November gets a bad rap, don’t you think? October has the creepiness of Hallowe’en, and December gets the glamour of Christmas. November can feel a little lacklustre. I think for me, November conjures up images of cold, rainy school mornings; wet, grey evenings, and extra homework before the holidays.
Do you ever hear people saying, “I need to learn how to say no”? On the whole, I feel like I’m already pretty disciplined with myself, but there’s always room for improvement. I’ve decided that this November I’m going to make a few changes. They’re not really goals, but a list of things I want to be avoiding…
This has really been playing havoc with me recently. I have two modes of function: nightbird, where I’m up all night working; or “mortal life” as I call it; where I wake up about 6:30/7 and get sleepy around 9. My whole life I just oscillate between those two patterns. The problem is Ryan is some sort of superhuman and can get by on 5-6 hours sleep. Many a night we get into bed around 12, watch TV (ok, Stranger Things) until 1:30/2am and then the next morning, Ryan’s good to go and I’m a zombie.
We’re in the last week before I’m away for four months (well, almost, with a couple of breaks back in the UK in between trips). The pressure to have a catch-up pint with everyone I’ve ever met is pretty high! Normally I run myself into the ground doing this and surprise, surprise: I’ve already got that cold that’s been going round. London is ABUZZ this time of year with fun, festive stuff to do. Normally I go full-throttle into seeing everything, but this month I want to focus on just seeing Ryan and a few close friends.
This is something that has really resonated with me recently. I try hard to share stuff I’ve learned or articulate ideas where I can. Too often, people come back to me with questions and it means I’m giving up my time and headspace to help somebody else. It’s not bad questioning, but it’s still asking me to explain and give up my time. “Why are ASOS racist and where is the expose on their child labour?” or “What can a white person do to be a better ally?” or “Did you find it hard going vegan?”. None of those questions are things I can’t actually answer, but I seem to get a lot of identical questions, and frustratingly, it’s normally stuff I’ve already answered elsewhere on this blog, so it can get a bit draining.
I’m quite a restrained shopper year round (well, I think I am!) but at Christmas, I really go for it. Thing is, my Mum gets all her presents from the charity shops and expects the same in return, and my Dad hates present-buying and receiving. And yet, every year, I feel obligated to buy them like a festive dried fruit and nut selection, or a skincare gift box, or a DVD boxset. Inevitably it ends up getting returned or regifted, so why do I do it? It’s so easy to believe that unless you serve up a huge pile of presents, you’re a terrible friend/partner/daughter – but I can’t think of many people who would genuinely be upset if you just gave them something small and meaningful (or: donated the money to a worthy cause). I’m going to bear that in mind this year.
Checking my phone every time I make a cup of tea. Forgetting to print stuff off when I’m near a printer and causing all kinds of havoc. Booking myself in for classes I know I don’t have time to go. Normally I’m good at being kind to myself and realistic with my time, but I’ve been so scatty recently what with trying to plan three massive trips simultaneously that it’s like present-day life has run away with me a bit.
I get easily sucked in this time of year by Pinterest and Instagram…! It can’t just be me that’s been thinking of getting a Christmas duvet cover or set of festive candles, can it?! Whilst I’d love to own a few more festive bits and pieces to spruce my room up with, realistically, with 5 people, 3 animals and 17 plants, space is already at a premium in my little home. I’m also only going to be at home for about 9 days between now and 2018, and none of those days are Christmas Day. I think it’s wiser to save my pennies and live vicariously through everyone else in the meantime.
What are you saying no to this month?
Thanks to Leigh for these photos. Don’t you think they look a little Stranger Things-y?