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First of all, I would like to wish all my subscribers (and other readers of my blog) a very healthy, happy and empowering 2023. If you are new to my blog, welcome, and I do hope you enjoy reading my content.

I guess it’s true to say I’ve been gone a while; there’s been a lot happening the last few months; most notably juggling balls and spinning plates in the air (metaphorically-speaking), the whole festive thing with its gift-buying-and-wrapping, tree-buying and decorating and taking down again, cooking, washing and tidying up, making and editing videos for my various platforms, wading through mountains of admin and paperwork and accounts, doing my music, making and pricing up and photographing of items for my two pitches at the Petticoat Lane Emporium in Ramsgate plus my Etsy shop and my Ebay site (basically, doing what I can to earn some money whilst also running a household and helping my piano tuner husband to be a success in his trade), visiting nearest and dearest and those further away up and down the motorway . . . and looking after our two young cats and one diabetic, arthritic and incontinent senior tabby cat, our lovely loyal boy Merlin who follows me around or sits on his favourite chairs watching me with love hearts in his eyes. Merlin was diagnosed with diabetes in October of last year, following the suspicions I had carried around for a while, watching and observing his habits and demeanor. Several months had passed before Dan would believe me and when he did, he admitted he had been in denial. We have put a lot of work in with Merlin as it takes him time to adjust to change. We have had to change his mealtime regime to twice only daily – to which he was not at all receptive for several weeks – source wet food and biscuits for him that are diabetic friendly and made of the most natural ingredients (which of course are far more expensive than regular cat foods, but anything for our boy), inject him twice a day 30 minutes’ after he has finished eating, change his pee pad in his special tray sometimes multiple times a day and mop the floor, as he often dribbles urine when he’s finished his business. I sometimes cook him fresh chicken or turkey and he might get a little of this if he’s very hungry during the day and needs a small snack; the vet said it was better than giving him more biscuit. I also groom him regularly and massage extra virgin olive oil into his fur as he is prone to flaky skin. This he enjoys very much and likes to lick the oil on his fur. Twice we also give him a fish oil powder capsule which we break into his food and mix in well. This also helps to ease his skin condition though it seems to have made only slight improvement to his mobility.

He sees the vet once a month for a checkup, to get weighed, examined and bloods taken to monitor his insulin levels. This time we discussed his mobility problems which suddenly came on more recently and seem to affect his pelvis and back legs from what we can make out when we watch him move around awkwardly. The vet was very gentle with him when she examined him thoroughly and agreed that his hip joints appear to be arthritic and at one point we heard a ‘click’. She also said that the muscles in his back legs are weak, which of course is probably due to the fact that he is no longer to move about comfortably so the muscle is wasting. At home, he is no longer able to jump on to the side of the bathtub to drink from the cold running water from the washbasin tap, something he has enjoyed for most of his life; nor is he able any longer to run up the stairs when I call to him and instead he makes a slow hop up one stair at a time, which breaks my heart. One day last week he tried to jump up on to the kitchen chair beside me and was unable to do it, his claws caught in the fabric seating, so I picked him up gently and lifted him on to the seat though mostly he can still manage without help. It is, though, heartbreaking to see him in discomfort and unable to do some of the things he used to enjoy. The vet recommended a full panel of bloodwork this time to check that Merlin doesn’t have any underlying medical conditions other than the diabetes and to rule out anything else such as side effects from his insulin. If the results come back clear, we can perhaps start him on Metacam medication and see where we go from there, though she understands I prefer the natural way and she definitely thinks animal healing is a good idea and told me she used to work at a practice that encouraged it for their furry clients.

Anyway, I digress, since this is intended to be an article about goals and New Year’s resolutions. As we journey the days in the life of January, it is perhaps opportune to think about what we might all wish to achieve during the Chinese New Year of the Water Rabbit (ironically, in which I was born almost six decades ago, in 1963) when celebrations start on 22 January.

It is customary, as one year ends, to formulate our intentions for the coming year and this is often done at New Year’s Eve or it’s equivalent, for example the Pagan festival (Sabbat) of Samhain (Halloween) or, yes, at Chinese New Year. Whether we be adult or child, deciding to set ourselves a few tasks or objectives can be both life-affirming and empowering, however resolutions often fail because they are too vague and lack real focus. For example, a desire to “eat more healthily” or “take more exercise” is not specific enough, as neither address how you are going to eat healthier or how or what exercise you intend to do. However, if for example, you say: “I am going to grow and harvest my own salad greens” or “I am going to eat a salad at least five days a week and enjoy one glass of wine a week” or “I am going to go for a swim three times a week”, then those are specific goals. This is how New Year’s resolutions are more likely to be successful.

