It’s been a minute since I shared my last Life Audit hasn’t it? Let’s call it four years and get over ourselves. Life has got rather appallingly in the way of almost everything but I live to tell the tale, fight another day, and all that jazz, for the bestest part of having a life to audit is that very thing: we have a life to audit, and once we start to really examine it, all too often we come to realise that tucked among the general grumpiness of the groundhog, there is much to be remarked upon, celebrated and blessed with all manner of gratitude and good feeling.
Today I am…
Covered in spots. Like a teenager. Oh yes, I have got Christmas Acne, an ailment I have just invented but am pretty sure is definitely a thing. For like everyone else my diet went awry over Christmas, and not only did I gain eight pounds in sheer bloat (already on its way gone, thank heavens), but I feel like I’m waddling and my skin is both dry as a bone and showing its distaste for the lack of routine around these parts by having a spotty tantrum. So today I am righting the wrongs I have inflicted upon myself, juicing everything left in the fridge (Stilton smoothie anyone??), and dedicating the evening to pampering my face and body back to an orderly glow. Because a person cannot be wandering the streets in her giant anorak scaring the kids with festering pustules now can she? For oh yes, claustrophobia has come a-calling today and if I don’t leave the house while it is temporarily dry enough to do so, then I might just lose the very few marbles still rattling.
So a walk it is. Then home again, to order enough food to fill the almost empty fridge again with goodness. To watch Pokémon Concierge – the stop motion cartoon I didn’t know I needed because despite years and years of listening to Finn waffle about Pokémon I can barely fathom them, but Finn told me I would love this, and he is right: I do. It is gentle and nurturing, which is I think what January demands of us.
Pokemon Concierge. Rosehip tea. Writing. And the kind of jiggling to music that scares the wits out of the cat, but makes me feel alive with womanly wildness. 2024 you see is the year I intend to fully embrace my inner wild woman and to hell be damned anyone that doesn’t like it.
In need of restorative solitude. My solitude may not be quiet (Who said solitude has to be silent? Was it me?? I sing. Constantly.) but it is so very necessary for me to recover from the festivities and get my 2024 ducks in a row, for let it be known that my ducks are rather like Orla from Derry girls – liable to wander off, jam their hands over their ears or burst into a wild dance at any given point, and thus they need a little more coaxing to conform than most people’s ducks. Finley has gone back to his uni house as the return to lectures was spectacularly early this year and thus I find myself with the space and time to get a little Sergeant Major with both ducks and domesticity in order to help me make sense of all that is happening this year.
You see it would be so easy for me to start to feel overwhelmed by the year ahead. My lease on this house comes to an end in July, and I will need to move and I am terrified. I do not know why the things ordinary people take in their stride frighten me, but frighten me they do by wont of sheer logistics. The finding of a new place to live I will not hate. The packing of all our lives here. The ghosts I will be leaving behind. The moving itself and the falling in love with a new space. It feels scary and horrible and too much and I don’t know where to start and I want it to be exciting, I really do, but I need time to come to terms with it and to make it a reality in a mind that still has itself convinced that it is but the kind of misery I will wake up from. I will, I know I will. But for me, these things take time and I cannot do it without solitude.
Well heck, if it hasn’t been a rather excellent start to a literary year. You see I have taken it in to my head to read in the evening instead of dementing myself trying to find something to watch that doesn’t bore me, and it seems my bookish witching hours lie between eight and ten and I am hurtling through books faster than I am finishing off the biscuits in the obligatory festive tin. By the dozen and with a cup of milky tea! So there has been a very sweary fabulous adventure with Miriam Margoyles, a rather serious look at the state of our diets with Tim Spector, a dabble with the idea of Radical Contentment with Jamie Varon, and a fall into murder in Greenwich Park. There is neither rhyme nor reason to the way I read and I pick up books willy-nilly in tea breaks all day long, starting from the moment I open my eyes at silly early o’clock, because I was falling into the most awful habit of bringing myself into the day by way of social media and I don’t think it is healthy, so I have started picking up my Kindle instead of my phone and lo and behold I am filling my head with good things, (and imaginary dead people), instead of the kerfuffling muddle that is news and spoon-fed algorithm nonsense. Consider this a recommendation for your own peace of mind.
If only food wasn’t such a darn, relentless, issue. I am you see rather fickle in the eating department. I go through deep love affairs with certain food stuffs and then drop them like bad dates never to be given the time of day again. And so it is right now, when I am mostly eating whole heads of cauliflower, steamed and then doused in organic mayonnaise, crumbled stilton and bacon lardons, before air-frying into a sticky, blissful mess. I do love a cauliflower and will eat it anyway it comes, but like everything else, this too will pass and before you know it I will be living for anything else I can fit into my Renaissance Macros and the humble cauliflower will be dirt to me. I’m a food bitch.
Anyway yes. My next round of Renaissance 75/Thrive starts Monday and heaven knows I need to feel myself again. So I am adding my usual protein stuffed delights to my food order today, with just enough time left to give the treats left over their marching orders, preferably by way of the bin and not my stomach!
