We are now 2 months into the new year and I am sure by now so many of those well thought through, hand crafted new year/decade resolutions have gone by the wayside for many of us.

If you are still charging ahead with your new decade goals, then fair play to you, I am very impressed. Most of mine have not been completely successful. I have dramatically reduced my diet coke intake, probably by about 60% but I still have a long way to go with that one.

My diet for the last 6 weeks has probably been 50% chocolate, so resuming the keto diet, is somewhat on a back burner for me at the moment. I don’t know why I am fighting it, I felt great when I did it, but it’s that little voice of self-sabotage drawing me toward the dark chocolate bounty bars whenever I shop and Easter Egg chocolate has such a limited shelf life, it is hard to resist.

My environmental commitment has moved forward, albeit at a snails pace. I am sorry to admit that I have bought several items of new clothing, it seems that my brain does not register as new if it has a sale tag on it!

I felt particularly joyful yesterday, when I spotted a gorgeous yellow sundress today in Tesco. I had ruined the same one on holidays last year, walking around in 30 degree heat with a grey bag on my shoulder, which transferred large marks onto my dress, marks that would never come out. I do feel justified in buying it, it was down to a teeny €2.50 and it’s such a bright shade of yellow, I can cut it up for dusters when I am finished with it.

Although I am not particularly religious in the conventional sense, the start of Lent is always a good time to re-assess what can be given up in our lives. Although I prefer the more modern approach to Lent of choosing to change something in your life for the better. Goodness and abstinence are no longer mutually exclusive it would seem.

I am currently working on volume 2 of my Bedtime Stories for Mothers and Others book, it is dedicated to an assessment of self care. I believe, self care is all about developing a level of self awareness to know what we need at any given time in your life. Then finding a way to access it. So any opportunity to do that should be welcomed, however it presents itself.

So here are my top ten thoughts on things we can do to improve our own lives and others a little bit during Lent and beyond……….

  1. Cut back plastic. Even a tiny change can make a big difference if we all do it. I now carry a bigger handbag (I had it already, I didn’t buy it new) I can put a lot of my shopping in it.
  2. Cut up plastic. The little round plastic connectors at the top of containers, milk, juice etc. The plastic that your beer cans arrive in. They can cause all sorts of horrific damage to wildlife.
  3. Eliminate pure trash, by no longer buying gossip magazines, red top newspapers or clicking on anything online that sounds remotely salacious. If it sounds that way, it is probably toxic for the environment of the poor bugger it’s been written about. It’d also good for your own self-esteem to not be looking at unrealistic images all of the time.
  4. Live the Monty Python way – as in “and now for something completely different,” Try something new, it can be anything you fancy. I’m currently looking into pottery and arial yoga.
  5. Declutter. Yes, I am rehashing another one of my new year resolutions, but despite my new purchases of duster material, I have been decluttering with the frenzy of a Tasmanian devil. Sort out your sock/cutlery/important document draw. If there is clutter in your life, think outside the box – I am sick of seeing clean clothes hung on every chair, cabinet, curtain pole, picture frame in my home waiting hopefully to be away. So I have set up a folding table in my utility room, so now they all go there until they are put away. I even have little baskets for underwear/socks/school polo shirts to hang out in until my children start shouting that they cannot find any. It’s so nice to know they are in a basket, rather than rooting through one of the 17 piles of un-put-away clothes randomly located around my home. Less clutter = more calm!
  6. Make a book tower. Choose ten books you want to read this year and put them in a pile, start a second pile when you have read each one. It gives great satisfaction to see the second pile grow. Although as an author I shouldn’t be telling you this, but charity shops are a great place to pick up books. I’ve just finished ‘Cilka’s Journey’ a very sad, but an excellent read.
  7. Print Photographs. I have photos everywhere in my house and they are always a great talking point when people come to visit. It is so easy nowadays to leave them on our phones, but it is also so easy to print them and enjoy them. I recommend the freeprints app (this is not a paid product endorsement). You literally pick them from your phone. You can have 45 free every month, just pay €4.99 postage.
  8. Eat Vegan/Vegetarian at least twice a week. My daughter Saoirse has given up meat for Lent. This is a huge deal for her as she ate meat every day, but she really is upset by the awful way many animals are treated in the food industry. We probably won’t go completely Vegan, but we are all supporting her by having at least 2 meat free meals a week and I am buying soya milk.
  9. Snuggle Up. Read the children in your life an extra story, the cuddle and chat is equally as important as the story itself. these are the things our children will remember, This is where I feel most connected with my children, My eldest Saoirse doesn’t want to be read to anymore, but I still go in and lie on her bed for the chat.
  10. Put your phone away. I know, it’s not original, it’s constantly being talked about, but it really is needed. I have become totally addicted to my phone and I know it has a detrimental effect on my life. I have been using it as a shield for the things I don’t want to face, including my children sometimes! It has also been unavoidable in a lot of ways as I have so many appointments, conversations and events to organise I never off the bloody thing – so I have cut back on that too. If I hear myself saying to my children or husband “give me a minute I just need to…..” then I really have to stop and ask myself, do you actually ‘need’ to do it and if you do, does it have to be right now? I am trying to reduce usage and that often includes leaving it in the car in the evenings or if I am meeting friends, I no longer charge it in my room at night so I cannot look at it before I go to sleep or first thing in the morning. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
Does anyone have one I could borrow???

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