19 for 2019: update for week 2

Welcome to week 2 of my 19 for 2019 updates. (Let’s see how long this lasts … about a month, if my previous attempts at keeping my blog updated are anything to go by …)

I finished a thing! Thing 9: take coins to the bank part 2. I realise I should have taken a photo of the coin machine in action or something like that but I was having too much fun tipping coins into it that I didn’t even think about it. Anyway, there’s $32 (exactly) that had been sitting in a ziplock bag on my dresser since before we moved house (in January 2016) into the bank account.

It’s one of those jobs that is so easily done—it takes five minutes—but never seems to get crossed off the list and sits around for weeks, months, years even. I have a couple more of those on my list so they should be easy wins.

I’m reading book 2 for the year (thing 5).

I completed a lesson of the photography course so I’ve now done six of the 31 lessons (thing 1).20190108 freeze the action

I did three lessons of the writing course (thing 8) and finished two more photo collages for my 2018 photojournal (thing 11). I am learning Lightroom by using it (thing 19) and I’m adding photos to my “folio” file as I sort through them (thing 2).

Status at the end of week 2
Things completed: 1
Things I have taken action on this week: 6 (plus the one I completed)
Things in progress but no action this week: 1
Things not started: 11

For a peek at the complete list, I’m updating it here too.

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Friends and memories

I bought a box of these cute cat paperclips with a friend who loved cats in mind. I stashed them away for her birthday or Christmas, whatever was coming up next and, as you do, forgot about them by the time the occasion came round.20190110 cat paperclips edit

Sadly, my friend died, coming up to three years ago next month. She got sick and, within months of her diagnosis, she was gone. My planned trip interstate to see her in hospital ended up being a trip to her funeral.

I never gave her the paperclips.

I found them today while I was looking for something else and immediately thought of my friend, her cats, the great times we’d spent together and how overwhelmingly sad it was that she had died at such a young age.

I remember thinking at the time that, despite how sad I was, I was grateful to have had a person in my life who meant so much that losing her hurt so much.

The paperclips reminded me of what people at her funeral had said about her, things I’d known and things I hadn’t. They reminded me of how she had embraced life and lived her life to the fullest. And of how much she had loved her cats. And her shoes.

I have taken these now and clipped some of them into my diary as a reminder of my friend and to encourage me to make the most of every day too, because we never know what tomorrow will bring. 

And they’re also there to remind me that if I see something cool that I want to give as a gift, I don’t have to wait for an occasion to give it. I can give a gift anytime I want to.  

If you would like a little cat paper clip for your diary, to remind you of something or just as a fun accessory, I’d like to share the love. Leave me a comment and I will send you one, until I run out.

19 for 2019: update week 1

We’re almost one week into 2019 and I’ve printed my 19 for 2019 list and stuck it on my wall so I’ll see it rather than make it and forget about it.

I’m going to try and keep myself accountable by posting my progress over the year, so, welcome to update number 1.

Have I achieved anything? Well, yes and no. I have done some things, but I haven’t checked anything off the list.

I finished one book (thing 5), which I wasn’t sure whether to count or not, as I started reading it in 2018. I’m keeping track of my reading here and I decided to count it because I did read some of it in 2019.

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Happy Sunday

I took some of the coins to the bank (thing 9).

I think that what held me back from even doing this was the fact that “take the coins to the bank” is not actually a task that I could check off.

If you listen to the productivity gurus, they will tell you that anything that has more than one step is not a task. It’s a project. A project is made up of tasks (or actions). You can’t “do” a project, you can only do a task. Therefore, the thing you need to consider is what is the very next action you need to take to enable you to complete the project.

“Take the coins to the bank” has more than one task that I need to do before I can say it’s done. First, I have to get the coins from the basket they’ve been sitting in, bagged up, for three years or more and I have to put them in my bag. Only then can I actually take them to the bank. That’s step two. Once I’m at the bank I need to do two things: run the coins through the coin machine and take the receipt to the teller to register the deposit in my account. Actually, Kramstable’s account because he’s the only one with an account at that bank.

