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I came across this lovely Link-up hosted by Deb, Sue, Donna and Jo, to assess your word of the year each month, and see your progress with it. I liked the idea although I hadn’t planned to review my word of the year so frequently – but I think it’s a good thing to do because it helps you to stay focused on your goal(s) of the year.

And now a month has passed and the dull month of January is almost over. My word of the year is calm – to create calm in my life, and to do my best to react to things around me being calm. I chose this word because 2021 was defined by worry, anxiety and disappointments – most of these related to Covid, but not only. This year HAS to be better, and I can control some of it.

How have I been doing so far?

I’m getting there. To me, January has been more about plans and preparations than anything else! But choosing calm as my focus of the year has brought more awareness, and that’s the first step. I’ve learned a lot about myself which will help me to manage my own reactions, and help me to remain calm or not worry more than I really have to.

But then there’s the c word

Covid is still a major cause of worry (perhaps THE cause of worry) for me, and January started with the largest Covid wave we’ve seen so far. It turned out this wave would be milder (in terms of much fewer deaths and ICU cases) and shorter, but everything was so uncertain at the beginning, and the large numbers were scary. I knew it would be a difficult time so I made a plan to avoid news and social media and instead indulge in my creative activities. When the Tony Rice guitar class crossed my path, I saw it as the perfect distraction. I can’t fix the pandemic and the uncertainty but I can choose to not think about it all the time and to do good inspiring things instead. This has been my strategy throughout the pandemic, but maybe it was a more conscious decision this time.

“Poof! Virus gone from 6 am!” Or what?

Something I’ve not yet been able to manage well is the anxiety that comes with the easing of Covid restrictions when the virus still feels like a threat. Last weekend, suddenly all restrictions were removed in Ireland, all at once. So now the pubs can be absolutely packed as if Covid never existed. I feel very uneasy about this. The only rules left are mask-wearing in retail, public transport, medical settings and similar, and isolation when you have symptoms.

Don’t get me wrong, I want hospitality to be open, but I think it’s too early to remove ALL restrictions. I still feel at risk and have too little information to not worry about getting more than cold-like symptoms, so I won’t be going to pubs or similar. But people started talking about going back to in-person meetings with the camera club, and I thought of many other situations like music sessions and more, where I’d have to say no because it wouldn’t feel safe. As long as there is still a large number of infected people, or until information comes out that makes me feel the risk is absolutely minimal to become severely ill from Covid, I will continue to worry and I won’t be comfortable going to indoor events. But we’re planning to see small groups of friends, either in their house or ours.

Is this the new normal (I absolutely hate that expression)? Will there never be a new normal where I can feel safe? This was extremely anxiety-inducing and I had some awful days before we at least decided to continue on Zoom with the camera club. Regarding other activities, time will tell.

Thankfully, I have supportive and sensible people around me – my husband is a hero so what I can do to manage this is to talk about it, keep doing what makes me happy, and keep avoiding reading more news than necessary.

One day I’ll go back inside one of these places…but not yet.

Creating calm

I’m actively working on creating calm, in terms of a calm environment, decluttering my “shoulds” and my “have-to’s”, focusing on what matters most, and removing time thieves.

Blogging for the enjoyment only

When it comes to “shoulds”, after a stumbly time with blog plans before Christmas that eventually led to a total collapse with my interest in writing, I restarted this personal blog and decided to drop all other writing projects except the whiskey blog, even if I had told people I was going to do them. I still have my other domains and will use them if the inspiration comes back, but until then and even if it never happens, I’m 100% happy with only writing here and on the whiskey blog. I won’t put pressure on myself with blogging again, because it’s supposed to be fun and I’m determined to reclaim the fun with blogging.

Decluttering

Decluttering the house to create a cleaner, tidier home is a big thing for me in order to create calm. I’ve been working on this for periods. Now the next step is to fix up my home office which also serves as a storage area. We first wanted to build something ourselves but then I decided to get a desk and some Kallax pieces from IKEA to simplify everything. I think it will look very nice and finally I’ll get my computer away from the window.

In addition, my husband finally has expressed interest in getting rid of everything we don’t really use or that really matters. This is like a pretty fiddle tune to my ears! 😃 Decluttering is a work in progress and now when I’m not alone in it, there is more hope.

