West Cork

Calm in November

Hi everyone! You probably notice that I’m back on my old domain. This doesn’t mean I’ve closed my photo blog – it only means that lots of stressful things are behind me and that I want to write again, and that I have something to write about that is interesting! If you’ve been to my photography blog, you know that I’ve already written quite a bit during the autumn, about my knee injury, running, and related things. Since I want to keep that as a photography-focused blog, I’m reopening this one to continue to share my progress with training, fitness, habits, reaching goals, and more! On the photo blog I’m continue to share my photos, thoughts related to photography, and places in Ireland.

Please note that this blog is a work in progress, design-wise. I’ve built the theme with the WordPress full site editing feature, it’s still beta and I have no idea what I haven’t thought of… so please bear with me!

It’s the last Thursday of the month, which means I’m joining the link-up for the word of the year. I haven’t joined every month, but thought I would give it a try this month because I have lots to share!

My word of the year posts haven’t really fit anywhere lately, so I haven’t saved the old posts – I apologise if I’m repeating a few things, I’ll try to do it briefly. This blog will be a good place to save them, so I’ll keep them up from now on.

The calm project

2021 was a difficult year for me, coming from the hopeless 2020 with lots of hope for better times, but I went from hope to despair and I really struggled to find meaning with things or to see a future. During 2021, I suffered from anxiety and various other stress-related issues.

For 2022 I was inspired by Deb to choose a focus/word of the year, and chose CALM. I needed to learn to react to bad events in a healthy manner, create calm in my own life, and worry less about things I can’t control.

CALM for me means

That every moment of life can’t be calm, because we live in an imperfect world, BUT

  • I can learn to react to the stresses of life with calm, AND
  • …not worry unless there’s something real to worry about
  • …focus on the good things in life and what I can control
  • …declutter my “have to’s” and remove things from my life that cause stress, where possible.

November meant finishing projects

October and the beginning of November was a stressful time, with lots of work on my exam projects for my graphic design course, while I also had to do a magazine layout project at the same time. I’ve been doing this since 2015. It’s for my former church in Sweden, and it’s been enjoyable and helped me keep my InDesign skills fresh and also to keep in touch with the people over there, but over time it’s become too much of a burden and has mostly caused stress. In addition to that, now I need to spend that time on projects that can potentially give me an income.

At the start of this year, I already knew that creating calm, in terms of decluttering the calendar, wouldn’t be fully achievable until the end of the year, because so much of it consisted in finishing projects. The layout project is a year-to-year commitment, and I couldn’t just quit in the middle of the year. I could only decide to resign from it but still had to continue the work until November.

Now my last magazine is being printed, and it feels great! Actually the whole committee was quite worn out after doing this for so many years, and when I sent the e-mail that I would quit, many expressed that they would m be leaving too. Probably nobody will take over the work, but that’s ok, we’re all happy with the work we’ve done over the years, and perhaps there isn’t a lot more to cover anyway.

A new beginning

I’ve finished my studies (or at least the exams) and the big layout project is behind me. So what now?

November 2022 is the start of something new. To begin with, it will be about learning to relax and allow myself to have free time for real. It feels strange! Evenings when I can do what I want without guilt? Feels weird, but fabulous! I can even get back to reading books eventually!

Now is also the time to create a good, normal routine. I had been making plans for this during the autumn, mostly when it comes to exercise but it’s also relevant to work and music.

The first step was to add another day of strength training in the week, so I now go to the gym Tuesdays and Fridays, and I’m in the office in town those days. Being around people does wonders for my mental health. I love working from home, but I really need to be in town and around people more often than I’ve been in the last 2-3 years. I want to be more a part of the local community! The people in our Friday music session are fabulous, but the daytime everyday life in our lovely little town is there to enjoy too. And what better time is there to be around town than the time leading up to Christmas?

Now after this last graphic design course, I’ve come closer to the new career I’ve been hoping for, and can start some actual work, not only practice and studies! The autumn with its many challenges has given me a kick in the butt, a different mindset. I’m more driven and determined, to get things done to get to where I want to be, to not quit, not let self-doubt decide what I do, and to challenge myself. I’ve described some of it in this post. And this attitude gives a sense of purpose… and calm.

Do you have a word or focus of the year? How are you doing with it?

I’m joining the Word of the year link-up with Deb, Jo, Sue, and Donna.


