Here’s to the New Year

Good morning! I hope you’ve had a restful/exciting/peaceful/joyous/insertappropriateadjectivehere holiday season. DH (darling husband) is back at work and I am again alone at home. No daughter, no step kids. Just me and the animals and a really clean house.


(Photo courtesy of

Saturday I finally got around to vacuuming the whole house because dust and builders, and boy did it feel good. We’ve cleaned out the old bathroom so the children can put their own stuff in the drawers, we’ve organised the pantry, cobbled together a linen cupboard, taken clothes to the charity bins, bought a full length mirror for the WIR. It feels good to get so much stuff done. Old, unwanted things become a burden when you know they work: you can’t bear to throw them away. However, you’ve upgraded and now the old unwanted thing skulks in the back of the cupboard. In our case, without any cupboards to speak of, it’s skulking in plain view. We need to organise a garage sale, it’s true.

But I prevaricate. This year is a turning point for me. I’ve had more than a year to gather my thoughts, be angry, grief-stricken and generally unproductive. Now it’s time for action. I’m no religious nutter but in the past when I didn’t have a job or money I would “make a call to the ether” and invariably something positive would turn up. I guess this means I was open to opportunities as they arose. Now my opportunities are narrower, so how to hear the ether calling back?

I’m also aware of a life phase coming to its end. It began when I moved north and now it feels finished. Not, of course, from my marriage or blessed relationship with DH who is my light, my joy, my rock, my better half. I just feel that something new awaits me. Dunno what it is.

I shouldn’t write a listicle of NY resolutions: I’m a goal setter without the need for a New Year’s punctuation mark. But here are a few goals I can be getting on with for the month of January at least:

  1. Blog more frequently using ideas from the interwebs, and link with other bloggers. See? I’m already doing it. I’ve got Weekend Coffee Share through Part-time Monster, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy and I’m thinking of doing some Friday Fictioneers or some other fast fiction writing. I’d love some help engaging with the blogging community – drop me a line if you would like to share some ideas about where to go and what to do. By the way, I also have another blog called The House that Jess Built. Check it out if you’re a renovation nut like me.
  2. Do my TAX. I have a refund owing and bills to pay.
  3. Finish painting the woodwork of our new renovation and paint the bedroom and lounge rooms now that the majority of the work is finished. (Yes, all right, I’m sitting here writing in my blog rather than actually doing this).
  4. Revise an article, write an article with a friend and start writing academic papers again. (This might sit in the too hard basket while I gather up the courage).
  5. Oh, all right: exercise again, cut down from my holiday eating and drinking, get healthy, that sort of thing. There’s always a get fit clause in a New Year’s Resolution post. I’ve been super fit and healthy before (see 2012/2013 blog posts) but it takes a peculiar kind of obsession I just don’t possess because it crowds out having fun, eating, you know: living. But I COULD move about some more, and perhaps eat a bit less. The drinking I’ll take one day at a time. Last year I did a 3 week break from alcomohol and it made no earthly difference to my health, weight, sense of well being or stress levels. Maybe I’ll try not drinking on Mondays. Lol.
  6. See my friends. I like to do this anyway but maybe a bit more so now?


So there it is. Small beginnings. What are your goals this year?



Back to the grind, in every sense!

DH and I arrived home from our Christmas holiday and we’ve returned to the usual grind of New Year activities. Today, I’m talking about grind. The grindstone, hard work, honing and polishing and refining of New Year’s resolutions and other travails.

I’ve identified four main areas of grind for me. The first is, of course, my health and fitness. Like so many during this holiday season, I’ve eaten and drunk way too much, and I’ve done no more exercise than an elegant stroll down the beach. Well, ok, the stroll was 8 kms long. I’ve probably put on half a kilo, but I’ve stuck pretty well to a pared down diet, with dessert being the main culprit. DH and I were married 5 years ago December 28, right in the heart of the festive season, so all our revelries occur in one week. Cunning, huh. And, of course, far too much drinking. Less than I would have this time last year, but still! So it’s back on the diet wagon (and aren’t I relieved about that!) and I have my first personal training session tomorrow afternoon. Ugh. That’s gonna hurt.

The second grind is to complete the works on the house we’ve organised. For me, that means sanding and painting during VERY hot weather. It’s going to be vicious. But it’s important to get a start on it before our carpenter comes back to build the remaining fence.

