Aspirations for 2017

img_9024I have resolutely avoided blogging about New Year resolutions. I am a great believer in doing rather than saying and it is easy to say I will do this or that but actually carrying it out is another thing.  I am also one of those people who easily feels a strong sense of failure if I say I will do something and then I don’t so I have become very wary about putting my head above the parapet and making rash declarations.

However, I do have aspirations and hopes for the coming year.  As many will know I have been through somewhat of an internal struggle with life over the last year or so, struggling with work, what to do in the garden, what to do with the blog, the list goes on.  There is probably a lot of over thinking taking place but I have concluded this morning, having listened to a seemingly very relevant ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4 that I need some sort of direction in order to try to channel all my frustrations and feel that I am actually achieving or changing or developing something positive.  The thought behind the ‘Thought for the Day’ was about being the best person you can be.  An interesting idea which sounds very obvious unless you are me.  I have spent most of my life aspiring to be really good at something. Throughout my school-days I was always average, middle of the road  which is fine but it seems I have a deep-seated competitive streak so I felt frustrated that I couldn’t be top of the class in something no matter how hard I tried, I was always a B and never an A.

This quiet irritation has continued throughout my life along with a sense of needing to justify my existence.  When I was at home with my young children the house was always spotless and the children immaculate as I felt I had to prove something.  I am super efficient at work and the Queen of multi-tasking again constantly in need to prove something although I’m not actually sure what that is anymore and who I am trying to impress.

Recently something, albeit small, has relaxed in me and this Christmas instead of redecorating a room in the house as I have done between Christmas and New Year for years  I just pottered and I have to admit I feel much better for it and apparently I look more relaxed.  But there is still that niggling voice in the back of my mind telling me I should be trying harder at this or that so I have decided to set myself some aspirations or objectives for 2017 to focus my energies and to quieten the niggly voice.  I don’t want them to be aspirational in the sense of being hard to achieve, what I really want is a way to allow myself to not worry so much and to actually enjoy things but still trying to be the best person I can be but for my own benefit rather than to prove something to someone.

So some of the things I am hoping to make a regular feature of my life this year or to learn to do better are as follows:

  • Photography – buying my first SLR a couple of years ago was a revelation.  I procrastinated for ages about getting one convincing myself that my simple point and click was fine and I would never get off auto-focus.  I now use some of the macro settings but I want to understand how to improve my photographs more particularly close-ups of plants and flowers and how to frame a landscape view better.  To this end I am thinking on attending a short photography workshop or participating in an on-line course.  I am also going to try to do a weekly photography meme.  I have participated in Wordless Wednesday for years and have dabbled in WordPress’s own weekly photograph challenge (see the last post) but I am thinking of participating in one hosted by another blogger this year (see Blogging below)
  • Walking – I have loved my walks on the Malvern Hills this year.  I think the key was not to set myself specific targets to achieve or dates to do things by as I just rebel against those.  Instead I have got into a habit of just setting off on a Sunday morning when the mood takes me.  I would like to extend the length of my walks and start to explore new places so I am toying with doing some of the Herefordshire Trail circular walks.
  • Sewing – again building on joining the Teme Valley Embroiders Guild last year I want to make sewing more of my life.  I used to sew loads in my late teens and when the boys were small but for some reason it petered out and I lost my confidence, particularly in dressmaking.  I am participating in the 1 year of stitches project in which you try to do a little embroidery every day and post a picture on social media.  I am hoping that it will help me unlock my more creative side rather than religiously following kit instructions; who knows I may even get brave enough to try dressmaking again.
  • Blogging – this is my real struggling point.  I oscillate between wanting my blog to be amazing to win prizes etc and to just wanting to engage with a great community.  I think I have worried too much in recent times about the quality of the writing or the photographs and am in danger of losing the identity the blog had early on which I was proud of.  For me this is going to be the hardest step change as I need to make a mental commitment to enjoying the blog for what it is and using it to engage with and be part of the wonderful blogging community that is out there.  To this end I am going to try very hard to comment more on others blogs and to engage with a couple of memes i.e. In a Vase on Mondays and  a Weekly Photograph Challenge.  As I said under photography I could do the wordpress photo challenge but I like the idea of supporting someone else’s meme just as others have supported my End of Month meme.
  • Gardening – I need and want to engage with my garden more and not feel daunted by it.  I think last year one of the reasons I struggled was the uncertainty of the new neighbours and trying to adapt to the subsequent clearing of boundaries and feeling exposed.  I have, I think, talked myself into a good place in terms of this and can see lots of positives and am busy thinking about what new planting opportunities this gives me. I want to visit more gardens this year, when I did a review of the year I was amazed at just how few gardens I had visited apart from on holiday so I am going to try to visit something most months.  And more importantly I am going to try to visit those gardens with a view to looking carefully at planting, not necessarily in a plant addict way, but to try to learn how to combine plants and create interesting borders.

