Mantras for the New Year

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Avoid and Conquer! may be my motto for rounding up 2o11 and thinking about the upcoming 2012: I’m finding I can balance on a narrow tear-free line of ok-ness providing I don’t think about things from earlier this year, or imagine how things will be in the next weeks or months.

Once I have to face up to the fact that that motto won’t be sustainable and that I will need plans (after all that’s my personality), I’ll keep in mind my well-worn key fob mantra,  ‘Don’t lose heart, don’t lose sleep, put fun in wherever I can’. And when things look like they’re upending it, I’ll remind myself that ‘Everything is always ok in the end, if it’s not ok, then it’s not the end’. If I keep those things in mind, then hopefully 2011 has actually set me in good stead for 2012.

My reminders to self I made during my sessions with Celine earlier this year.

Here’s to hoping 2012 treats everyone kindly.

I’m off to the Cathedral bell ringing now to bring in the New Year.


First impressions on ‘Overcoming Depression’

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For one reason or another, a couple weeks ago I ended up buying a copy of Prof Paul Gilbert’s Overcoming Depression from an Oxfam book shop.

When I’d looked at the book before on Amazon Look inside preview, I’d found it condescending. I don’t remember quite why, as now I’m finding it reasonably readable and mostly friendly. I have a feeling it is more likely me who has changed, than the book itself!

That first impression this time came when I read the first I flipped to, which happened to be a chapter called, ‘Thoughts and Feelings’. Gilbert gives a quick example of how one might change thoughts in an everyday situation: that someone bumps into you and your initial reaction may be anger. But when you turn and see they have a white stick, that reaction may turn to sympathy and/or guilt etc. I don’t think I’ve had it shown to me so simply how it is actually a natural thing to do to change feelings and thoughts depending on your understanding of a situation, and that it doesn’t need to take superhuman abilities to understand something differently, or that changing a thought is only ever going to be superficial.

Another first impression is how I’m enjoying having my own copy of a book. For however many years I’ve been a student, I’ve always put up with borrowing books from libraries to not shell out for my own copies. Now I can make notes all over the page and margins in glittery gold pen if I like, and fold down as many corners of pages as I want, in origami fashion even! As a bonus, I get to see the previous owner’s underlinings too. At first I thought we had a lot in common and it would be strange to bump into them (I’m fairly sure this particular Oxfam has a small catchment area!), though we’d never know a way of identifying each other. In fact further into the book we’re not underlining and highlighting the same things so much.

This post (and subsequent ones as so far I’ve only got through the book’s first section) isn’t meant to be a review of any kind, it is simply me working my way through the book: at the end of the first chapter in the ‘Learning to Cope’ section, Gilbert suggests making a list of all the things in the chapter that are relevant to you. Also, as I’ve got notes scrawled across a lot of the pages in sheeny gold ink which is difficult to read in the best of lights, I think it will be useful to me to type them out anyway. I haven’t got that far yet, though!


Trust, a New Year’s Resolution

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I’m not normally one to make New Year’s resolutions. Not because I’m overly cynical about them, but mostly because I forget: I forget that others have the idea of pinning their hopes of change to one particular day of the year, so then I don’t remember to think about them on the same particular day other people are making resolutions. I’m all for change though, I do think that if one put one’s mind to something, make a nice step by step plan to get there (I like plans!), one can change for the better. (I’m an optimist like that!)

New Year’s resolutions have been a frequent topic of conversation at a couple of Christmas parties I’ve been to, so I have been thinking about them a bit more recently, along with everyone else:

At one party, one of my friends, a disbeliever in writing lists of resolutions, talked about his tradition of writing all his bad things he’d like to change or get rid of, and then burn the paper in the fire.

Someone else’s auntie would write her resolutions down, then lock them away til the following New Year’s Eve, where she’d read them out to see how well she’d done over the course of the year.

It occurred to me this Christmas that it is the first time I haven’t felt like needing to put an ‘automatic essay machine’ or ‘marking criteria sheet’ to the top of my Christmas wish list. Hooray for that! (admittedly this is almost entirely down to a change in circumstances having left university, rather than me miraculously becoming a fluent essay writer or getting a view into the uni tutor’s mind.)

What I realized I would have liked to have on my Christmas list this year, is trust. To be able to trust myself. (I suppose it is one positive thing that in keeping to my core beliefs, “Others are perfect; The world is good”, I generally don’t have a problem trusting other people.) However as I’m sure my family would have had a hard time wrapping a bit of trust up, perhaps this is more suited to new year’s resolution.

Some specific things that come to mind:

  • Trust that I won’t make a fool of myself when I answer the telephone.
  • Trust that I can make polite small talk with others.
  • Trust that, yes, I did indeed lock up my land lady’s house properly.
  • Trust than I’m not sticking out like a sore thumb among everyone else.
  • Trust my subconscious  to deal with things like breathing and gravity.
  • Trust that I am doing ok with my work, that the nice Christmas card the office director gave me wasn’t just given out of politeness, and they’re about to fire me any way (though I’m still freaked that’s true).
  • Trust that I can be capable, and hopefully eventually be helpful to others too.
  • Trust that I can cope.

