We’ve nearly made it to the end of January which has to be the toughest month. Actually it would have been tougher for me if I hadn’t been doing Project Happier – although I’ve stumbled at times, it’s kept me focused. Today is my first day of not working for 12 days and I apologise if you were looking out for my adventure with my reader Sarah on Instagram on Thursday but all my plans had to be changed at the last minute (because of work). We’ve rescheduled for 12th February so I’ll tell you all about it then.
Anyway, this being the end of our first month of Project Happier, it’s time for us to check up on our progress. Hopefully you remember that this month’s focus was ‘energise’ (ironic is not the word after my marathon 12 day stint). We were looking at the following 3 areas to get our year off to a good start: exercise; eating and decluttering.
So my halo is shining on the exercise front, I’ve kept up with Kettles, Pilates and Power Yoga at every possible opportunity, even when I really haven’t felt like it. In fact it has really helped me to handle my stress levels, especially kettles when I imagine the bell is somebody who is annoying me as I punch it hard in the air.
I’ve also done well on the eating front, I did the humble thing of going back to a Slimming World meeting and standing on the scales there gave me the focus I needed. It took 3 weeks to lose the Christmas weight I’d put on and now I’m back into my usual healthy food groove. I know some of you have started Slimming World for the first time and are finding it a bit slow – that’s because it isn’t a punitive regime, you aren’t hungry and you don’t have to count anything. The benefit of this is that it’s easy to follow as a way of eating for the rest of your life and you can do what I do (i.e. splurge on holiday and at Christmas) knowing that you will lose it quickly afterwards. Stick with it, remember it takes 66 days to develop a new habit so just keep going, one day you’ll find it has become your new normal. Without meaning to I’ve also done a dry January (apart from my friend’s 50th party) and I’m really glad to be back in my ‘social only’ drinking pattern.
Decluttering has been a disaster. I gave myself a simple target of getting rid of 5 items of clothing a week and I’ve only pulled 2 out. My dressing room is the only part of our house that has any clutter so I have no excuse other than I’ve been waiting to read the Marie Kondo book and my extra working hours have meant that I haven’t got round to it. I therefore have to take that part of the project into February with me as we start the new month’s challenge.
The extra item that we added for this month was booking in times to look forward to. I’ve done that and it’s really, really helping me on a daily basis to lift my eyes up from the grind and savour the anticipation.
So, I hope you can review your month and feel that you’re in a better position than you started from. Unfortunately because my work has been so intense and I’ve had sick children at home for most of the last fortnight I don’t feel as energised as I’d hoped to BUT focusing on Project Happier has meant that I’ve addressed my situation going forwards (more about that soon) and I’m feeling hopeful. Being back on track with eating and exercise has also given my self esteem a boost, at least I am in control of myself if nothing else.
As I’ve said my stay in London didn’t go as planned. Because of the proposed tube strike (which was then cancelled), all my retail meetings were moved to the day that I had scheduled for Midlifechic and meeting up with friends so I only stayed for one night rather than two. Instead of having some time to myself I found myself having the weird experience of giving a presentation in an office that I used to work in, talk about going full circle!
I did however manage to have a quick supper with an old colleague who has turned into a friend over the years. She celebrated her 50th last year and on paper has a fabulous life. She is creative director of a London publishing company and we met at the new Soho House which is as achingly cool as you would expect but not, in my opinion anywhere near as nice as the original, it was full of braying 20 somethings who all seemed loudly pleased with themselves.
We don’t see each other often but our conversations are always intense and honest – we don’t feel the need to paint ‘perfect life’ pictures. Probably because of Midlifechic I find it more absorbing than ever to listen to women at our stage of life. As she talked about her job and her family it became clear that she is another one of us struggling to find the work life balance. She is rightly proud of what she has achieved but is perpetually exhausted by it and the strain to keep driving ahead whilst caring for her teenage children.
What really struck me were the number of big sacrifices and compromises she makes on a daily basis to continue being the successful woman she feels she has a duty to be. After a while I fed back some of the things she had said and I really hope I was able to give her a bit of a sanity check. It has made me want to look deeper into why we feel we have to drive ourselves so hard on every front when it obviously isn’t rewarding in the ways we want it to be.
I’m convinced that it is because we are the daughters of the 80s and that this is something culturally unique that previous (and hopefully successive) generations won’t have to deal with. I love the fact that we have an ongoing conversation about this on Midlifechic and I think it’s going to get better this year as we keep on untangling it. I know that I’m feeling as though something has to change for me or I’m going to break… and as I read that back to myself I realise that part of my problem lies there in the syntax, what I should actually be saying is that I have to change something!
