Apparently, in business, you’re advised to continue to write newsletters, blogs, and post on social media throughout January. I understand this, but understanding it, does not make it any easier to do.
Believe it or not, I’m now going to write a blog, which I want you to read, on the subject of having nothing to report. Bear with me…
I don’t like doing much in January. It’s a time of recovering from the excesses of December, and the realisation that it’s bastard January again. I cut myself some slack because even plants can’t be bothered in January, and they have just one job.
However, I accept that I must crank this old bird into first gear, and move off into 2024 with the caution that comes with starting a 1975 Mini after it’s been parked out in the rain for a couple of weeks. (As an aside, my first car was a 1975 mini. Old minis were notorious for breaking down in the rain because the distributor cap was right behind the grill. When it rained, the electrics got wet. In those days, I carried a can of WD40 around with me like a rancid bottle of Chanel No.5.)
I know, I’ll do a workshop!
With this in mind, I decided to attend a ‘Vision Board’ workshop, with six brilliant and funny women. What’s a ‘Vision Board Workshop’? Well, you create a vision for your year ahead and, well, put it on a board.
I arrived at the venue (the most beautiful house) and on parking my car, was greeted by two black cats. I instantly thought ‘well, this is a Sign’! But then I realised you can’t really interpret animals as a ‘sign’, when you are visiting a place where they actually live. It’s a bit like visiting the bat enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo and declaring it a sign that your chosen career into witchcraft must be right because you’re practically inhaling bats.
Where I practice signing my name
Anyway, at the start of the morning, we were going through some journal exercises to get us into the right frame of mind for vision board creation. They were thought-provoking questions but one of them stumped me:
‘What three things did you achieve last year which you are most proud of?’
All around me, I could hear the furious scratching of pens on paper whilst the six other super-beings wrote down all they were proud of. I, meanwhile, could not think of one. Single. Thing. I wrote my name a few times in my notebook, to make it look like I had something to write, then closed it quickly. I mean, I didn’t want the others to think I was some sort of idiot.
After lunch, it was time to get creative and put our boards together. We had piles of magazines to go through to cut out pictures, words or phrases which inspired us or meant something to our year ahead. Most magazines have eye-catching words in order to get you to read the articles within however, the first page I opened contained an advert for a Stannah stair lift…
Out ratting by the light of the silvery moon
So there I was, literally cutting and pasting. Words and phrases such as ‘getting older is liberating’, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, ‘storytelling’ and ‘whippet’ found their way onto my board in a wave of optimism and future manifesting. All the while, the conversations and witticisms of my fellow cut and pasters provided the soundtrack (the horse who thinks he’s a ‘fucking rhino’ and the descriptions of the two ‘Shitland’ Ponies; along with the phrase ‘oh yeah, chickens are bastards’; and the tale of rat brought in by one lady’s cat in the middle of the night, resulting in her carrying the then bag-wrapped rat, by the light of the silvery moon on the winter solstice, in her pyjamas to release it.)
It was a fabulous day, spent with fabulous women. Our awesome hostess fed and watered us with tasty home-cooked food, cake and a heavy dollop of encouragement.
I’ll put this out there now: I’ve never been one for Vision Boards. I’ve always thought them a bit too ‘woo’ for me. However, I now think that I shouldn’t really write something off without actually trying it. I’m glad I did. Dreaming for a day was fun and if just some of the stuff on my board comes into being, well then, I’m happy. Particularly if it’s being able to fly a broomstick – I’ve never been able to master that.
The other day, a fellow craftsmen sent me a message which said ‘how’s life and all that shit?’ Fair question, I thought. ‘Fine’, I replied, ‘considering it’s still fucking January.’ This got me to thinking: what is it about January which is just so awful?
The Theory of Time
When you get older, if you are anything like me, you lament at the rapid speed at which time travels. It seems, with increasing age, comes increasing speed, though not in a useful sense, like faster brain processing in calculating your VAT, or the ability to outrun a rabbit on your morning dog walk. But the increasing speed in which time goes by. You wake up one day and it’s April 24th. You run a few errands, hoover the floor and suddenly it’s October 3rd. That sort of thing.
