18 for 2018

anything is possibleGod, I love a list. I love making them, reading them, scratching entries off them, reading other people’s!

I mentioned Gretchen Rubin in my previous post and I’m going to again here. On the Happier podcast, she and Elizabeth talked about having a “Eighteen for 2018” list. A list of eighteen things to do in 2018 to make their lives happier.

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed a “Thirty before 30” list, I jumped on this with all my might.

This year has a lot going on. I’m going to plan a wedding, quit my job, move to mainland Europe, get a new job, make new friends, travel to see old friends, meet new babies. Squeezing in more than 18 things amongst this would be a bit tricky.

I split my list into sections wedding, food, skills, projects and Munich.

Wedding Related

* Pick date for wedding

* Pick venue for wedding

* Try on dresses in London/Brighton


  • I am generally terrified of having a wedding. Not of being married or having a marriage, but of planning and executing a wedding. Money and I are not great friends. I don’t spend large sums of money well, I freak out about them. I’ve heard that weddings can be expensive and my rudimentary googling has not reassured me that this is not the case. YES, you can obviously have a wedding on a small budget and have it be lovely, but as a rule for life things cost TIME, MONEY or EFFORT and money is often easiest. Also, I have some money. I’ve been saving for a wedding for a while now. I feel the challenge will be spending those savings carefully and properly, rather than frittering them away on silly not-right things.
  • I am also coming to realise that I am somewhat phobic of commitments. Not entirely sure where this came from, because I am a person who loves to make plans. What’s interesting is that I am then crazy resentful of those plans and how my future has been taken away from me. By me. That being said, I am not a spontaneous person either! So life must be planned. Weddings must be planned.
  • And so, the things that will make me happier are picking a date and a venue and trying to find a dress in 2018. The date and the venue will mean we can plan the other elements – the ones I am more excited about (anything paper or cake related).


Food Related:

* Make bourbon & Oreo truffles

* Peanut Butter Brownies

* Find a milk substitute

* Rhubarb & Strawberry pie


  • I keep wanting to make truffles and not bothering. I don’t like truffles dusted with cocoa powder or nuts or desiccated coconut, so that put me off. I hate using a food processor (so loud! So messy if you don’t have a dishwasher! So space-consuming!), so I never bothered. My intern made amazing Oreo truffles without a food processor and without bitter dusty nonsense on the outside, so I am taking her lead. I would like to know that I could make these. People enjoy them. I would like to be able to serve up little after-dinner coffee treats.
  • For years I have wanted to perfect peanut butter brownies and yet have never really tried. I had some amazing ones in 2017, so I know it is possible. My research and development begins now.
  • In Canada I discovered I truly love rhubarb and strawberry pie. This is the year I make that happen in my own home. We’re heading into rhubarb season, so I’d best get cracking.
  • The end of 2017 was when I realised I just can’t drink milk. It makes me feel so ill. Which is really unfortunate because I love a hot chocolate and I love a mocha to kickstart a bad day. This is the year I will work out how to continually drink my body weight in chocolate-y goodness before 10
  • am and not feel grim by 10.05 am.


New Skills Related:

* Learn Dropbox


* Learn to meditate


  • I have some of my computer backed up on an external hard-drive. I did not do this. A friend of my ex-boyfriend did that for me when he took about my laptop when it crashed. That was a good five years ago. I do not know how to “back up” and I do not know where The Cloud is. I desperately do not want to be Carrie Bradshaw yelling at people in an Apple Store. 2018 is the year I sort out my technological shit. If I can get into podcasts, I can protect my photos, for goodness sakes.
  • see also Dropbox. That might be the same as the cloud. I don’t really know.
  • I find meditation stunningly difficult. For a long time, I found it excruciating and I cannot explain why. Friends of mine set up our university yoga society and I chipped in the odd time, schlepping mats and bricks to class and having a go. The bending and the stretching were grand. The eagle pose I positively enjoyed. Lying quietly at the end and focusing on the breath nearly ended me. I would be in a tight ball of tears and fury. I had to stop. Years have passed. That hasn’t changed, but it’s clearly Not A Good Thing. It would be one thing if I found meditation boring or not worth it, but to have such a visceral reaction is meaningful. Something in me is stopping myself from being quiet and still. That needs to end now.