So, before we move onto our comfort zone of clothes, I just want to summarise that I think Project Happier is giving me the thread to keep focusing on whatever that ‘something’ is rather than just having a quick moan and then resuming service as normal. I hope it is doing the same for you and I’m looking forward to introducing a new focus area in my next post.
Uniqlo Spring 2016 review
I managed to have a very quick scoot around Selfridges and a few other shops on Oxford Street yesterday. There was an awful lot of sale end tat about. I noticed a very strong khaki and blush colour palette coming through which looked lovely in store. It is really representative of early spring but I’m not convinced that it looks particularly good ‘on’. I know with my grey January skin it wouldn’t even be worth trying, if you have stronger skin tones you would be able to carry it off but I’d just look like half baked pastry. The only moment of ‘sparking joy’ that I had was when I popped into Uniqlo so I thought I should do a Uniqlo Spring 2016 review.
I wanted to see the new IDLF range because I wasn’t very excited by it online – this seems to be a recurring theme at the moment. Anyway, it was ok, lots of linen and creased cotton, nothing great until I saw this ‘silk touch’ blouse which is an Alexa Chung homage. I know lots of people swear by Uniqlo’s silk touch but I hadn’t tried it before. I am now a convert, it isn’t like silk but it hangs really well and it’s washable. It looks ‘womanly’ – if you saw Gillian Anderson in The Fall you’ll know what I mean. Here’s the one I bought:
Silk touch dot print blouse; Boden high rise super skinnies; Jigsaw Milly heels; Links of London rose gold earrings
Here’s the Uniqlo shot – the spots seem to be making the screen go funny
If this one had been in stock in my size I would have been tempted to buy it too, it’s navy and is the sort of timeless chic that you’ll wear with jeans forever.
This of course led me to look at the other silk touch blouses in the main Uniqlo range. The cut of the button-through styles isn’t as good as the Ines blouses but I really like this one. It isn’t a great shot because it looks like cotton rather than the flowy silk touch material but it reminds me of the styles that Aubin and Wills used to do and again it hangs fluidly.
Amongst the other items that I really liked at IDLF was this jacket, I have no need for it but I would love to have it. It would be great for the gym or just for a Sunday afternoon walk with a pub lunch at the end of it. It also comes in different colours.
I also really liked this simple short sleeved sweatshirt which has a better structure than an ordinary t-shirt. It would look great with trousers and jeans but it would also give good counter balance to a floaty midi skirt.
Having finished with IDLF I had a quick dash around the rest of the store and these are the things that caught my eye. I know a lot of you have really started to like collarless coats for their clean lines. This one is a Spring weight in a stretchy almost ponte fabric. It’s available in a few colours including crisp navy…
and a vibrant red. As always with Uniqlo, it’s a reasonable price, a good cut and great quality.
I was talking to someone at the gym the other day who always looks really stylish, I had assumed she wore Lululemon or Sweaty Betty but she buys all her gym gear from Uniqlo.
This was new in and there was a rainbow of different colours
They told me they were awaiting a delivery of most of their new stock but the simple joggers looked good.
I didn’t have time to try anything on but I was intrigued by these ‘smart shape jeans.’ The idea is that they’re well cut and solid dyed so you can wear them for work. I have a few pairs of Uniqlo jeans and the Japanese denim is amazing so I’m probably going to order these to try. I will also point out that they’re not kick flare but they’re not skinny, a gentle move on for some perhaps…
So, Uniqlo made me smile, I love the clean lines, the absence of pattern on nearly everything, the great colours, the fabulous quality and the reasonable prices. It’s the freshest thing I’ve seen to date and it makes me look forward to bursting out of woolly jumpers and neutral colours.
I am heading into another busy week when I will be working most days as we approach our biggest trade show. I’m in charge of the design and development of our stand which has been a very big investment and I have a continual nagging worry that something will go wrong. I keep waking up at 2.40am in a state of deep panic and you know how hard it can be to get back to sleep. I start thinking about life and where I’m going with it all until I drive myself mad. The only way to stop is to find something I can repeat to myself over and over again until it shuts out the other thoughts and I eventually drift off. This is the one that is in my mind at the moment, you’ll know it, it’s from Jane Eyre.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Next week is Midlifechic’s second birthday and as you know, I’m hoping to launch the new look site. I’m also hoping to have something else to tell you, in the meantime I’m going to leave you with this Wainwright Sisters’ version of an old favourite, disappointingly we missed seeing them when they were performing in Manchester last night. Some of you will enjoy the song, others might get the gist of what I’m thinking – it gives you a clue to where I’m heading (no not Peru) let’s see if you can guess what’s in my mind.
Other Project Happier posts you may have missed:
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, I have no relationship with Uniqlo or the Wainwright Sisters – but their album is really good if you’re looking for something new and mellow to listen to.