If living a more healthy lifestyle is on of your goals, perhaps you felt guided to give Veganuary and/or Dry January a try in order to kick-start the process and shift a few pounds after the excesses of the festive season. If, at the end of it you begin to feel the benefits of the initiative and find you are enjoying trying different foods and the creative aspect of preparing a healthy, balanced meal with fresh ingredients or can see the benefit of limiting an alcoholic drink to once a week then perhaps you might decide to make it part of your everyday life. On the other hand, if you tried it as an experiment and decided you missed some foods too much but you don’t mind cutting back on them a little in future and you did lose some weight and you learned more about yourself in the process then that’s good too. Everything in life is a learning process and one size does not fit all. Do not think either that you have failed if you despised most or every aspect of Veganuary/Dry January, you didn’t lose any weight or you just couldn’t ride it out right to the end; at least you gave it a try and know beyond doubt that what is right for one person is not necessarily right for another. We only fail if we think about doing something but don’t try it out at all.

I take on board that vague resolutions may work for some people, but personally I never found they worked well for me and I need the structure and clear intention that a solid goal gives me, something to aim for at which I can monitor my progress and at the same time stay positive and focused. It needs to be something that challenges my capabilities and mindset but at the same time is realistic and achievable. Here are a few of my goals:-

  • To grow my social media:-
    • Do at least one video per week for either my Rumble channel catevansartist or one of my three YouTube channels – @catevansartist, @catevanscuisine or @electrickwytchofficial.
    • To do at least one video a week for either my Facebook or Instagram on whatever topic feels appropriate
    • To do two Facebook or Instagram live streams per month
    • To upload a new blog at least twice per month
  • To drop one dress size this year by continuing my healthy regime. This includes going out for a walk or disco-dancing at home both at least three times a week. Also my newfound interest in sprouting seeds and fermenting, as well as continuing to eat a salad every day and by growing a wider range of organic salad greens in my back garden which I can pick what I need each day and when they are at their freshest. I have already made a start on this by purchasing four “growing tables” which are wide, wooden planters at table height with shelves below for storing compost – or even more planters containing healthful goodies, especially useful for tender plants which do not fare so well in full sunlight. I have called it “My Garden Project” and will be discussing more about this in a future blog post.
  • To focus more on my music by:-
    • Piano practice 5 times a week (often I manage four).
    • Composition/songwriting one half-day per week
    • Record the 4th movement of my sonata in preparation for the studio.

“How will you achieve all of this when you already lead such a busy life?” you may ask. As a self-confessed workaholic I take this on board and one of my tasks this year is to slow down a little and make more time by cutting back on activities that have the least importance. Non-negotiable are some household chores, seeing to the cats and meal preparation. Also, paperwork and general administration is vitally important; I do my husband’s as well as my own and failure to do paperwork will land us in a mess. Plus, at some stage it would need catching up on, resulting in a potentially stressful situation. However, I am able to free up a bit more time by the way I do it, for example spending an hour a day on paperwork and admin rather than, say, two or three hours twice a week. I am also able to fix crafting activity to maybe one morning or afternoon a week. I still have outlets and online to produce items for but I have fewer of them now and no longer need to hold larger quantities of stock and can therefore produce just as much or little as I need, which also increases efficiency and turnaround. I am also an avid maker of ‘to-do’ lists and have been using these more as an exercise to see exactly what I can achieve without filling up every second of my day, as being kind to ourselves and having sufficient rest and recreation time does help with focus and productivity. I can comfortably complete four or five tasks a day but if I complete any quickly or if I choose to push myself I can manage half a dozen. I am no longer minded to tackle more than that.

Neither do I need to concentrate on all goals at once. Some goals may be ongoing, others may be achieved quickly or may not work out as planned or may need to be ‘tweaked’, or put on hold, and new ones may present themselves instead. We should remember that personal and business circumstances may change either suddenly or over time and these circumstances may have a knock-on effect on what we are able to achieve. The point is, sometimes goals take longer to achieve even if we have put in some good work, but as long as the foundations and groundwork are there they can be picked up again in the future, by which time we may have more wisdom of experience and learning that will help bring our goals to fruition in a more effective way. As long as we enjoy doing what we are doing and gradually see some results or learn more about ourselves and our aspirations in the process it’s all good. If we don’t enjoy doing what we are doing, then perhaps we might find something else to try that might work better. We are all a work in progress and there is no need to beat ourselves up about it if something isn’t quite working out. Even taking a little time out might revive and refresh our vigour.

What are your goals in 2023? Is there anything that is going particularly well for you? Is there something you are struggling with or does not inspire you? I would be interested to know, as sometimes by sharing our experiences we might learn from one another.

Happy NEW Year!

Catherine.