Posts tagged ‘goals’

February 17, 2014

How to make friends.

On my recent blogging course, during a discussion about networking, the discussion turned to making friends. In that context, we were talking about making friends with other bloggers —I’m going to write about that next week, but I’m also interested in making friends more generally.

But it’s hard to make friends as an adult, isn’t it?

As the school gate, I have two friends. Many of the other parents will nod a ‘hello’ but that’s as far as the relationships go. We attend the same meetings, parties and sports days but are merely acquaintances because of biology. Giving birth to a child at the same time does not automatically create friendships, I never found. I suspect much of this is because instead of going to antenatal class, I gave birth ten weeks’ early and so never had the chance to meet other prospective parents and make those early connections. Still, the two friends I do have, I made because we discovered that we have other things in common alongside children. A love of wine, for a start. And the same sense of humour. So although I’ve never made lots of friends through school, the ones I have are fab. Even though they keep bugging me to take up ceroc dancing…

My long term friends, from college and work, are scattered around the country— actually, the globe. We make plans to meet, but they’re often scuppered by poorly children, other responsibilities, work commitments. These are the friends I’ve had forever. You probably have some too. They’re the ones who know all about your first kiss, or who held your hair back when you were sick after one too many drinks at college. The ones you were with when you tried to tape the songs from the Top 40 without getting any of the DJ speaking on (showing my age, there) and pored over the latest issue of Smash Hits with.  The friends who you don’t need to see for months, but as soon as you catch up, it’s like you were never apart. Although those bonds are strong, the length of time between meetings leaves for huge gaps of time to be lonely in.

So, the answer has to be finding new friends. Not to replace those long term friendships but to add to them. More friends! These ones are the folk you can get the chance to grab a coffee with, or go to evening classes together, because they’re local. These friends are the ones who will stop you feeling lonely on a day-to-day basis. And possibly, one day, you’ll have known them forever too…

Here’s how I am finding friends:

1: Twitter. Leeds is a wonderful city in which to find people through Twitter. If you’re in Leeds, you should be following @peopleofLeeds, a rotation curation account. I’ve met some of my closest ‘tribe’ through Twitter; people who I consider to be some of the closest friends I’ll ever have the good fortune to have, plus a good number of other people who are less close, but lots of fun. I know that in many cases, we’ll never meet in real life, but they’re still true friendships. However, plucking up the courage to ask someone if they fancy meeting up for coffee has led to some genuine ‘real life’ friendships, so I’d tell you to go for it. Just make sure you arrange to meet somewhere public for the first time. 

2: Blogging. Through blogging, I’ve met some wonderful people, both locally and further afield. Getting invitations to events means I have to be brave and often turn up alone. A glass of wine or two later, I’m hopefully chatting to someone who may continue to be a friendly face. This year, I’m hoping to get to a blogging conference or two and meet some people that I’ve chatted to online for a while. I’m going to write more about blogging friendships next Monday.

3: Trying something new. By trying new things, even if they’re a challenge, I start to feel better about myself. Which, in turn, makes me happy. Happy people attract other people, I’m sure. And if all else fails, at least I’ve tried something different and so I’m living a fuller life.

4: Following my own interests, goals, desires and dreams. Sometimes, people come to you when you’re not actively looking for them. By following my own interests, I go to events, take courses, and join online and offline gatherings. Being in a place surrounded by people with the same passion as you, you’re very likely to be able to strike up a conversation, which sometimes leads to longer term friendships. Do what you love and the friends will come.

How do you make new friends? I’d love to chat about this with you all…

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Margot and Barbara is changing! I’d really appreciate your feedback. Click HERE to take part. Thank you 🙂

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January 9, 2013

2013 Goodreads Challenge.

Instead of doing a ‘here are my plans for 2013’ kind of post, I thought I’d write a handful of posts about individual things I’d like to do with my year. Today’s subject is my reading goal. Last year, I set myself a Goodreads Challenge to read 52 books in 2012.  I have utterly no idea what possessed me to think I could read a novel a week, given my other commitments, but I like to think it was with a sense of optimism, rather than sheer idiocy.

Anyway, to cut a long story short – which is probably a good thing, given the subject at hand – I failed in my attempts. I read 46 books, and about ten of those were children’s books as I reached December in a self-induced panic and decided that was the only way I’d get close to my goal. I read excellent children’s books, mind you. ‘Moominvalley in November’ is a thing of beauty that would be wasted on many children. Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’ is so good it’s a ‘read-in-one-sitting’ kind of book. And whilst I didn’t really love the ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ books that I read, I guarantee that they’d be loved by many people. So, it wasn’t time wasted.

