5. On Sunday we took the Christmas Tree to a local Tree Amnesty. I had high expectations, and a fantasy of trees being handed in and redistributed to good homes, or lovingly crafted into useful pine-based products. The reality was somewhat more brutal. We handed our tree over and The Husband and I wished each other a Happy New Year and stood with our arms around each other and the dog at our feet. It would have been a beautiful moment except for the whirring of the wood chipper in the background, and the sight of our tree being reduced to a pile of shavings before our eyes.
6. Whilst everyone else lamented their first day back at work, I was on study leave, the final week of preparation for a major exam I have coming up. Millie and my mum kept me company, and my mum has been testing me all week on various subjects from various books. However, the amount to learn has felt insurmountable for much of this week, and we shall see how it goes on the day. It has been a welcome distraction to take a moment each day to pause and take a picture.
7. A photo taken on my walk through the park with Millie. I really wasn't in the mood for the walk that day, stomping sulkily through the leaves, frustrated when Millie pulled or jumped. As we cut through the trees the bells on the clock rang out and the sight of the church tower in shadow caught my eye. I took a few minutes to take a picture, and stop, take in the surroundings, and enjoy being out with the dog. I stopped rushing home and took a longer route round the park, heading home with a clearer head, and a much better mood.
8. Nothing very exciting today, I took this photo in the morning because The Husband had kindly tidied all of my papers on the kitchen table. When I came down to face the revision, it made such a difference having some semblance of order with which to start the day. Even so, it will make even more of a difference when it is all packed away and we have the kitchen back to normal. I'm looking forward to the exam being done and finally doing all of that New Year reorganising that I've been hankering after.
9. Another photo from a walk with Millie. I am starting to value the time out of the house, and have managed to stick to it every day of the year so far, along with the no alcohol and no chocolate. I would normally be so good at making excuses to get out of it, but I now find, no matter how late, how cold, wet or dark, I don't want to let Millie down, or break the habit. It's amazing how much better everything seems after even a ten minute walk round the block.
10. My other new habit is also becoming an important part of my day. Each evening, last thing before bed, I light a candle on my dressing table and take a few minutes to fill in this journal. As well as making sure I take my make up off, the opportunity to offload onto paper seems to help me organise my thoughts and settle down to sleep a little easier. My making a bit of a ritual of it, I find I'm making sure I make time for it, and looking forward to those few moments as I head up to bed. Between the walking and the journalling, both my body and mind must be benefiting from my new habits!
11. I loved the colour of the sky as I sat working in the lounge this afternoon. After being woken by rain battering the windows early this morning, it was a much more serene view as the sun set. The clouds seemed tinged with peaches and pinks, and shades of tangerine were streaked amongst the blue. I took the two magpies sat atop the tree to be an auspicious sign, and hoped their prophecy of joy would hold true when the exam results come.