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It's okay to do less

This is my new mantra and I'm determined that 2017 will be the year of doing less, saying no, properly resting, being content with time passing.

That said, there are some things I want to prioritise this year:

1. Career
I hate the idea of a career. I've never had one, I just go from one thing to the next as it turns up. But something happened a few weeks ago which made me think this needs to change a bit. I've got less than 18 months on my current contract and I'd like to invest some time and money this year in working out some longer term goals and plans, so that this time next year I'm not panicking.

2. Art
This has been the big revelation of 2016 for me. A year ago I started going to a weekly art class which turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done. I love it so much. I love that we chat and laugh. I love that I can go when I'm in a foul mood and just be handed the pencil sharpener to work my anger out on. I mostly love that it's given me the confidence to start the OCA course I've been wanting to do for years. Which has also been brilliant and my lovely tutor has also been so positive about my work. I think I can do this! So 2017 is going to be a year of less crafting and more textile art. I'm just starting on The Artist's Way for the third(?) time, and I'm looking forward to seeing where that takes me too.

3. Prayer
This should have been first, I suppose, and that tells you why I need to prioritise it more. I've fallen into a habit of mostly praying panic prayers and desperation prayers. Which are okay, but not exactly thoughtful or relational. As I start morning pages again, I want to make a regular morning prayer habit as well.

4. Health
I'm very, very bad at prioritising this. In 2017 I want to give more attention to my body's needs. When I get my new bike sorted (it needs the mechanic to come back and fix the handlebars) I am hoping to use that to get more fresh air and exercise. I also need to go to the dentist and get my dreadful teeth sorted out. I need new glasses (probably varifocals). And I am going to try to cut down on my sugar intake. I would love to fit into all the lovely clothes in my wardrobe properly.

5. Money
For the first time in a long time, I have no debt. Hooray! So 2017 is going to be a year of saving. I'm really excited about this. I can't remember the last time I had more than a few hundred pounds in a savings account.

A little literary Christmas quiz

Who gave these Christmas presents to whom, and in which book?

1. A larger bottle of cologne
2. A papier mache carnival head
3. A cup, a candy cane, an iced cake and a bright copper penny.
4. A dam with a sluice-gate
5. A prize turkey
6. A paper tissue
7. A scarf with a pattern of snowmen

Answers in comments and also feel free to ask your own literary Christmas present questions along the same lines.

Whitworth (ii)

The other exhibition I saw was Revolutionary Textiles. I wasn't clear what was revolutionary about all of the textiles on show, to be honest. Mostly they were British printed fabrics from the 20th century, although there was also a section of Russian Ballet costumes, and other Russian textiles.

I particularly enjoyed the story of the female designer working with indigo dyes who kept setting the house on fire, and came up with a urine-based method, which required her to hold regular events called Barron's Piddle Parties.
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Whitworth

Two months ago, I made a list of exhibitions I wanted to go and see as research for the textiles course. Yesterday I realised I hadn't actually been to any. So today I went to two! Both in the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.

First, Tibor Reich. He was a textiles designer, best known for developing a technique called Deep Weaving. This is not a profoundly philosophical view of art, but a way of weaving lots of layers of yarn, including boucle yarn, into fabrics which have depth to them. You will probably have come across examples of this on, for example, public transport seat covers. I wasn't sure whether I'd like his work or not, but I LOVED it. Mostly because he had an incredible sense of colour.

I was also surprised and delighted by his weird, Alice in Wonderland-ish, doodles and drawings, often coloured with pencil crayons. Some of these were developed into ceramic designs, but I think most were just whatever happened when he had paper and pencil - or biro - to hand.

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Not a learning log

I spend far too much time online already and manage too many websites/blogs/social media accounts to want to set up another one. So I'm keeping a pen-and-paper learning log for my OCA Textiles course. But I do want to share some of what I'm doing, especially with who is also doing the same course, and this seems the sensible place for that. I'll try to remember to put images behind a cut so you can easily scroll past if you're not interested.

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On the telly!

I feel like I may have saturated the internet with references to this over the last month, but I haven't said it here, so just in case anyone doesn't already know: I am going to be on proper telly!

Songs of Praise, BBC1, 5.15pm TODAY (May 15th).

They interviewed me about my job, filmed me with the team I do an online chat show with, and also had us in the background of several links. Oh, and we got to show our non-entries for their Christmas card competition! I will not be singing. The trailer is already up:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03v22pz/player

It'll be on iplayer for a month afterwards too. If you're not in the UK, sorry, you'll be missing out on this great treat.

Happy Easter!

It's been a busy week at work, and then the clocks went forward today, and this afternoon was a first birthday party for my niece. So it's now 7.30pm and I think I'm going to bed very soon.

Hope you've all had a lovely day!

DAY OF WIN

It has been a very peculiar day. Almost everything was a disaster in the morning and almost everything is vastly better now.

I had period pain bad enough to wake me up last night. UGH. It is now fine.

When I got up (see above), the toilet seat broke. In pieces, not just coming off the hinge. UGH. I have now got a new toilet seat and I have fixed it in using a spring washer which will apparently stop it coming loose. WE SHALL SEE.

When I woke up (see above) it was pouring with rain. UGH. But the rest of the day was sunny.

My cleaners didn't show up last week and hadn't replied to my email, so the house was a mess and I was girding my loins for finding a new cleaner. UGH. But they got back to me apologetically this evening and are coming tomorrow.

I spent most of the day waiting anxiously for an Important Phone Call. UGH. Instead I got an Important Email with the news I was hoping for. I am going to be on telly! On Songs of Praise, being interviewed about my job, to be shown in May.

Also today, I have acquired wine and chocolate, and I have done some gardening.

It has been a Day Of Win.

All I need now is for the mouse that was being extremely loud in the attic last night to have found its way outside during that nice, sunny day.

Rare public post

My letter was S.

Something I hate: Snow. I mean, I like snow when it is looking pretty somewhere over there. I do not like snow when it is here and I have to deal with it. It scares me. I'm not sure quite when this started (sometime in the last 10 years, I think), but it is now quite a big deal for me. I get physical symptoms of anxiety when it starts snowing or when snow is forecast. I am scared of driving in it, walking in it, and being trapped at home by it. Generally the reality is not nearly so bad as the anticipation.

Something I love: Sunshine. Also sewing, sleep, sandy beaches and spa hotels.

Somewhere I've been: Sardinia

Somewhere I'd like to go: Right now, I'd like to go to a spa.

Someone I know: I used to know someone called Serenity. She did a very good job of living up to her name.

A film I like: Oh, this is too easy. The Sound of Music.

If anyone else would like a letter, leave a comment!

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Swim 0 to 1500

Gulp. I have been swimming a couple of times a week for the last few weeks, doing 2 more lengths each time. Having begun from a very low starting point of 4 lengths, I have worked up to 16 lengths. I also like to do some arthritis exercises (this was the main motivation for starting to swim again) but mostly I am trying to work on more lengths.

SO.

I found a thing called zero to a mile, which is a bit like the Couch to 5k running programme. Except it doesn't really start at zero, it starts at 700m. And it's not actually a mile, it's 1500m. But also, it only has weekly increments and some of the steps were quite big. And it's written for people doing yards.

So I have done my own version. I normally only go twice a week and I'm also very prepared to have to do several of the days multiple times. So I'm expecting to take two to three months, rather than six weeks (not least because I shall be away for a couple of weeks at the end of July). But I am hopeful that eventually I might be able to swim 1500m all in one go. We shall see.

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