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What is it about the early days of January which invoke such a sense of optimism and hope?
I am resolved – nay, I am certain – that 2015 will bring a much greater sense of order and balance to my home. Papers, crafty bits, recipes will be neatly filed. Files will be efficiently arranged (like in an Ikea study) and beautiful (like in a Paperchase window display). Shelves and cupboards will be tidy, ordered, labelled. There will be a sense of agenda to every nook and cranny in the house. Just like this:
…the rest of the house (i.e. all space apart from the above square metre) currently resembles a rather shambolic warehouse, where space is being contested by the toy department at John Lewis and around fifty-six different confectionery retailers.
It seems that the more I put away, the more appears. Despite aiming for a ‘one-in, one-out’ rule with Christmas presents this year, the charity shop bag still feels puny. I am a hoarder, a mess maker, a creative spirit, an over-busy mum…yet there is something about turning the calendar over to ‘January’ which makes me feel that my foibles simply don’t exist anymore.
Within a week or two, however, I start to become more realistic, and turn my attention to happier, kinder resolutions. Two years ago, for example, I resolved to celebrate more. Last year, I released myself from irrational guilt. I didn’t blog very much about this, predominantly because the guilt was shed in situations which would be too small, insignificant and dull to write about for a public audience. But I noticed. Perhaps, more importantly, I recognised some of the (often positive) influences in my life which induce guilty feelings about this, that or the other – none of which is, by Biblical standards, wrong. For example, where do I get my guilt about shopping at Tesco or Amazon? Purely by exposing myself to conversations, articles or research highlighting the ways in which large companies exploit others. It is good to expose myself to these things – they are good influences in my life. But when they go beyond simply informing my decision making and start making me feel bad for every single time I weigh up the various conflicting factors involved in shopping (time, money, dragging the kids around the shops, etc) – then that is not good. So, for me, 2014 was a year of working out that sort of stuff. It wouldn’t have made great reading, which is why I didn’t expose you to it, but trust me that it changed (and is changing) me.
So…celebration, shedding the guilt…and for 2015, it’s all about books…and books, I feel, are a much more realistic (and long-lasting) resolution than home perfection. There are two challenges, and this is the first:
I’ve read very little during adulthood, particularly since having the kids, even though I love reading. I’m a slow reader, and don’t seem to be able to make time for relaxing with a book. In 2014, however, I finished seven books. SEVEN! Now, this doesn’t sound very much to those of you who get through a book a week, but to a tortoise-reader like me, it’s something to feel proud of. Here are three of the seven (the others have been lent out to friends – surely the best recommendation of a book?!):
My challenge for 2015 is to aim to read twelve books, one a month, which I will of course review on this blog, recommending if I feel strongly that it’s something you’d love. There might even be another giveaway or two. And this is where you come in…
Which ONE book would you like me to read during 2015? It has to be something which you’ve enjoyed – nay, which has changed your life: let’s set the bar high! And it has to be fairly easy to get into. No heavy theological tomes, please, or political biographies. Life-stories of 18-year-old reality TV stars are welcome. I would LOVE to hear your suggestions in the comments section below, or via Facebook or any other way you know of communicating with me. But you can each only recommend ONE book – so make it a good ‘un!
The second challenge follows tomorrow…
Happy new year, fellow desert-wanderers!