) adults is really stressful, but it’s made me realise that often, staying calm and speaking softly achieves much more than yelling and shouting. With Mr E, I’m starting to embrace the fact that we’ve been together a long time, know each other inside out and that I should be celebrating the fact that I’m married to my best friend. We’re spending much more time together as a couple and even took a holiday to Boston together, just the two of us! And we’re planning more.
I love my friends, and I still rely on them far too much for everything. However, I feel that I’ve started to be more open to new friendships rather than letting my slightly rubbish self confidence stop me from saying hi to people all the time. I guess I’m a work in progress.
7 Work/your personal brand
This is ongoing for me – I’m committed to continuing to develop English Mum into the best it can be, and I’m loving the challenge. I feel that I’m clearer about the message and lifestyle goals that I want to focus on: delicious recipes, lovely travel, personal style and simple pleasures, and I’m also taking writing more for other people and loving that too.
7 Quality time
This is another ongoing one that I sometimes fail hideously at. I need to keep on keeping on trying to achieve a bit of lifestyle balance and factor some quality family time into our week, but it’s not easy. I’m trying to schedule my weekend wishlist post to auto publish so that I can spend the weekend with the family (although you might still see me on Instagram a little bit!), and I’m still trying desperately to get everyone together to eat at least one meal a week!
Still my favourite topic. Remember I said ‘grab your pen and just write’? Mynotebooks are full of hopes and dreams, plans for the future, books I want to read, places I want to go. We’re still dreaming of that cottage in Brittany. As long as you never stop planning and dreaming, that’s a good thing, right? There’s nothing nicer than being surrounded by lovely, positive things, even if you have to create them yourself. I like to look back on my notebooks full of scribbles from trips I’ve loved, restaurants whose food I’ve adored and quotes I didn’t want to forget.
Back then, my vow was to try and love myself a bit more. And I’m not sure that I really achieved this. Moving forward, I need to be kinder to myself and – a huge one – stop comparing myself to everyone else unfavourably (I wonder if everyone feels a bit like this – it must be a common reaction to all the beautiful people on Instagram). I do feel that maybe taking time for yoga will help with this too.
So that’s me. If you joined in, as I know some you did (thanks for the tweets and messages!), I’d love to find out how you got on and if you’re continuing with it. And if you didn’t, maybe I can tempt you to give it a go? It’s a life changer! Click here to read more about the positive life plan.