I have never really been much good at New Year’s Resolutions and the older I have become the more I like the notion of winter comforts than the challenge of forcing myself to do something I feel resistant to. In the last couple of weeks my inbox and social media feeds have been full of questions as to whether I had completed my goal setting for the year and suggestions of how to go about choosing my word of the year. Despite these communications coming from many people whom I thoroughly respect and whose work I enjoy reading I found myself irritated and frustrated.
I accept that many of us naturally make space for a little time of reflection and forward planning as one year ends and the next begins, but is it truly necessary to formalise and document our intentions so rigidly? I do understand that many people find these processes enormously helpful and I began to wonder why I’m so resistant.
I have an ongoing internal battle with routine too. I understand that creating routines is in theory enormously beneficial in helping us achieve our goals, and that they reduce stress by eliminating some of the smaller decisions of daily life. But, every time I carefully plan my time to include some sort of routine I find myself pushing back against it. There is something about the thought of ‘having’ to do the same thing at the same time each day or week that I find stifling and dictatorial. The idea of knowing that I will be eating chicken on Thursdays and pasta on Saturdays induces a feeling of anxiety and leaves me wanting to run far away!
It just so happened that at the beginning of this week I listened to Emma Gannon’s podcast Ctrl Alt Delete in which she was speaking to Gretchen Rubin. I have been aware of Rubin’s work for some time having had The Happiness Project on my reading list for far too long, but in this instance she was talking about her recent work The Four Tendancies. Rubin herself describes The Four Tendancies as ‘a personality framework that divides all of humanity into four types—really!’ I was intrigued by the conversation so thought maybe I’d take the quiz on her website. According to my answers my dominant tendency is Rebel. This perhaps explains my resistance to doing what others tell me (Mum and Dad take note please!) and I am now waiting for the library to let me know that The Four Tendancies book is ready for me to collect and read. I am fascinated to learn a bit more about this framework and whether I can apply any of the advice within.
Having found myself equally disinclined to join in with Dry January or Veganuary or indeed any of the other ways of denying ourselves pleasure during this, one of the year’s coldest, dimmest, months, I am indulging in winter comforts. Personally I think it’s a better time of year to be kind to ourselves, to enjoy a sip of sloe gin in front of the fire, to tuck up on the sofa, watch a movie or read a book and to enjoy a bit of baking. The pleasure to be found in a warm kitchen savouring the fug of delicious baking smells whilst listening to the radio, an audiobook or a good podcast is hard to beat in my book.
This is not to say that I will be spending the entire month baking and sipping sloe gin, I have many projects in mind to say nothing of an entire garden to plan and plant. The landscapers here at the barn are making good progress and we even managed to get some bulbs in the ground last weekend.
Walking to remains one of life’s simple pleasures and I’m missing the company of Mr D now his routine has resumed. Over Christmas and New Year we enjoyed lots of walking and talking together and I think I even managed to resist rebelling against his goal to walk every day come rain or shine! The barn is within the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so we are really lucky in being able to simply pull on a pair of wellies and head up the hill.
With regards to baking though I attended a workshop myself last week which was thoroughly enjoyable. I spent a lovely evening at Anna Cake Couture at a Macaron Masterclass led by the very talented Marianne Stewart whose patient and expert tuition will, I hope, enable me to offer beautiful macarons to visitors at the barn. There are so many delicious flavours and combinations to experiment with, but if you have a favourite I’d love to know so I can give it a try? My first endeavours pictured here were eaten with enthusiasm at a recent workshop, and I think like anything it’s a question of sufficient practise required to master the art!