Now I just need to work out a nice little step by step plan to learn to trust and rely on myself. Though it’ll probably be more helpful to me if I don’t lock that away in a cupboard for a year! And maybe at the same time I’ll burn up a piece of paper saying I’m a hope- and help- less little idiot  squirt.

Christmas Week in Pictures, 19th – 25th December

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I’ve felt like it’s taken a long time to start feeling Christmassy this year (not necessarily a bad thing!), but even without any snow, things have felt a bit more festive this week. Even the push on deadlines this week has added a certain je ne sais quoi to the spirit.

I hope everyone’s week and especially this weekend has been as least frazzled as possible, and maybe even fun!

Monday, 19th December

A chirpy robin who followed me a little way to work!

Tuesday, 20th December


My office met up with the company's other offices in London, and we went galavanting off along the Jubilee Line (mainly to Canada Water, the O2 & Canary Wharf) in only the way a bunch of landscape architects could, oohing, aahing and turning our noses up at various paving slabs, walls and tree pits!

Wednesday, 21st December

Two be-wreathed doors. Not quite a pair but I like them for their own tastes.

22nd December 2011

My last day in Suffolk til the new year. Deadlines not quite as bad as I'd feared, even managed to get out at lunch to do a tiny bit of Christmas shoppping, where I came across this windmill at the top of the town. I'm not sure of its history.

23rd December

Helping wrap up the London office's Christmas deadlines today, a familiar morning commuting sight again, though the mornings are a bit darker than a month ago!

24th December

We've arrived in Wales. My grandparents' house hasn't quite sold yet, so as consolation my family are able to use it again this Christmas! We're last minute people, the tree's still looking quite empty at this stage!

25th December

A Merry Happy Christmas!

A Cassava Pie lunch. Slightly out of place in Wales, but for that maybe even yummier!

A Wreath Next Door

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Week in Pictures, 12th – 18th December

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Monday, 12th December

I'm not quite ready to take over the world with my knitting, but it was still fun to make some wearable, if square toed, slippers.

Tuesday, 13th December 2011

The family of Poppy, the dog my landlady pet-sat last weekend, invited us for supper. This is the a Christmas card I made for them. It took them a while to realise that it really was their dog pulling Santa's sleigh!

Wednesday, 14th December

Another quiet night in...sloe gin, Masterchef, jigsaws and knitting. This is the jigsaw my landlady and I have been working on. It's a nice relaxing change to come in from an irritatingly unproductive day at work and then do something, if only another elf or fence line, and have something to show for it!

Thursday, 15th December

Went to a rowing club pie&pint get-together at a pub close to the middle of no where. Car lights on the silvery weathered fence in the car park made a contrast to the darkness everywhere elsewhere. I'm not sure I've ever been along roads in such pitch black darkness!

Friday, 16th December 2011

Ooh snow! I possibly gave the office a running commentary on the consistency of snowflakes outside the window for the whole morning! But that's ok...I'm just a girl from some sub-tropical island (ignoring the fact I've spent quite a few winters in the UK while at uni!)

Saturday, 17th December

After squeezing in a rowing session in the morning, I zipped off (in the loosest sense of the word) to Bristol for a uni friend’s Christmas party.

Crossing England from east to west included passing by the new Olympic site. It was fun seeing some of the landmarks there, though I'm not totally taken with Anish Kapoor's hookah pipe. I wish it were something that I could actually picture in my mind. Something simple like Seattle's Space Needle or the Eiffal Tower. But what do I know?

Sunday, 18th December

The Christmas party was fun. It was the first time seeing a lot of my friends, and a couple of lecturers, outside of the university context. Hopefully our stressed memories of each other (mine of them are good but patchy, while theirs of me are intact but ‘traumatic’, apparently) can be reset with happy memories of mulled wine flowing through the evening, and ping pong and Cointreau at the breakfast table this morning!

I couldn’t get away from uni work totally though. The railway passes by one of sites for my major design projects last year:

I like to think my eco-quarter proposals round the potentially pleasant canal would be an improvement on the current derelict buildings and rambling car sales yards!

I liked the ticket inspector's tree cut-stamp Christmassy touch

Week in Pictures, 5th – 11th December

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Some quick pics from this week (or conspicuous lack for several days. Things improved a bit by the weekend):

Monday, 5th December

I was in Ipswich for site visits on Monday.

It was freezing, had to pop into a Costa Coffee to warm up, was massaging my ice block feet as one might in a ski chalet.

Friday, 9th December

A geo-cache that asks if this is a camel or an elephant? My vote's for a camel, though I was disappointed not to find the cache. It was still nice to get outside for lunch.

Saturday, 10th December

I went rowing again this weekend. My third lesson, and first time out on in a scull by myself with no one else to help balance. Rather tippy but luckily I didn't go for a swim! This quad was out earlier than me, though they were probably too focused to notice the pretty light!

They were disappointed to find my camera wasn't edible! At first when I saw Poppy's tail across the other's face in the photo, I thought shucks, but actually I think it represents their personalities well - Poppy always seemed to have the upper hand/paw!

Sunday, 11th December

On the hunt for Muntjacs. I'd never heard of the creatures til yesterday. Though still as mystical as before as there were none to be seen on Sutton Heath.


More cute doggies: My landlady has been looking after Poppy for the weekend. Dogs are a good thing. Though Tilly is pleased to have the house and her beds back to herself again!

Double Decker Dogs

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