Realistically, if I’m at the bank I’m going to do both of those things, so the tasks that I identified are

1. Put the coins in my bag
2. Go to the bank

I did this for one set of coins. There was over $40 in there that is now in Kramstable’s account. Lucky him. The other, I had left at home because they would have made my bag too heavy. They are now in my bag ready for me to go back to the bank tomorrow.

The lesson here is that I often put things on my to-do list that look like tasks but, because they involve more than one step, they are actually “projects” or, at the very least, mini-projects. Book skin check (thing 4) is another example. To complete this, I need to do the following

1. Decide which skin clinic to go to
2. Get their phone number
3. Identify some times it will be convenient for me to have an appointment
4. Call them and book the appointment
5. Put the appointment on my calendar

All those years I’ve thought to myself I need to book a skin check when what I’ve really needed to do is decide which clinic to go to. The way I’ll do this is to ask my GP next time I’m there which one she recommends. So the actual thing on my to-do list is “ask GP for skin clinic recommendation”.

Most of the things on my 19 for 2019 are like this. Some are quite obviously large projects but others have only two or three associated actions. You might say they really are tasks, with sub-tasks associated, which is an equally valid way of looking at it. The terminology doesn’t really matter. The challenge is to work out what those actions or sub-tasks are, put the next actions on my to-do list and get to work actually doing them.

As well as the reading and the coins, this week I have made progress on the photo course (thing 1), making my folio (thing 2), my 2018 photojournal (thing 11), the photo project (thing 16) and learning Lightroom (thing 19).

Week 1 summary

Things completed: 0

Things I have taken action on this week: 7

Things not started: 12

19 for 2019

I’ve been mulling over my 19 for 2019 list that I posted about on Wednesday and I reckon I’ve settled on a doable list that includes a few easy wins (though some of them have been on the list since 2013 . . . so that may be debatable ), a couple of long-term projects and some things I would do if I just made the time to sit down and do them.

I tried to avoid putting things on there that are more like habits I want to adopt or improve, so that I have a list of things that, with a couple of exceptions, have a clear endpoint that I can cross off and say they’re done.

So, what is this list, you may wonder. Wonder no more.

19 for 2019

  1. Complete the 31-day photography course
  2. Make a folio of my best/favourite photos throughout the year
  3. Walk from Taroona to Moonah (just because it rhymes!)
  4. Book my skin check
  5. Read 12 books, at least six of which are fiction (I will keep my reading list updated)

    20181230 2019 reading list edit

    Some of the books I will probably read in 2019

  6. Do a 12-week fitness program
  7. Get an ND filter
  8. Complete the online writing course at work
  9. Take the coins to the bank
  10. Get my sewing machine fixed
  11. Complete my 2018 photojournal and stay up to date with the 2019 journal
  12. Make a spreadsheet to keep track of the beers in my 33 Books Co beer tasting journals and add in the beers I have tried from all of the books (I have completed ten of them)

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    Beer tasting journal number 11

  13. Go alcohol-free for a month (I can write up the beer journals in the month I’m not drinking beer. That seems fair.)
  14. Make one photo that I am really proud of and print it big, frame it and put it on the wall
  15. Explore a track on kunanyi
  16. Complete a photo project I started last year
  17. Get a manicure
  18. Put at least 50 things in the Bucket List notebook (This is a planner by Mi Goals for you to “dream, plan and document 100 things you want to do before you kick the bucket”. I know, make a list about making a list . . . I have had had this book for years and it’s sat on the shelf unopened. It’s either use it or get rid of it.)

    20181230 Bucket list book edit

    Use it or get rid of it

  19. Learn to use Lightroom

And that’s it. 19 things to absolutely, positively do in 2019.

The plan is for me to be able to look back at this list in 12 months time and have done everything on it. In her end of year wrap-up of 18 for 2018, Gretchen Rubin says that she was sure she accomplished much more in 2018 with the list than she otherwise would have. She says, “putting  items on the list, reviewing the list, talking it over with [my sister], seeing the list on the cork-board next to my desk, the desire to score a perfect 18 by December 31—all these mean I’m much more likely to get these things done.”