Focusing on one thing at a time

I always try to do too much at the same time. I mentioned it here, and it’s a major cause of my stress problem. With joining the guitar class, I decided to take a break from everything else and only focus on the guitar while the course lasts. It’s been a wonderful decision! I wasn’t making any money yet with my design anyway, and nothing bad will happen because I let it rest for a few weeks. Instead, it’s enabled me to relax, and focus enough to get results from my guitar practice and to build some confidence. I’ll try to make a plan for how to organise work in a similar way when I get back to it.

Planning for more time to enjoy my photography

Camera club chores

I’ve been the competition administrator in the camera club since the autumn (I think?) of 2020. It’s given me a lot of positives but also a lot of stress because I’m a perfectionist and too worried about making mistakes. From June, I’m stepping down from that role. I’m happy to have done this job for a while, but now I need to leave it to someone else and make more time to enjoy my own photography.

What else?

Well, spring is coming soon! The 1st of February is St Brigid’s day which is, according to the ancient Irish tradition, considered the first day of spring. And even the weather doesn’t necessarily follow it, it gives me a nice feeling to call it spring in February.

We had some lovely mild days this week. I’ve been strolling in the garden and founds lots of buds and bulbs coming up. On Thursday my camera club friend came over for coffee and chat in the garden. Definitely NOT the last time we do that!

January has certainly been mostly about planning, thinking, and understanding myself better. But I feel happy about it, and I think I have some good things going on.


This post is also linked with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share.

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Comments:

  • 29th January 2022

    What a lovely update Susanne, thanks for joining us and mentioning our link party. Your word of calm is a lovely one and you have made a great start by the sounds of things. You’ve made changes to your lifestyle and that is certainly going to help I would say. I understand the problems of easing restrictions, we are in a similar situation here in Australia and cases have gone through the roof as a result. It’s a constant source of worry! All the best to you and hopefully spring will be upon you very soon.

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  • 29th January 2022

    Calm is a wonderful state of mind to achieve. Many of us could benefit to focus on that. Decluttering my home, and not having too many things really helps me to stay calm. I live by the “one in, one out” rule. If I determine that I really need something (clothes/furniture/books/crafting material etc.), I have to get rid of something first, in order to allow myself to purchase the new thing. It works for me. Stay safe and keep enjoying that guitar of yours! Thank you for the coffee!

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  • 29th January 2022

    Great post Susanne. Thank you for sharing.

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  • 29th January 2022

    Hi, Susanne – This post deeply resonanted with me. So many things that your wrote feel the exact same for me. My WOTY is quite similar to yours (peace). I agree that its power so far has been in creating awareness. I also have no idea what to believe about Omnicron so have been avoiding ews and social nmedia on this topic. In another startling similiarity, my ‘let’s-just- keep-it-incase’ husband has announced (twice) that he is happy to begin some decluttering. Hallelujia!
    BTW – Your opening photo is stunning and brilliantly whispers ‘calm.’

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  • 29th January 2022

    Calm is an excellent word to pick especially at these times. I would be like you about going out to crowded places. Here we have vaccine passports to go to a restaurant or cinema, so at least you know at the moment that people around you have some protection, but if that was lifted I don’t know how I would feel. Enjoy the month ahead!

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  • 29th January 2022

    It does take time to feel comfortable and safe as restrictions are eased. I never understood how opening bars or pubs wide open is supposed to be safer than other indoor gatherings. I think it is a business decision more than anything. I would be very happy too if my husband said he was ready to get rid of a lot of stuff that is now taking up a lot of room in our garage. Good idea not to over commit yourself and take things one at a time and write for your own enjoyment.

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  • 29th January 2022

    Hi Susanne, Calm is an excellent WOTY and you’ve got several good ways to achieve calmness. Over here and at time of writing, we still have public health restrictions, vaccine passports and mask mandate in indoor public spaces. I choose not to go into crowded places while covid infection rate, hospitalizations and deaths are still high. I have many other ways to enjoy life. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

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  • 29th January 2022

    Hello Susanne and I felt calm reading your post. Calm is a word that when you say it to yourself it actually makes you feel that way. I agree about being hesitant to get out and about again. My husband and I have been laying low even though we recently had our booster shots. The daily numbers here have been rising so we don’t put ourselves into situations that we don’t need to be in as a safety precaution. Thank you for joining us at our first 2022 Word of the Year Link Party and I look forward to reading about your ‘Calm’ February next month. Take care xx

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  • 30th January 2022

    Hi Susanne – I think you’re doing exceptionally well to maintain your calmness in a time of uncertainty and anxiety. We’re just beginning our journey into covid here in Western Australia and mask wearing has begun everywhere over the last few weeks. Not my favourite thing but it’s that “new normal” along with all the other precautions. I’m so tired of it all, but I guess we just need to learn to live with it and with the fear that many feel – and dealing with it in a way that best suits our personality. Hang in there!

