Month: <span>January 2021</span>

Hello Daisy,

Welcome to the world, a world that just got a little bit better because you arrived. We’ve known your name for a while now and I have to say it suits you so well.

So in a similar vein, as I have been doing for your big sister Lucy, I thought I’d introduce myself; I’m Uncle G, hello! You’ll see me from time to time along with your Auntie Becca, but all you need to remember is I’m the one who will ALWAYS take you for ice cream.

I know things are all very new right now, but don’t worry, I’ve seen how loving and caring your Mummy and Daddy are so trust me when I say that you are in good hands, plus you have an extra special big sister to look out for you and be your friend. I guess I have to admit that little sisters are ok, and I promise I’ll do my best to guide your big sister in all the ways to help and tease you! Hey, it’s my job, I’m Unky G (blame your sister for that, although I do wonder how you’ll pronounce it).

Auntie Becca and I are so happy you are here and we are both looking forward to spending time with you, getting to know you, and spoiling you when we can although we know you’ll get plenty of that from all your grandparents! One thing to remember though, don’t get used to it, try and play it all down, act cool and they’ll only try harder to win your affections (even though they’ll have them already, but don’t let them know that either!).

I can’t wait to be part of your life as you grow and while I hope that you won’t copy your sister when she was a baby and burst into tears whenever I enter the room (thankfully that stopped after a couple of months) I know that she will help you with so many other things and will be there whenever you need her. As will I and Auntie Becca. That’s all part of the deal of being an Uncle you see, I’ll always have time for you, whenever you need it, even if it’s when you hit the stroppy teenager phase and need some time ‘away from that lot’, there will always be ice cream and hugs here for you. You should know that the same offer applies to your sister though, no favouritism here!

The world is a little bit upside down right now but hopefully, by the time you are ready to venture out into it and meet people properly for the first time, it’ll be a little bit more normal. Until then I’m sure there’ll be plenty of photos and video calls! And as soon as we can we will be there to meet you in person and give you a cuddle.

I know you’ll be loved and cared for so well by your family, and I’ve no doubt that in no time at all you’ll be sharing all your thoughts with everyone, likely at the same time, and speed, as your sister and your Mum. I do feel a little sorry for your Dad, he’s never going to get a word in edgeways.

So, welcome little Daisy, we hope to see you and get a first cuddle very soon!

Lots of love,

Uncle G and Auntie Becca

Daisy

Right you, first things first, at what point are you going to stop growing up so damn fast?! Every time I see you, you’ve changed. Long gone is the adorable toddler who would bumble over and hold my hand and laugh and giggle, and now here you are, an inquisitive, funny, girl who is just a little bit of a showoff but in the best possible way. You have such a warm, caring side to you too, it’s wonderful to see that part of you grow as well.

It’s been quite a year! I know you’ve enjoyed all the time at home with Mummy and Daddy, just as I know you’ve missed all your friends at nursery but at least you get to see them for a bit longer before you head to school! I must try and remember to ask you what it felt like to live through this pandemic as a 4 year old, will you even remember the way the world changed? Will you remember how well you adapted?

Of course, closer to home, the world changed even more dramatically. Your Grandpa died. I think your age was to your benefit as you took it all in your stride; a little confused at first, but somehow you knew to give Grandma more cuddles, to be a little quieter at times as if you could sense that all the adults were a little bit sad. I wonder how much of him you will remember. Will you be able to recall just how much he loved you and doted on you? How he loved to make you smile? How many times that damn noisy squirrel toy had its batteries replaced just because it would make you shriek with laughter? It’s an odd comfort to think back on those times even though they only ended a few months ago, and I hope part of him stays with you as you grow.

And the world will change again all too soon for you when your new baby sister arrives! What an exciting time! I can only imagine how good you are going to be with your little sister. I know you will love her, and protect her, and look out for her as she grows, and if you ever need any tips on how to wind her up and tease her let me know, I’m sure the things I used to do to your Mummy will still work!

Sadly, we’ve not managed to spend as much time together this year as I’d hoped, but the moments we have are already fond memories for me and your Aunt Becca. Getting you hopped up on ice cream and churros, playing in Victoria Park just made me realise how fast you are growing and, just like my Dad, how much I love to make you smile and laugh (and scream when I’m chasing you!). Every time I see you these days you do something that makes me pause, something that makes me see how smart and thoughtful and imaginative you are, and that driven side of you, that determination, well I hope that stays too (and ignore people/men who say women shouldn’t be forthright!).