And, she says, it’s fun and she got a tremendous kick out of doing it.

So that’s my aim for this challenge. To have fun while getting things done.

Feel free to drop me a comment if you’re thinking of doing something similar this year. It would be fun to see what other people are doing along the same lines.

100 things in 2018

In 2013, inspired by another blogger, I made a list of 100 things I wanted to do that year. I posted the list on a page on my blog and periodically updated it and crossed things off I’d achieved. By the end of 2013, there were a lot of things I’d got nowhere near doing, so I left the list there for 2014. And 2015 . . . And 2016 . . . And never mind . . .

I eventually took it down because, instead of making plans to go out and do those things, it just reminded me of all the things I hadn’t done. (It still exists on my old blogging platform, however.)

This year, with renewed enthusiasm, I made a new list of 100 things to do. Some of them, like book a skin check, were still hanging round from the 2013 list. Some were quite simple. Make a donation, get yellow sunglasses and update my phone’s software. Some were books I wanted to read (I made a list of those on the blog and have been updating it here). Some were long-term. Finish a couple of courses I had signed up for, walk to the top of kunanyi. Some were daily habits. Walk 12,000 steps. Make a black and white photo every day and post it on Instagram.

Rather than announce this to the world and put it back on my blog, I made a spreadsheet to keep track of everything (this shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me) and started checking things off the list. That lasted a while until life got in the way and I kind of forgot about the list. I mean, 12 months later, the bag of coins I wanted to put in the bank is still sitting on top of my dresser and I have not made an appointment for a skin check. However, while the book on fermenting has sat on my bookshelf untouched all year and my sewing machine is still in its cupboard unrepaired, I do have a new computer, a camera bag and a tripod, and I joined a yoga class, have regular lunches with my mum and my sister, and went to a mixed media class.

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I did the class . . . I may not have finished the project

Overall, excluding the daily habits I had included on the list, which I can’t check off until I have completed the final task on 31 December, I finished 37 of the 100 things.

In hindsight, 100 things is too many things to keep track of. There are way too many big projects on the list for me to reasonably have had a chance of completing within 12 months and some of them are ongoing things that don’t really have a point at which I can say I’ve completed it. So I’m not surprised at the low number.

On the other hand, I did 37 things I might not have done if I hadn’t thought about them and written them down. So it’s not a complete disaster!

It was around about this time last year I heard Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft talk about their 18 for 2018 lists in the Happier podcast.  This is a much shorter, snappier list. Eighteen things they wanted to get done in 2018. I’ve pretty much stopped listening to podcasts now so I don’t know how they went with their lists (a quick search of Gretchen’s website tells me she did, indeed complete her list), but I’ve decided to adopt this idea for 2019 for myself. I don’t know if Gretchen and Liz are revisiting the idea for 2019, but I’m going to make a list of 19 things I absolutely want to complete next year. Nineteen seems like a realistic target (especially since I completed 37 things this year) because some of those will be projects that will require a large commitment.

I will put this list somewhere I can see it and review it regularly.

I’ll think about what I want to put on the list over the next few days. I have some ideas already but I want to make sure I only include things I definitely want to do in 2019 and that I can commit to doing, so it will take a while to get that right. I don’t want to include anything that’s a daily habit I want to adopt or anything that might start to look like a new year’s resolution. I want actual things I want to do and that have a definite point at which they are completed. Definitely nothing like “get more sleep” or “drink less beer” (ha). Perhaps I’ll share it on here when I’m done as another way of staying accountable.

So, while I’m doing that, I’d love you tell me whether you have ever done a list like this and, if so, how you went?

the end is here

After yesterday’s epic post about how I was feeling about Kramstable coming to the end of his primary school life, I started to write about his Year 6 leavers’ assembly today, the day before his last official at primary school.

I don’t need to do that.

Well, I do, but it’s just for me.

All I need to say is, after reading all the support I got from my friends when I posted it on Facebook, thank you all for your kind words and I am glad I’m not the only one to feel like I do.