Project Related:           

* Print book – me

* Print book – dad

* 20 blog posts


  • This is mainly to do with finishing things. I am very good at starting things and being enthusiastic and then, ever so slowly and ever so surely, letting things slide. I don’t like that about myself. Last year I sent the 200 pages of quotes I had off to the printer. I have another 200 pages of quotes. They need to be edited and sent off to the printer. That isn’t going to happen on its own. I also have a document of all the correspondence between myself and my dad. He passed away four years ago this year. It’s time to put that to print before I lose the document or my computer dies. Again, not hard, but I need a push to complete it.
  • The other thing I am keen to do is carry on blogging. Not many people read this and that’s fine. I don’t want to spend a lot of time or emotion asking people to read it. What I do want to spend time on is actually writing the posts. I’m about to go into a vague period of my life where I am not gainfully employed and I would like very much to maintain a work ethic. I hope that this will help keep me in that mindset. I’ll also have a lot of new experiences and the blog would be a good place to look at these objectively (or, as objectively as I can) and try to see the bigger picture. 20 blog posts is easy. Right?


Munich Related:

* 10 things on London list

* Have a leaving party

* Acquire a Munich library card

* Go to the packaging-free store

* Explore Munich with Fritz


  • In June I will be a resident of Germany. This is both exciting and terrifying. Terror atrophies my muscles and prevents me from action. Fear freezes my brain and allows me to panic. I am genuinely afraid of moving to Germany and being so nervous that I lose myself and become Fritz’s shadow. This cannot happen. To that end, I am focusing on ending and beginning. I don’t like parties, but I am going to organise a Leaving Party. I am also going to nail the “things I always meant to do in London” list so I can move with no niggling regrets.
  • When I arrive in Munich I need to throw myself into living there. I am notoriously not a jumper. I am a one-inch-at-a-time-while-wincing person. I will never hurl myself into a pool or “just duck my shoulders under.” So my one inch at a time approach will involve daily walks and targets. One of these targets is to acquire a library card. Books are important. Munich must have a library. I will endeavour to acquire access. The other task is to go to the store I am too nervous to go into. It is a grocery store of sorts where you bring your own containers and they fill them up for you. I have avoided this store because it is small and they will speak to me (and I hate that in the UK) and I don’t really know how it works. I don’t want to be embarrassed. I’m about to be plenty embarrassed plenty often, so I should start immunising myself against that. The least I can do is try to buy something there. I know I can spend money. That I can do!
  • I also want to make a list of places for a drink or a meal or a coffee in Munich and go there with Fritz once a week. He can show me places he knows and I have to try and find my own places. I could easily go to Starbucks and McDonalds, but that’s not really the point. I don’t have a favourite cocktail bar. He does. I want to know enough places to have favourites. I want to know the city I will live in and not as slowly as I came to learn London.


Eighteen things. Shouldn’t be so hard. Should be eminently manageable. I do enjoy Gold Stars and accountability, so this should work.

Do you have any goals for 2018?


Less is More

In Your PrimeI used to be a New Year’s Resolution person but slowly came to the realisation that I’m not terribly good at keeping a list of instructions over a twelve month period. I was a little like going to confession as a child – I always had the same things on the list and I probably thought about them to the same extent.

A few years ago, I began my devotion to Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project. I followed the blog and then ate her books whole. She’s very true to herself – one of her commandments is “Be Gretchen” – as well as practical and descriptive in her books. She explains what she actually does rather than encouraging you to find your own way without concrete examples.

Gretchen isn’t one for resolutions either, but a new motto for each year. A guiding principle to the year. Ideally just a word. Previously I used YES or BRAVE or BETTER and found them very helpful.

