A New Year, New Start: Things I Learned in 2020

Things I Learned in 2020

I’ve always found something quite liberating about the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve. Despite the fact that it is just one minute, the transition between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day brings a sense of excitement and the notion that anything is possible.

A year ago The Bloke and I rang in the new year with the fireworks display from the London Eye on the TV, singing Auld Lang Syne with the cat and making promises that 2020 would be our year. I had plans. I had spent weeks carefully making lists of all of the things that we were going to do: the places we would go, the things we would see, the experiences that we would have. Continue reading

A Blast from the Past and a Lesson Learned

imageA single post on Facebook shared by a friend yesterday has meant that I’ve had a very unusual day.

I discovered the filtered messages on Facebook Messenger (for those of you who are unsure about this, I’ll do a post later).

Intrigued, I followed the instructions, and discovered a whole plethora of messages, mainly group conversations about organising events that I hadn’t attended. Oops.

And then, there was a message from a name that made my heart sink, that had been sent two years ago.

‘Saw your beautiful blog – hope you will accept my fb friend request X’

I had seen her friend request several years ago, and immediately declined it at the time. This was a girl from university that I wasn’t particularly keen on. We spent a lot of time together, but we were more friends by association – we were very different people individually, but we had a couple of mutual friends that we cared about, and I think we put up with each other’s company because neither of us wanted to miss out. Continue reading

Eleven Life Lessons in 2014


2014 has been the most challenging year I have ever experienced, for a number of reasons. With a house move, hospital stay, the death of my elderly cat and a suddenly massive workload there have been times where I have been left feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and totally lost. However, I’ve worked incredibly hard to get back on track, things have started to settle down a little and now it seems like I have emerged on the other side. I’m a little battered and bruised, but I’m proud of everything that I have accomplished.

As with any difficulties in life, there are lessons to be learned, and I have learned a great deal of them over the last year.

1. Ask for help. A heavy workload does not go away, and the more you take on alone, the more overwhelmed you will feel. Previous experiences left me with the idea that asking for help shows signs of weakness and leaves you vulnerable and susceptible to negativity. It doesn’t. Asking for help from the right people at the right time not only allows for delegation and a reduction in workload, but it can strengthen relationships and gain you more respect from others. Two pairs of hands are always better than one.

2. Find what your passion is, and reward yourself with time to pursue it. Unless you absolutely love and live for your job (of which I know very few who do), this year has taught me that it is important to have the time to have do something that you truly enjoy. For me, that is writing, and I got into the habit of rewarding myself with time to write once I had got my work done. At times, it has been a lifesaver.



3. Stand up for yourself. I’m confident on paper, but in the real world I am easily intimidated and back down to avoid confrontation. This year, I didn’t – I stood my ground on things that I genuinely believed were worth standing up for, and as a result I was listened to and understood.

4. Move on. For years I held quite a nasty grudge against a few who have treated me badly. Recently, I decided to let it go. I haven’t forgotten and it is going to take some time, but I feel emotionally lighter now the heavy burden of anger has gone.

5. When things are down, surround yourself with the people that lift you. When things get tough I shut down and close myself in. However, recently I decided to change this rather nasty habit and started to make more of an effort with people who I enjoy spending time with. Consequently, I have had some brilliant evenings over the last year which have given me the opportunity to relax, switch off and enjoy their company.

6. Stop procrastinating. As the self- proclaimed ‘Queen of Procrastination’ I learned that this was being detrimental to my lifestyle. Instead, I learned to try and do things when they were set, rather than leaving it till the deadline. The sooner something is started, the sooner it is finished.



7. Sleep. I’ve always been a night owl – I much prefer being awake late than getting up for an early morning. Unfortunately, this also meant that I was tired during the times where the most energy was needed, so I started taking myself off to bed earlier and getting up earlier. I feel much better for it.

8. Breathe. It is ok to take time for yourself. You are allowed to relax, read a book, have a long bath, watch an uplifting film or have a massage without feeling guilty. This year I have learned to sit back, take stock of recent events and just breathe. My only regret is that I didn’t learn to do this earlier.

9. Stop worrying. I worry about anything and everything, but recently I learned to start asking myself if the issue that was causing the anxiety would still be an issue in a few days time, and what the solution would be. If something is beyond my control, I am trying to accept that it is what it is.

10. Look after your health. I allowed my pace of life to take over and avoided minor nagging physical ailments because I was ‘too busy’ to go to the doctors. I stopped taking care of myself. I ignored an easily treatable urinary tract infection, which over time developed into quite a serious kidney infection that landed me in hospital for nearly a week. This year, I have learned that my health takes priority over everything, and I take the time to ensure that I am getting everything that I need to remain so.

11. Most importantly, I have learned to be a little more appreciative of the people who have been there through it all – The Bloke who has provided constant support, love and a shoulder to cry on, the friends who have bought me a drink at the end of a tough day, who visited me in hospital, who have listened when I have needed to talk, my family, and, of course, you guys. You’ve helped me through the best and worst moments of this year, and your messages and emails have made me laugh. Thank you.

What about you guys? What have you learnt in the last twelve months?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks



The Sound of Silence: Twelve Hours Without Media

I’ve always thought that I was quite comfortable with the sound of silence – I enjoy time in my own company and often find that my most productive moments are when I am by myself.