The assembly was great. I cried (actually, I cried before I even got in the door) and a lot of people did. It was a beautiful farewell to a group of amazing kids, most of whom I have known since kinder, and to a wonderful principal who is also moving onto new opportunities and challenges.

It has been a joy and a privilege to watch these young people grow from little kinders in 2011 to the almost-teens that they are now through excursions, assemblies, sports carnivals, music, TOM, and everything else I’ve been involved in over the last eight years.

I wish them all the best as they move into high school. It is an exciting time full of new opportunities and experiences.

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Farwell gift

I love what their principal said in her farewell speech. The things she said to always remember make a pretty good list to live by: stretch yourself, use your strengths, show you care… and the school itself. Even though I will no longer be directly involved in the school, I guess I will always be a part of the school community. 

I wish their principal all the best too as she moves into a new role and takes on the challenge of making a contribution to education in a different way.

It’s been an intense day and I survived.

 

everything ends

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Friday | Waiting for the boy after school in this spot for the last time

About eight years ago, I wrote this piece about Kramstable, then known as Juniordwarf, getting ready to start kindergarten and how nervous I was that everything was about to change. I actually didn’t write that much because Sarah MacDonald from the ABC had just written a post on the same thing and she had written everything I was thinking so perfectly that I couldn’t have written a better post, so I copied it into my post (with permission, of course).

It is now just under eight years later. Kramstable has been at the same school all this time, moving from three days a week Kinder to full-time Prep and through the grades up to where he is now, Grade 6. During that time he, and I, have changed a lot and I am getting ready to say goodbye to the primary school where he has spent two-thirds of his life.

I don’t feel ready! I don’t feel like I should be the mother of a 12-year-old who will be starting high school in just under two months time. A near-teenager. Just like I didn’t feel ready to give up my four-year-old to the formal education system way back in 2011.

Primary school has been something that’s been constant. It’s formed part of my identity. My kid goes to that school. I’m a part of that school community (though I never was any good at participating in bake days and when I got raffle books I ended up buying all of the tickets myself). It’s something steady that has almost always been in my life and that, until this year, I had never given much thought to as being something that would one day end.

Yet it will, and that day is two days away.

I have been so incredibly lucky to have been able to participate in Kramstable’s school life in many ways. When he was little, I used to take him to his classroom and read books with him until the bell went. I used to take turns at parent help in his classroom, helping kids with their reading and other things I don’t actually remember. (It was a long time ago . . . ) I do remember leaving after these 90-minute sessions feeling happy to have been able to do it but so exhausted at having spent that much time working with a large group of four/five/six-year-olds. I was always in awe of the teachers not only doing this for six hours a day but for coming back day after day to do it again and again.

I went on excursions and never managed to lose a child, so I think I did pretty well there. I went to places I didn’t even know existed. I swung on ropes, I patted a shark (well I didn’t, but I could have), I went bushwalking, and I learned about sustainable buildings and Tasmanian Aboriginal culture. I really felt part of it, which was great, because Kramstable is one of those kids who gives away very little about what he does at school during the day. So one of my most treasured experiences was to sit in on his class waiting for an excursion to start and actually see the class in action.

As he got older, he didn’t want me to stay any more but I would still take him in most days. Some days I’d stay and talk to his teacher or chat to some of the other parents and I’d pick him up from outside his classroom. At the end of Grade 4, he said he didn’t want me to come in with him any more and that I could walk him to the school gate. The school gate quickly became the end of the street and, eventually, I hardly even saw the school in the mornings. No more chats with the teacher or catching up with other parents. That was it. I wrote about it here.

We used to catch the bus in together a couple of days a week and it got to the point earlier this year when he didn’t want me to go on the same bus with him. It wasn’t enough to leave him at the bus stop when we got off, he didn’t even want me to get on!

In the end, it worked out well because it meant I could go in earlier to work. I’d initially been reluctant because it was another thing to let go of, but there was no reason not to let him go by himself. He knew the way and was confident catching buses and it shifted into being the new normal rather quickly. One day I said to him that sometimes I might have to catch the bus with him and he said, “no mum, that’s old”. According to him, I couldn’t even catch the same bus as him, even if I wasn’t with him. He said he wouldn’t get on it if I was getting on; he’d wait for the next one. I did have the idea to leave earlier and walk to the next bus stop and get on there, after he was already on, so he’d have to be on the same bus as me but I never did it.

