Posts tagged ‘slow blogging’

June 6, 2013

It’s my birthday!

It’s my birthday today! By the time you read this, I shall hopefully be on my way for a day of glorious sunshine at one of my favourite places, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Usually, my birthday is a time of reflection for me, and this year proves no different. June feels like a good time to take stock of year so far, and to make plans for the rest of it. Having made a few resolutions in January, it’s now time to see how I’m getting on with them.

1 – Run as often and as far as possible

Hmm. Not a good resolution to start off with, this one. I’ve not been running at all in the past few months. On the upside, I’ve been cycling a lot more, which I’ve decided that I prefer at the moment. In fact, I have no plans to run at all in the near future, but lots of cycling plans. So, perhaps I shall change this to ‘cycle as often and as far as possible’ and see how I get on with that.

2 – Blog as I choose – in terms of subject and frequency

It’s not long since I wrote a post about my blogging frequency, and since I wrote it, I’ve felt a continued sense of relief and of being in a lot more control over my blog. I’m going to carry on with the Slow Blogging for the foreseeable future.

3 – Do my Walk Leader training.

This is something that I’d still like to do, but my priorities have changes a bit since I wrote this list of resolutions, so it might go by the wayside without regret.

4 – Say ‘yes’ to opportunities to learn

Learning is still my absolute favourite thing to do. Recently I’ve been enjoying listening to lots of podcasts and watching TED talks on loads of different, but always interesting, subjects. I’ve just taken up analogue photography again with a Canon EOS 30, and I’m learning so much already. What I’ve realised is that I’m getting better at learning through practice,  as opposed to my usual style of learning through reading theory. Photography seems to be a particularly good example of this, alongside the many craft, cookery and gardening activities that I have planned for the rest of the year. Very soon, I’m also going to put an Impossible Project film through my vintage Polaroid SX-70 and see what happens! I bought a book called ‘Instant Love’ the other day, and it’s inspired me to get playing with it and see what images I might end up with.

5 – Cook 52 new vegetarian dishes – one for every week of the year

I’m currently at 11 recipes. So, I’ve got a long way to go with this one, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t get there. This resolution was partly about learning to be more creative and confident with cooking vegetarian food, and making the most of locally grown vegetables, including those I’m growing myself, rather than any hard-and-fast ‘goal’. One of the things I’m learning is how to adapt and create new recipes too, rather than following every rule, which is a pleasant feeling and something that I shall be trying to do more of and share through Sage and Thrift too.

I’m recording my recipes on Springpad, which has been a great visual tool in  aiding my resolutions this year. I absolutely love using this App, both on my Macbook and on my iPhone; it’s an invaluable way of keeping track, using lists, photos and uploads from websites.

6 – Go on mini-adventures

My first mini-adventure this year was a few days in Paris in the Spring, which was wonderful. I’ve got a short visit to Edinburgh (all food recommendations welcome!) soon, followed by a week in Bivouac, which I’m very giddy about and a few days in Oxford planned for the summer. Oh, and I’m possibly going to swim outdoors on the dawn of Summer Solstice too … good grief.

Further adventures will arise later in the year, no doubt. I’m not going to plan everything, but just say yes to things as the opportunity arises. I love the idea of packing a bag and setting off to destinations unknown, so hopefully that might happen too.

7 – Record all my spending

I’ve created a spreadsheet to track my budget every month and, rather than feeling restricted by it, I feel so much more in control, which is rather lovely. Overall, it seems that the amount I spend on frivolous fripperies and fancy stuff – trying saying that after a pint – is very little. Possibly something to rectify? We’ll see …

8 – Host one Sage & Thrift event every month

This project is something that I’m really proud of starting. We’re growing, generating plenty of interest and have lots of wonderful plans. Our next event is a cookbook swap on 23rd June in Leeds, so if you’re around, do come and say hello!

9 – Reduce my possessions

This resolution has definitely happened, for a variety of reasons, to the extent that I could now fit all my possessions –  with the exception of my bike –  into my small car.  I’m still working on my wardrobe and book collections. Although minimalism and I are slightly uncomfortable with each other (due to my messy nature!) I’m aiming to simplify my belongings, to make any new purchases really thoughtfully and to choose the best available options for me each time.