The third grind, and probably the hardest, will be to start up my reading and writing for my doctoral thesis, which is due to begin again in February. I had a lovely break from it and I feel much better now, but it’s time to get cracking again. I tried some of it today and boy, all I wanted to do was get up off the computer and clean the house or literally do anything other than study. That was hard. But it’s a resolution I’ve made to myself to complete it this year, as expected. So I’m starting with my methods chapter, because I need to do the reading for Narrative Inquiry methods again, and start to shape the chapter from its rather bloated state at present.

The fourth grind, and one much easier to sustain, will be to begin my singing teaching again. I love my teaching and while I’m enjoying the holidays, I’m looking forward to developing my practice for the year ahead. My times are quickly filling up and then when uni starts: whew! It’s gonna be a challenge to maintain the study and the teaching, as I’ll be teaching about 30 hours per week. In fact, I have to do as much study as possible before teaching begins because it’s so hard for my brain to switch from one activity to the other. I’m dying to do some professional development n singing teaching but until I finish the PhD I won’t have the time – or the money! So I’ll have to content myself with some reading instead this year.

4 grinds. A big year ahead.


So, New Year’s Resolutions: how you going with that?

Ok, this is a bit of a brag post. Because I’ve managed to get some work at the University for this year, in precisely the area I’d hoped for: teaching singing in Musical Theatre to about 10 MT singers. This, I hope, opens the door to more teaching and performing and money and, let’s face it, kudos. It’s casual rates, no special treatment: if I get sick or something I don’t get a payout or anything. I get nothing other than a superannuation contribution. It pays no more than I already get in my own business. But it’s a start. And it’s ongoing in the sense that if I teach them well, professional singers will come to me and I’ll develop a stronger studio because of it, with a good name and stuff.

So I had another look at those resolutions of mine. Number 7: get more work at a university: tick. Achieved. Once my PhD is submitted then I’d like to double the work somehow but I’m not holding my breath. I think if I can get some casual lecturing and some RA work to meet the shortfall when my stipend stops then this will keep me going nicely. I don’t need heaps of money. I need fun and goals.

Number 4: Sing. Yep, I’m doing some every day, but the usual things are occurring when I’ve not sung for a while: I’m getting minor illnesses, small throat things that are not the result of poor singing technique. Miniature colds. Can’t explain it, just have to work through it. The voice is becoming more fluid and it’s becoming a little easier to sing, but it’s hard to tell at the moment because of the illness. What I am enjoying though is playing with breath management techniques. I’m mucking around with appoggio and accent methods – two slightly different breath approaches, and I think appoggio works better for me – gives me a more spun sound and the voice doesn’t sound pressured.

Number 5: Audition for the chorus. Can’t do that until around October, November. So 9 months to get my voice fighting fit, unless I want to have a shot at the generals in March – not sure I have the capacity to audition in March. I assumed, stupidly, that chorus auditions were in May. They’re not.

Number 9: Pay off the credit cards. Slow but steady wins the race there. They’re coming down, although because I’ve just bought airline tickets to London in March my credit card is getting a minor beating. However, money will come roaring into my business account soon, and I AM making headway. I plan to have halved our bill by June. We just applied for a low interest credit card with our bank, which they gave us. You know, the type that has a low balance transfer for 6 months? So I’ve a chance to reduce our costs because we won’t be beaten round the head with ridiculous interest payments for a while.

So I’m making headway on those resolutions. And now that I’ve been posting aimlessly for a while, I think I’ll go and do some studying for resolution number 1: the PhD. I had a great day yesterday and I think it’s keeping going. Mornings I’m not doing so well, but I’m getting something significant done every day. Yesterday I managed to transcribe a whole section of lesson data for one of my narrative chapters – the new one. I’m trying to put together the next chapter but I’ve been procrastinating over the last 15 minutes of interview data that I’ve yet to transcribe. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve listened to it heaps of times, I just need to write it out now.

I’m not going to mention the sporty fun resolutions. The house and garden resolutions will come with the extra paycheck. And my cabaret has to sit and wait until I’ve written a couple of songs for it. I can actually write music, but it’s derivative. I don’t care: nothing is original anymore. And cabaret thrives on derivation, anyway.

New Year’s Resolutions

Unlike everybody else, I’m not going to write a long boring diatribe against New Year’s Resolutions. I believe in them. Like I believe in puppies and kittens and being nice to the neighbours. They are good goal setting opportunities. I’m making some. I’d like to see how many of them I manage to complete or achieve over the course of the year. So, peeps, my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012, in no particular order, are:

1/ Submit the PhD. (This is a fairly important one and will be the focus of most of my work for the year. It’s not really a resolution as such, it’s more like a directive. I need to finish it and get on with my life.)

