#tbt One from the Archive: Happy New Year!! 🥳

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(First published on The Contented Calf Website on Wednesday 30th March 2011.)

I always feel like March is actually the real start of a new year, not January. So, Happy New Year to you all !!

In January I still feel in the depths of cold, dark (and in recent years, snowy) winter and all I feel like doing is hibernating. I exist in a fog of tiredness and early nights.

But by March the days are getting longer every day, even before the change to BST, and the increased light seems to give me increased energy and enthusiasm for life. I feel like I unfold, wake-up. And I’m ready to begin. I sometimes stay up past 10 o’clock. I might even consider a night out….!?!  😉

All that sounds a bit hippy earth mother doesn’t it?

Perhaps it’s a result of getting older? (Non-mummy friends and I have recently come to the conclusion that a lot of the side-effects that we put down to mummydom are just as present in non-mummies and it’s probably us all just getting old!! 😉)

I never used to feel the effects of winter. I used to think those who did needed to ‘man up’ a bit.

But I really notice the difference between all the seasons now. I’m definitely thinking about investing in one of those ‘natural daylight’ alarm light thingies (*2019 edit* I still haven't bought one of these...)

My real bug-bear about winter though is showering in the morning when it’s pitch black outside – it’s just not natural.

Personally too March marks the start of the year for a number of things in my life. It’s mine and Hubby’s wedding anniversary. This year my parents gave us the best possible present: 24 hours off, most importantly including a LIE-IN!! I booked us into a swanky (local) hotel with the best discount rate I could find on www.laterooms.com, and after lunch with BF and the grandparents off we trotted, wheelie-cases in tow, to the bus-stop. So it wasn’t exactly exotic, but who cares? It was a gloriously sunny day, so after checking in we sipped champagne on the hotel terrace.

Then off to the cinema to see the King’s Speech and back to the hotel for a late supper after aperitifs in the bar. (Celeb spot: not only in the bar, but also at dinner we were sat next to none other than former England Manager, Kevin Keegan!!)

The next day I did of course wake at 5:00am, and then 7:30am, but at least I didn’t have to get up, make some milk and change a (poo-y) nappy. And it was very nice to have a leisurely breakfast with a hot cup of coffee!!

Breakfast is served

It wasn’t long, and didn’t even make a dent in the long-term sleep deprivation. But it was so lovely just to be able to stop and take a breath.

It is also (much more significantly 😉) roughly my one year anniversary since I had my fringe cut in!!

Ladies (as I’m not sure how many menfolk will have ever had a fringe??) as you will know, this is a big undertaking. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with fringes since I was young.

At primary school I would ALWAYS demand my mum cut me a fringe, only to virtually straight away grow it out again. I spent the whole of my time at primary school growing out my fringe, with it tied back in a band or clipped to the side. My poor mum despaired as in every school photo I never looked neat, beautiful and angelic, but unkempt, tom-boyish and scruffy!

By the time I reached secondary school, I’d learnt my lesson and was fringeless (minus the odd few feathery strands along the way) until last year. And on reflection I’m pretty pleased with it. I have a slightly wonky hairline so it needs to be encouraged to stay in place, I’ve grown some of it out as it was way too thick with the first cut and I don’t always wear it down. But I do like the option of it there. And a year feels like a big milestone for The Fringe and I.

My Fringe

Finally, next week (yes, I know it’ll be April not March) will be one year since BF started nursery and I started on the business. A lot’s happened over that year.

I spent April and May starting to write my business plan, mainly focussing on researching the market and competitive products. In June I won a scholarship to attend Cass Business School’s New Venture Creation Programme. This course was excellent and really helped me firm up my ideas into a real plan of action and actually changed the order in which I plan to focus on the products. So June and July I spent at my desk typing away, mainly focussing on the numbers, which was an invaluable exercise, especially working through things like cash-flow in depth. Over the next several months, plans for the recipe book started to take shape.

I worked on getting my blog live, and my website up. (New version of the website coming soon…!!) I started tweeting and set up my Facebook page.

Contented Calf Facebook page 2011 
Contented Calf Twitter Page 2011

I met with Jassy Davis from Gin and Crumpets fame and we started to talk through recipes and ideas for the book. More recently, as you may know from Twitter and Facebook we’ve been in the throes of recipe testing. (One more smoothie to do and then I’m done!) We’re not there yet, and I’ve got to keep my foot on the pedal. But the end (or should I say start) is in sight.

Looking back (at the start of MY new year) I realise I’ve achieved a lot in the last year. And I’m proud. What’s more is I realised this weekend I was very lucky and actually had an excellent work/life balance.

The original plan was always to find some part-time work to do alongside starting the business – help bring the pennies in. However, I’ve just turned down the opportunity to apply for a position at my old work. It was very tempting as I love the people, the challenges and the drive there is there. And working from home can be very lonely. But after thinking long and hard about it, I realised that I was fortunate enough to have one of those very rare things: a great work/life balance, and I shouldn’t go and tip the balance the wrong way.

Part of the temptation of going back to traditional employment is that sense of identity that work brings. Being someone who always thrived in academia, the work-place was a perfect replacement for that: the routine, the learning, the progression, the ‘uniform’. As some of you may know, I really struggled with my new identity as a mum (It Takes Nine Months). I think I’m starting to get there now, nearly 20 months in!! (I’m definitely a late developer mummy-wise.)

However, I’ve realised that I’ve also gone through a similar process with regards to work. After 27 years (bl**dy hell, just worked that out!!!) of Mondays-Fridays being ‘school’ days, it’s certainly taken a while to settle into my new (non)routine.

Looking at it now, I’m not surprised it’s taken some time! You can’t let go of a life-time’s habit/routine overnight, and trying to do so makes you wobble a little. Making a change, really is stepping into the unknown, and it’s tough and scary. It’s also frustrating at times – having to get the washing done, dried and put away; do the shopping; think about and prepare meals as well as work, as well as look after and entertain a toddler with boundless energy, as well as have time for friends, family and darling Hubby.

I once got a fantastic piece of advice at work: my old boss once said to me “you have to accept you will only be able to do 90% of the things you want to do 90% as well as you’d like to do them, and if you accept that you’ll stay sane and won’t burn out”. I think the same is true now I’m a mummy, but maybe the percentages are reduced to 85% now I’ve added a toddler to the mix? After all, she really is my top priority and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So at the start of my year I can say that I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved, both in work and life, and in starting to learn to balance the two. Happy New Year! Cheers!!

As always, with love from our family to yours,

Elena x

Elena Cimelli Signature

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