So these are my personal aspirations or objectives call them what you will, for 2017.  They have no measures or specific goals attached to them but are more about changing my attitude to how I live my life in a gentle way which should bring me a better sense of inner calm and well-being.




Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

18 thoughts on “Aspirations for 2017”

  1. Loved this post. It touched on a number of issues I’m also going over in my mind. I also prefer aspirations rather the somewhat negative definition of resolution. I’ve popped an SLR on my wish list for this year. I really want to improve my photography. Sometimes I feel I don’t understand enough about technicalities or concepts but I’m giving it good go this year. As for blogging, I finally felt I found what I wanted in the blog just before Christmas. I agree that it’s best to find what you want to achieve out of blogging and then go for it. I think ad long as it’s an enjoyable process then that’s good for me. Happy new year and all the best for 2027 😊

    1. Hi Richard
      I talked myself out of an SLR loads of times as I was frightened of not understanding it and wasting money. However, whilst I still at the moment use a couple of the macro settings, I feel more confident. I have discovered there are some good YouTube videos although they can be a bit geeky.

  2. So many echoes of my own thoughts in this post. Last year I began a career change and I’m attempting to make various general lifestyle and attitude changes, but there have been many struggles. I spend far too much time thinking (of the pointless overthinking variety) and worrying, and not nearly enough time taking action. Conversely, I’ve done a lot of useful self-examination and discovery to determine what goals and aspirations I really want to pursue. I also want to focus more on improving my photography, instead of simply photographing everything documentary-style. While I’ve decided to scale back my own blogging, I do want to engage more by commenting on other’s blogs, and I want to write more quality posts for my own (I’m not off to a good start this year). Last year I did a major garden-building in my parents’ yard (where I currently garden) and I’ve reached a point where I really just want to focus on my own life goals so I can have my own garden eventually. I want to detach myself from my parents’ garden, but it still needs some work before I can say I’m “finished” with it. Best wishes to you on achieving your own goals and aspirations in 2017.

  3. I wish you the best with this. I, too, feel that the conventional New Year’s Resolution is a great way to set oneself up for a fall, but I think your aspirations are much better tailored to improving your feelings about your life!

  4. Hi Helen. This is such an interesting post and illustrates just how self-aware you are. I hope that you achieve that sense of inner calm and well-being that you aspire to and that you can put aside the need to prove something to the outside world. As a keen gardener I enjoy your blog immensely – but it’s about more than just the plants.I am always struck by your writing and style. Your writing flows and inspires and I hope you can acknowledge that you have talent there as well. I too hope to improve my photography this year.

    1. Hi Sue
      Thanks for your kind words. I would like to write more and I think this is something I might explore at some point in the future. I have often used my blog to sort my head out and am always surprised how it this a note with others

  5. I enjoy the exchange of information facilitated by blogging, plus just seeing what others are doing. Recently, the blog has also provided an avenue for personal expression, as I’ve found I can share remembrances of my mother in an impersonal way that are otherwise too difficult to express. What I’ve always liked most, however, is the sense of community among garden bloggers. Gardeners are nice people and being among the group makes me happier and more confident in the things I care about.

    1. Hi Marian
      I found the blog helpful in coping with grief after losing my sister and Dad. I suspect that it is sort of anonymous but safe that makes it easier.

  6. Helen your aspirations really speak to me. I will say that some of the photography workshops I have taken have been the most rewarding things I have ever done for myself, even though I tend to still be self critical. When I look at photos I took in say, 2006 versus what I take now I can see real progress. I think progress and results is what we need to see sometimes to affirm our sense of accomplishment. To me the garden and photography have become very entwined, but I find myself taking many many more photos of public gardens and gardens of others than I do my own. Perhaps this is a lack of confidence in my garden design skills ?

    1. Hi KS
      I agree my garden and photography have become entwined. It took a huge leap of faith for me to publish the first pics of my garden as I felt so exposed, even now I would rather post pics of other gardens but interestingly readers seem to prefer posts about my garden, I suppose it’s more personal and they can relate to their own.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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