Wednesday, 11 April 2012


I have a new favourite place to read - on the bench by the kitchen sink. I discovered it by accident - the kitchen window looks directly on to the aviary, and I sat there on Saturday reading The Name of the Rose mainly to keep an eye on Trotwood. I sat there again this afternoon, reading Our Mutual Friend. The kitchen clock was ticking loudly, the rain was falling heavily on the aviary roof, and Trot was singing loudly, refusing to come inside. The stove was warm, my coffee was hot, and my bird was happy.

But I was not. Indeed, I am not, not entirely. I've had a difficult week, and it's the worst kind of stress: stress of your own making. I question myself, worry, and doubt my goals, intentions, and even methods. I feel lost, but there's not a good reason to be lost. I feel like I've been pushed off course, however I should have been strong enough to stand my ground. And this week, I wasn't.

The 11th of April is a funny time to look back at New Year's Resolutions, but aside from a few jokes, most of mine were made with noble intentions. When I make up my plans, lists, resolutions, and challenges, they are done with the very best of intentions, and so this is a prime example of how blogging helps me. When I feel lost, or doubtful, I have here a written record of things I want to achieve. Mostly, I stick to books, however I didn't in my New Year's Resolutions, so here I have quite simply a to-do list. For all I doubt my methods at the moment, I can have no doubt of my goals and aspirations. They're written down. They are right here on this blog. I think this is a good time for me to revisit them.

As I say, a lot of them were jokes, however I'm going to pick out the ones I truly meant and comment on my progress, as well as look at how I'm getting on with my book challenges. Of course I write this for you all to read, but this is partly for my own reference. I need to feel inspired again, and I need to take some comfort from my progression.

Here are a few of the more serious ones.
  1. Learn Ancient Greek. Or at least try. It's unfortunate that this is the first one on the list, because this must be the most unsuccessful resolution. I got half way through learning the Greek alphabet and made no more progression. Here is something I want to pick up again.
  2. Read 101 books. According to Goodreads, I am fourteen books ahead of schedule.
  3. Stick to the Les Misérable reading schedule and not rush ahead. The point of not rushing ahead was to avoid a War and Peace situation: the first time I read it I powered through so fast I didn't retain any of it. However, I was enjoying Les Mis so much that reading slowly didn't work for me, so I read it at my own pace.
  4. Similarly, do not rush War and Peace again. I didn't.
  5. Get up at a reasonable hour. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Stop defining reasonable hours as 11am rise and 3am sleep. I so still have late nights, but I'm usually up by around 9:30. I do want to improve, especially as I love the lighter days, I don't want to miss out!
  6. Start wearing nice clothes again and make an effort to look good. Stop pretending I have to be clinically underweight to deserve to wear pretty clothes and make up. This one sounds so trivial, but actually, it's been important to me for a long time. I used to hide away in awful clothes (particularly when I wrote this resolution) and I have a tendency towards a very negative body image. I am much better with this, much much better. One thing that helped was staying away from websites that reinforce the message that you have to be very thin to look good. I haven't been on those websites for months.
  7. Complete my book challenges. Currently, I have read seventeen books out of seventy four, so I am a little behind. To get back on track, I should be up to twenty five by the end of April.
  8. Read non-challenge books. That, I am good at!
  9. Drink a lot more water. I used to be awesome at that. I do, I drink at least eight or nine glasses a day now.
  10. Aim for three or four blog posts a week. According to Google Reader, I'm posting on average of three posts a week.
  11. Stop making other people's problems my problems. I know what I mean by this, and it's way too long and ridiculous to blog about. I have failed quite magnificently with this this week. But at least I am aware of it.
  12. Exercise every other day, but not too much exercise. I started exercising again at the end of January, and I did aim a little high (90 mins / 6 days a week) however I've cut down to 50 mins 5 days a week.
  13. Start writing a few more book reviews. I really don't like writing book "reviews", however I do blog more about specific books I have read.
  14. Start reading more non-fiction. Failed!
  15. Only eat white rice, white pasta or white bread once a week because they make me bloated and food babies freak me out. I eat white rice maybe once or twice a week, however I never eat white pasta or bread: I've come to love wholewheat alternatives!
  16. Be a healthy person. I know what it entails, I don't need obsess over it. Tricky, but getting better. I've been using MyFitnessPal to get a grip more on eating. It's been going well, and I've been gradually upping my calories to a healthier level. I do sometimes worry (Easter Weekend being a prime example), but with only a few exceptions, I have met every goal I have set myself. For the past week, my intake and net intake are utterly unremarkable. I'm proud of that.
  17. Re-write my novel and make it into something I'm proud of. I want to do this. That was a good resolution. Like the Ancient Greek, this would be a spectacular goal.
  18. Resolve to do better each day. Again, this doesn't sound like it means much because it is one of those clichés, however it does have meaning to me. I get bogged down sometimes when I feel like I've done badly with something and don't take advantage of a brand new day.
  19. Don't delete blog posts. That was resolved because I deleted a lot of blog posts at the end of last year (including, regrettably, my first blog post). I haven't done it since, and don't see any reason why I would.
  20. Don't delete blogs. Again, I have no wish to.
  21. Open my letters instead of filing them in the "hell will freeze over before I can deal with yet more financial doom" drawer. I deal with everything as and when I get it now.
  22. Do things when I can do them, even if I can't complete the task, rather than wait for an appropriate time. I do.
  23. Stop drinking Coca Cola and accept it gives me migraines. I have.
  24. Cook better food. The quality of my food has improved enormously, however I am prone to cheating when I'm upping my calories and I don't know what to eat. There have been a few times I've met my goals with chocolate!
  25. Make more people read Clarissa: we can make this a current classic again, people, fuck F. R. Leavis! So many people are reading Clarissa this year, but I don't claim credit!
  26. Finish Villette for once and for all. As soon as I've finished Our Mutual Friend I shall get it down, once more, from my shelf.
  27. Do more stuff for my mam. As she never fails to remind me, she gave me life (which was good of her, it has to be said). I always need to do more stuff for mammy.
  28. Read more poetry. I am, but I'm not progressing as well as I would have hoped with my Ted Hughes Challenge. Of course, there are other poets (or so I've heard...)
  29. Read more and post more about Pre-Raphaelite art. I really love the PRB. The picture at the top of this post is in spirit of this!
  30. Read Remembrance of Things Past'ought to have read by now' challenge. I don't think I will complete it this year, however I will make good head way.
  31. Keep a diary. In a notebook and everything: old school style. I didn't at all, but I can start tonight.
  32. Remember that hard stuff takes effort but is worth it. Always remember this, o.
  33. Start doing yoga again. I did a few nights ago.
  34. Stop drinking so much Irn Bru. I did.
  35. Run a 7 minute mile. I'm trying, but I'm dreadful at it! 12 minutes is my best to date!
  36. Get a lot more fresh air. I do when I'm running.
  37. Read a lot more 'chunksters' - I do seem to enjoy them. So far this year, I've read ten books with over five hundred pages.
As I revisit these resolutions, I see that on the whole, they're not going so badly. My confidence this week has been really shaken, but this was my fault. There was no reason for it, other than I let it. But I am making progress and I have made some good decisions.

