I hate November.
Hate it with a fiery, burning passion. It’s a ‘cold, unsweetened rice pudding’ of a month, dark and miserable and cold, which tends to turn me dark and miserable and cold.
A few years ago when I was unemployed and knowing that I needed to give myself a metaphorical kick up the backside, I copied Krissie and found a thing to be grateful for every day in November. Every year since, I’ve tried to do this. It’s good practice to remind myself of how lucky I am, especially when I don’t feel lucky or happy or positive about anything.
Optimism and gratitude are muscles that only get better with practice, November is when I need to practice…
1st November – Enough to eat.
Sometimes, cooking is a pain in the neck. I mostly enjoy it but feeding myself can be a chore, it’s a first world problem though. We live in a world that seems to value excess, while at the same time, so many people are struggling to put enough food in their stomachs. That’s most often because of poverty but there are other reasons depression, addiction, disability and a whole heap of other reasons that people can’t feed themselves. I don’t have those issues. So enough in this context is the ability to feed myself three relatively healthy meals a day.
2nd November – Warm Homes
It was properly cold (and not even that cold!) for the first time this autumn and I came home to a warm house. I’m thankful for heating, for being able to pay for the heating, for a decent landlord that replaced my flat’s ailing boiler and for the wonder that is a controllable, timeable thermostat.
3rd November – Mum
Ma was in Bath on Thursday and so was travelling through Paddington Station so we met for a glass of wine. I’m thankful for the wine (thanks Ma!) but more than that I’m thankful for our relationship. I know other people thing they have the best mothers and they may have the best mother for them. I have the best one for me.
4th November – Where I live
5th November – A London upbringing
It was a difficult day for Christelle, I’m happy that it all turned out well but for the time she was waiting, I took her to the V&A. Somewhere she’d never been before, somewhere I’ve spent quite a bit of time. The Kensington Museums are familiar to me because I grew up just down the road and so it was the first thing I thought of to do with Christelle when she needed to be occupied but not too occupied. I’m thankful for my London childhood, that meant that a museum was a place to go and pass the time, not something to do on a trip into the city. For the way it broadened my mind and taught me when I didn’t even realise that I was learning.
6th November – AllotmentI was totally taken aback by the emotions that Saturday had stirred up in me. I needed to reset. Which meant some time outside on the plot, mostly weeding. Being on the plot really does reset my head and the chance to be outside can only be good for me mental health.
7th November – Godchildren
Ryan was in hospital for a bit and I went to see him. Luc also broke his hand. I’m grateful for the experience of having these children in my life.
8th November – Elections
Even if I don’t like the result. I am accutely aware of what a miracle the right to vote is. No democratic system is perfect but universal francise is an amazing acheivement and something I never take for granted. The US voted for its head of state today. That and a peaceful transfer of power is something we are privileged to have.9th November – Life goes on
It did rather feel like the end of the world on Wednesday morning and there was a point where I couldn’t quite believe that I had to get up and go to work. I did and the weather was horrible and it wasn’t a brilliant day. Life carries on and demands our attention and its probably a good thing.
10th November – Library
I got a note that a book I’d reserved was in and picked it up on the way home. Libraries are amazing
11th November – Sleep
I worked from home on Friday and on Friday evening cancelled my plans because I didn’t feel well. It was a headache and I went to bed early and tried to sleep it off. I’m glad I could because sleep is amazing.
12th November – Haircut
I had a haircut on Saturday and got to spend time with my friend Jane, who cuts my hair. Both things made me happy!
13th November – The empty laundry basket
Sometimes the little things are the things that make you happy. Zero laundry, it won’t last but it was good to get there!14th November – Monday
I’m not a person who loves what I do, I do it for the money. I have been unemployed and it sucked, so on Monday, when it was dark and I was tired, I remembered to be thankful for having to get up in the dark and go to work. It’s not brilliant but it is better than the alternatives.
It was Grandad’s birthday today and he would have been 102. My Grandad taught me so much about forgiveness, acceptance, love and faith. He also taught me how to make bread pudding. I’m glad that I knew him.
16th November – The rain stopped
The weather was (as it often is in November) miserable yesterday. I’ve been headachey and stressed and the sunshiney blue sky was just what I needed to see when I walked out of the house this morning.
