2018 reset

It feels somewhat weird to be writing my annual planning post for 2018, knowing that at least a sixth of the year is already booked up, between trips to Bath, residencies, work and other plans, it doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot of year left to be planned in! It’s tempting to just write “REMEMBER TO SLEEP” and have done with. But habits are habits, so here’s a plan anyway.

Last year I worked with a Priorities list and a Projects list, but I don’t know how useful that was, given that the Priorities were a bit vague and very few of the Projects ended up getting done. So I’m going back to my previous approach of specific goals in various areas.


This has to be a priority this year. I made progress last year on habits which have helped but the muscle pain has become chronic and needs to be dealt with. I’m beginning to suspect it’s caused by a combination of physical and psychosymptomatic issues, so I need to deal with both of these.

  • See an NHS physiotherapist to see if they can help – I have my first appointment in the first week of January, so obviously that’s done, but this item is more about committing to following through on whatever they say I should do. DONE. And the situation is much better, but reliant on getting Djelibeybi to massage me every week, which to be honest can be like trying to get blood out of a stone. Still, it’s improved. Now to sort out the pain that’s higher up but which the NHS wouldn’t treat because it was a separate area…
  • Experiment with positive-thinking exercises such as affirmations to try to get out of spiralling patterns of negativity about a) my physical capabilities or lack thereof and b) the pain itself. This is likely to require a bit of research into different mental techniques too. Tried this. Spent quite a bit of time on it the first 3 months of the year, across horrific dental infections, a root canal procedure and one of the worst bouts of flu I’ve ever had. It really felt like things didn’t start to improve until I stopped trying to think positively about them, although that’s ridiculous. On the one hand, I’m figuring I’ve tried this (which is a win) but perhaps I need to consider a different approach to make it work – although I confess I’m a bit worried now about bringing on more pain and horror by trying!
  • Continue my regime of twice-daily stretching and strengthening exercises. They’re a bore, but they really make a huge difference to keeping me mobile. Still going (May).
  • Continue to take vitamins regularly. Magnesium helps the muscle problem enormously, and the regular vitamin C definitely pays off in terms of keeping colds at bay. Possibly something in a B12 might be useful too, for managing stress levels?
  • The doctor recommended mindfulness meditation and activities to help with the muscle tension. I did a little bit for a while, but I need to make this a more regular habit.
  • WALK EVERY DAY! It helps with everything
  • Recommit to the low-carb diet. So much better for my innards, and it’s the only way I’m going to healthily deal with all the travel this year has in store for me.
  • Must drink more water.


Obviously this one is a big ol’ mess of paying work, non-paying work and PhD work, because it’s almost impossible to separate these, there’s so much overlap. With the result that this all feels a bit haphazard, and maybe that’s something I need to work on – to try to find a way to make it feel less haphazard and more organised?

  • Keep up the vlogging. No more than 3 weeks between episodes should give a minimum of 18 episodes across the year. May check-in: yep, still managing this. There was one point that was a month after the previous one because of illness, but otherwise very regular and I’ve just passed the one-year milestone with episode 20!
  • Write regularly. Maybe 6 blog posts across the year (although with the possibility of trading blog posts for other written content such as articles or presentations). That sounds doable, yes? Not so many blog posts written, but largely because of a surprisingly early deadline for the Progression Assessment – so I’ve been doing a TON of writing, just not blog posts (May).
  • Work to gain a better understanding of who I am/want to be as a composer-performer. I feel I could do with a better understanding of potential role models for this, so I think I really need to look into other composer-performers and what they do to see if that helps me define the direction I want to go in.
  • Be brave and try out as many nutso things as possible in the studio. I feel there’s a lot of improvisatory work I do with Bastards that I’m not really taking home and developing, and this could be a good way to help with the previous point. I don’t think this is a quantifiable item, but more something to keep in mind – when in doubt, improvise, instead of when in doubt write pages and pages and pages about how I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe improvising with objects too? Movement? I’ve started some of this – Whitespace work, viola improvisation, work at Snape Maltings – but need to keep it up.
  • Try to timetable my weeks a little – maybe a weekly planning session is needed to ensure Bastards stuff is looked at regularly, finances are taken care of and self-directed researcher development actually happens too. Maybe Sundays could be designated for planning?
  • Fiscal timeliness: Reconcile accounts at least once every 3 months. Send tax return in early. Invoice as early as possible for reimbursements.
  • Invest something. So I’ve got a little plan in place for this, but I’d like to be squirrelling away a little bit every month, if I can, even if it’s only £5.
  • Get the damn online shop up and running. This one’s a bit embarrassing: I think it’s been on this list for about 4 years running now, but just because I’ve failed before doesn’t mean it’s still not needed!
  • Oh, and pass my PhD progression assessment DONE!!!!!!


Well, to be honest, the travel part of this year is already daunting, so I’m disinclined to add much more to it. However:

  • Trip to Paris while my friends Chris & Paul and their family are visiting from Australia, and
  • Trip to Australia to visit my Da for his 85th birthday
  • Sort through enough boxes in the basement that the remaining stuff actually fits into the shelves and can be found. I’m giving up on having everything cleared, but I’d like it to be a bit less of a disaster zone down there.
  • Sand and paint my grandmother’s sewing box. It’s been half-done for nearly two years now, partly because I’m having a hard time picking a colour, but it’s just paint so if I don’t like it I can re-do it, right?
  • Try to sew more regularly, even if it’s only a new top from an already-tried pattern. The recent spate of travel showed how inadequate my wardrobe is when it comes to being able to do trip after trip with only a couple of days in between. The easy solution to this is just to have more clothes so sometimes I can spend those couple of days resting instead of doing laundry and freaking out about whether things will dry in time.
  • Gardening. I don’t know that the actual garden plan will be ready early enough to implement for summer, but I want to plant some interesting stuff this year. Maybe some bok choy? Have another go at some rosemary? One of the blueberries keeps getting waterlogged and definitely needs to be repotted when the weather warms up a bit. I liked the flowers from the year before last, so might try a different sort this year, and the spring onions have been ace and super-easy. Maybe some spinach? Probably need to make a proper plan.
  • I’m hesitant to say I’ll do stuff around the house – it always seems to require the assistance of Djelibeybi and then it doesn’t happen, but what I’d LIKE is:
    • front door finally painted
    • scruffy paint scraped back in the front-entrance alcove and actually painted properly, probably also with the side door
    • internal doors scraped back, repainted, holes filled in and handles attached
    • reorganise pantry so can actually find stuff
    • dare I even suggest some sort of finish on the walls & ceiling of the laundry and proper shelves so it’s neat and tidy and easy to find stuff?
  • get stuff fixed – this has also been here before and it’s the same stuff that still needs fixing: record player, 2 CD players, blender – and now Djeli says we may be able to just replace the drive in the Wii, so that’s added to the list too.

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