This year, having thought about it quite hard, my motto is three words: Less Is More

This came about over Christmas. I was on a bus in Belfast on my way to do some Christmas shopping. The bus was filled with women on their way into Belfast to do some Christmas shopping and we were all contributing to the general conversation (this is quite a Belfast thing. I didn’t know any of these women) and we were all saying that we were going into town to “get some bits.”

We’d all bought presents, but were about to buy more things to put into the pile of presents for people. We were buying MORE. I am not physically capable of purchasing ONE thing for a person. Not entirely sure what that’s about, but if I buy an expensive thing for someone, I will add “silly little things” alongside. My friends and I exchange piles of gifts – this year we either scratched gifts or instigated a budget and it was supremely helpful – all lovely things, but not always necessary. If you took one of the things away from the pile, it wouldn’t detract from the joy of receiving the gift.

Last year, doing my accountability project with Fee I noticed that I spend a good chunk of change on “little things” for people. Growing up my mom demonstrated her affection through gifts and I’ve clearly absorbed that. The more things I give you, the more I love you. And yet it’s also a little bit sneaky. Socially, it’s a lot harder – or less acceptable, perhaps – to be annoyed by someone who has given you a gift. It’s one of the reasons why a bunch of flowers tends to fast-track the acceptance of an apology. You look ungrateful if you stay angry despite them and the emotional weight in that situation shifts. I’d like to not feel like I’m bribing friends to like me, which they would be horrified to think.

Anyway, I thought about spending less to better demonstrate my love for people. If I give you a CD that I think you will love, it makes more impact than if I give you a CD, a pair of socks, a bar of chocolate and five lipbalms. I will spend less to give more.

This extrapolated outwards to more things. I would do less to achieve more – both in my social life, my work life and my home life. I would eat less to enjoy more. I would buy fewer things to appreciate what I have or did buy. I would spend better time with friends by not rushing around and trying to cram everything in. I would eat less junk to appreciate the deliciousness of it when I did (mmm, pork scratchings!). I would do less in my day so that I could sleep more.

I have a whole issue with being busy constantly and then crashing when I just can’t take on any more. When I don’t have enough sleep I get a migraine and my anxiety shoots through the roof. I feel hassled and annoyed even though I am doing interesting things and spending time with my favourite people. That is a ridiculous luxury problem to have and one I know I am lucky to be able to have at all. But it’s still a problem, and one only I can solve for myself.

And so, this January I have made many many To Do lists. And I have made a point of taking two things off each list. Things I am not going to do and won’t feel badly about. I want very much to send thank you cards to my ski instructors, but I have accepted this is something a crazy person would do and taken those off the list. They know I was grateful because I told them at the time. sending them post would be weird.

I’ve also made lists of my stockpiles and come up with alternate plans for them:

– the many moisturisers and toiletries I bought (on offer!) over the last few months have been donated to a women’s refuge. Now I don’t feel hassled by them languishing unused and someone else benefits.

– the Christmas chocolates I hoarded for a “fun night in with a box set” have been shared at work because there simply aren’t enough nights available to munch them before they expire (plus, the amount of candy I hoard is verging on criminal).

– the to-watch list on my iPlayer list has been decimated when I deleted McMafia and Hard Sun. I didn’t actively enjoy or look forward to watching either and life is TOO short. Silent Witness stays because I genuinely want to know what happens next, rather than feeling I should watch it because it’s a cultural touchstone.


I’m trying to fill my days with shorter bursts of things that are worthwhile – to me – now. I don’t watch two episodes of House of Cards, barely paying attention because I’m on Instagram, having dinner and sorting my calendar – I’ll watch one episode, thoroughly enjoy it and then either go to bed so I can have more energy for the next day or spend twenty minutes organising myself so I am less stressed later. If I can’t walk five miles in a day, have dinner and get enough sleep, I’ll walk around the park at lunch time and listen to a podcast. It’s an hour, it’ll do. It’s plenty. It’s more because it’s less.

It’s not particularly startling, but I find that it works for me. I can’t do or be everything. I can only do what I actually can. I’m doing less, but I’m doing more.