And now? Now I'm going to put Trot back in his house (he's on the bookshelf, not still outside!), get a glass of water and go and practise some yoga moves. I'll then find a notebook, write down some thoughts, and I'll go to bed with a hot drink, read some more of Our Mutual Friend, then get an early night. Tomorrow, I will run, I will improve on my time, and I will spend just half an hour re-learning the part of the Greek alphabet I learned. Even half an hour every other day will be enough: I have no deadline and no pressure to do this. Learning Ancient Greek was my choice. I'll also spend some time sitting down with a pen and pad and write down my intentions for my NaNoWriMo novel: what the point was, and what I wanted to convey. In the next few weeks I'll get some kind of plan together. Again, I'm in no rush and I have no deadline. This was my decision. Finally, I'm going to look over my poetry collection (it's very small) and, as ever, make a blog challenge out of it!

You see, I do know what I'm doing. I've got this. And it's spring. Perhaps the 11th of April was the perfect time to look this all over.


  1. You should definitely claim credit for the Clarissa fever! I honestly think your awesome post started that. It definitely bumped it up on my list, and I'm 1/3 through now and loving it, so far. :)

  2. I, too, have been struggling this week, and after reading this post I'm feeling slightly less 'my life is doomed' and all that. Thanks, O!

    Looking at your progress, it seems to me that you're doing remarkably well. I hope you're giving yourself credit for all you've achieved this year. You deserve it. :)

  3. I like that aspect of blogging too - your intentions don't get forgotten about. I agree with the comments above; you've managed to accomplish a lot towards your goals in just a few months, good on you! I also agree with jillian that you created Clarissa fever... that post was brilliant and so many people added it to their reading lists straight after.

  4. I haven't followed your blog long enough to have read your posts about Clarissa before but I will get right on it to keep my spirits up about Clarissa. (I'm doing the year-long read along...)

  5. Congrats on your progress on your goals! I'm currently reading Clarissa as part of the group doing the year-long read, but like one of the other commenters, I'm new to your blog and hadn't seen your post on it. Since I'm not enjoying it (which makes me sad, I like most of the 18th-century lit I've read) and you clearly did, I will go find that in your archives post haste!

  6. Thanks everyone, and Diana - hope you feel better soon :)

    So cool if I *did* create Clarissa fever... :D

  7. I'm sorry you've had a rough week. I have too, in terms of my mental state. Good on you for using it to look back at your goals and remind yourself how successful you've been. Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. I'm late to the post, but I'm sorry to hear that you had a rough week. (It must have been something in the air last week--although, my week was all of my own making, so I can't complain.) It sounds, though, like you are making good progress on many of your goals, and so have much to feel good about.

  9. I thought you'd found your new favorite spot by the sink from reading I Capture The Castle where the young heroine often resides...;)

    I, too, am often less than enamored with Austen as you mentioned in another post.



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