January passes at a glacial rate, and a glacial rate before global warming at that. Every day lasts an eternity, which is ironic as January comprises most of the shortest days of the whole year. And the dark of a January morning! The dark morning mocks me with its faceless, all-encompassing presence. And as much as I like rain, if it’s raining on a January morning and I have to get up, I am Sin itself. Satan is just one in a whole box of puppies in comparison.
An intelligent race? Really?
As an apparently intelligent race, what, therefore, do we do in January? We decide to do Dry January and to give up sugar and chocolate; to go on a massive health kick, even if we haven’t so much as lifted more than a hot coffee the previous year. We decide to completely reinvent ourselves into something SO much better than we ever were before. Yes, we opt to make the direst month of the year EVEN WORSE by not drinking, not eating sugar and trying to run 10k before eating breakfast, (which can consist of anything, provided it’s not carbs).
It seems utterly bizarre to me that we would do this to ourselves. And I’m as much guilty of this as anyone else (apart from the running. I won’t run, ever. Chased by a bear? Fuck it – it can have me). I get through that mindless period between Christmas and New Year by promising myself a better ‘me’. A better life. What’s worse is at that time, I really believe it. Despite 40-odd years of repeating this behaviour, I still think that this new year will be the one! I feel almost dizzy with the optimism (I am not used to optimism, therefore when I feel it, it’s extreme and comes with dizziness).
This optimism shows itself in my behaviour by my deciding not to go through my wardrobe and chuck out what I don’t wear. Come the New Year, I will lose so much weight, said item will look fabulous on the snake-hipped, new me. I look at holidays online because when I relaunch, I will consequently become so successful, a yacht holiday is entirely plausible. And as I eat the last Christmas chocolate, I look at the wrapper disdainfully as if to say ‘that’s that, you little shit – come the New Year, you won’t tempt me with your sugar rush anymore because…well, ‘new me’’.
Of course, inevitably, ‘new me’ doesn’t arrive. ‘New me’ just becomes a more pissed off version of ‘old me’, because now I have failure to add to my persona.
The Wisdom of Dormice
Listen, all I want to do in January is stay in and hibernate. Like a massive dormouse. (As a completely unrelated aside, that reminds me of a time when a gloriously funny friend of mine who I worked with, said of a short colleague ‘I don’t know if Gary is just short or a really fucking massive Borrower.’)
I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to socialise. The only time I’m creative in January is in finding vastly outlandish reasons for staying in bed in the morning (“I can’t get up because I had a dream whereby I’d die if I get up before noon and I don’t want to tempt fate”) or for not going for a walk (“my walking socks are in the wash and they take five WHOLE DAYS to dry as they can only be dried by the breath of a fledgling wren”).
As I write this, it’s still January. It’s also at this stage of an essay whereby the writer comes up with a really positive outlook to counteract the essay’s earlier negativity. I’m not going to do that. It’s January. I hate it.
Today, we have relaunched our jewellery range on the website. It still shows some of the old favourites but largely, it is a new selection of totally different designs. I am so pleased with the way they have turned out and I really hope that you like them too. I have had brilliant winter in the studio learning new techniques and designing these pieces. By the way, I say ‘I’ because Rich doesn’t make jewellery – not really his thing.
Some of the pieces were experimental, prototypes if you like. This peacock for example:
I absolutely love this, so much so that I have commandeered it for myself but although I love it, there are things I would do slightly differently with the next one, which will be for sale. This is not a small piece but I think that something so dramatic needs to be bigger and to be honest, you would lose a lot of the detail if it was any smaller.
Some of the techniques I have learned and adapted I can use in other pieces too. Take this mini round dish:
It is made in the same way as the peacock pendant. This piece isn’t for sale as I made it for my lovely mum for her birthday. (Poor Mum, she gets glass most birthdays but the way I look at it, I didn’t paint any pictures at junior school which she had to display on her fridge so she’s just getting it all now.)
I will be back with an update in the next week or so……until then, please take a look at the jewellery!
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