I know your Mummy and Daddy are so very proud of you and all the glowing reports you get from nursery, you are kind-hearted girl, with a ready smile, and I hope to spend a lot more time with you this year as I’m sure there are plenty of flavours of ice cream yet to try.

As always, love and hugs and high fives,

Unky Gee

Lucy

The new year rolls around and as the Weightwatchers adverts start appearing I find myself looking back over my aims from 2020 and wondering what to do next. I try not to fall into the ‘New Year New Me’ thinking but I think it’s natural to have a sense of looking ahead.

That said given everything we’ve all just lived through last year, right now thinking ahead is tricky and feels almost futile. What’s the point of planning anything when we are still living through last year?

I’m aware that a new year actually means nothing, it’s just another turning of a page in a diary, yet pushing all that aside when I focus on how well I held on to the things I aimed to do, I feel proud and content that I created some new habits and held on to them even through the worst days.

Changing habits is hard so I started small:

  1. Write in my journal every day.
  2. Meditate for 10 mins every day.
  3. Stretch every day.

First things first, I knew ‘every day’ was a stretch, I even said so at the time – “I’m presuming I’ll be able to hit the primary aims every day but I know that won’t hold true. Life will get in the way at times and that’s ok, I’m just going to go with the flow and see what happens” – so it’s heartening to look back and see that I managed to stick with these more often than not, good enough to meet the larger goal of forming new healthy habits that have stuck.

I guess that was the point of these being aims and not goals, and whilst it may just be a trick of language, it still allowed me to be more than happy that I was going in the direction I wanted to, as the destination was never really the point. Having these as aims removed the pressure and any (self) perceived sense of failure that could’ve landed if I’d stated them as definitive goals. It’s a subtle trick but one which let my perfectionist brain be ok with not marking things complete every single day.

Throughout 2020, as the world changed around us, I found these three things to be very grounding and they’ve definitely played a big part in maintaining my mental health throughout lockdown and beyond. The intention was to create some good habits around things I knew would benefit me, little did I know in January just how crucial and helpful they would turn out to be.

Equally they’ve helped me discover more about who I am, and helped me listen to myself more and put more trust in my own values. That has, in turn, let me start to relax and take on new challenges, things which in the past I’d have set out as goals and built plans around and likely have failed at meeting, but as these are a knock-on effect of the aims then I feel much more relaxed about them, letting myself take my time as I know that just doing them is all that matters, the achievement will or will not arrive, and that’s ok.

Looking ahead at the coming year, and presuming that it will continue to be a year full of challenges, the usual hopes and fears remain but I already know that these three habits will remain as a foundation to build on. It feels good to finally have gotten them bedded in, habits that are now part of who I am, and how I define myself. I am a person who writes in a journal, who meditates, and spends time stretching every day, and I feel better for it.

So what lies ahead in 2021 then? What are my aims?

The short answer is I have no aims I am looking to achieve in 2021.

As I said at the top of this post, not only does it feel futile to set out aims or goals given we have no real idea of when things will return to any kind of pseudo-normality (personally I doubt it will be this year if at all) but I managed to get through 2020 without anything more specific than the aims I’ve already mentioned so why push to set new ones?

There is an argument that, as arbitrary as it is, even using the change of year is a good marker if one is so inclined as to look at the self as a thing that can be gently improved day to day, month to month, and year to year. A new year means one cycle is complete, so it’s time to start another. What I have learned this past year, outside of anything I aimed to do, was that by freeing up my mind and attention I ended up doing a lot more for myself than I have for a long time. I’m running again, I’m cycling regularly, I’m eating well, my mental health is good, my relationship is good, and I might even dare to suggest that I’m starting to love myself for who and what I am. All of that from a language shift and an ability to trick my own brain into allowing part of my aims to be negotiable.

As an example, in my post last year I mentioned that my long standing goal to run a 5K was exactly that – it may take me all year, or it might not happen until 2021. I am not putting a time scale on it, but it is where I want to get back to in time – and I whilst I did get to a physio who helped with my knee, I quickly fell away from running during the early weeks of lockdown as I turned to cycling as a preferred method of exercise. Yet in the past couple of months I’ve gotten back into running (I don’t mind running in the cold, hate cycling in it!) and am half-way through the Couch to 5K program and I’m enjoying it all.

