Custard on 2015 – the year of time

Tis the time of year for reflection and making resolutions. I actually try not to get to suckered into these things. I am a believer that a new month or year is not a good enough reason to put yourself under pressure to change. You can make the decision to change at 9pm on a Sunday night in June, if you want to change it you can. But that is by the by. I’ll start again!

Tis the season for reflection and making resolutions. In 2015 I started a new job, working from home and for myself. For the first time in almost 15 years I actually had time on my hands, I wasn’t studying, I wasn’t working 60 hour weeks, I wasn’t juggling many spinning plates waiting for something to drop. I had time, and I was going to use it!

After less than one week of self employment I discovered I needed to do something with people so I started volunteering as a shop assistant in the bookshop at Quarr Abbey. I’m not a religious individual but I love books, I love people and I am open to many points of view an beliefs. If it helps and it’s not hurting people it’s good for me. I had some interesting encounters in the shop and met some fascinating people. People full of faith, people with none, people searching and people on pilgrimages. I had my beliefs tested, and I learned many things including how to refer someone for excorsism! It was also great to give something back to my community, offer my time and feel useful. I also loved spending time in such a place of peace. I gave roughly 175 hours to the Abbey in 2015. I have had to give up this role now I’m working in a more full time capacity, I miss the place.

A also volunteered at Standon Calling Festival in July – 20 hours and I volunteered for the National Trust for a number of events, promotions and training sessions plus some archiving – roughly 60 hours to that cause.

I helped out at the OCL Childrens remix in Birmingham – that was 16 hours plus some CPD sessions that they ran so 20 hours for that cause.

I also helped set up Anxiety Cafe at the Quay House My Time Recovery Centre. This was something I was passionate about helping with. Regular blog readers will know I have had my own demons to battle with in regard to anxiety and it was great to be able to give something back and help others. I worked with Kerry (who I met on twitter) who also has anxiety and depression to set up the group. Kerry needed a bit of extra confidence and someone with experience – I fitted the bill. She had the contacts and the drive to get the group up and running. We started in September and we help around 20 people a month to socialise, meet new people and be part of a group who understand the limitations of anxiety – we mainly chat about what we’ve watched on TV and Kerry’s fabulous cake. I’ve given about 30 hours to this cause.

So in 2015 I gave roughly 305 hours as a volunteer to various causes and charities.

I also wanted to give some time to myself and for me. I wanted to get back into exercise, not just in the gym, but stuff I actually enjoy. I tried Yoga for the first time – and loved it. I joined the gym but did classes including circuits (didn’t like), Zumba (loved), Aeromax (the jury is still out), DanceAtomic (fabulous), Waterworkouts (was the youngest by 30 years) and FitSteps (Strictly in trainers – what’s not too like?) I walked, I was bought a bike so I cycled, I even went on a run or two, I swam and did the occasional dance! In total I did 155 gym based exercise activities in 2015 and walked over 1 million steps on my fitbit (I bought it in the summer so can’t do the whole year). The exercise built my confidence and fitness and I can’t wait to get back to the gym next week!

So alongside all this I had lots of visits to museums and interesting places. Attended @drinksthings events at exciting London Venues. Met shed loads of new people and contacts. I wrote some blogs and some articles. I even earned a little bit of cash. I got a new, new job (in October) which I love and was worth spending time on, developing new skills and building my networks. I went to gigs, met friends, chauffered and supported my partner, spent time with family, ate some great food, built relationships and I was even a cleaner (for a day!). It was also a year of adventure – but that’s for another blog!

By the end of 2015 I was ready to have a break, my time was no longer my own (or not as much of it). But having a year of time (or 9 months as it turned out) has been very valuable for me. I got to find myself again, the person I am when I’m not exhausted, who has time to read and learn. I will probably never have a year of time again, but the lessons I have learned will go with me to the next chapter. There are things I am determined to keep doing, even if time is limited, and my sense of adventure had grown. So the plan for 2016 is to make time for the things I enjoy in my life, not just things I need.

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