I took the Christmas tree down this morning. Cut the wreath off the door, packed away the decorations for another year, then lugged the tree to the back door almost breaking something in the process.
I always find this annual tradition mildly depressing, like most people I suppose – but being a self-confessed Neat Freak I do quite enjoy hoovering up all those pesky pine needles afterwards.
And yes of course you don’t have to tell me I should get out more – I’ve got two children under five and several hundred pounds of leftover festive chocolate taunting me!
Anyway that aside, at this time of year, once Christmas, New Year and my birthday are behind us, although I hate the cold, dark mornings that will hang around for several more months, I do like pretending that I’m going to turn over several new leaves.
I always like to order a fitness video that I’ll use, ooh at least three times. This year it’s a Bollywood dance one.
I like to chat about converting to a healthier, leaner, more carb-free diet and cooking everything from scratch. Tonight I’m making stir fry, but don’t worry normal service and ready meals at least a couple of nights a week should be back on the menu by the weekend.
I like to ponder over which new hobby I should take up. Should it be running I wonder, perhaps tennis or photography? Or will it actually be sitting on my arse desperately trying to read more than a couple of pages of the books I got for Christmas – who can tell.
Anyway one thing I am definitely going to try and stick to in 2016 is feeling less guilty about things I can’t change/ haven’t done but should/ will never realistically get around to.
As a mum I really do think it’s ingrained in us to beat ourselves up mentally on a daily basis about anything, everything and the frankly ridiculous and it’s exhausting!
In just the past few days since the new year dawned I’ve had a sleepless night over all the things I’m ‘not doing’ with my career, felt terrible about how much more I could be helping out at Mini-me’s school and also how I should be helping Blue-eyed boy to socialise more and become less shy.
Whenever I think about work stuff in particular it’s always in the context of comparing myself unfavourably to others with freelance writing careers. I stew over areas that I haven’t managed to break into yet, rather than patting myself on the back for things that I have achieved.
In the last six months of last year for example I completed a non-fiction writing course, wrote a book pitch and first chapter on a subject I’ve been passionate about for half a decade and submitted it to a publisher.
I started taking on PR clients based purely on a little bit of email and social media networking and expanding this area of my business.
I held down two regular writing gigs and pitched and published various other features with half the amount of childcare I used to have.
But most often I can be found lamenting all the other things I should (at least inside my scrambled brain) be doing – such as finishing a novel, taking on loads of new copywriting clients, pitching a weekly column etc. etc. etc.
And of course this isn’t just limited to me. Every mum I know, whether full-time parent, full-time employee or small business owner, plays the ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ game frequently.
All of which brings me in a round-about sort of fashion to the late, great Nora Ephron.
Nora penned my two favourite film of all time, Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, and she also worked as a journalist, food writer, movie director, playwright, blogger, novelist, and probably many other things as well.
She also had brilliant pearls of advice to offer such as: ‘Everything is copy’, and: ‘Be the heroine of your life not the victim.’
So when I’m next feeling down on myself I’m going to pick up the book of some of her works hubby bought for my birthday and try and big up what I have achieved a little bit more.
Without getting too pretentious, writer and journalist India Knight has described Nora as the ‘imaginary fairy godmother of all women who choose to make a living by the pen and their wits,’ and I’d like to think that’s me.
And that’s a pretty lucky thing to be able to say – whether I balance the books or not!