Oh, so much! This year I will not only be moving, but Brocantehome turns 20 and Finley will be 21! My two babies have survived me and the hurly burly that has been my life and both are now all grown up. I am frankly astonished. I mean I once nearly set the house on fire and there have been entire months when I have simply forgot to blog! So I’m not sure it could be entirely said with any real conviction that I am a pair of safe hands, but my son and my site have been the mainstays of my adult life and I am so very proud of both of them.
So my plans revolve around packing up the life I have had and celebrating what I have created in the midst of it. Around how to distinguish between what matters and what can be disregarded and in making sure that in the midst of my move I am making time to plan for that worthy of celebration. Without giving away any secrets, of course.
The shaking off of what feels like a lifetime of co-dependence, but is I think a kind of deep-rooted anxiety of the kind that simply needs to know at all times, instead: for once I know, I can get on with things. And getting on with things is my one ambition in this life, because I have got things to be getting on with on a list as long as my arm. Things I want to create. Things I want to be. Things I want to write. So many things I want to write! So yes, I am dreaming above all else of the kind of security that has always evaded me. Security of my own making in which I can rest my brain long enough to turn it to focusing on what matters in terms of a meaningful body of work, and an authentic way of life.
I usually share my wishlist of actual objects here. Things I want to buy should coffers allow. But right now I know I have enough and as downsizing is my main aim this year, adding to my burden by doing the kind of covering that turns into ownership would frankly be rather counterproductive. And honestly, I’m not sure how much I could persuade you to care about the kind of packing boxes and “Fragile” tape currently lurking on my Amazon wishlist.
So let’s say I am coveting empty drawers and the quick sale of the copious amount of furniture I currently own.
Ooh now. While I am drawing the line at coveting that I do not currently own, I do believe we would wither and fade away if we were not constantly fuelled by hope. And I do think a wish is simply hope dressed up like the most ethereal of dandelion heads don’t you? So I am wishing for a home that is me-sized. A place I can feel at home again in a way I don’t right now, because the walls are papered with our yesterdays. I want a blank space. Somewhere without too much outdoor space for I simply don’t have the time to manage it. Either somewhere very new or very old, but hopefully not too in-between, because my head cannot imagine got anything else. A place I go to view and recognise as a place I can be happy. And of course the financial wherewithal to make it happen without too much stress along the way.
Seasonal Alchemy. It really does feel magical to have my head turned to all that feels more esoteric and gently mystical than my usual doings. So I’m up to my eyes in lovely homemaking potions, conjuring up domestic spells and casting my magic wand over words designed to inspire you to have a truly magical year. And heckity-pie I am enjoying myself!
Bring on the Babycham, for today I am toasting the Christmas tree, almost but not quite, being down. For it is true that it is still standing in the living room wearing its angel and far too many fairy lights, but with its baubles now all safely tucked away, For yes, I am celebrating Christmas being over as I found it inordinately challenging this year, and even Finley quietly confessed that I quite forgot to do things as I usually do. So all herald January! I will try again next year Finn, I promise.
So the tree is naked and tomorrow I will take it down and lug it into the hall where it will wait until the prodigal child returns to pop it back in the loft and all shall be well, and all shall be well and all better had be well or else I will have to seriously consider banning Christmas altogether next year!
Everything. Always. Even the lessons I do not want to learn, the challenges I do not want to face alone. I know that sounds glib, but it is true. There is very little I regret in this life that has been of my own doing, for in even the sharpest and spikiest of turns I have allowed myself to unfurl when the time seemed right and launch myself into whatever is next, wiser, braver and more authentically me than I was before, no matter what cruelty might have been inflicted. And for that I am proud of myself, and grateful that time has not eroded my determination to live well regardless.
While the end of one year and the beginning of a new one will always have me reflecting on what has been lost, and all that I miss, I am grateful for all the little blessings: for my Dad whose morning counsel starts my day, for the book of poetry by the late Louise Gluck I am devouring each morning over an elevenses of frothy coffee and tangerines, for the velvet duvet so heavy I can barely move it in the dead of night, but for which I will always be grateful I blew the budget for, for Meep, always for Meep, as he is my familiar, my best little mate, my dog-cat and I have not known a cat so devoted to only me before. For pineapples in tins and bowls of homemade ice-cold tzatziki devour for breakfast, for the early dark nights I adore and the black mornings I am deliciously discombobulated by. For the fox I stood and watched in the back garden last night and for the Wildflower candle burning at my side right now. For all of it. For everything.
And finally tomorrow I will be…
Doing more of the kind of same that has defined this week. Wandering aimlessly around the house and slowly but surely getting clarity on all the must-be-dones. Getting my January Pep-Talkers set up for their first sessions next week, eating violet cremes (thank you Kath) and putting the very last of Christmas away, before settling down for the first lovely Friday night of the New Year, with all my candles lit, a cozy film and the yellow patchwork quilt I recently darned and laundered in lavender.
On my to-do list this month?
* Setting up the journal it always takes me most of January to fall into.
* Continuing ploughing my way through the first of the courses I am taking in 2024.
* Tackling the first of the rooms on my packing list: the room we call the “faraway” room here – the office I so frequently forget to use.
* Choosing the first collection of books of the 365 I intend to give to charity this year, for books can take over a person’s life don’t you know?
Happy January, Housekeepers!