Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Reviewing my to-do list

Change was the theme of last year; my goal at the start of 2012 was to make drastic changes to my life by leaving Leicester for America.  When that all fell through, I took a look at how I could make smaller changes to enhance my life here.  My resolutions - made in July - have been variously successful and, six months on, I thought now was a good time to review them.

1. Appreciate and enjoy my city. 
What I said then: When I was trying to 'sell' Leicester to the teacher due to come here from the US, it made me really appreciate the good things about my adopted city. From great independent shops, to an amazing arthouse cinema and cutting edge theatre, to lovely countryside a short journey away, I am resolved to take advantage of the many things Leicester has to offer (and stop moaning about the bad things).
What I've achieved: I've done well on this.  Regular trips to the independent cinema, Phoenix Arts, and to the incredible Curve theatre have helped me gain a new perspective on Leicester's Cultural Quarter (oh ok, when I say 'new perspective', I really mean I like the bars there).  I've been making more of an effort to explore the hidden corners of the city and have been pleasantly surprised with how much loveliness there is hidden away.  And of course, we now have good old Richard III to be proud of!
Grade: A
The Cathedral Quarter, Leicester, one sunny September day

2. Appreciate and enjoy my country. 
What I said then: I picked up The Rough Guide To Great Britain the other day, and it made me realise how many amazing places there are in the UK that I've never been to. Some day trips and weekend jaunts are in order, and top of my list are Brighton, Winchester, Totnes and Dartmoor.
What I've achieved: Definite fail on this one.  Lack of money plus lack of time plus too many days off or weekends spent with hangovers (see above my comment about the bars in Leicester!) have meant I've been really rubbish at exploring.  One to focus on this year.
Grade: E

3. Appreciate and enjoy Europe. 
What I said then: It's been years since I took advantage of England's proximity to the continent, so instead of dreaming about the travelling I could have been doing in America, I'm going to start planning trips to the cities and countries on my doorstep.
What I've achieved: My three days in Amsterdam in October were lovely, but they made me realise I was sick of solo travel.  Ah well, 2013 is going to find me spending quite a bit of time in Europe - Nijmegen again next week, Paris in April, back to Nijmegen in May, Brussels in July followed by, you guessed it, Nijmegen again - and this time, I won't be alone.
Grade: B-

 The Jordaan, Amsterdam, in October

4. Get my house in order. 
What I said then: You know all those niggly little jobs that need doing around the house? The ones you live with, but that really bug you when you look too hard? I'm going to sort them out. Shelves will be put up, front doors painted, kitchen worktops replaced... if I can only find the number of the handyman.
What I've achieved: I am immensely proud of my front door, which was sanded, primed and painted all by my fair hand.  The shelves have indeed been put up, and I have grand plans for the living room.... watch this space.
Grade: B

5. Buy a bike and ride it. 
What I said then: Self-explanatory, this one.
What I've achieved: I finally bought a bike (with the financial aid of my brothers and their birthday gift) last month.  Since when, it has been sitting - still in its big cardboard box - in the hallway, waiting for me to have the time/energy/inclination to open it and put it together. 
Grade: C+

6. Take more photographs. 
What I said then: Stop feeling so self-conscious about taking photos in public. Accept that, at first, they will be crap but that I will get better. Persevere.
What I've achieved: Sarah has been a fantastic help with this target; the Image Association project giving me something to focus on every fortnight and helping me to be less self-concious about taking photographs. 
Grade: B

 New Walk, Leicester, on a bonus day off school in January
7. Work less, live more. 
What I said then: I've already made moves to sort this one out; I've asked to reduce my hours at work, taking one day a fortnight off. Hopefully the small reduction in salary will be more than made up for by the extra time to do what I please.
What I've achieved: Having one day off a fortnight started well; I baked, shopped, did DIY, went hiking, took photographs...  Then we hit November, and it all went a bit pear-shaped when I discovered the joys of a Monday evening night out.  My last few days off before Christmas were spent feeling hungover... oops.  However, if the freedom to go out with The Boy or with my friends on a weekday is what I gain from the day off, then that's fine with me.
Grade: A
8. Be a better teacher. 
What I said then: I really hope that reducing my hours slightly will give me energy to have fewer of the lazy, "let's make a poster," lessons and more of the good ones. 
What I've achieved: Amazingly, this is exactly what has come to pass.  I feel a huge deal more energised at school and am really appreciating the incredible young people I have the honour to work with.  This time last year, I was hating my job.  One of the biggest and most positive changes since making these resolutions has been falling back in love with teaching.
Grade: B+
9. Get a new tattoo. 
What I said then: I've been talking about adding to my collection for a year now, and although I'm still somewhat lacking in inspiration (I liked Richard's suggestion of having a polka dot sleeve tattooed on, but am a little worried about what would happen when/if I go off polka dots!) I'm determined to decide on a design soon.
What I've achieved: Tattoo in haste, repent at leisure.  I'm very glad I didn't rush into having another piece, as the more I've considered it the more I'm realising that I do not, in fact, want another one.
Grade: A very relieved E

10. Try and work out where to go next.
What I said then: In a metaphorical rather than physical sense. I am uncomfortably aware that, at 34, this is the point where I need to start making decisions. Do I want to settle down and find the man or woman of my dreams? Do I want to pursue the idea of working abroad? Do I want babies at some point? Do I want to study more? At the moment, my answer to all of these is, "yeah, kinda... I'm not sure... maybe?". I need to spend some time deciding on my priorities and making them happen.
What I've achieved: I found autumn difficult, because I was doing a lot of thinking and some of what I was coming up with was not particularly pleasant to realise.  But I think sorting my head out a bit - which included realising that I was commited to staying in Leicester and making my life here work out - meant I could open myself up to new experiences and opportunities in a way I perhaps wouldn't have been able to six months ago.  Do I know the answer to all of those questions I was asking six months ago?  No.  But does that matter?  No. 
Grade: B


  1. I so need to set myself some goals, keep up the excellent work miss b. Xx

    1. I found it really helpful to have something to focus on once I knew I was staying, and even more helpful to know I'd be accountable (sort of!) because of writing about them.

  2. It's quite inspiring reading about just how much you've done and changed and dealt with in the last six months! Also, all three of those pictures are beautiful. And yay! I got a mention!