Eleven Things I'm doing in 2011 to Make Life BETTER!

By Alison January 4, 2011 23 Comments 8 Min Read

Last night Richard told me that the new serene, organized me, was SCARING him.
What’s a girl to do, when the very things that have been causing him apparent untold grief ( the crazy, chaotic demented me) are the very things that make him twitchy when I attend to them?
Heckity pie, he’s gonna have to get used to it. While I can’t promise burnt -free dinners and a PMT free ride into eternity I can promise (to myself) to be BETTER than I am today, and to hell with the consequences for a man who looks worried when I stand up to fold  the sofa throw we have been snuggling under!
While the very act of making resolutions might seem futile when three days later the diet goes out the window and the daily promise to make the bed as you get out of it, is rendered balderdash by the need to nip to the loo the minute you open your eyes, the simple acknowledgement at the beginning of a new year that things need to change is I think enough to set in motion minuscule actions that can in the long term make all the difference.
This year, like last, instead of committing to a specific resolution I have chosen a word to make my 2011 mantra, and my word for this year is BETTER. I want to be a better blogger, a better Mum, a better daughter, a better friend, and a better housekeeper. I want to get better at acknowledging my feelings (though some might say I am already abundant with them!), better at looking after myself, better at learning, better at committing to all manner of things. This isn’t about declaring myself not good enough. I don’t want to BE better, I want to GET better at doing those things that will improve my life.
While there is a little part of me cringing as I write all of this down, essentially, writing it down, acknowledging it out loud, makes it REAL and we can’t get better at that we won’t commit to, so I do believe this is the way forward, even if three years down the line, this post makes me blush. Mostly because I am thirty-nine in three months time and I don’t want to drift into my fortieth year on a cloud of the same old same old…
Truth is, getting BETTER won’t happen in a vacuum, so here are eleven things I’m doing in 2011, to make life that little bit more scrumptious. Because never forget: that’s what Brocantehome is all about- making life scrumptious!
1. Blogging daily. This is something so many of you have asked me to do for years and in an effort to monetise the site and keep a roof over my head the simple act of sharing my day and the myriad of thoughts that pass through my mind got lost and I miss it and I miss the interaction with all of you. So inspired by WordPress.com’s call to arms, I will be doing my best to post daily, even if that only mean sending a photo of life at Chez Brocante from my phone…
2. Using the Motivated Moms iPod app to subsidise my already existing housework routines. While the site is uniquely uninspiring, the 2011 Motivated Mom’s app itself provides a nifty daily list of teeny tiny little jobs to  do to keep the house spick and span in a way that never feels overwhelming and offers the added thrill of allowing you to tick off jobs as you go. So though the website maybe be uninspiring, the app is definitely not and I heartily recommend it…
3. Doing The Four Hour Body Plan. Though Tim Ferris makes me feel funny (man or machine??), the Four Hour Body Plan makes a lot of sense to me. I downloaded it to my Kindle before Christmas and devoured it alongside plate after plate of amaretti and coffee ice cream. Cos that’s the kind of rebel I am. But seriously: so much of it makes sense, especially if you like your inspiration served up with a decent helping of scientific theory.  While an initial browse of the book might strike you as singularly macho in tone and probably somewhat terrifying,  dig deep and  Tim frequently discusses the benefits of the plan for the female body and it’s no-nonsense manner reduces the brain-space normally required to diet to all but an inch, allowing all of us us with prettier, lovelier things to think about to get on with it…
4. Re-thinking my social networking commitments. Facebook, Ning, Twitter, WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr et all. The fact is that I can’t be in all places at all times and trying to is exhausting me and worse than that diluting the message I want to share with you my lovely readers. Expect some changes in the next few weeks…
5. Addressing my work-life balance. Because I am an inveterate ditherer, the mere act of choosing a sidebar widget for this here blog can take me all day. And while involved in said Very Important Decision I convince myself that I am WORKING. And when I am not working, I am cleaning. Or slobbing. And that’s about it. All efforts to socialise, really enjoy my reading, bake, sew or tinker with new, puttery joys have gone out of the window. Something has gotta give…