16 responses to “Calm in November”

  1. Retirement Reflections avatar

    Hi, Susanne – Congratulations on completing your Graphic Design exams. That’s a wonderful accomplishment. I was delighted to read that November has been a new beginning for you and that you have been allowing yourself free time and learning how to relax. That is an important lesson for all of us. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing this!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thank you! This was definitely a milestone to reach and it feels good even though I don’t know the results yet. Half of this month was tough but I knew it would soon be over and now I’m looking forward to the next steps both in career and otherwise.

  2. Joanne Tracey avatar

    Congratulations on finishing your course – it must be so exciting to know that you can now put what you’ve learnt into income producing practice. I also know that sigh of relief when you walk away from something too. Here’s to new steps and calm in December.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks, Joanne! It feels good, and I’m sure December will be a good month.

  3. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 avatar

    Hi Susanne, it is wonderful that life has started to balance out and I agree having a separate blog for personal and one more for your projects is a great choice. Congratulations on finishing your course and yes all that time you will have on your hands will be a treat for sure. You do sound calm and excited in your post and that is wonderful to read. Bring on 2023 with exciting things for you. Thanks for joining WOTY and I hope you can continue next year when you can. We are changing it up a bit so look for the post in early December. xx

    1. Susanne avatar

      Hi Sue, you’re right, I feel calm and excited about what lies ahead. I’ll spend this time now to settle down, relax and get back to a normal routine, work on my business, relax in the evening, play more music, continue training, walking and more. I intend to join you next year again and I’m curious to see what new twist you’ll have!

  4. Jennifer Jones avatar

    Congratulations on completing your course. That’s something you don’t need to stress about now. I’m pleased for you that you have a more even balance in your life now. I love strength training and always feel out of kilter when I haven’t done it, which has been quite often this year. My plan is to get serious about it in 2023, and prioritise my weights sessions. I enjoyed reading about your month.

    1. Susanne avatar

      That’s great that you’re planning to come back to strength training. I couldn’t be without it now! And yes, I’m absolutely delighted about getting more balance in life and creating a good normal.

  5. Denyse Whelan avatar

    Well look at you! Going well indeed. Congratulations on the success …completing a course can be a challenge and you did it.

    Looking forward to reading more as this year unfolds into 2023 …and being connected via our blogs.

    Take care,


    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks Denyse! Yes, the end of this year and going into 2023 will be interesting indeed. Now this Christmas season will be all about relaxing, enjoying life, and creating habits. I’m looking forward to that.

  6. Suzanne avatar

    Hi Susanne! I am here from Jenny’s blog and really appreciate learning about your experiences and your word of the year. I love that you noted up front that it is not always possible for the world to be calm, but we can be calm in our approach.

    I chose a word of the year for the second time and have really enjoyed doing so — especially the thought process of picking a meaningful word.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Hi Suzanne, nice to have you here! I’ve enjoyed having a word of the year, and it’s been very helpful to get me back on track. I’ll choose a new one now for 2023 and have dome ideas, not easy this time! Thanks for visiting!

  7. Debbie Harris avatar

    Well done Susanne, you’ve had a lot going on and hopefully your WOTY of Calm has helped in some way. Finishing your course is a huge achievement, so congrats!

    I’m so pleased you chose a WOTY on some inspiration from me 🙂 that’s made me very happy. Thanks for joining in with our linkup and we’ll be continuing next year so would love to have you again. I’ve already chosen my word for 2023, or should I say it chose me!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Hi Debbie! Yes, it was your approach to BOLD and your regular updates about it that inspired me to choose a word of the year. I had seen other people chose a word of the year but nobody who followed up and stayed focused like you did. I think I can say that the word calm chose me, after the chaotic year I had in 2021. I’ll definitely join you next year again, I have a few ideas for the 2023 WOTY, not easy to decide this time so we will see!

  8. Anne avatar

    I really appreciate this update – as I’ve had challenges with living by my word, which was courage. I am pondering what to do for next year – and thinking about how I can be intentional about how I approach life, and how a word/phrase might help me achieve that. I like the idea of designated check-ins, but for me, I’d need weekly or daily prompts to reflect on how I’m doing/being/seeking whatever my word represents…
    Anyway! I am so happy to know the course is DONE and I’m very excited about your business. Can’t wait to see what you do there.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I can see how courage can be a difficult word and that you’d need to define it to be able to implement it in your life. Calm was hard, but not too hard and I’m glad I chose it.
      I think weekly prompts is a good idea! Perhaps write them out for yourself in advance, once you’ve chosen your next word of the year?
      My business will probably be two parts – one is an online shop (or more, in the future) where I sell designs printed on merch, and the other one is my main business where I offer design services. I’m very nervous about the latter, so I’ll do my shop first and make some dummy projects for a portfolio. Perhaps join a logo challenge for practice.

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