This post first appeared on 11th January 2016 on Tuk-tuks, chicken bouquets and bicycle bells @ kerrytolsontravels.com
Today I resumed a project that I'd started back in 2012 - renovating my office. I decided we needed to get stuck into it when I read an article in The Guardian about 'False Hope Syndrome' and I began to wonder if I was suffering from it (when one makes a new year’s resolution to better themselves and then gives up a week later). Yes, this was definitely me. I'd made a NY’s resolution to renovate my office back in 2012, when I was watching fireworks explode over the yatch club at Hamilton Island. The moment I stepped back into my house less than a week later, I had started stripping the paint off the banisters leading up to my office. And that's as far as I got. Four years down the track we're still living with half stripped railings and banisters and carpet ripped up off the stairs exposing bare, unpolished steps covered in paint splotches.
It not even that much of a major job, it’s not like we're going to move walls... well ok we've got a small wall to change so that a pair of 100year old French doors can go in ... or do any major building works, though there are plans for a wall-to-wall-floor-to-ceiling bookcase to be installed. No it'll be pretty easy stuff to do such as ripping up the carpet and laying floorboards that we got for free - compliments of a lovely young couple who were modernising a 1890's workers cottage and were skip-binning those dented old bits of wood - and finally putting up the lights we brought and carted all over Turkey, paid a small fortune in excess luggage to bring back and then to have rewired and have ever since sat reboxed in the linen cupboard taking up room while the towels sit in the corner of our bedroom on one of the dining chairs.
So as I cajoled Mal into swinging the hammer and supervised the installation of sliding tracks for the storage door.... did I mention that I wanted to move the inbuilt cupboard from one end of the room to the other...? and I set up a temporary office on my verandah, I thought about how I would renovate my life for the better. I'm not normally one for making new year’s resolutions - I couldn't think of anything more boring than giving up wine or dieting - bugger that! there's no way I'm giving up croissants or New Zealand South Island sauv blanc for anyone . . . not even me. so this is the list I came up with . . .
Give up ironing underpants
If this was a gold medal sport, I'd be a serious contender - as a writer, I'm a world class procrastinator. Even writing this has seen me doing lots of everything else except write – I’ve pulled staples out of boards, cleaned the bathroom plug and walked up to the shop to buy an onion and lettuce, even though I don’t need either for dinner tonight and I’ve been for two walks already today But this year I’m going to try my hardest to wring out 1000 words every day. It’s not that I don’t know what to write about, I've still got to finish the blogposts for the Bhutan trip, then Nepal and Singapore, and I’m 20,000words into a new manuscript on traipsing through Bali and toying with the idea of a historical memoir - the stories are there, I just need to 'get out of my way' and tap them out.
Drink More Coffee.
... that is, drink more HOT coffee with OTHER people. I spend a lot of time spitting out cold coffee as I tap away in my little writing cave (or ironing undies) or when I'm at my business' office shuffling through invoices I'd like to set fire to. As both activities are best done in solitude - especially when mumbling expletives over the bills - I don't catch up with my wonderful friends as often as I'd like. I'm so blessed to have such forgiving friends who understand I'm not really an anti-social hermit, just a self-absorbed dreamer - these are the same beautiful people who read and re-read and then will re-read again my manuscript and smile supportively as I babble on about my anaphora infliction or bore them to near death with my travel pics. They are always there for me, rain hail and shine with a happy smile and joyful hug. Making sure I keep to this 'resolution’ I pick up the phone and organise a coffee date for this week with the fabulous Jan Pearson - fellow writer and author of Red Bird Summer and Tiger Autumn.
Read more books
like all writers, I'm a reader, and like most writers, I struggle to find the time to read and the book pile keeps growing and growing. Last week I took a peek at the titles sitting on the table waiting for me to crack the spine of and decided to sign up for the Goodreads 2016 reading challenge. My goal for this year is - 30 books. I have to admit, I’m wondering if I should have picked a smaller number like 10, but when I think that I easily read 15 books last year, I thought why not double it. It’s a diverse list, with a mixture of fiction and non, many are authors I saw at last year’s Byron Bay Writers Festival and whose books I brought and stacked on the floor waiting - beside my overstuffed bookcases - while I read through the previous year’s festival buys. First book off the pile is Di Morrissey's – Tears of the Moon. The size of a cheese platter, it's light and fluffy, but absolutely perfect as the years starter as it combines my side interest of digging around the family tree with travel, more importantly, this year’s travel destination for me – Broome. After that I'll pop on my green boots and go find some ‘Optimism’ with Bob Brown.
Write more thank you notes.
A few years back I read a wonderful little book called '365 Thank yous' by John Kralik – at the risk of sounding so clichéd – this was a book that literally changed my life, it made me reassess how I felt gratitude and what made me feel blessed. I’ve always written thank you cards when I’ve received a gift or someone has done something nice for me, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I realised why I felt such gratitude. Thanking others makes me feel blessed to have such lovely people in my life and how appreciative I am because of what others might have done for me. These days’ hand written thank yous are becoming scarce as email and texting is more the norm, then last week I received a beautiful handwritten letter from a person I didn’t know but felt very grateful to have made happy. She had read my book and it reminded her of her own trip to Nepal. After receiving this letter, I floated on a cloud of warm-fuzzys for the next couple of days – not because she had read MY book, but because I’d brought back to her some wonderful memories of a trip she had done with family – incredibly precious memories.
Catch lots more butterfly kisses.
This won’t be such a hard goal at all to keep - this year…or any other year. Those soft little hugs and butterfly kisses from my little grandbabies lighten my day and paint joy in my heart, and will make this year an incredible delight.
Ah yes, I think these ‘resolutions’ will be achievable and if not, well I’m not going to stress too much about sinking into the depths of ‘false hope syndrome’, just as long as my office is ready in the next couple of weeks …..
No more ironing underpants