An ode to August

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Ah, August!

July is a funny month in my experience. Although it is tempting to think of August as the height of summer where I live, July is often the month with the highest temperatures. July is hot, sweaty, torpid, and I am unenthusiastic, becalmed. Contrast that with August, when the nights begin to draw in; there is a tiny promise, in the early morning, of autumn waiting just around the corner; in the local streets the gardens are ripe with plums and apples. August brings a breeze to the east of England, to blow away spiritual cobwebs and physical lethargy. At its best, it combines the good things about summer – long days, sunshine, that school’s out feeling – with rather more pleasant temperatures and an anticipation of things to come, new adventures, new terms, perhaps even new people.

So here is a question to ponder – when does the year start?

There are a multitude of possible answers. The calendar year starts on January 1st, of course. Then there is the tax year which, in the UK, starts on April 6th, and in many companies this is the year we have in mind whilst we’re at work. For children, parents and anyone who works in the education sector, the school year is the predominant measure of time which puts September as the year start, in the UK at least. These are three very common examples, I am sure there are many more.

However, the thing I have been thinking about is the personal year: the year as you feel it to be, regardless of what anyone says, and tradition or circumstances dictate. This has been high in my consciousness because a lot of planning systems emphasise a half-year check-in on goals and, presuming you set your goals at the beginning of January, you will be carrying out your half-year check in July. There has been a fair amount written and videos produced throughout the past month on this theme, and yet July feels to me less like a new beginning and more like a slow descent to the finish. In fact, it was almost the end of July when it occurred to me that August is the time when I feel things change and I start to look forward.

This actually makes sense because the July feeling is exactly the way I always feel during the six weeks between Christmas and my birthday – the pause, the wait for a new beginning, as opposed to the time when the new year starts and I am full of enthusiasm for goals I’ve set myself. Perhaps my personal year starts in February, meaning my personal seasons run:
February/March/April
May/June/July
August/September/October
November/December/January.

With this in mind, I am working on my half-year review and planning; trying to work out how to move forward with my goals between now and February; taking advantage of that fresh-start feeling in my heart.

How about you? Do you feel that your personal year runs on a different schedule, or are the standard years – either calendar or academic – the ones that feel right to you? I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment.


With reference to this week’s quote in my diary – I can thoroughly recommend this YouTube video of Alan Rickman’s wonderful performance as Jacques Roux in “Revolutionary Witness”. An oldie but goodie.

 

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Exhilarate

18-03-19 Exhilarate

As of this week, I’m changing things up a bit on the blog, partly because it’s getting towards Spring, and I reckon we all need a bit of a change. Mainly, though, it’s just that I fancy doing a ‘word of the week’ instead of the ‘quote of the week’ that I was doing last year, and having had that thought I decided it would be good to start the week with a word.

So, here is the first Word of the Week –  exhilarate – because don’t we all need a bit of exhilaration on a Monday morning?

With Mondays allocated to a Word of the Week, I think Wednesdays will be my main knitting catch-up day and Fridays my general meanderings. If you’ve read my blog before you will probably know that I am very fluid with my intentions and I’d rather write a good post about something off-topic than a plodding post about something that fits the day’s specific category. I like to think that makes reading my blog a bit of an adventure.

I will commit to saying that this Wednesday’s post will be about knitting and will feature a finished object. Woo-hoo!


 

Is it later yet?

September Morn
2019 – A New Dawn

I have noticed over the past few days that I have a particular mind-set which leads me to live further to the “maximalist” than the “minimalist” end of the social scale and I would define it as the “save it for later” mentality. I notice it particularly in the digital realm, however I know it’s also true in my physical life.

Since the New Year I have been making a determined effort to clear the clutter off my computer, basically archiving what I want to keep, but don’t need to access on a regular basis, and deleting what isn’t really useful.

Now, I could argue with myself that the things I want to keep but don’t need to access on a regular basis are, pretty much, clutter. I know in my heart that I probably won’t ever look at them again, but I can’t let go of them. Although I can’t make a sound argument for keeping these items, I attach an importance to them and therefore they have a value to me. They are my firm basis in a world of shifting sands; they are my past; they are an integral part of my memory palace, to borrow a concept from Sherlock.

That takes us to the things that are of no value, the place where I can strive to make an improvement in 2019, and those are all the little clippings that I keep because they pertain to something that I might one day want to pursue. I am an absolute nightmare for saving web pages or for taking screen-shots of things that interest me – clothes, ideas, articles about being organised, ideas for gifts, pretty spangly things like Christmas tree decorations that I noticed in 2005…. You get my drift? I have saved all these things “for later” – when the time is right, or I no longer have the facility to access the up to date versions of these things, which begs the question posed in the title of this post.

Is it later yet?

And if it is not later yet, when will it be?

I think these two are very relevant questions to ask, and there are two times when it would be very helpful to ask them. First, I should ask myself before I grab something just when the “later” will be that I am saving it for. Is it something that I will look into this week? This quarter? This year? Or is it just an interesting idea in a universe of interesting ideas and probably not the idea that is ever going to make it to the top of my list and actually get looked at. This would be helped by assessing accurately just how much time I want to devote to the pursuit of these nebulous items.

The second time I should ask these questions is on a regular basis when reviewing and assessing the things I have saved. Which means setting up a) a single storage place for all such items, and b) actually reviewing them on a regular basis. Neither of these has featured thus far in my slightly chaotic organisation system.

So that is an aim for the early part of 2019. Rein in excessive saving in the first place, and establish (my word of the year!) a storage and review system that really works.


Here’s to gaining some focus. Are you with me?