Being naughty nicely

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?

I’m asking because I’ve recently been challenged to come up with some ideas for those who have reached the day in Best Year where they are invited to ‘do something naughty’.

The person doing the challenging was Christina who thought ‘doing something naughty’ might be a suitable activity for her recent radio slot (see the post below this). Trouble was, even with a shoutout from the BBC breakfast show host for ‘naughty’ suggestions, she and the journalist reporting on her Best Year journey failed to come up with anything that was both legal and honest. Far be it from the Beeb - or me for that matter - to get anyone in serious trouble.

Christina ended up deciding to staple closed the end of someone’s shirt sleeves which seems pretty imaginative to me and falls into the category of no-real-harm-done practical jokes. Unless the victim stabbed himself on a staple, developed septiceamia and is spending Christmas in intensive care. Apple pie beds, swapping the labels on tins and just possibly sticking cling film over the loo also come into that category. But, to be honest, that wasn’t the kind of naughtiness I had in mind at all when I wrote the book.

be a good girl, be a good boy
No. What I had in mind was the first lines of Mary Oliver’s wonderful poem Wild Geese which I quote at every workshop on self esteem that I run:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

For me, being naughty has nothing to do coming home from a few drinks with a traffic cone under my arm. Rather, it is simply the opposite of ‘being good’ - when the definition of ‘good’ is ‘be quiet’ or ‘do what I say’ or ‘fit in’ or ‘don’t act out of turn’ - or any of those other things we were told when we were in danger of being ourselves.

Being naughty means giving myself permission to NOT Be Good. To break the self-imposed rules that say unless I am giving 110 percent I am not being good enough; that lead me into tortuously long explanation/excuse mode when I have to say ‘no’ to someone or something; that persuade me my own wants and needs have to be buried deep at the bottom of the pile for fear that prioritising them might lead people to think I am Being Selfish.

Sound familiar?

So let me share with you a few of the things that would be on my personal naughty list. Yours will be different, and I’d love to know what horrors of self care or putting yourself first for a change might be on it:

• NOT going into work when I am ill (yep, we’ve all dragged ourselves from our deathbeds into the office on the grounds we are ‘not quite ill enough’ to have a day in bed
• Taking the biggest slice of cake when the plate if being offered around; a variation on this one is taking the first piece rather than waiting for everyone else to choose their favourites and being left with the one no-one else wants
• Going for a walk instead of doing the housework even though the fact that it’s a sunny day means the dust is really obvious
• Spending £3 on a gingerbread latte – THREE POUNDS for a cup of coffee
• Actually doing that more than once
• Leaving the dishes overnight, or better still, leaving them for someone else to do
• Knowing my mum would love to come on a trip with my sister and I but booking without her because carers need a break
• Looking wearily at the crusty plastic tray last night’s lasagne was in and putting it in the bin instead of dutifully washing it out and recycling it
• Pretending I’m not home when the phone rings as I finally get to sit down to eat supper

And then there’s the really naughty list:
• Asking for something expensive for Christmas
• Shopping for a dress in WhiteStuff rather than H&M
• And staying in bed for a whole day with books, hot choc and the radio when I’m not even ill at all.

Now I look at it I’m pretty sure asking my lovely readers to do only one naughty thing is nowhere near enough. Never mind the naughty step - how about setting yourself the goal of working your way up the entire naughty staircase?

You do not have to be good you know smile


Posted by Jane Matthews on 12/15 at 10:18 AM
(1) Make a comment

From reader to radio in five easy steps

Monday, December 05, 2011

This week I’m handing over the blog to a guest writer, the lovely Christina Austin, who, over the course of her Best Year, has been a regular correspondent and become a friend as well as a reader. She’s honest enough to admit that the journey the book has taken her on but may not have provided the ‘best year’ but, in her words ‘it has definitely been the weirdest and most interesting year I have ever had…’ Here’s a taste of the latest weirdness:

Step 1 – Receive a message on the work intranet in December that tells you a ‘colleague’ has published a book called ‘Have The Best Year Of Your Life’. Knowing that you are short of stocking fillers and that this is your last 30 something birthday year, you decide to buy it in the hope that it may spark something.

Step 2 – Get a bit stuck when it tells you to do something for the community – not something you have done before. However, overhear something on the radio about a ‘Twilight Walk’ for Myton Hospice taking place at the location you normally take the new dog. Community, walking, charity – this is all adding up nicely – and gets the kids off their playstation for a while. So sign up (including the Dog who pays his fee) and raise funds.

Step 3 – Receive an email from the same charity about other events that they are running in the year ahead, including a tandem skydive. You have always wanted to do this, and given that your health may change and prevent you doing such things in the future you sign up quickly -. again raising funds along the way.

Step 4 – Attend a drinks reception with all of the other participants for the skydive and agree to be interviewed by a journalist who is there in support of the charity. Explain how you are there because of the book, the steps that have led you there, and discuss the fact that you have a significant birthday coming up, 4 children, 2 grandchildren, work full-time, study and have health issues. The reporter says she will be back in touch.

Step 5 – Be appropriately shocked when the journalist does finally ring you back and tells you that you will be going out and about with a roving radio reporter to complete tasks on your ‘bucket list’ from Have the Best Year of Your Life’ - which includes complimenting strangers at the bus stop and giving someone a scratchcard. Tweet Barry McGuigan to let him know he’s also on the bucket list as you just never know what the final days of the year might bring…

It would be easy for you not to take any credit for this but if it hadn’t been for the book I would never have started on this interesting journey. I hope that the radio broadcast and interaction with strangers might encourage them to do something different for others, however small, and I hope you get many more stories like this in the future. I would truly love to know what other people are getting up to…

I confess to being a little in awe of Christina’s courage in agreeing to do some of her ‘give’ activities live on radio. If I have one overarching wish for the next year of all our lives it is that we are all a little kinder to each other. Christina’s done her bit - publicly. Now it’s over to the rest of us.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 12/05 at 10:29 AM
(0) Make a commentPage 1 of 1 pages


Below you will find previous blog posts that have been archived and categorised to help you.

By Category

Monthly Archives

Most recent entries