If I’d set ‘Run a 5K’ as a goal for last year I would’ve failed it early in the year, likely by getting a small injury, and that would’ve been me. A failure because I didn’t plan/train properly and meh blah ‘what’s the point’? The very negative, self-loathing mindset that I’ve managed to avoid pretty well all year.

Don’t get me wrong, goals can be positive things, I’ve no doubt about that (even if you cheat and game yourself and call them aims) and if pushed I will admit there are three things I want to do this year but they all just feel like extensions of the journey I’ve been on through the last year already.

No I won’t list them here, they are just things that will happen. And if I don’t achieve them for whatever reason, that’s ok too. Which, in turn is probably the one true aim I have for myself this year, the one thing that I’ve been subconsciously building towards throughout last year.

And thus I hereby declare that, in this year of 2021, I will aim to cut myself some slack.


What about you? Are New Year’s resolutions a bunch of nonsense? Did you set some but have already fallen off track? Or are you excitedly progressing yours already? Whatever you choose, I hope that you are good to yourself first and foremost.

Life Personal Musings

2020 was a year, a year like no other but still just a year.

For many it was a struggle just to get through each day, the toil of lockdown on the mental health of many is something we won’t fully appreciate for some time, and tragically many didn’t survive at all. I don’t think we will really know the full impact of the coronavirus for a few years at least, as the effects on society will linger long in the memory. What an awful awful time.

Whilst there is much to say about the horrors of 2020, for now I want to turn and look at some of positive things that came out of the last few months, they may be harder to see amongst the onslaught of bad news but there was good news and good things were happening.

It’s been well reported that, for some, the enforced lockdowns and stay-at-home orders let them explore new hobbies and get to know themselves better and, by and large, I include myself in that category whilst acknowledging all the privilege that I have at the same time. I know not everyone was tuned in to Joe Wicks, or perfecting their sourdough.

Personally there was a lot of good in my 2020 so I’m going to focus on that, and I already have reasons to believe that 2021 will be a better year for me, even though I will need some patience as some of the things will only happen when they happen!

Becca

First things first then, and I have to start with how grateful I am for my partner. I think this year has brought us even closer, made us even stronger, and although we have been tested in many different ways we’ve come through it supporting each other and spent a lot of time smiling and laughing (at each other). She is a constant source of calm and understanding, and her patience and compassion are things that still catch me.

Dogs

Sticking close to home, as we all had to, I definitely have to mention the fur babies. Walks with Dave and snuggles with Sasha have made even the worst days tolerable.

My Family

As a family, we had to deal with the sudden passing of my Dad, and the love and support we all gave each other is something I will cherish.

Small changes

Other things stick in my mind, with a lot of the year spent at a slower pace it meant I was able to question my approaches and attitudes to some things; being more mindful with what I bought and where I shopped (I’m not Amazon free yet but a lot closer), checking in on friends more than normal, and taking time to sit quietly and enjoy the silence are small changes that will sit long in my memory, things I will take forward into the coming years.

Books

I also managed more time to read and while it took a while for my concentration levels to return I managed to read 41 books last year. Highlights were:

Music

Music-wise I didn’t really spend much time listening to much other than the radio and some tried and tested playlists, I’m hoping in 2021 to find a bit more energy to seek out new artists.

TV

I also watched some great TV, including the wonderful Ted Lasso, sci-fi in the shape of The Expanse and The Mandalorian, and more recently the increasingly lovely and funny Schitt’s Creek.

The rest

Add in climbing Ben Lomond, many glorious walks, long cycles, embedding a meditation routine into my day, and many other small moments of happiness and I can quickly start to build a picture of 2020 that isn’t dominated by COVID.

And I’m not alone, there were many other good things that happened around the world last year, many reasons to be cheerful.

On balance, despite the world shifting around us, and with a lot of luck and privilege, I can look back on 2020 with some level of happiness. It will, of course, be the year of lockdowns and of a shambolic Prime Minister, but at least Trump is on his way out and a vaccine is coming.

I think 2021 will be a year of adjusting to a new normal but I’m hopeful that there will continue to be good things around, we may need to seek them out or carve space in our lives to allow them in, but I think it’s worth reflecting back and carrying what positivity we can into the coming months.

Life Personal Musings

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The quieter you become the more you can hear.

Ram Dass

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We do not need power to be compassionate, but we need compassion to be powerful.

Adolfo Quezada

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