Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Fresh Starts

I don’t usually do New Year resolutions, but this year I have started three new things.  And it feels good.
Fresh starts are any changes to our life that we see as helpful for us. They might be big or they might be small, it doesn’t matter too much. The main thing is that they are new, different to what we’ve been used to doing, and that we see them as constructive and positive. Fresh starts are particularly helpful if we’ve been feeling fed up or depressed. As Tirrill Harris (who’s written a lot about this) puts is, they ‘herald new hope – an indication that there might be a way forward’.
My three fresh starts are improving my Spanish, learning the piano and – best of all – wood chopping.

Hablo poquito espaňol
For years I’ve been promising myself that I’ll improve my Spanish, so that I don’t feel a complete idiot next time we’re in Granada, and I can put more than three words together without having to check in my dictionary.  Well now I’ve got started, thanks to an interactive website called LoMasTV. I can watch and listen to loads of music and conversations, really get my ears tuned to the way people speak, and then check whether I’ve understood what’s going on. And I can do it anywhere there’s internet access, so it’s great when I’m travelling.

When the saints go marching in
I’ve also been telling myself for ages that, one day, I will learn to play the piano again. That day has arrived. Sue’s bought me a DVD –based piano course for Christmas, produced by a guy called Will Barrow. It starts right at the very beginning, which is where I need to be.  I last had a piano lesson when I was 11, so I’m more than a bit rusty! And it’s friendly, simple and non-threatening – also very important for me.  So far I’ve learnt three chords and the basic tune of ‘When the saints go marching in’.  Just 15 more DVDs to go, but it’s a start. 
One day I will be able to play the aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations. It’ll be a while yet before I get there, but it’s good to have an aim.

The joy of axe
We’ve recently installed a wood-burning stove in one of our living rooms.  Lots of warmth and a focal point for the room.  But most importantly for me, the perfect opportunity to show off my (previously unrecognised) lumberjack skills.  Our friends Vanessa and Ray have just bought me a magnificent axe. You can now find me at weekends swinging it merrily out in the back garden.
Believe me, there are few better things in life than splintering a log to smithereens with a couple of deft thwacks .....

Enough about me. What about you? Have you made any fresh starts recently? 
They might be small like mine, or they might be big ones – like a new relationship, a new job, or moving house.  Let us know what’s new and good for you.
Like we did with our well-being recipes a while back, maybe we can build up a store of fresh start events.


  1. My fresh start has been in astronomy. My family bought me a newtonian telescope for Christmas and I haven't looked back since. For years I have devoured popular science books on this subject but for a number of reasons never really explored the night sky in any detail with my own two eyes. The first time I managed to see Jupiter (including its moons) I was filled with the most amazing childlike sense of wonder. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen (far better than in the books). What was even more remarkable was that I could see it from my own back garden. My next challenge is to try and take a photo of it - a lot harder than it sounds!

  2. Bach's Toccata and Fugue is my aim...I will settle for ever being able to play it on the piano, but would love to emulate Jo Brand and have a go on an organ one day!

    I confess to dipping in and out of this one. But that gives me multiple fresh starts all from one aim. Bargain.

    James - quite rightly - wouldn't let me any where near an axe... But my discovery (more previous years than this) was the wonders of digging... a slightly safer (from my perspective) form of therapeutic destruction?

    And having now cleared much (well, some) of the overgrown jungle that is our garden, I am now starting afresh on my next project. So ‘armed’ (?) with my new Christmas Wellies, my aim is to transform my black fingers into green ones... and turn the colourful vision in my head into some sort of reality.

    And as of now, I have a new fresh start - having worked out how to post a comment on a blog. Could be a dangerous one that one...

  3. this year is my learning year.
    l will try to be more relaxed within myself
    so to help me get across my stories better
    to communicate and to be able to be understood.
    To not be afraid to question more,as a friend said l would be more of a fool not too.
    TO hear myself speak in a group is alarming (do l shout aaah).

    And to laugh in the right place's.
    We oftern talk and funny situation's come up and we just carry on talking.
    lt's not till after we see we missed it!

    Hopefully the weather will warm up and allow me to be again in my favorite room "the garden".

  4. Being a mother! A very enjoyable fresh start.

  5. Some great thoughts on here so far .
    For me after my long dark night of the soul I am commencing my journey back to life.
    It feels great .
    Three is a good number. Nice choice Chris.
    For me like others to create a cottage flower bed and get my fingers in to the earth.
    I missed the flowers when i was ill. Now I am literally going to smell the flowers of life .
    Loved E Skelton quote that their "favorite room is the garden". How true !
    Next up is like Catherine, go on a course. Actually I have commenced one already in history but i would also like to learn french. So thats another little plan .
    Thirdly I think is the on going nurturing of our children .
    So many have put such excellent comments when reading them. You start thinking oh thats a good one and that etc nice thread

  6. A great idea . . . I have a few simple aims . . . To drink less beer (I tended to have a few cans every night) . . . Since NYE I have had 6 cans a week instead of 16-20! Start reading again . . . When I finished my MA I just stopped reading for both pleasure and study . . . I really enjoy reading so I have started picking up my books again . . . Take pleasure in the simple things in life . . . Sunsets . . . Rain . . . Family and friends.