A year of doing things differently…

Thats it! 

me with crimped hairA whole year of doing things differently.

Its been a while since I last posted – so much to do. In the last couple of weeks I’ve spent one afternoon travelling 275 miles & 6 hours in a taxi through snow, sleet, rain & traffic to make my son’s awards evening, had three mini glasses of different ales rather than a pint, rewarded myself with a book for the train and read it cover to cover on the way home, created a plan, a fallback plan & a fallback, fallback plan, stood up each time I want a sip of wine for an evening (new sofa), stole a mini vodka in First Class on train (I didn’t want a drink but didn’t want to miss out! In the bag it went…), drove rather than train-ed – 4 hours rather than 5, drank 6 different cups of tea.

a pile of wrapped presentsI’ve embraced a doing something different Christmas – taking a slower & more measured approach to decorating the house (spreading the work, the joy and the sherry), done Christmas wrapping at 5.30am, played after eight game in a warm room and ended up with melted chocolate running down my face, bought hair crimpers and a tiara, then crimped my hair,  actually drank the dessert wine with dessert, opened a mystery box (basically, a box with ‘mystery box’ on the side containing surprises including a glow in the dark toilet roll), made fake plaits, roasted celariac and cooked lamb shanks, had my feet given attention by a proper podiatrist, dressed as a viking before, bought a light and made them dismantle the Xmas display to get it for me, did the same filming outside and inside in case it worked better and put the spare set of festive lights inside my wardrobe.

fairy lights in my wardrobeI’ve also given in to feeling knackered and one night had a 30 minute cry (as I said at the time, it was 50% exhaustion, 30% merlot and 20% self pity). And one night I also took ten minutes to sit outside in the dark – cold, clear and beautiful. A much better way of recovering my sense of self in this busy time.

Across the whole year I have only missed one day – Boxing Day – when things were gloriously traditional with wonderful food, company, games and laughter. I didn’t want to change a thing – so didn’t!

What next?

There are still ‘big’ things I want to do – get a tattoo, have a simulated sky dive experience, camp when its snowing…. But one thing I learnt this year is that it’s so not all about the big things.

But I can’t just keep doing something different in the same way – that wouldn’t be different, would it? But equally, I can’t just stop something that has become more of a way of life than I ever expected, enabling me to think more deeply and clearly about what I like doing, what habits I have, how I behave and how I can keep challenging myself.

There won’t be daily posts this year. But difference will still be occurring. And I will keep reporting on the impact it has. As they say, watch this space.

All my own photos (and if you want to follow the blog along, do sign up at the bottom right of the screen (and if you want to find out more about me, check out my other site www.joverrent.com).

Challenging assumptions and choosing to behave differently

a blind woman takes to the air on red silk 'slide' held at the bottom by two other performers. A blind violinist can be seen playing in the background.Last week I saw a blind aerialist – not a bad way to start this bumper two week blog – great to experience and great to have those assumptions blown out of the water. Just because someone can’t see, doesn’t mean they can’t swing on the silks. It was a beautiful snapshot at the end of a three-day research and development process for Extant, Yellow Earth and an ariel company they have been working with. So glad I made it to see the possibilities.

Many of my #DoDiffDaily’s in this two week chunk have been about challenging my own responses; choosing to behave differently in the moment to see if it would get a different outcome. It began with bit of light flirting to charm my way to a parking space today. I managed to get a man in a hi-vis jacket to nudge his cone over so I could squeeze the car in. Wasn’t proud of myself, but was pleased to get the spot and make the train.

I also went to have a meeting in a venue that was closed (a bar, I set the meeting, it didn’t used to be closed at the time we were meeting). Instead of meekly turning round I persuaded them to a) let us meet there still and then b) got him to get me a drink ‘cos I was thirsty for which he couldn’t/wouldn’t take any money for! Very ‘not me’ behavior as I’m usually quite reticent at pushing things forward with people I don’t know.

The biggy though was this one.

On one day I kept my gob shut whilst someone told me it was too expensive and too much of a pain in the arse to make things accessible for deaf people. He didn’t know I was deaf as he’d joined the meeting late. It was interesting to not explode, get mad, take it personally but to let him explain how hard it was from his perspective given his time, his capacity, his budget and his bosses. It wasn’t a small organisation either. One of those with ‘National’ or ‘British’ in the title. Not saying more, because the whole ‘difference’ was to move away from the immediate desire to shame someone.

It sounds horrendous and it was quite hard to sit there and say nothing but it was immensely useful to know what he really thought and to understand why he thought that way. Usually I wouldn’t get to hear that information, I’d get polite excuses instead. So hard, but very useful.

In this block I’ve also been working from home a bit, so that lead to these #DoDiffDaily’s:

eight tea light candles in a bread tin...I decided to have an austerity heat day – would 8 tea lights keep me warm enough whilst working at home and mean I don’t have to put the central heating on? Basically no. And lots of people warned me about the dangers of the tea lights kicking out nasty stuff too.

And I also had a great and high-powered evening meeting doing deals whilst wearing my PJ’s and having my hair in cling film whilst I dyed a bit of it. The best bit was my colleague was also in her nightie, having started out working from home that morning and not having had a chance to get dressed!

I’ve also done some very mundane things:

a pile of (beautifully clean and polished) shoesI had one day that was all about the shoe cleaning – yup; everyone cleaned ALL his or her shoes. Took ages.

I ordered a Chinese takeaway but did not order my favourite dishes; instead I have ordered other peoples. This was hard and the meal included way too much chicken. It’s such a surprise how welded to specific dishes people get, even if they’ve never tried others. How do we know they are our favourites?

Similar – but different – was the minor revolution that occurred when I bought the wrong lasagne. I’d picked up a veggie one and not our traditional meat based option whilst out, and decided to feed it to the kids anyway. Didn’t go down well, although it was delicious. Note to self; force the kids to eat more veg so this is less of a surprise next time.

an advent calendar in black and white with one coloured figure - santa holding the number 'one'I did some fairly odd things this week too. Yesterday I coloured in my own advent calendar – ohhh I love the free things you can find on the Internet (I’ve also got a ‘tea’ advent calendar – a different herb tea for every day leading up to Christmas).

me wearing a fez standing next to a red dalekAnd I also spent an evening at the Media Museum in Bradford wearing a fez – yes, it was linked to the Dr Who 50th Anniversary night special and I was so pleased to see a fez featuring highly within the episode.

I also put a call out to the universe.

Yup, you did read that right. I’m reading a book called E squared about how we can create our own… well, everything. Luck, good fortune, work, beliefs… well, everything.

The book gives you 9 experiments to conduct and this was my first – to give the universe 48 hours to give me a gift. And actually, I got two.

The first was to get some amazingly good news – a bag full of Christmas presents I left on a train (which also included my diary, my glasses and more) was found, complete and untampered with. And I got it back intact.

The second was even more amazing but it’s to do with work so I can’t disclose it on here. Was good news and was totally unexpected. So does this universe thing work then? I’m certainly going to push through the remaining 8 exercises to see what happens, but also going to read up on the other side of the story too – this is a great little animation about how all the universe stuff might not be all its cracked up to be. The jury is still out.

me dressed as mother of the bride and the bridegroomAnd finally this week, I got to be the mother of the bride. Joyous occasion doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I’m a very lucky woman, as is my daughter, as is her daughter. May we all have all the very best for the future (thank you universe!).


beautiful bride and her daughter - smiles.All my own photos (and if you want to follow the blog along, do sign up at the bottom right of the screen (and if you want to find out more about me, check out my other site www.joverrent.com).