17th November – Wine
It’s not the first time I’ve drunk wine this month. Tonight though it felt like I deserved the wine. It’s been a difficult week so far, I’m grumpy because I’m due on and my head hurts and it’s November and everyone is stupid. Today, I made an effort not to be miserable and lethargic and even if I do say so myself, I was awesome today! So wine even on a Thursday because I can and I needed to celebrate that small win.
18th November – Friday
I started the week grateful for the routine of work and finished it thankful that I was done and it was time to rest.19th November – A beautiful morning
Saturday was an allotment day and we were there about 9am and stayed until about 12:30. And the weather was glorious. There had been a hard frost and it was chilly but it was sunny enough that I had to wear sunglasses. Just before Storm Angus hit, we had this beautiful perfect weather day.
20th November – Dinner with friends (and the very loud children!)
I was at Kathy and Adam’s for dinner and it was lovely to catch up and hear about recent birthday fun and have a demonstration of birthday Lego and how homework works from the kids.
21st November – Grinding it out
Some days are not good, it’s hard to be grateful for anything in your life and all the thankfulness is negative, ‘at least I’m not in that situation’ and so on. Today was one of those days and the only thing I could come up with was that it was done and there was chocolate. So…
22nd November – Being an aunt
My Grandad used to say that he loved all his grandchildren but the first one was special because they made him a grandad. Well, Oliver made me an aunt and changed the dynamic of our family. I’m grateful for both of my nephews but on his birthday, I’m especially grateful for him.
23rd November – Painted nails
24th November – Things fall apartIt’s Thanksgiving in the US and it’s a great public holiday. You don’t have to be religious or patriotic to celebrate it, pretty much it’s a holiday about family and friends and food. Which are all things to be thankful for, but I’m not American and there are things happening to my country for which I’m not thankful; the way it seems ok, post Brexit, not to listen to other people; the way my country seems a little bit more racist and confortable with that racism; the complete lack of understanding of how our government works; that Nigel Farage walks amongst us and it still not doing his job as an MEP; the rise in homelessness I can see on the street. It goes on. Everybody seems to be saying that 2016 is a horrible year, and it’s not been a barrel of laughs overall but I haven’t felt this personally, politically hopeless since 1992. That was an awful year, the Tories won re-election with the highest popular vote ever recorded by a British political party in a general election to date (although less seats in Parliament). There was Black Wednesday and it just kept getting worse and didn’t change until 1997. Yes, it’s all gone to hell again but then it always does. I’m choosing to be thankful that things fall apart. It’s grim right now, but it won’t be forever, change will come again if we work for it…
25th November – Friday Night PizzaWhen I’m home on a Friday night, I eat pizza. I’m thankful, I know how to make pizza, I’m thankful for the ritual. This particular Friday night I was thankful for the wine and the company too!
26th November – Match of the Day
I babysat and I got to watch my team winning on Match of the Day. The thing I miss most about not having a TV is the football, which is not something I would have expected but even though I am the person in my family with the least knowledge and interest in football, that probably still more than average!
27th November – A quiet day and understanding friends
I spent the day by myself because I needed the head space, this meant that I bailed on an engagement and I’m thankful for understanding friends and having the self knowledge to know when I need the time off from people (even people I really like and care for!)
28th November – Not being in the office and colleagues that stand in.
I’m out of the office for the first three days this week on a first aid course. Naturally, there was an emergency meeting called for Monday and my colleague stood in and basically did my work. So I got to go on my course and walk to it, instead of a stressful commute and day in the office!
29th November – Work to do
It’s Stef’s anniversary today. 12 years down the line, it’s an easier day but it’s been on my mind this month, it’s not my favourite time, but like with my Grandad (and the rest of my dead!) I live in the sure and certain knowledge that I’ll see him again. For now there is work to do, so I’ll do that and be grateful for the distraction.
30th November – Sunsets that are pretty
I spent the first half of the week at a first aid course. I chose the one that was around the corner from home and got to walk to and from each day. That was great too! We’ve just had a clod snap which has resulted in lovely sunsets. This was the sky on my way home on Wednesday.