The January Round-Up

January, done! HOORAY!

Considering how much I hate January, this one was probably the best one I've had in years. I've suffered with Seasonal Affective Disorder for as long as I can remember and this winter I took it to task. I made a big effort this month to look after myself; rest, eat well, move and laugh, which seems to have had a great impact. There's been the usual hiccups and bumps along the way, but nothing feeling apocalyptic, which is a hell of a change given how awful I felt towards the end of last year (but I think a lot of that was the political landscape changing beneath our feet). Maybe that's what put me in good stead for this year? Maybe a fresh start was what I needed? Whatever happened, it's been a good first month, which are words that I rarely say.

I spent the first half of the month hibernating. This is quite typical of me as I find the first week back at work after the holidays really tough going, so the first weekend is a write-off (I stayed in, cleaned my house and binged a boxset). The second week I felt slightly more social, and by the third week all systems were go.

I went to see Embrace, which I talked about here. I went to see Festival of the Spoken Nerd, who I've seen many times at Christmas Compendium, but never their full show and it was fantastic -  highly recommend to my fellow science / maths nerds.  (An easy guide to work out if you're one of these is based on how you answer this question - do you cheer at spreadsheets? If so, welcome, you are my people).

Festival of the Spoken Nerd

I spent a weekend with my friend Martin, who is such good company and fed me so well that I didn't want to come home!

Then it was just the long, slow wait to payday. OMG how long is the wait until January payday?!

I spent the last bit of the month back home with my mum, keeping her company while my step-dad had some heart surgery. Given I'd only been home the month previous, this is starting to feel like a routine! It's good to help out, though, and I do miss my mum a lot when I'm in London and she did need some TLC.

Didn't mean I didn't run back to London for a gig on the 31st, mind!


(That was Train at Islington Assembly Rooms; it was gorgeous and intimate. I hugged my friends and sang my heart out).

Speak of family things, my brother has written a book! As I'm rather partial to a philosophy book I was very excited to read Gary's book (he's the one feed I look forward to seeing on LinkedIn) and it hasn't disappointed. I laughed myself silly at the acknowledgement he gave me at the start of the book, too. 

Now we're well into the swing of 2017, it's time to share my goals for the year and how I'm getting on with them. I didn't make resolutions as such (as I'm not really down with this whole *new year, new me!* bollocks) but there are a few things I wanted to do this year (HASHTAG GOALS) and have made a good start on during the month:

  • Set up a second savings account for 'fun' spending. This is my way of using my credit card less, if I have a 'fun' spending account I can use that for holidays, gigs, theatre tickets, airbnb stuff and festivals. Starting from zero is very good for me with savings as I'll keep to see the total increase pronto, it also means I'll not have to dip into my other savings account anymore. As it's not flexi-access, I was mugging my interest rate every time I touched it. I have a very big adventure that I want to save up for this year, so I need to crack on with counting the pennies and be able to access my fun funds as and when I need them. 
  • Sort out my outgoings and reduce them. This meant getting rid of a few unused subscriptions (Audible, Tesco Delivery Saver etc), they might seem like small outgoings but you add up three subscriptions like that and it's almost £25 per month - and that's my gym membership! After cracking out my finance spreadsheets and jiggling some things around, I've been able to tuck an extra bundle into savings for the forseeable. My credit card has been cleared too.  
  • Be more mindful with my spending. I've gone old-school with this and I write down everything I spend that's not in my *essential life* section (bills, food, Spotify, Netflix) and then see if I've been a prat. I've also been withdrawing cash and only using that for the month. That's not a perfect system and some things will inevitably end up being paid for with my debit card (like getting halfway to the shops and realising I've forgotten my £20 note), but handing over cash is making me far more aware of my spending. Contactless is great and a flipping disaster zone for me all at once. I managed to get through January using only the cash I'd withdrawn. I'll be having another go at this during February. 
  • Go swimming weekly. My housemate suggested this and I thought it was a great idea. I've not been swimming for a good handful years and I have missed it. I commented on Twitter in the first week that no matter how fit you think you are, swimming is a great leveller (like Zumba, in that respect). On my first session I was knackered after 5 minutes (but I persevered for 30, with lots of rests between sets) but it motivated me to get better. There's never a better competitor to battle against than myself. I downloaded the SwimIO app to my phone to log all my swims and I've set myself a distance goal to swim the Great Barrier Reef by summer, which is 16515m. 
  • Get really f'kin fit. Not so much a vanity project as a wellbeing one. I miss being *really* fit so I'm working to fix that this year. The swimming helps, the occasionally gym date helps, the daily extra walking really helps. I committed to daily (weekday) crunches every morning for January and it stopped the lower backache that I had for half of last year within a week. Clearly my core needed some strengthening. It's funny how little things can make such a big difference to the way you feel, and almost immediately too.
  • Say 'No' to more things and start setting up 'Me' dates. Last year I said 'Yes' to almost every social event that came my way and some weeks I ended up absolutely knackered. As much as I've nailed dedicating time to various people and things in my life, I'm still a bit shit at committing giving time to just me and I've a nasty habit of taking it whenever I can get it and binge sleeping through it. The weekly swimming date works with this as that's something I'm committing to for me (along with a weekly gym date), I need to get better at allocating time for my stuff, not just winging my life via the gaps in my calendar.
  • Delete Facebook. Which I did on New Years Eve. It's been a lovely month without it and, even better, I'm not missing it. I realise FB can be a great communication tool but honestly I filtered down my newsfeed so much that I only had about 5 people on it. I really didn't like it; I didn't like the pressure it puts on people to tart up their lives (and I don't like liars), and after the amount of shit flying around it after US election and UK referendum last year I was officially done. I did let people know I was going and put my contact details on before I left, but if you were on my friends list and you missed my post let me know via one of these ways, I'm pretty free and easy with my phone number.
  • Get more involved with causes I believe in. If there's one thing that came out of the shitshow that was 2016 it was that I'm as mad as hell about certain things in the world. Women's health being discussed and defunded by dudes in suits, the UK's heavy dependence on food banks for survival, for example. So far this year I've written to my MP twice and contacted a few organisations to get involved in. I am fired up and not taking it anymore. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! 

Women's March London 2017

The world feels a massive mess right now, I figure if people want to make changes then they should find something they feel passionate about and get involved with it on a local level. Will it change *the world*? No. Will it change *your world*? Yes, and right now that's the best thing for us. Make *your* world a place to be comfortable and safe for everyone.

So, that's my year off and rolling. Tonight I'm going to see Chris Gethard's Career Suicide show at Soho Theatre, which will involve much Morrissey, setting the month off on the right tone.

Next week, I'll be walking home from work in daylight again. Spring is on the way, my friends. Here comes the sun. 

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