The first tulips of the year. As bought for me by NewMan. (A first in many years... don't tell him, but that made them smell all the sweeter.)
Spending the first 30 minutes of 2015 in bed marvelling at how UTTERLY BONKERS the Dutch are by releasing fireworks willy-nilly in the street, off balconies, out of windows to celebrate a new year. It was like a strobe light and a very loud bad techno beat had been placed outside our window for nearly a full hour.
A week in Austria eating apfelstruedel as much as possible and braving below freezing temperatures, all in the name of snowboarding.
Writing fiction on all but six days of the month.
Going for a walk, a run or a bike ride on all but five days of the month.
And using this goal tracker by Elise to monitor the progress of the writing and the walking.
A new card game played every evening in Austria and then almost every day back in Amsterdam with Snoopy cards that used to belong to my grandfather... Please tell me what card games you enjoy - we need a new one!
Two old copywriting clients coming back to me... not as romantic as it sounds, but I'm happy to have their business and I've used the boost it gave me to reach out to some potential new clients.
Getting up earlier than usual one Friday and cycling along Amsterdam's canals in the most incredible winter's morning light.
And the reason for that bike ride was my first Creative Morning talk in Amsterdam, all about how all beautiful things begin ugly...
...speaking of which, an extra 15000 words added to a first draft of a novel that I'm still not 100% confident in, but I'm telling myself that this is all part of the process.
Seeing a book that I'm part of get a lot of support. Hoping to hold it in my hands next month!
The beginning of something I've been wanting to start for a long, long time: yoga classes.
Enjoying the new hummus restaurant in our neighbourhood no fewer than four times in four weeks. Sir Hummus, we waited a long time for you!
Eating cake and the cleaning the house. That's the new order of how we do things around here.
"The most terrible and beautiful and interesting things happen in life. For some of you, those things have already happened. Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will."
A happy Skype call with NewMan's mum for Australia Day.
A cat that still acts like he pays the rent around here (he belongs to one of our neighbours, you can read more about him here).
A month of banana loaf baking and apple-and-oat-muffin creating. Sorry, diet.
The prospect of four groups of visitors in the next three months!
A spontaneous dinner at an Aussie restaurant in Amsterdam (obviously) that meant I got to drink Lemon Lime and Bitters and NewMan got to feel like he wasn't the only freak in town with an avocado addiction. Also they serve up some seriously good tacos.
The rediscovering of some old(ish) albums I love: The English Riviera by Metronomy (because it reminds me of when NewMan and I were first going out), Write About Love by Belle & Sebastian, Jason Mraz's Waiting For My Rocket To Come (which I hadn't heard properly in possibly nine long years), Bill Withers' Greatest Hits, especially Hello Like Before (and I LOVE the album cover), We'll Make It Right by We'll Make It Right, Brown Sugar and Voodoo by D'Angelo (because no month is complete without listening to those albums - and I'm slowly easing myself into loving his new album Black Messiah) and Asgeir's album In The Silence in its mighty Icelandic original version was finally released on Spotify - hurrah!!
And a new musical discovery: Vulfpeck. Try to listen to this and not instantly love them. And my guilty pleasure of the month was Sam Smith's album, which I finally think I like a lot. Before I was just a bit "meh" but then at our friends' wedding in South Africa there was the joyous moment when everyone started singing Stay With Me (including the groom's mother and father) and I now can't not smile when I hear that song.
The messy beginnings of a new hobby....
Watching more than a few good films on our evenings off and during a few days of a revolting head cold I battled with one weekend. I highly recommend Virunga (the most beautiful and heart-wrenching docu-film I've seen in a long time), Fury (Brad Pitt at his best), The One I Love (don't read about it, just watch it), and Shame (though it's not exactly a feel good film, it's definitely NSFW and will make you feel all sorts of fuzzy weird things for Michael Fassbender).
Oh and totally loving that Archer is back.
No Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest on my computer AT ALL. I asked NewMan to block certain social media sites from my laptop during working hours (8am - 6pm) back in November last year but some sort of glitch happened and at the end of December I couldn't access the sites at any time of day. I specifically asked NewMan NOT to fix it and the result is days of uninterrupted work and some new realisations about social media, namely that I actually don't think I like Facebook very much, but I do miss Twitter and Pinterest, though the latter is something I rarely spend more than ten minutes on and then forget about for days. (If you also want to block certain websites I recommend Self Control or Cold Turkey.)
Sending a little package to my little nephew who is now a pro at Skyping and singing songs with me across the Internet.
And a happy secret that keeps me company in tougher times, and will finally be shared next month.
These are the things that have made me happy in January 2015.
What made you happy this month?
(Disclosure: Yes, this article contains affiliate links, because, you know, a girl's gotta eat! Thank you for supporting As the Bird flies.)
Frances M. Thompson
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