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  • 30th January 2022

    Hi Susanne,
    Your thoughts today mirror my own in many ways.
    Going into our most recent full election cycle, 2+ years ago, I was overwhelmed with reasons to hate so many people. It came to a head with that election and all the fraud that we know was committed and supported even by our courts.
    I though my head was going to explode.
    Instead I disconnected and reconnected only to try and have some idea of what covid was and what it was doing, only to be lied to again as people were indeed dying of it, but the numbers we were given by our leader was shown to my satisfaction to include people who died from accident, heart conditions or something else completely unrelated while those same numbers were used to justify many of the shutdowns and restrictions which cost so many people their jobs and sometimes their companies.
    It was all so unfair and unnecessary, again I feared for another stress-induced head explosion.
    Again, I had to disconnect in self-defense. Me, the guy who used to be a world-wide news junkie and often was able to tell peers at work what was happening back in their home countries.
    Not any more. In pursuit of personal peace, I have changed and restricted my focus on things that I have some control over, like writing and blogging for pleasure.
    I’m not empowered to change any of the media nonsense out there, nor do I have any control over our politics or public policy.
    I do have some limited influence via our elections, but I live in California and the sanctity of our elections have dropped to 3rd world banana republic quality and thus no one and rarely anything I vote for succeeds.
    Sigh.
    I am a Christian, so believe that God remains in control. I just regret that what I do see happening around us is starting to look a lot like what the end times is supposed to look like.
    I just wish it weren’t so and that our lives could include both public engagement and things that give us personal peace and calm.
    Like you. I can only do the latter and enjoy those rare times when I happen across someone of similar mindset.
    Thanks for speaking some of my mind above.

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  • 30th January 2022

    It sounds like you’ve taken some good steps toward a calmer life, Susanne, like focusing on one thing at a time and decluttering. Those are both big stress reducers for me. I understand your COVID worries. We have had a surge here too that now seems to be coming back down. I just wish more people would exercise caution, so we could all enjoy the shared spaces, but as long as they don’t, I’ll avoid most indoor attractions as well. I really miss my gym. They are practicing good sanitation and air filtering, but I worry about all the people breathing heavy without masks. I’m weighing what’s best overall for my physical and mental health.

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  • 31st January 2022

    I hear you re the uncertainty and vague levels of anxiety re the relaxing of restrictions. For most of the pandemic here in Queensland we’ve had a zero policy & it seems counter intuitive that now we have thousands of cases a day everything (other than mask wearing) has been relaxed. I guess though with vax rates as they are we need to learn to accept and live with the new normal. The uncertainty is, however, constant – and absolutely not conducive to calmness. Decluttering, however, is. Thanks for linking up – it’s great to see you here.

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  • Joanne

    1st February 2022

    It sounds like you are doing a lot to cultivate a sense of calm. I find photography, crafting, and other “slow” activities help me focus on what I am doing and not what I am thinking as that often leads to anxiety and stress.

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  • 15th February 2022

    Susanne, I love the idea of reviewing your word of the year every month, to see where and when it showed up. I also appreciate how you explore how things worked (or, didn’t) and what you want to change moving forward. While you are focused – obviously – on creating *calm*, I am trying to figure out how to show courage each month. I’m hoping to have an area of focus for each month… or perhaps more than one, if it’s a biggie.

    So, January was spent figuring out how I wanted to use my word throughout the year. Now that we’re in mid (sigh) February, I have an idea of what I want to do first. I’ll be blogging about it soon… probably not tomorrow but hopefully later this week! I will likely approach courage in one way for both February and March, and then shift my focus in April. I hope.

    I hope that things are calmer, that the decluttering is progressing (yay!) and that you are feeling more settled and at peace as we hurtle towards spring (also yay!).

    Take care

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