10 – Read one decent book a month

I’ve read eight novels this year so far,  as well as a number of non-fiction titles so it really does feel as though I’ve read very little this year. I love to lose myself in a good book, and have a reading list as long as my arm. The longer days of summer might be just the time to spend more time reading – the ultimate Slow activity. Again, I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t meet this goal. If there’s one thing I learned from my enormous GoodReads Challenge of 2012 it’s that quality definitely beats quantity when it comes to fiction. I’ve been recording my books on Springpad too – and creating a reading wish-list, so I remember all the great books that are recommended to me!

11 – Attend one cultural event each month

I’ve included everything from cinema to art gallery exhibitions for this goal, and I’ve actually surprised myself with what I’ve managed to do in the first half of the year. I’ve seen live music from David Ford, visited the National Gallery in London and the Musee du Luxumbourg in Paris, seen a stunning production of The Great Gatsby from Northern Ballet, attended Bettakulture, watched a wonderful new Sherlock Holmes play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and visited several art exhibitions around the country. Recording this (again, on Springpad) has been a great eye-opener, and is a good reminder to myself that actually, I do lots of things and am really very lucky.

12 – Be kind to myself. 

This one rather underpins everything else. So often, I’m so keen to improve myself and to meet goals, that I get cross if things don’t go as planned, or if I don’t manage to be quite as brilliant as I think I should be. My beloved friend and Sage & Thrift partner, Jo, always says that we must ensure that we don’t use our plans as  ‘a stick to beat ourselves with’, which I love. It’s something that I’ve been trying to keep at the forefront of my mind this year. Life is challenging, and often doesn’t quite go as you thought it might. Plans don’t always work out, and it’s important to be adaptable, shrug your shoulders once in a while, and not get so caught up in the desire to achieve that you forget to have fun along the way.

With that in mind, I’m spending today having fun and with no aims other than to eat cake, sit in the sunshine and enjoy turning 37. Wishing you all a lovely day today. Even if it’s not your birthday …

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May 20, 2013

Slow Blogging

Hello there,

It has been over a month since my last post. Just realised that sounds a bit like I’m at a Bloggers Anonymous meeting, but nonetheless, it’s true.

Big changes in my personal life, the usual work/life pressures and a desire to spend more time on the Sage & Thrift project are the main reasons  but to be honest, I’m also struggling to write. This blog has been my hobby for two years now. In that time, it’s brought me so much joy. But for the past month, phrases like ‘I must blog, I haven’t written anything for ages, I need to catch up’ have been on an endless loop in my head.

And yet, when I look out of my window, there is a noticeable absence of people waiting to break down the door and demand that I write a blog post. All the pressure is self-imposed. Since being nominated in the Blog North Awards – the best feeling ever – I’ve wanted to build on that success. To create an upwards trajectory, write more, gain more readers. It seems that the gods didn’t agree with that plan!

Previously, my three times a week schedule worked for me, but it’s no longer practical. I’ve been re-reading ‘In Praise of Slow’ by Carl Honore, which is one of my favourite books, and now I’m wondering if there could be such a thing as ‘Slow Blogging’? Not sure if it’s a complete contradiction in terms, but I think that fewer, more considered posts would count as ‘Slow’ – do you?

I’ve been striving to live Slowly (capital S intended here) in the rest of my life; seasonally, locally, taking time to consider the things that are important in my life, stepping away from technology sometimes and spending time on face to face interactions, not entering into lots of consumerism, and so on. It’s not always successful, but being considered in my approach to these things has brought me lots of happiness and it’s a cornerstone of Sage & Thrift too. Now I think I want to try to do the same with my blog. To slow down, take a breath and reconsider what it is about it that has always brought me such happiness in the past.

I like the idea of just writing once a week, and taking my time over each post, rather than trying to churn out a lot of content, purely to meet a self created schedule. It would enable me to work on Sage & Thrift (which I have big plans for) and make sure that when I do post something, it’s genuinely because I want to, not because I feel that I should, must, have to. I want to regain the feeling of joy that this blog has always given me and step away from feeling panic-stricken because life has got in the way of my three-times-a-week blogging schedule.

So, that’s the plan. I’ll be writing once a week, about the usual jumble of things that I’ve always written about, but I’ll do my best to make sure that each post will be worth your time reading. And, yes, I realise that even once a week is a self-imposed schedule. Old habits die hard. However, this will give me a way of fitting the blog into my life in a way that makes it pleasurable, and not a stick to beat myself with. You never know, it might be only temporary. I might suddenly find a fit of energy and write every day!

I joked about ‘Bloggers Anonymous’ but this has felt a bit like a therapy session for me. Thanks for reading. Normal, albeit ‘Slower’ blogging will resume shortly …