2017: A fresh start

This is about the fourth time I’ve started writing this post. I seem to be having a lot of trouble with it, in a way I surprisingly didn’t have much trouble with my 10 good things about 2016 post a few days back. Part of this I suspect is because much of my year is already structured, with PhD deadlines and work, a couple of trips planned, some paying work lined up, so unlike the past couple of years, I don’t really need to think about my goals for the year in terms of creating structure, and the PhD work is knitting together the music and art things that last year I was trying to combine.

Another problem is that because I did quite well last year with things like diet and exercise, quite a few things that I feel should be in here are actually of the “carry on as you have been” variety – keep trying new recipes, plant veg again this year but do a better job of growing them, do another Project 365. That sort of thing.

So maybe the answer is to try a slightly different track to previous iterations. I have priorities, I have some specific projects, and I have some ongoing stuff. And then I have some stuff that really should just be on the to-do list rather than here (dentist to sort out the implant for the tooth that was removed last year. ugh).


  • Work. PhD, obv, but also a more organised approach and greater commitment to my various work activities, so things like a greater commitment to performing, producing and going to more gigs by other people. It will also mean a strong focus on finding balance between work and not-work, which is easier said than done when everything’s a bit random and you also love what you do. At the moment I’m trying for Sunday = not-work which seems to be working quite well, but I’m sure there’s other things I can try too.
    That work/not-work line became completely blurred and I really have trouble separating one from the other. The Sunday = not-work didn’t really last very long at all. As the year went on I’ve moved instead towards days where I give myself permission to just do whatever I want to, as opposed to what I feel I should do, because often what I want to do is work on PhD stuff, and while I think I still need to consider not-working time, unpressured time is very nearly as valuable.
  • Family. Last year was a bit of a turning point for me in that it was the year I finally really committed to living in the UK permanently. Which means accepting living half a world away from my parents. Which means I need to make the most of them – when I travel to visit them, and when I call them, and when they call me and when we email each other. It means ensuring their birthday and Christmas presents are sent off in plenty of time so they actually arrive on the day. With all the fragmentation of the part-time PhD and random bits of work, I also need to ensure that Djelibeybi doesn’t get taken for granted. He needs attention and love and to be dragged out of the house by his hair about once a month.
    I think I did kind of OK at this, mostly – until the last few months when everything exploded, I was hardly ever even at home and was just lurching from one thing to another. I’ve done a bit better with the present-delivery, but new knowledge about parental postal schedules and so on means I actually need to adjust my timelines here as advertised ‘guaranteed delivery dates’ may be a few days out. Didn’t get Djeli out of the house nearly as much as I wanted to, but managed a few outings nevertheless.
  • Health. I’ve been dealing with ongoing muscle problems for about 2 years now and it’s time to try something new because clearly my current strategy isn’t actually fixing anything, so I’m committing to doing at least 1 course of Pilates classes to see if that helps, as well as carrying on with the stretching and daily exercise thing. Stress, sleeping problems and immune system issues are also all long-term problems for me that I need to address this year.
    The Pilates didn’t happen due to fiscal inadequacies, but I’ve built a twice-daily routine of stretches which mostly seems to keep the pain under control, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s become chronic – if I miss even a single set of stretches I feel it; and with all the travel recently I’ve found that it’s taking me 2 days to recover, by which time I’ve generally had to be back on the road again. I’ve organised an appointment with an NHS physiotherapist for early January to see if she can do anything for me, but I’m feeling that perhaps Alexander Technique may be needed. Immune system has been remarkably resilient of late – probably because I’ve been guzzling Vitamin C and echinacea like a mad thing since a run-in with a roommate with a horrible cough at the Bristol YHA set my ears a-aching. I’ve managed to ward off the germ so far, but I’m thinking the vitamins just need to be very regular. Weight has been creeping up over the course of the year, but I’ve been trying hard to ensure I get some exercise, keep carbs to a minimum (at least while at home), so while I don’t feel there’s been much – or possibly any – improvement to my health this year, I do feel I’ve set up some good structures to give it a chance.


  • Sewing. Last year I taught myself to sew, and having discovered that I can now make clothes that actually fit me, this is something I definitely want to continue. So I have a few small things I want to achieve over the course of the year for this: to (fit and) sew a dress for myself, have a go at a pair of trousers, get a t-shirt pattern fitted and ready for use before the summer, learn how to line a skirt and learn how to sew buttonholes. I also need to look at logistics and time and work out how sewing can be regular rather than stop-everything disruptive. This is likely to involve reorganising my studio. There’s more detail about sewing plans here if you’re interested.
    The year’s not quite done and I’ve just washed some fabric to attempt the dress, so that may yet happen. I made up a pair of tracksuit pants (Hudson Pant pattern) for rehearsals, which I love, even if our producer thought they were pyjamas, and have made several versions of the Union Street Tee – gradually improving the fit, although I’m having trouble understanding what’s actually going on in the shoulders. And no, that didn’t happen before the summer. I haven’t made any skirts and haven’t lined anything, but I did learn how to sew buttonholes, which turned out to be much easier than anticipated. Sewing suffered from the vast amount of time I spent making boxes for Community of Objects in the second half of the year – they both occupied the same space and both activities exacerbate the muscle pain because of the bending. I’ve been back into the sewing a bit lately though (two tops made in December!) and hope to keep it all a bit more regular from now on.
  • Buy and learn to use Final Cut Pro. No and no.
  • Finish renovating Granny’s sewing box – I stripped the old paint off but haven’t yet chosen a colour to repaint it, that decision being made all the harder by having found a Granny Original painting of (possibly) Krakatoa on the base of the insert tray:
    Hidden inside Granny's sewing box
    So clearly that needs to be preserved, but how to do that and choose a colour for the box that is actually Me? I want this done by the end of April though so I can start using it. Also no – that colour choice has been a real stopping point. Partly because I was away at the beginning of the summer and just found it hard to get back into anything, partly because I simply couldn’t decide on a colour, partly just because there’s been so much else to do. I do want to get it sorted out though…
  • Re-rip all my CDs – all my digital music was lost when the Drobo died, so I only have about 5 albums on my phone which gets a little repetitive. Now that we have all the Australian CDs here too, it’s a chance to actually rip All The Albums, which is daunting but will be great. Well, not ALL the albums, but I did gradually rip some and my phone options are much better now. Which would be nice if the headphone jack hadn’t died and sent me back to my ancient iPod Touch (which was last loaded when the Drobo was still alive) for my listening content.
  • Reorganise the boxroom – get as much as possible out of boxes and properly stored, and everything else to be neat & tidy and correctly labelled so I can actually find stuff when I need it. Uh… No.
  • Get stuff mended. A number of the much-loved things we’ve brought back from Australia have since ceased to proceed, so I need to sort out fixing the blender, CD player and record player. And no. None of ’em.

I think that’s probably enough – more priorities and projects always turn up, and I’ve got my ongoing things which tie into various bits I’ve listed here. So I guess all that’s left is for me to wish you, my random reader (if you exist) a very Happy New Year – may 2017 be full of amazing experiences and delight!

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