What happened to those New Year’s resolutions? Part I

January is almost over, so I guess it is a good time to have another look at those resolutions I cooked up in December for this year. (At least now I still remember them.) Let’s see what has happened to them so far.

Item one was to improve on healthy life-style: more yoga, more running, less sweets.

I am trying to kick the habit of devouring everything sweet in sight – a habit that logically derived from all those Christmas cookies and chocolates that found their way into our house in December. So, when the boys are in bed, instead of searching the cupboard for a piece of chocolate, I make myself some tea. Later in the evening I munch an apple or a pear, sometimes with a bit of yoghurt. So far this is working quite well. (What really helps: I just don’t buy the stuff at the moment!) In case you are wondering, I am not striving to loose some kilos (I had gained a bit during the holidays, but that has already disappeared again – I am very lucky in that respect), I just realised that sugar has become too much of a craving. If you go through the kitchen drawers searching for something sweet just because you did it yesterday and the day before and the day before, it is definitely time to stop in your tracks. As I said, so far it is working. (I am not trying to give up sweets or chocolate completely in the end, just want to get back to a normal relationship with them. 😉 )

So far, so good. What about sports then? Yes and no. Yes to taking up my regular twice-a-week-practice of yoga, which is rather easy because the lovely yoga studio next door opened again after the holidays. (When I say “next door”, I really mean it, literally. So no excuses for me.) The first time after my two weeks pause (it felt longer!) was hard. That’s what you get from hanging on the couch every evening during the holidays, books and laptop on your knees (eating cookies). I felt as flexible as a piece of wood (not willow!) and as strong as overcooked spaghetti. But after a couple of times of suffering it is getting better and the backache I had cultivated (couch!) is slowly receding. (Isn’t it funny: a few days of sloppy sitting are good for three weeks of pain… ok, probably it was 10 days of sloppy sitting… but the first week it did not hurt… then it took me three more days to figure out why it was hurting… not smart, I know.)

As for the running: no. I am afraid I have never been more than a good-weather-runner, and an infrequent one. So no way I am going to start in this miserable, wet and windy weather we have got at the moment. I guess I just have to postpone this part of my resolution until springtime.

And when I am already at postponing anyway, I can postpone the rest of my self-reflection too. So far it does not look too bad: two out of three…. before I ruin my statistic, I will quit for today.

How are your resolutions coming to life so far? Or did you decide to not have any this year? That is a valid choice too! 😉

Good night.

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Choosing not to judge – a tribute to Elias Canetti

I have no idea how known the author Elias Canetti is in the English-speaking world, although he was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature in 1981. Born in Bulgaria 1905, he moved to London as a child, later to Vienna, Zürich, Frankfurt and back to Vienna. 1938 he moved back to London, away from the Nazis, where he stayed until the 1970s. He then moved to Zürich, where he lived until his death in 1994. (For more details, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elias_Canetti)

Why am I mentioning him now? I came across his works during my study years, when I started reading his autobiography and later almost all of his books. In “Crowds and Power” a lot of his thoughts circle around the giving and receiving of orders and what these orders do to the people giving and the people receiving them. He also writes a lot about judgments. About how we are constantly judging people, how delivering these judgments can grow to become an addiction, giving us a feeling of control and power. And how unfair and unkind these judgements very often are.

I had not thought much about Canetti for the last years, but recently his ideas keep coming back to me, being reflected in my daily life. How relentless we judge over people, sometimes without knowing them at all. We think one look and one isolated situation give us enough insight to be able to decide what kind of person they are. We stick labels on people faster than we realise but we are not so ready to change them. These labels tend to stick there and it would need some major revelation to alter our minds.

But the feeling of control that one gets from this is not the type I really want to have. I try to find more control over myself, over my own little silly thoughts and worries and angers. So why do I still stick labels on people so quickly? It isn’t a nice habit.

So the choice of the month, you could say my January resolution, is to try to judge less. Be more gentle to people in my mind. When they annoy me, give them the benefit of doubt. There could be a valid reason for their behaviour. If they just cross my way and disappear, let it be. If I have to interact with them more often, try to keep an open mind about them. Maybe even try to find out who they really are. Who knows, I might be in for some surprises. 😉

(And thanks Elias Canetti, for reminding me.)

Stitches and Scars

First of all: the last week did not work out very well creativity-wise. I had thought that with the boys being back at school, I could start doing my stuff again. Not really. The house screamed, “Tidy me!!” in a very loud voice, and being me, I cannot sit at my computer and write while someone is screaming. So I started clearing away the Christmas mess (not speaking of the Christmas tree itself), the toys that had accumulated in the living room, the washing that had piled up in the washing basket… that sort of stuff. At the beginning of the week I still thought that if I worked really hard I could squeeze in some creativity days – but at point I just decided to let go and work my way through the house with a relaxed mind instead.

So now I am finally surfacing again.

What also happened last week (and here I am arriving at my point at last) is that our older one has had his first stitches. We got a call from school that he had slipped in classroom (due to some wetness on the floor and probably a decent amount of silly behaviour) and hit the corner of a table with his chin. Ouch. When I arrived he was sitting there with a big plaster on his chin and a very pale face. I took a look, and although the blood was not streaming out any more, to me it seemed to be a bit more than his usual scratches. So off we went to the doctor, who first thought it could be glued together (yes! I thought, no needles, we got lucky), but after a closer look decided it was too deep. In the end it needed four stitches. My brave boy carried himself very manly, not flinching at the needle from the anaesthetic, not flinching at the stitches themselves. I could see he was concentrating.