What I came to realise about the whole exercise, as I wrote in my review of the year, was that although its important for me to set challenging goals, as far as reading fiction is concerned, I’m more interested in quality over quantity. And with that, I’ve decided that this year’s Goodreads Challenge will be 26 books. A figure I arrived at by the deep and meaningful thought process of cutting last year’s goal in half…

Alongside this has been a giant book cull. I’ve gone beyond clearing out the books that I don’t like and have now plucked up the courage to clear out books that I know, in my heart of hearts, I will never read. Even if I’ve bought them new and they’ve been sitting in my house for years, patiently waiting to be picked up. I’ve got rid of my copy of classics too, kept forever in a misguided belief that I should keep a copy of Hardy, or of Dickens. After all, I do not want to live in a world in which I could not buy a new copy –  or borrow from the library – if I so desired. And, in many cases, I know that I won’t.  I don’t actually like Thomas Hardy and so it’s highly improbable that I will want to read his work again. Even accepting that has been something of a relief.

Clearing out my house of unread and disliked books has brought a sense of freedom to my reading. No longer will I be taunted by dusty piles of unread fiction, or suffer from feelings of guilt over them. I read a wonderful article by Lesley Garner about how clearing your house of unfinished projects, unrealised ambitions and dreams gives you room and freedom to create new ones. This is how I feel about having cleared out all my books. As though I can start afresh with books I really want to read instead of feeling as though I should read them because they’re already in the house.

My new rules are thus: I will read one ‘big’ novel a month and one easier read. I will only buy one book at a time, and read it completely before buying the next. If I choose to keep that book, then I will operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy to prevent the claustrophobic feeling created from by having too many possessions crushed into my tiny house. And, I realise that 26 books is a little more than two a month, but I am optimistic. Or idiotic. I’ll leave that for you to decide…

March 2, 2012

Life: The Bucket List

There is a danger that this post is going to disintegrate into one long cliché. I want you to know now, right at the start, that if it does, it is not merely through laziness or an inability to form an opinion. It is because clichés are rolled out all the time because they are true. Often there is just no better way of putting it.

Here’s one: Life is Short.  Although we all plan to be around a really long time, we just never know what might happen; what tomorrow might bring. Recent events have made this painfully clear. I lost a friend recently. Not a hugely close friend, but someone who always arrived with a smile. Someone I was always pleased to see and who had shared one of my happiest days, my wedding day, with me. The funeral was yesterday. I was saddened most of all to finally meet her son, of whom she was so very, very proud, on one of the worst days of his life.

One of the things that I always loved and admired about my friend was the way in which she threw herself into her life with such commitment, passion, dedication. In work and in play, she followed her dreams and ambitions, completing a degree whilst working and raising her son. Learning to dance and dancing all around the world.

I have a Bucket List. We all do, don’t we? Written down or in our heads, it’s the thing to have. I wrote mine down years ago. Every so often I get it out of the drawer in which it sits, take a look at it, confirm that yes, these are the things I want to do before I die. Then I carefully put it back in the drawer again. Then…nothing. I do nothing about it. Nothing to move forward on any of my plans, my big dreams. I know that some of them are not possible for the moment. I cannot imagine taking the kids on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Mongolia so I can say in a ger and see Prezwalski’s Horse in the wild. But not everything on the list is so difficult.

Doing my 35:35 Challenge and completing several smaller challenges, has begun to change my mind-set into one of doing and less of thinking and (if I’m really honest) of making excuses and procrastinating. Now I need to take that approach with the bigger things I want to do. Learn to say ‘yes’ more often instead of ‘no’. Learn to be creative, to find ways of doing what I want and dream of doing, whilst at the same time keeping my lovely family happy too. Being a scanner means having such a giant list of things that I want to achieve that it becomes all too easy to freeze with indecision because you really don’t know where to start and get worried that by taking one course of action, you immediately close off another. This doesn’t have to be the case. Movement is good.

I’m going to take my Bucket List out of the drawer and to look at each thing on it. Then I’m going to work out whether it’s something that I can do now, or something that will need to happen later. For the ones that feel more achievable now, I am going to take the first step on each. Lesley Garner once wrote a brilliant article called ‘Stepping Stones’ in which she describes how we can get anywhere and do anything with stepping stones. I think that the Impossible League feels the same. Take your first step towards the impossible and then the second…

So, my message to you is this. Life is Short. Please make sure you live it the way you really want to. Take that first step to achieving your dreams. Follow what really makes you happy, not what you think should make you happy. Because you really, really never know what tomorrow might bring.