Now, one day a week, he’s stopped going to after school care and he comes home from school on the bus by himself. That was a big step too, though I’m home by the time he gets here so he isn’t coming home to an empty house.

In conjunction with all of the travel changes have been the new opportunities he’s had as he’s moved through the school.

In Grade 4 he joined the choir, which performed at the annual Combined Primary Schools Band and Choir concert at the Derwent Entertainment Centre, an event that has been running for over 40 years and is a wonderful celebration of primary school music. In Grade 5 he started playing the clarinet for the Year 5 band in the same event and this year he asked to take on the bass clarinet. His teacher had been concerned that he might have been too small to play this instrument but offered to let him have it at home over the holidays to practise and see if he could do it. Watching him find something he wanted to do and then devote himself to learning how to do it, and to work around his potential limitations, was something I will treasure always. And it was such a joy to go to the concert in November and to see the result of all the hard work the kids and the teachers had put in over the year.

He participated in Tournament of Minds, his team winning honours at the state final last year and winning the competition this year, which enabled them to go to Darwin for the international final, where they were awarded honours. I loved watching how well he worked with the others, how committed he was to the project and how beautifully he performed.

He applied to go to a leadership conference earlier in the year, which he was accepted for. He put himself out there as a candidate for house captain and had to make a speech to the school about why they should vote for him. Even though he didn’t win, I was so proud of him for nominating himself. It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do. He and some of his classmates auditioned for a TV show and, while they didn’t get selected, Kramstable and another classmate were invited to take part in one of the episodes. That was very exciting!

Even though I haven’t been as closely involved at school this year, it’s been an amazing final year of primary school and I’m grateful that his school gives the students so many opportunities to stretch themselves. Watching him find things he loves and go out and do them has been wonderful and so rewarding for me as a parent.

Now I have to face the reality that his time at primary school is almost over and this will all be gone in two days time. We’ve been to the high school orientation day and it’s huge, with more kids in Year 7 than there are at his entire primary school. I asked him if he’s excited and he said no, he was “interested”.

Every time I think about this stage ending, I can feel the tears well up and I know that come tomorrow, when they have the leavers’ assembly, I will be a complete mess. It feels like such a big ending, the end of everything I’ve known for the past eight years. As I said at the start, primary school has been a constant, something that has always been there. I feel really sad that it’s ending. I’ve felt like it all year, knowing that this is the last time we will do this thing, or it’s his final something else. Last sports carnival. Last Book Week costume. Last swimming carnival. Last band performance. On Friday I waited for him for the last time at the spot where we meet on Fridays after school and yesterday we caught the bus home together for the last time. Today I got the last school newsletter and he caught the bus home for the last time. Next year he’ll walk.

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Monday | Waiting for the bus with the boy for the last time

It’s all been such a big part of his life, and mine by extension, for the last eight years and I think it’s okay to feel like this. I feel the way I feel and I’m not going to try and squash that.

But I also remind myself that, while this stage is coming to an end, he is moving into a new stage and he will have new opportunities when he gets to high school. When he’s there he will face new challenges and he will have new experiences to explore, new things to learn and new ways to grow – and those are goals I have for my own life. To constantly explore, learn, challenge myself, and grow. What he’s about to do is exactly what I aspire to and I want that for him just as much as I want it for myself. So, while the ending is sad, this stage has to end for the next stage to begin.

Thank you Kramstable’s primary school for all of the opportunities you have given him, for getting him ready to move into the next stage of his life and for giving me so many chances to be involved and to learn new things. Thank you to all his teachers and his principal for challenging him, encouraging him to grow and for supporting him when he needed it. Or, as he put it in a note to his principal, thank you for helping him evolve. I am proud to have been part of your community and to have watched my son go through the first eight years of his formal education within your walls. I will look back on this time with great fondness. I will have beautiful memories and he will go on to high school and make new ones.

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Tuesday | After his last bus trip home from school