6.  Continuing to TRASH my junk. My very own TRASH IT or TREASURE IT program has been an inspiration to write and significantly firmed up my commitment to reduce the quantity of everything that over the past few years I have buffeted myself from harm’s way with.  My relationship with Rich, (who is naturally minimalistic by nature) has also contributed to my ability to identify the TRASH I have accumulated. He has, I think, taught me to see, and both the house and I, as it’s Mistress, are better for it.
7. Investing in better machinery. And technology. You see I am in the habit of plundering money in the oddest fashion. I will spend oodles on antique books and fritter outrageous amounts of money weekly on magazines and weekly supermarket treks that eat money the minute you walk through the door and then go out of my way to find the cheapest domestic machinery available, convincing myself that I simply can’t “afford” better. Case in point, my last toaster cost £4.00 in Marks and Spencer. £4.00!! A single copy of Martha Stewart costs more than that here! While I am loathe to bloat Richards head even further, he has to be credited with showing me that it is worth investing in all the daily things that make life feel smother and look richer. And yes the new TV makes all the people on it look like they could lean out the screen and pinch my bum, but this here technological Neanderthal loves it and she might just be a changed woman because of it.
8. Giving up hero-worshipping. There are two bloggers in this delicious blogosphere I adore. Both with lives so far removed from mine it is laughable. And yet I spent oodles of time comparing my life to theirs and coming up wanting. Prowling around their blogs silently cooing and jumping up and down on the feelings of envy, no jealousy that almost choke me. It’s ludicrous, ye gads, I’m nearly forty, if I can’t be my own heroine now, when will I ever get round to it? While in the Trash or Treasure program I sincerely advocate choosing a “domestic heroine” all of your own to spur you on, when it comes to beating yourself up because you aren’t as cool/clever/organised/creative/sexy as someone you secretly idolize from afar, it’s time to grow up right? Their lives are NOT mine. End of.
9. Interacting more. Though I might seem kinda vocal on here, in real life I am very, very shy. Though I have cultivated a kind of outspoken, noisy, did she really just say that persona in public, inside I am dying. Really. Dying. I am rubbish with new people. I freak out when people send me kind email.  I have utter horrors when I have to talk to cool Mommies on the playground. I internalise your comments, respond to them in my head and can’t bring myself to convey my gratitude on-line in case you think I’m daft. I get a bit cross when I have to attend social functions. I say bonkers things in the hope people will go away and I resent sharing my friends with people I don’t know well because it means I will have to drag a little bit more of myself, kicking and screaming to the surface.  I am shy. It hurts. So I’m taking it bird by bird in 2011, doing one thing that scares me daily…
10. Journalling. For many, many years I was a dedicated scrapbook journaller. The layouts in my old journals still make me smile and feel less contrived than any blog post could ever do, knowing I suppose that I had no audience to please. This is something I’ve got hung up on recently: pleasing my audience and it is something that I suspect compromises my authenticity on Brcantehome. And I know you feel it too… so anyway I want to get back to journalling for myself: both online and here at home. Inspired by a passage in Peace and Plenty about “life-pages” I have bought a new journal and I want 2011 to be the year I start glue-ing down my dreams and documenting my days all over again…
11. Learning. For a long time I have been dabbling in this and that, absorbing the basics. Re-gurgitating what I already know and dressing it up in pretty sentences. Last year I realised that I want to know more. I want to know who painted the images I place at the top of all my posts. Why she painted what she did. I read Bill Brysons “Home” (highly recommended!) and realised that the history of housekeeping fascinated me and I wanted to know more than just the how’s: I want to know the why’s. Why do we live the way we do? Suddenly I am charmed by history in a way I never understood it before. And more than that: I want to know how to take better photographs.  How to bake something more complex  than a cupcake. How to cross-stitch. I want to learn and to this end I will be reading with a purpose, less willy nilly than before, but still of course within the domestic realm that remains my passion.
You know what’s weird? Writing all this down felt therapeutic. Like I got in touch with somebody I lost somewhere along the journey.
This is my moment Housekeepers. Wanna come along for the ride?


