Saturday, 6 February 2016

Doing Life Differently

The most amazing thing happened last weekend. I got to use my new fat separator to make the gravy with our Sunday roast! For those of you who don’t know what this ingenious gadget is, let me enlighten you.

When making gravy using meat juices rather than Bisto you will inevitably get a layer of fat on top of the gravy after it’s allowed to settle for a couple of minutes. But, and here’s the kicker, when you pour the gravy onto your dinner you get the oily bit too. Not tasty. But the spout on the fat separator jug takes liquid from the bottom not the top meaning you pour only the gravy, leaving the oil slick behind. How fabulous is that? I was so excited.

And then it dawned on me. I was stuck in a bit of rut. Not the clothing rut of which I wrote a couple of weeks ago (See Who's Up For Some Zhooshing?) but a gravy rut. I mean a symbolic gravy rut not that I was drowning in actual gravy. That would indeed be weird although potentially more exciting than the gravy separator story itself. But stay with me.

You see my life has been ticking along nicely, if you exclude the disappearing husband bit, and I am now fairly content in my world. My routine varies little, as is the nature of routine, and it works. During the week I do the school run, go to work, take care of the house, another school run, supervise homework, make dinner, watch TV with the kids, then pop them off to bed before tidying up, watching an episode of White Collar on Netflix in my PJs then going to sleep myself. Weekends are pretty similar but with the school runs swapped for party runs, additional school uniform washing, a roast dinner and a few board games thrown into the mix.

I like my routine. I particularly like watching White Collar. If you appreciate an intelligent, cultured man in a smart suit with an oh-so-fit body hidden beneath and a smile that makes you go all wobbly inside then this is the show for you! Oh, and it’s got a great storyline too.

There is absolutely no need for the following photo but I’ve put it in regardless to make you smile. Meet Neal Caffrey…

Anyway, as pleasant as that diversion was, it was a diversion nonetheless! Let’s move on and save the dashing Mr Caffrey for later.

My point is that I’m doing the same old thing day in, day out. There’s nothing innately wrong with that. As a survival technique, hanging on to a routine is superb. It means the essentials get done and your brain doesn’t have to be bothered with managing any new information in a time of crisis. It’s free to go into meltdown while you process what may feel like the end of your world. The routine means that you and the kids all make it through the day in one piece regardless of whatever else is going on. But once you get past the disaster, or it starts to diminish and takes up less of your thinking capacity, it’s time to start living again.

That doesn’t necessarily mean going back to do doing the things you used to love in your spare time pre catastrophe. Maybe you’ve changed and don’t enjoy those things anymore. Maybe you used to do them with your partner and you can’t imagine doing them alone or with someone else. Or maybe you just feel you want to find new experiences. Let me elaborate.

I recently went on a hen weekend with a lovely friend and bride-to-be. After a fun filled day of games and a night of food and drink we all crashed out at the hen’s sister’s house. Unfortunately, travelling home on the Sunday morning was more of a challenge than the previous day’s activities due to a vicious post hen party hangover. If only I’d discovered Becks Blue earlier!

Anyway, in the taxi back to the station I was staring out of the window and indulging in one of my favourite pastimes – people watching. In all honesty, I was trying to focus my eyes on anything that could take my mind off the nausea rising from within. Anyway, I realized there was a city full of people going about their day in completely different ways.

They weren’t having a quiet Sunday morning lie in - they were out and about. Instead of being at home doing the washing in their PJs they were wearing gym gear and going for a run. Rather than each member of the household grabbing a slice of toast as they pass through the kitchen, families were sitting chatting over breakfast together in a trendy café. There were signs for foods I’d never heard of let alone considered eating.

There were families with rucksacks heading off to who knew where. I saw kids on scooters and bicycles beside their parents, out for no reason other than that they could. There were even adults on skateboards and roller blades. People were out meeting friends – on a Sunday! That was unheard of when I was a kid. People were going places to do things and I wanted to ask each and every one of them what they had planned for the day. The city was buzzing with people doing all sorts of diverse things.

They were all doing life a different way. And they looked happy.

I made a promise to myself that day which I’d totally forgotten about until the gravy separator came into my life.  I was going to start doing life differently. I wasn’t going to move into a city or learn to ride a unicycle but I was going to make some small changes in my little world.

So I’m going to give it another go now and I want you to do it with me! Let’s see how we can add a little pizzazz to our lives…

1. Do Something New Each Day
Take an alternative route to work; walk the dog in a park you haven’t been to before; choose a different sandwich flavour for lunch; stop in a café for a quick coffee and a piece of cake; buy an unusual ingredient in the supermarket with no idea of what you’re going to do with it; play TV channel roulette and watch whatever it falls on for at least ten minutes… you get the idea!

2. Pick A Hobby
Choose a hobby that you’d like to take up and give it a chance. Maybe you’ve always fancied learning the piano, taking singing lessons, playing tennis, trying ballroom dancing, running, drawing, knitting or whatever takes your fancy. Find a club, a teacher, a book or a YouTube tutorial to get you started.

3. Get The Kids Involved
Introduce the kids to something new that you can all do together. Whether it’s baking, board game challenges, ice skating, picnics in the park, driving into the countryside to get deliberately lost and explore new places… basically anything not related to housework or school that you can do as a family.

4. Accept An Invitation You Wouldn’t Normally Accept
You know the one I mean. That coffee morning or drinks party you “couldn’t make”? The invitation comes in and when you check your diary you’re relieved to see a prior engagement. Never has a school parent evening or dental visit looked so inviting. Well man up ladies! Say yes and go along. By all means have an exit strategy of a later “appointment” or similar but give it a go. At the very least you may get a tip on how someone else is doing life and what you might want to absorb into yours.

5. “Things I’m Going To Do” List
When you see or hear about something you think you’d like to do one day don’t ignore it or put it on your wish list, put it on your “things I’m going to do” list. Maybe it’s a play a friend’s been to see, a holiday destination you’ve always planned to visit or an experience you’ve fancied undertaking but shied away from like skydiving. If you want to do it you can, so put it on the list and start to work your way through the entries rather than filing the scrap of paper in a drawer.

So lovely people, let’s go forth into the world and do life differently. There are so many things out there for us to enjoy and we don’t even know they exist until we swap our PJs for some clean clothes, get out into the real world and open our eyes! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of times you find yourself smiling along the way. I’d love to hear about what you all get up to! Leave a note in the comments section below or email me at

But while you’re making these little tweaks to your world, remember the routine is there for a reason, for security and to make sure we get done what we need to. So by all means discover and enjoy new things but… never neglect your gravy and make sure you watch White Collar soon. You won’t regret it.





  1. Firstly, I need a gravy separator and I'm still to watch White Collar. Two things I can add to the list!

    I have however joined a new weekly art class which I love and I'm now engaging with other fellow wedding photographers for regular coffee mornings. Something I'm really not comfortable with but is actually very beneficial. So I very much agree with you SPB small changes to our routine and ones that take you out of your comfort zone, can make a huge difference to our lives xx

    1. Well done on getting out there Clare! And good luck with the gravy! Love SPB xxx