I decided that I was going to try a little experiment while I’m still recovering from my hospitalisation last week – I intended to spend just 12 hours with no electronic media whatsoever, the purpose being to examine what life would be like on a more simple level and to discover exactly how comfortable I am with the sound of silence. That meant no TV, phone, music, computer, laptop, iPad, Internet, DVD’s, Blu Rays, cameras, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Instagram, iTunes, apps, games consoles – instead I would have to find other things to occupy my time. I also set myself a rule that small naps would be permitted, as I often indulge in afternoon naps at the weekends, but sleeping for the majority of the day wouldn’t be allowed. The Bloke would be in with me for a part of the day, but for the rest of it he would be off doing other things, so aside from any quick conversations that we would have the majority of the day would be spent in silence. I was going to start at 6.00am and finish at 6.00pm and was quite looking forward to it. It was only going to be for twelve hours… Easy! Right?

Here was my day. Note: there would be photographs accompanying this but as I wasn’t allowed to use my camera I had to use google images post challenge.

6.00am: I woke up in a positive frame of mind and went and injected my diabetic cat. Normally, I would follow this by checking my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and I was surprised by the immediate feeling of loss that washed over me when I realised that I wasn’t allowed to do so. So, what to do instead? TV? Nope, that wasn’t allowed either. I suddenly felt very tired and went back to bed.

8.00am: I got up, had some breakfast, put some washing in, put my clean clothes away and vacuumed the upstairs part of the house.


Anne Taintor

9.00am: I decided to start the monumental task of sorting out the piles of paperwork and useless junk that have been lying around the house since we moved in. I put all my old bills into a bag for shredding, I collected all my tickets and cards together for my scrapbook, sorted out my bookshelves and piled up all the books I knew I wasn’t going to read again ready to go to the charity shop. I then (finally) unpacked the last two boxes that were left over from the move. I couldn’t believe the sheer amount of pointless crap that I had insisted on packing and bringing with us. I was ruthless – I obviously hadn’t missed the items in those boxes and so I got rid of the lot.

11.00am: The Bloke and I went to the charity shop with the items that we had collected – he insisted on accompanying me just in case I passed out as I am still quite light headed at times. We also called at the bank and deposited the change that I had bagged from around the house – it worked out that we had £11.00 lying around, which we used to treat ourselves to some snacks for this evening.

12.00pm: I put another load of washing in and made lunch. I have to admit, by this point I was starting to get a little bored. Normally, my chores would be completed with music playing in the background, and I was growing increasingly frustrated with my own thoughts – my brain started to wander to deadlines at work, or play random snippets from songs on a loop and after a morning of this I found that I was craving the TV, just for something to take my mind off the increasingly negative thoughts I started to have. I had some playtime with the cats, who had spent a lot of the morning following me around (until I got the vacuum cleaner out) and it was quite amusing to see Daisy stalking a rubber mouse on the floor.

12.30pm: I got out the vacuum cleaner again and set to work on downstairs, much to the cats annoyance. I tidied up, organised the side and coffee tables, put more of my washing out and started to get stuck into little jobs that I had been avoiding for a while. I started to get stronger urges to turn the TV on, despite the fact that I knew that there was very little on (daytime TV is shocking in the UK unless you’re into property or antique programmes).

2.00pm: I decided to have a nice hot bath. Normally, I would put on a playlist of relaxing songs, but instead I had to lie in silence, which I didn’t enjoy. I got a book and started to read, realising that it had been six months since I had last done so, and I had forgotten just how much fun it was. A quick glance in the mirror revealed that my eyebrows had grown out so much that they were beginning to take over my face, so after locating my tweezers I managed to sort them out, following this with a long, overdue pedicure.


Debbie Ridpath Ohi

4.00pm. I was bored. My chores were done, I was too weak to go outside again, I’d had a bath, read some of my book, tidied the house, played with the cats and organised my paperwork. I had started to experience an intense craving to get out my iPad and write something down, and the strangest thing was that it was a similar craving to what I had experienced when I was quitting smoking – it was a physical, intense urge to do something that I knew I shouldn’t be doing. I decided to follow a similar approach to what I did when getting rid of cigarettes (I got an electronic cigarette) – I substituted the iPad with a notebook and a set of greetings cards and I did something that I haven’t done for years – I wrote a letter to my friend. When we were at university my friend and I used to write to each other all the time and I have kept all her cards and letters in a shoebox. It suddenly occurred to me that during my first two years at university I lived in the Halls of Residence without a TV, the Internet, or a computer, and so I used to write her lots of letters to pass the time at weekends when I couldn’t afford to go out. The more I thought about it, the more I remembered how peaceful life was – some of my happiest memories are of sitting in bed on a Sunday morning, reading a book.

As soon as it turned 6.00pm, and I had cooked dinner and sorted out the cats, the first thing that I did was grab my iPad, switch on the TV and start to write. While it was only a short experiment, it has been valuable in that it has allowed to catch up on lots of chores that needed to be finished, reminded me of my love of reading and writing letters, and more importantly, it has taught me a few things about myself.



1. I am not as comfortable with the sound of silence as I initially thought. My brain goes into overdrive when there is nothing to occupy it and has a tendency to visit the darker and more anxious times I have experienced, and I have subconsciously used the sounds of the TV and music to block it out.

2. I still believe that I am comfortable with my own company, but found that this ‘alone’ time is actually spent chatting to people on various social networks and not actually by myself.

I was surprised at how reliant I am on technology for entertainment. So, I am able to take something from this lesson and in the future I am going to take a little bit of time to put everything down, turn everything off and embrace the sound of silence.

What about you guys? Do you ever take the time just to do nothing? Can you cope with the sound of silence?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog


Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge.