A quick glance over 2020's list of aspirations is enough to turn the current New Year’s Day celebration dial from tepid to dank. Yes friends, I managed to plant a herb garden during the very first Spring lockdown. We'll gloss over the fact that this has been rolled-over on every list for the past 12 years (covers eyes). And yes, I finally did go down a fireman’s pole unaided, though annoyingly the video evidence of this makes me look less like the smooth secret agent I imagined, and captures the aggressive teen who was tutting and huffing as I took my own sweet time over the descent. He got my best hard stare, albeit slightly tear-filled.
Anyway *shrugs irritably* I’m generating a new list this year (ornately doodled of course) as well as embracing an idea I saw on social media: climate friendly pledges. Did you know that originally the idea of pledges emerged in the 17th century, as a solemn promise that was sealed over a drink with another person? I'm not saying it wouldn't be a lot of fun if we reworked the currently unusable OSMP waiting room into a cosy tavern (erm, solely for the purposes of team-building and patient refreshment, you understand), but nevertheless, my amazing colleagues and I have written some ideas and these are now on display in our reception area at Copmanthorpe. These are all things that we’re planning to work into our daily routine, for instance, reducing time in the shower, trying to use the car less, eating less meat, walking or cycling to collect takeaways rather than using Deliveroo or UberEats, trying to pick up litter, and using less paper.
These pledges are great because each of them helps the planet, so it’s a nice feel-good way to teeter over the unstable cusp of the 2020 precipice into what may be either a total vortex or maybe just a small Flamingo Land-esque roller coaster. Of uncertain length. With a vomiting child in front of you. Who knows? And I can save you time folks – Twitter does not have the answers. No matter how many times you check. Perhaps think about pledges as daily or weekly things to try and make habit. In January we usually find lots of patients resolving to lose weight or drink less alcohol, or try to get back to the exercise standards of an Olympic athlete. The successful ones are those that pick manageable goals. Don't make things too taxing. Think about what led to the weight gain, or the over-indulgence in gin. Was it circumstances? If so, are they likely to change: what things do we have control over and how can we cope with things we can’t control so they don’t become dementors?
You know, as a child it was always my dream to sprout wings and fly (*smug face* this would earn me so many planet points and still enable me to travel the world, right?!), and frankly, I’m beginning to think this might actually be my year; certainly there’s more chance of it right now than there is of a confident, evidence based decision from the government. On anything. Sigh. But, I'm comforted that the pledges are going to happen even if the wings do not (still crossing my fingers though). And, if you choose oven-ready home-based pledges, realistically they might be easier to continue whether lockdown restrictions change or not. Shower-time will reduce your water bill. Washing at 30 will reduce your electricity bill. Switching to bar shampoo rather than bottled will reduce your plastic recycling and free up room for cans and bottles. Erm, for soft drinks, obviously, ahem.
And don't forget pledges to help with mental wellbeing! There are some fantastic examples – such as reading more books (set yourself a target for the year?) or trying to incorporate meditation into your bedtime routine, or scheduling a regular mealtime Facetime with a grandparent or someone else living on their own, or consider playing a game with them over a video-call, like Pictionary or Boggle. Try a little careful camera-work, or use an online version of a board game, such as https://sketchful.io/.
Well, remember to have some goals to do at home so you know they won’t be affected by all the Westminster-generated shenanigans. Perhaps you’ve been sitting in front of an umpteenth Mrs Brown’s Boys re-run, wanting it to just go away, and filling in that new Chippendales 2021 calendar, feeling that many of your upcoming events are a little insecure right now? Sure, in-person stuff and trips out are really tricky to arrange. But, I'd encourage you to please remain hopeful. January can feel grey and grim, but we've already had atmospheric snowfall, beautiful ice-crystals in heavy frost, and some of the clearest skies and stars for weeks. Stay strong, friends, read your first book, keep smiling, and please please wear a reusable mask and wash your hands. In a very unlimited and specific way.