Grief is a funny thing. Initially after losing my Dad (what a silly term – we didn’t mislay him, like a missing phone or a set of keys), we were all in shock. I’m a terrible cryer at the best of times (RSPCA adverts, Cinderella Castle, fireworks, Disney songs, people singing in choirs, people singing Disney songs in choirs, puppies, sad films, stubbed toes…) so the first few days were just basically spent surrounded by a sea of soggy tissues. We would all be okay then one of us would start and set all the others off again. After a while, though, I kind of felt like I was all cried out, and we could think and talk and reminisce about him without as many tears. And then the weirdness set in. I’ve found myself obsessing about teeny, tiny details: exactly what flowers and foliage are going to be in our wreath (pale yellow roses – he loved a bit of yellow – lots of eucalyptus, please, and absolutely none of that frondy asparagus stuff) and – here’s the big one: what do you wear to a funeral? If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll know that we’ve been having chats about it online, and people have been so kind and helpful, giving me all sorts of suggestions (which of course set me off crying again), but I still can’t make my mind up.
I adore Christmas. I’m a planner and a note-maker, and always need to have something to look forward to, so for me, the build up is one of my favourite parts: choosing and wrapping special gifts, planning and buying all the food, decorating the house with scented candles and twinkling lights… it all makes me really happy . We had a gorgeous Christmas this year, and rounded off the season with a small New Year’s Eve gathering with some of our favourite people. Now, though, I’m already wanting the decorations down, the house clean and tidy again, and I’ll be raring to dive headfirst into this squeaky clean, fresh and sparkly New Year. One of the first things I’ll be doing is opening a lovely new notebook and creating my positive life plan for 2018.
Did you keep a diary when you were younger? I kept one for a few years when I was in my early teens, and me and my best friend also wrote to each other all the time (this was before the internet, people!) and I kept those letters for years and years too. I’d love to read them again now and get to know my teenage self again. I wonder what happened to them? Think of the positive life plan as the grown up equivalent of those teenage ramblings: a constructive and uplifting way to keep track of all aspects of your life and maybe even make a few changes along the way too. Here, we’ve listed five reasons why you should start the positive life plan. Plus, a chance to win a gorgeous personalised TOAD notebook to do it in!
If you’re new to the positive life plan, let me recap: it’s basically just a lovely way to keep track of all the different areas of your life: health, fitness, money, beauty/personal style, relationships, work, quality time, aspirations, self, and really there are no rules (apart from one: everything has to be positive, so no being hard on yourself for anything). It’s a great opportunity to spend a bit of time on you and perform a positive life edit that you can continue to work on and update. It’s also a good excuse to buy a new notebook, and you know how happy that makes us. I’m now trying to devote a whole post to each category. So last time was self, and this time the focus is on one of the toughest categories in the positive life plan: fitness.
About the positive life plan
Regular readers will know that my friend: writer, blogger, and life coach, Erica Douglas, and I originally came up with the positive life plan when we were on holiday together. We were just chatting about life and the germ of an idea started to form: we split the main topics of our thoughts into different categories: health, fitness, money, beauty/personal style, relationships, work/personal brand, quality time, aspirations, self, and added the rule that everything had to be positive, no being hard on ourselves. We thought it would give us the opportunity to perform a positive life edit that we could continue to work on and refer back to now and again to keep ourselves on track. Basically the plan is as simple or as complicated as you make it. Many people have said that they have a notebook split into sections, and just keep track of their thoughts and feelings on each topic, updating and editing every so often, but do whatever suits you. This month, we’re focusing on the first category of the positive life plan: self.
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).
Where’s your head at? I feel like mine’s usually like the scene in the Wizard of Oz (it’s a twister!’) where Dorothy bangs her head and then everything starts lifting off the ground and whooshing past the window. If, like me, you feel your thoughts and tasks and mental to do lists all start to become too much, I’d like to recommend a little ritual. Something that I find comforting and grounding, especially when I’m really busy. I’ve started to replace my morning cuppa with a coconut chai tea. I take my time, stirring the ingredients together and really trying to clear my head, then take it back to bed and sip it slowly.
2016 has been wonderful and awful all at once. For us as a family, the beginning of 2016 was really just spent thanking our lucky stars that Mr E finally got a job after quite a few months of being unemployed, and was also the year we finally started to get things finished around the house. We’ve had the usual teenage ups and downs: a (minor) car accident, drunken evenings, arguments and girl troubles… but nothing too terrible, thank goodness. In the big wide world, however, and outside of my lovely family, 2016 has been a year of tragedy, sadness and some shocking moments, culminating in the death of the voice of my teenage years, George Michael, and the fabulous Carrie Fisher, making us all pretty keen to wave it goodbye. It has, though, as this fabulous article in The Pool recently pointed out, had the strange side effect of making us all care a little more; it made us a bit more aware of the suffering of others and increased our capacity for empathy. And for that, I guess, we have to be grateful.
So you know a while back when I was giving you the recipe for the spiced banana loaf, I started to tell you about Mr Tails leaving home and me making a new friend? Quick recap: Mr Tails, our Maine Coon cat, fell in love with Justine, from round the corner, and her cat Fluffy, and decided he wanted to move in. He was at home less and less, and eventually just didn’t really come home at all. Justine felt terrible and came round to tell us that despite chucking him out a gazillion times, he just kept coming back. Long story short, we decided that it was better that Mr T became Justine’s so someone had proper responsibility for him and we made it official and swapped paperwork, etc. We’re a bit sad, but y’know, Tails just doesn’t like being here and loves being there. You know what cats are like, you can’t force them. Lyra is a big part of this, I think, and she jumps all over him and chases him. Not her fault, but y’know…
Do you ever have those long, rambly ‘what if?’ conversations? They’re our favourite kind, especially when we’re dog walking or (if the summer ever comes) out in the garden with a nice glass of rosé. We talk about our family, whether we’ll ever have grandchildren (not right now, please), our plans for the house (especially if we win the lottery), our future travel plans: bucket list destinations, places we still want to explore, ships we want to sail on, that kind of thing. Another thing that features heavily is where we’ll end up when we both retire. I know, I know, it’s a long way in the future, but we both want to retire to somewhere different – a smaller place, maybe by the sea.
So in the spirit of my positive life plan, I thought I’d have a few words about the dreaded b-word, and why we ALL should be wearing one if we want to. I’m no expert, but here’s my 40-something guide to feeling fab in a bikini, and why I won’t be rolling out the swimming costumes any time soon!
I’ve just spent a gorgeous week on board P & O Cruises’ beautiful ship, Britannia with my friend Erica. We spent the week discovering all the dining options on board, as well as exploring bits of France and Spain and doing some baking with Eric Lanlard too – I know! Anyhoo, more of that later – for now, I wanted to tell you about a fantastic conversation we had one night in The Glass House over a couple of drinkies. We started off just chatting about life, the future, family, etc as you do, and a bit of a plan started to form. We split our thoughts into topics and added the rule that everything had to be positive – no beating ourselves up – and this positive life plan was born. I’m excited to share it with you!
Yesterday was a nightmare. After waiting up until midnight to pick Charlie up from a party (aren’t I a nice mama?), we were then up at the crack of dawn to get Mr English back to Heathrow to go back on duty after his week off. Then there was a van fire on the M25 so we were stuck in traffic for two hours, nearly missing the flight, and THEN on the way back I realised that not only was I dangerously low on petrol after all that hanging around, but I’d also forgotten my handbag. ARGH.
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