When we got out I fed him some sugary candy and praised him a lot.  The rest of the day he was quiet, but ok, only complaining a little that chewing hurt (luckily we had soup for dinner). He needed some extra cuddling and talking time when going to bed though. We talked about the stitches his dad had when he was a boy (being hit by a croquet mallet on the forehead once!). I told him the stitches would come out after a week (he was satisfied with that). 

Since then we have applied various plasters to prevent chafing. He is all up and bouncy again and the stitches will go out tomorrow.

Two things are still on my mind tough.

One: I am surprised how calm we both stayed, my boy and me. I would have thought at least one of us would be freaking out. Granted, according to the teacher he was quite shocked at first, but he handled the whole stitching up part really well. I am very proud. As for myself I felt quite calm during the whole thing, very sure that everything would go well. Although one has to say that his teacher got the really hard part – administering first aid, mopping up the blood (“5 tissues, mum!” he told me later, quite impressed).

Two: It is funny how everyone reacts. When hearing of the stitches almost everyone says: “Oh, he is a man! It will look interesting on him.” Isn’t that funny? Even more so that I think along the same lines. I mean, chances are that there will be a small scar remaining, but it will be under his chin, which is not your most visible part of the face anyway… and yes, he is a boy. Boys are allowed to have a (small?) scar and are still considered cute. I mean, is good that it is that way, but what if he was a girl? Would they then say, “Oh, what a shame, she was so pretty before” or what? What kind of crazy difference does gender make here? But as I said, I am guilty too… I would probably worry more if he was a girl… feeling ashamed at myself.

Above all, I am really relieved he did not knock out any teeth or hit is head or something like that. Considering the cirucmstances, he was lucky, and I am grateful for that. Accidents like this show us how vulnerable we are all, especially our children.  But I choose not to worry more about them now, because it would not help anway. I just hope their luck (or their guardian angel) stays with us.

Random New Year Thoughts

Could it possibly be that the special New Year’s Feeling everyone is talking about is just a huge wave of tiredness?

When I woke up yesterday morning (it being January 1st) my first thoughts were something along the lines of “ooooohhhh I am tired”. You see, I did not simply wake up, I was woken up by Younger Son. And although it was a really merciful hour (8.30 – everyone with young kids will agree that this great!), still all I could think was “oh nooooo”.

We did not even have a party on New Year’s Eve, no crazy stuff. Husband and I spent a quiet evening reading, writing, tinkering, listening to music. But of course we stayed up until midnight, event though at 21.30 I thought how nice it would be just to fall asleep on the sofa and miss the whole stuff. Around 23.30 I felt rather awake again though, so we fetched the bubbly drink, followed the countdown on Husband’s phone (you would not believe it, but the radio station we were listening to switched from music to commercials for the last two minutes of 2013, followed by the news – at least they had the decency to wish everyone a Happy New Year before they started to read the news) – then we had a kiss and a drink 🙂

Afterwards we ventured upstairs, having promised the boys to wake them for the fireworks. This was the first time Younger Son had requested this and I had my doubts he would wake up happily at this hour. On the stairs we were greeted by Older Son in his pyjamas, with ruffled hair, blinking sleepily without his glasses, looking unbelievably cute. We asked him how he had managed to wake up at exactly the right moment. He just smiled. Younger Son was remarkably easy to wake, and soon all four of us were settled on the the sofa in Older Son’s room, looking out of the big window. Husband and I each had a cuddly son wrapped in his blanket sitting on our laps, and so we watched as outside a beautiful show on the sky unfolded.

I have to say I am sort of ambivalent about the whole concept of fireworks. On the one hand I see all the news articles about children (and adults) getting hurt when shooting stuff into the sky, plus it creates an immense amount of dirt, plus I won’t event think about the billions of Euros that are just sent puff into nothingness – but it does look pretty. (I only like the colourful ones… I really hate the loud crackers that only go boom and scare everyone to bits.) So the idea that has been discussed here, that instead of private fireworks there should only be ‘official’ fireworks organised by the cities, that one does not sounds too bad for me. But the league of fireworks lovers shout out in despair, since they love to do their own stuff. Oh well, I guess there won’t be any change here soon. I just wish those kids would be more careful (my boys luckily are very nervous around fireworks until now… they won’t go near it).

When the lights in the sky got less and less, we managed to get two happy boys back to their beds – Younger Son went out like a light, the older one took a while to settle back to sleep. Husband and I stayed awake for a little longer, lingering in the living room, having a late night snack. So it got really late in the end – thus my feeling of “ohhhhh I am tired” next morning.

After a cup of tea my thoughts managed to go a bit further. I still felt tired like anything, and the whole concept of having a whole new year in front of me somehow seemed a lot. But in the end it was just another day, as usual. On Monday school will start again for the boys, and it won’t be “new” at all – no new school year, just a new term, same teachers, same friends, same routine.

So what did I get out of the whole ado around the concept of “New Year”?

I got 45 minutes of sitting there with my family in the dark, watching the sky turn into our own private light show, watching the boys go “ooohhh” and “aahh”, seeing them pointing out especially nice ones to each other. Feeling them cuddle against me, listening to them comparing the colours and effects. It was for sure the cosiest New Year’s Eve I have ever had.

That’s a lot to be happy about, isn’t it?