2/ Play golf. (My hubby and I used to play lots of golf – at least once a week. But 2011 has seen us lose our way a bit. First of all it was wet, then it was hot, and then we got busy buying a house and stuff. But I miss it, so I’m going to do it again. Promise.)

3/ Take up Yoga. (I did this some time last year and I enjoyed it. It makes me feel long and stretched and relaxed and it helps my chronic knotty back. But I can’t find a decent yoga place that sells packs of 10 classes that doesn’t cost the earth. I’m not joining a gym to do yoga and I’m certainly not doing the new-fangled hot yoga – I’m hot enough in this appalling QLD heat already, thank you.)

4/ Sing. (As I am actually a singer, this should be a no-brainer, but I rarely practise. So this resolution is as much about rediscovering my voice as it is about enjoying a creative pastime. I’m setting myself the goal of 30 minutes a day to start with, then up to 60 minutes. I will need some lessons at some point, which is the expensive bit of this resolution. I could just do it for fun, but I actually sing for a living – or, I used to, so I feel the urge to make my caterwauling decent.)

5/ Audition for the local opera company chorus. (I’ve done this before, but I swore after seeing the appalling productions they put on with lumpy, off key chorus sections, that I wouldn’t do that again until they brought in a decent director to run the joint. This they have done, so no more excuses from me.)

6/ Garden. (I have the original black thumb, so this one will actually be a proper challenge. Now that we have a massive garden, we will need to keep on top of it. I’ve decided I want a veggie garden or at the very least a herb garden and some citrus fruit trees, so my plan is to start that this year. Beginning with a compost heap. And then, of course, I want to plan the tropical garden part, which will be quite expensive. I can’t afford to have them die.)

7/ Get some more paid work, preferably at a University. (This, along with the PhD, will be quite important if I am ever to undertake the previous resolutions. Plus, I need to figure out what I am going to do with my life and I hope getting some work will help me do this.)

8/ House repairs and updates. (Well, this is hardly a resolution, is it? This is more like doing the things one needs to do in order that one’s home doesn’t fall apart. I mean to complete the interior painting, and repair the gutters, and finish the kitchen off by putting in a lovely red tile brick-laid splashback even though I’ve not actually told hubby that red is my preferred colour. I mean to get the plumbers in to check why our drains are not draining and the electrician in to do the electrical bits that need doing. Then we need to burglar-proof the back windows and paint the house exterior. These jobs may take years, not just one year.)

9/ Pay off the credit cards. (Well, I’ve been having a good crack at this all year and I reckon we’re halfway through. If we don’t go overseas again. This is a pretty important one as paying off the credit card will allow resolutions 8, 6, 4, 3 and 2 to take place. Something needs to give and I’m sick of the massive interest bills we keep paying. I managed to pay off all but $3000 of my $15000 CC this year, so pat on the back to me! Next one to go is hubby’s, and that has dropped by $3000. We recently changed credit card providers, which gives us a much lower introductory interest rate, and hopefully I should be able to knock some of it over before the credit card rate rises again.)

10/ Create my own cabaret show. (This last one is the most scary and the most freaky to me, so definitely the one I should do almost more than all the others put together. This one is definitely a resolution that may break.)

There are other resolutions lurking in the background of these ones. For example, you may have noticed a couple of ones that refer to exercise. I’ve sneakily included these rather than the tired old “losing weight” one, which I want to do, but which I’d rather not say up front, because I’ve a better chance of losing weight by taking up sporty stuff than by just resolving to lose weight. You also may have noticed that with paying off credit cards comes the concomitant “spend less money” resolution. Nuff said there. I’ve started buying my wine in half-dozens to try and save money. I COULD stop drinking altogether, but what would be the fun in that? I’m not looking to get healthy. You wanna know my blood pressure? 100/60. That’s low. I’m fine. No blocked arteries for me.

The “more paid work” resolution, along with the “finish the PhD” resolution comes with a hidden “be less lazy” resolution. I can while away the hours just fine, thank you very much, but I tend to feel remarkably guilty for it. I have a lovely life, I really do, but I need to be more active, less sedentary, and more willing to seek the life to which I’d like to become accustomed.

So, a few New Year’s resolutions. Get fit, get active, get work, get creative, get thrifty. Pretty sensible lot, I reckon. And for anyone who thinks I need to get more activist, more caring, more “save the planet”, well, they’re not really resolutions bound by year, are they? They’re ongoing. And I’m doing them, bit by bit. Happy New Year to you!