  1. sam says:

    I love the idea of having a word instead of a resolution and better is an excellent choice. Everyone has some area of their life where they should strive to be better, even if it's something small but not many do it. You've got a huge list here – I hope you succeed in all of them. You've inspired me to look at my own website and blog. Good luck

    1. brocantehome says:

      Thanks Sam.. and lovely to meet you.x

  2. Heather says:

    I admire your intentions. Being better is something everyone should strive for-a better version of ourselves, that is. How much better the whole world would be if everyone saw the value of that investment. I look forward to your daily blogging. I will be tuned in because what you post often fulfills a part of me that other bloggers don't seem able to inspire. Best wishes for 2011!!

    1. brocantehome says:

      And to you Heather. May all our years be better.x

  3. Here here! I will join you on the "Trash It or Treasure It." After the Christmas chaos settled, we realized that we are over-run with possessions of all shapes and sizes and nowhere to put them in our wee little home!

  4. Jennifer says:

    This is a terrific post. I hope that you will launch the Trash It or Treasure It program again!

  5. Jenny says:

    I can completely relate! I too, have abandoned specific resolutions and instead am just working at being the best I can be. It doesn't matter if things don't turn out "perfectly" as long as I've given it my best shot. I'm excited about the possibilities contained in 2011!
    Thanks again for another great post. I love visiting your blog. A new post on your site is one of my daily online highlights. 🙂

  6. Ali H. says:

    My goodness, you’re ambitious. I don’t “do” resolutions, but I am determined to take better care of me and keep my eye on the late career ball I have rolling along. Moving to a cleaner, friendlier part of the country is on the list too, if we can get the bank account to accomodate.
    Best wishes for 2011!

  7. Katherine says:

    I'd love to join you, Alison! After we moved last year, I have been working on Trashing/Treasuring, and my house looks great!–but I have an entire garage to purge. We also have a new baby in the house, and he inspires me to get into a routine (I struggle with routine!). There are several items on your list that resonate with me~thank you for voicing them! Happy New Year!

  8. Holly says:

    Well said! All of it and 7,8,9 and 11 were things I could completely relate too. I need to make my own list. Thank you.

  9. Great idea's! I've also decided I need to cut back on the social networks I'm on and blogs I guest post at.
    It's so funny how you mention hero worshiping because your blog is one of those I'm coveting!
    Cheers to a new year!

  10. Kellie says:

    OMG you and I have so much in common it scares me! I too have vowed to be better this year. Your comments are inspiring and although I havnt written them down I just simplified everything to say that "My purpose this year is to make everything I touch Better!"

  11. Kellie says:

    OMG you and I have so much in common it scares me! I too have vowed to be better this year. Your comments are inspiring and although I havnt written them down I just simplified everything to say that "My purpose this year is to make everything I touch Better!"

  12. Daja says:

    Your New Year's post is so…..positive and uplifting. Makes me feel like I should rewrite mine! LOL! I wrote a list of things that were not invited into 2011.
    Now perhaps I should write a post of what I AM inviting into 2011!

  13. Carol M says:

    Wow! My only resolution was to wear nicer underwear, and get rid of the once white, now gray ones!
    I would love to see a new post everyday. I've been (selfishly) unhappy when there is a lot of time between posts. I appreciate the huge commitment it takes to do what you do, and I look forward to the "better" Alison (although I already think you and your blog are pretty fabulous).

  14. Bluebell says:

    I have been quietly sitting and reading and enjoying this wonderful brocante world for some months now and have so often wanted to comment-but felt nervous to, as this is a world new to me. New in the sense that this is the first 'blog' I have joined, followed and looked forward to reading. Reading 'number 8' on your list finally spurred me into commenting. It touched a nerve-I spend SO much time dreaming and 'cooing'-good word-over some women's other-worldly lives and homes that I fail to enjoy the lovely little cosy world I am creating right now for myself and my husband. So thankyou Alison for 2 big things; nudging me into posting at last and reminding me that our own lives ARE real-and we'll be so much the better for concentrating on them. xx

    1. brocantehome says:

      And thank you Bluebell for taking the time to comment and truly getting what I was trying to say.
      Have a lovely new year.x

  15. Gayla says:

    Alison, I loved this post, as always. I want to come along for the ride, for sure. It was only so many years ago I found your blog on a cold January morning… much like this. I adore you, your blog, dear Finn… Have a scrumptious ride, honey.

  16. Janet says:

    I love this post! Being a better…. is a much nicer way of looking at things! Thanks 🙂

  17. Jenny says:

    Wow that's good stuff. I'm restarting my Trash It or Treasure It, since I kinda fell down in the weeks before Christmas. The good things is that starting over just means I'm that much closer. Thank you for Brocante Home. I am thrilled with the possibility of a daily post from you.

  18. Judi says:

    Honey, you're wonderful! and….very inspiring 🙂

  19. Rashmi Nair says:

    Dear Alison,
    OMG….its similar to what I think!! Love your blog! Refreshes my mind every time I go through it!!
    Saving my money to buy some lovely ideas from you (Indian rupees conversion to dollars is quite high!)

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