Wednesday, 3 December 2014

10 things I have learned in 2014

Happy December! I'm sure that there's some kind of mass-participatory festival approaching with the speed of a sparkling red truck. Can't for the life of me think what it is though. Something to do with John Lewis, perhaps? Is it the most wonderful time of the year... for advertising executives?

I've just got used to the clocks going back and we're hurtling towards the shortest day of the year here in the good ol' United of Ks.* And so, as the sky rests its grey belly on the rooftops and we wrap ourselves into private universes of knitwear, thoughts curl inwards. It's been a funny year here at HeavyFroth towers, and I have learned:

  1. I am much more of a cat person than I thought I was. You may have read about my boy Kitten in a previous post. Since then, things have gone downhill. Kitten has left the indifferent embrace of the fridge and joined me in non-white good world several times. I am now pretty much a woman possessed. Possessed by the twin demons of Whiska's crunchy treats and the most beautiful green eyes ever seen outside a Dolce and Gabbana advert. A large portion of my free time is devoted to hopefully shaking a cat-head-shaped box of treats. Come to think of it, is it threatening to keep treats in a box symbolising his decapitated fellows? Must look into less threatening treat receptacles. 
    But how could you not adore that face? 
  2. Politically it matters what you vote. Personally it matters why you vote. This is the first time I've been in a position where I've felt radically different to the vocal majority of my peers on a political matter. And oooeeboy was it a biggie. For anyone outside of Scotland, it's probably difficult to understand just how large the independence referendum was writ in the national consciousness. The decision I came to was one that I felt comfortable with, but it came with a whole truckload of emotional baggage. I had to take a step back and remember that a political decision didn't change me as a person: I will always be an oversharing, overfeeling, compassionate ball tied up in optimism and inappropriate puns. I will walk my own mental paths and what I find at the end will be because of, not in spite of, who I am.
  3. Fairy make rose-scented washing up liquid. This basically turns doing the dishes into a bubble bath for your hands. 
  4. You can't correct everything that's wrong on the internet. Nor should you. Sometimes I forget just how much stuff there is on the internet. Some of it is going to be factually iffy. People will take a weak argument which supports their position over a strong argument which contradicts them, cos the latter comes with the cognitive load of having to adjust their viewpoint. This isn't a bad thing necessarily, it's just a human thing. So by arguing with someone on the internet, you're more likely to annoy them than change their mind. Plus, you've just wasted the whole day on Facebook / Twitter / It's ok to take your foot off the pedal and let things slide. And look at a video of a cat in a box. And breathe.
  5. The sickness and the pain aren't my fault. You have NO idea how much lighter this realisation has made life feel. I spend an unseemly amount of time in pain / being sick and no-one seems quite sure why. The realisation that it's not my fault doesn't stop it being unpleasant, but it does mean that I don't combine that joy with berating myself for being useless and weak. Well. most of the time anyway. The pain is a lot easier to deal with when I stop viewing it as a character flaw. This might seem painfully (hah!) obvious, but it didn't really click into my thought patterns until recently and it's made a massive difference to my overall confidence and happiness levels. On a related note...
  6. Mindfulness helps. Or at least my home cooked recipe of mindfulness, which involves calmly noting pain and just letting it do its thing without resistance. Following the waves of pain like this is a lot easier than tensing up as the pain batters against you. I intend to learn more about mindfulness and general brain jiggery-pokery in 2015.
  7. It is always a good thing to have gin in the house 
    Incidentally, if anyone has any tips for getting straws out of gin bottles, come at me! (Just don't ask how it got in there)
  8. Writing makes me happy. I can actually feel my mood darken if I don't write for a few days. Writing is one of the strangest impulses. It's a deeply private and intimate process, but words want to be read. Luckily I have a long suffering partner who's always willing to listen and read. Thank you internet.**
  9. Bath Pillows are almost enough to make me question my atheism. If anything qualifies as a gift from the Gods, these do. 
  10. I have much to offer the world. I intend to offer a lot more of myself in 2015. Ooer Missus.
What have you learned in 2014? C'mon people, we've got to pool our knowledge if we're to stay one step ahead of the robots...

*is it just me who finds the ebb and flow of daylight hours a constant and delightful source of small talk material? I could happily guddle about in that conversational hole for hours. The dark has a remarkable capacity to shock me given that I see it everyday.

**Oh. Yeah there's the man too.***

***Don't tell anyone, but without his unquestioning support I would flounder about a zillion times more than I do. He's alright really.

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