'Everything does change, something is happening'

Bollards at 4am.

After last month's anxiety about the myth of free time and not getting much done, I had a rethink and reduced my 'stuff I want to do' list. There may still have been a spreadsheet. I had a lot more chilling out time thanks to Pete rescuing me from evening-working and getting me hooked on Mozart In The Jungle.

Thanks also to Pete's mum who wrote a thoughtful family round-robin at Christmas about pausing and appreciating the stuff around you. In writing about her garden she said: "I take heart that everything does change and that, even when there is a feeling of achieving nothing or getting nowhere, something is happening." I'm sure this is a message for me. A former colleague of mine has used her sabbatical to travel across Europe to Japan overland and, while this is something I admire, envy and is the perfect 'here's what I did on sabbatical' pitch, I have to remind myself that my own wanderlust is not the thing I need to do with my break. Now is the time for review and change.

So here's what happened in December:

  • Practical – a LOT of admin – mostly sorting out my financial situation, work needs and data security stuff, thanks to…
  • Learning – three more weeks done of OU Introduction to Cybersecurity course, some Indonesian vocab learning (up to 256 words out of 2000).
  • Helping – helped a retiring police officer understand his new Macbook and how to create presentations using Photos and Keynote. Helped paint a bedroom at sister's house.
  • Writing – read a couple of books in diary project and sent a short extract in a Christmas card to a long-time friend.
  • Books – nearly finished two books: on yoga and Carrie Fisher's diaries + got a load of great reading to come from Christmas books.
  • Health – weekly Scottish country dance class, tai chi in the park, PiYo (pilates-yoga), a night photowalk in central Birmingham, Highbury Park walk, Christmas Day walk up the Lickeys, got my bike out for the first time in a year and cycled up the hill to Kings Heath (high-speed freewheeled back down in 9 mins flat).
  • Events – allotment bonfire, The Atlantic Players gig at the Prince of Wales, played in the annual Snowselele singalong, Stan's Cafe's 25th birthday party, got involved in a local anti-supermarket campaign, Stirchley in the Pub for Christmas Eve.
  • People – connected with several friends on coffee 'dates', lots of family meets with new baby, and met two new people: my mentee and a PhD student as part of…
  • Something new – took part in a PhD student's psychogeography walk around Moselely, hooked up to a GPS device, heart rate monitor and GoPro. Volunteered at Fat Fluffs Rabbit Rescue after Christmas to help out with general bun care.
  • Somewhere new – Christmas Markets and Birmingham canals at night on a Photo-School night walk.
  • Random – the shed now has electricity thanks to our talented friend John Rushton, which means our three buns now have a milder winter to enjoy and we can enjoy hanging out a bit at evening feeding times. Thanks John!

In other thoughts, the BBC did a series on 'How to stay young' and it can be summed up as become a dancing, dog-loving vegan – or in my world, a dancing, bunny-loving, occasional vegan who is generally cutting down on meat and fish for moral and environmental reasons.