12/29/2013

Golden Years; The Struggle Against New Years Resolutions.

I always think the week between Christmas and New Year is a bit like sitting in a railway station. You feel like you're waiting and waiting for something to happen, whether it's an end of year party or just getting back to a normal schedule. I love Christmas and all the fun which goes with it, but you do find that you lose track of the days and each festive movie begins to melt into the next.

My Christmas was a fun, happy boardgame filled affair in the countryside with Howard's wonderful family. I feel incredibly lucky that they've let me share in their traditions including finding the fabled sugar mice in my tree stocking and was absolutely spoilt by all of them. Although the day itself was great, I have always been a lover of Christmas Eve as it has a certain magic to the air, mixed with excitement and anticipation. I got to read a Christmas story to Howard's five year old niece and nephew which had already made my holiday complete before I even got to the giant pile of presents! There is nothing like two excited faces to make you go home filled with a genuine excitement for the happiness which Christmas can bring.

One of Mama Dicely's favourite games, K2. This always gets brought back to Lambourn, and you can read Howard's hilarious review of it here.
Back in London, our thoughts of course turned to plans for New Years Eve, and with that, I started to consider the crushing series of resolutions which would inevitably make my January miserable and leave me feeling a washed up failure by the first week of February. And then I decided that I was done with resolutions - what I really need to do is make some small changes, and re-focus. Instead of working against myself with deprivation, I am going to apply more moderation and see what happens.

1. Don't aim to lose weight - try to change your diet and fitness routine.
We've all been there on the 1st January with a raging hangover and an unopened box of Celebrations. Those promises of "I'm eating nothing but salads" have made way for "I need a fry up or I am going to die", and the thought of even crawling from the sofa to the kitchen makes you want to cry.

I've been in a constant battle with my weight since the age of 15, and it's taken until my early 30s to get a proper diagnosis of what's going on. For me, it has never been as simple as eat less and exercise more as my body is dealing with both PCOS and Insulin Resistance to quite severe degrees. Yet there are things which I can do to help moderate the condition - a low GI diet, making sure I do take regular exercise and ensuring that the things which are bad for my body are treats only, and not a regular occurrence. (Pizza, you, me and the rest of the carbs are going to have to have a little chat...)

It doesn't have to be a horrible, restrictive ordeal. It'll be fun to experiment with food and find tasty alternatives which will make me feel better both inside and out. I don't need to eat less, just differently, and when I fancy that slice of pizza or pack of Malteasers, I can do so without feeling guilty about it. Complete deprivation is a bad  idea as it often leads to feelings of shame and self hatred when we inevitable crumble after a bad day. Where's the fun in that? Life is for living, and I fully intend to keep that tub of ice-cream and emergency bottle of wine for those days where nothing quite else will do.

I have also learnt to take on board that I need to watch what I'm not eating as well as what I do. It's important to eat your five a day, but it also needs to be varied. Eating ten tangerines isn't going to give me enough protein or good fats! When I'm busy working I frequently have a bad habit of not eating enough which is incredibly bad for my blood sugar, thyroid and metabolism and need to start packing small healthy snacks to take on shoots with me. This will also hopefully stop me crashing once home and craving a truck load of carbs as I need a sugar fix.

Time will tell with this non-resolution, but it is one which I am feeling positive about. I'm looking forward to getting back on the running wagon and enjoying waking up with beautiful, foggy views from Hampstead Heath.

2. Don't aim to earn more money - ask yourself how you can be more successful.
Every January, I always seem to attack my business plan with some sort of wolf cry, and then instantly fall back into familiar patterns. This year has been one of my busiest with many new clients ranging from corporate big wigs to individual small businesses and sole traders. So why hasn't my bank balance reflected this? Even more frightening, why has my work / life balance turned into work / work / sleep for five hours / work?

Certainly November and December saw me take on more work than I could reasonably manage, and it was by editing insane amounts in my pyjamas on caffeine highs that I managed to clear the backlog in time to hit their respective deadlines. So what was the problem? It all stems from knowing what your worth is and although I have a series of rates, I have always been happy to work on a sliding scale with smaller businesses and individuals. But taking on a job which sucks up all your time for next to nothing? Sometimes you need to know your worth and walk away.

This year I am not going to be afraid to ask for what I feel my time and work is worth. I'll be happy to negotiate, but being paid isn't someone doing you a favour. It's because you can fulfil the client's specific needs to a perfect standard. This is something I need to remember when moving forward. I don't want to get to next December, and contemplate how hard it is to be this broke!

I have also learnt to not be afraid of trying new things. Two years ago, I started up Whiskey Kittens with my friend Tom, and discovered that I'm actually quite good at DJing! Who knew? This has led to being paid to DJ at private parties, events and even weddings, and with a wide love of music ranging from 20s jazz to 70s glam and beyond, I've been quite flexible and picked up a lot of gigs as "that vintage DJ" which totally works for me!

(If anyone who wants to offer me some work, I am also an internationally published writer too with particular interests in fashion, music, cinema and vintage lifestyles. Just in case anyone's looking...)

My plan moving forward is to sort out my portfolio, upload my new work, cut the old stuff and hype up the other things I'm good at. It's easy to be stressed and second guess yourself, but if you're a freelance and you're surviving in this climate, you must be doing something right!

It feels incredibly liberating to ditch the new year ball and chains. I'm hoping that a clear mind and fresh outlook which offer a more positive avenue to seeing the changes I want to make happen. I am also hoping that it will be easier to bounce back from when things inevitable go wobbly from time to time.

Here's to a happy 2014, with no self-loathing, deprivation, impossible diet restrictions and self imposed stress. Remember it's easier to make small changes when feeling more positive, and small changes eventually add up to huge ones.

Until next time,

Diana xx

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(All photos (c) Diana Thompson / Fashion Loves Photos. Please do not reproduce without written permission.)

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