New Year’s Resolutions… Do you even remember what you promised yourself you’d stick to last year? So instead of talking about what we’re going to do in 2014, we’ve taken a look back and taken stock of 2013. Here’s what some of the RIH team have learned – the ‘one good thing’ we’ve done for ourselves.

Back to the Books

2013 was the year that I resumed reading for pleasure. It is the ‘good thing’ that I value above quitting smoking (June) or delivering a speech at my brother’s wedding (August), and it ranks above handing in my notice to leave a job that is no longer fulfilling (December). For most people reading for pleasure isn’t difficult – the clue’s right there in a phrase that’s sometimes sneered rather than spoken, as though it’s no less frivolous than spending thousands of pounds on bars of soap. But it’s not always so easy to just read.

starting reading

My return to books and the revelation that I could read a page and then another and then a chapter, and – guess what! – remember what I had read, marked a turning point. After reading a famous American writer’s new novel – his first in 35 years – I bought up the backlist and kept on reading, too nervous to break off lest the spell be broken. But, in reality, a spell hadn’t been cast. Rather, the black cloud that had been hanging overhead for many months was starting to pale and with that brightening had come the ability to concentrate. I was reading for pleasure and it no longer felt like a chore. It was at that point that I started to wonder if perhaps I might outrun that black cloud… By Monique Rubins.

Me Time

At the beginning of 2013, I promised myself that I’d have one evening each week at home doing nothing but relaxing. I’m always so busy with work and social commitments, so it required a little organisation, but I’ve stuck to it. I’ve generally just watched a good film with a glass of wine and my feet up, but switching my brain off and really relaxing has made such a difference to the rest of the week! By Sarah West.

One (Really) Good Thing

The one best thing I did in 2013 was take a month out to volunteer in Zanzibar, Africa. I’d been wanting to visit Zanzibar – where my grandparents lived and my father was born – for some time, but I never imagined I would leave with so many wonderful memories and new friends. I taught English to local children and adults as part of a charitable scheme run by African Impact in Jambiani, a small village in the east of Zanzibar. This scheme is designed to help local people integrate the burgeoning tourism industry, whose jobs are often taken by better educated people from outside Zanzibar. It made me completely rethink the impact that each of us could have if we considered using our holidays to help other people around the world. By Pippa Rimmer.

volunteering

A Brand New Bra

2013 was the year that I threw out all of the tired old underwear I owned. I went to get re-measured and – of course – I’d been wearing completely the wrong bra size. Thanks Mr Marks & Spencer! I resolved that henceforth I would only wear underwear that made me feel fantastic. So I’ve spent the year purchasing lovely lingerie in silk, lace and satin – and in a riot of bold jewel tones and sugarplum pastels. Leopard prints and florals and polka dots and stripes and ribbons and… And? It may be completely frivolous, but I feel absolutely amazing every morning. By Alice Revel.

My Own Two Feet

Looking back on 2013 is seriously bittersweet for me. On January 27th I split up with my partner two weeks before our seven-year anniversary. The emotions that followed were worse than I ever could have imagined. I’d lost my best friend and the man I thought I was going to marry and share forever with. Everyone says that your first heartbreak is the worst and I hope they’re right as I never want to experience that again, nor would I wish it upon my worst enemy. I spent months wrapped up in my own guilt, crying myself to sleep and clinging onto the good times – that really didn’t reflect the state of our relationship towards the end – but I was determined to convince him that we could salvage our relationship. It didn’t work. So instead I had to finally learn how to concentrate on me.

I’d landed a fantastic job two weeks after the split so I threw myself into that. I forced myself to socialise again and soon enough I realised that being single, and looking out for number one, is actually quite refreshing. It has to be said that none of this progress would have been possible without my friends and family. I don’t know where I would be right now if it wasn’t for them. I lost a lot of so-called “friends” after the break-up, but better to see people’s true colours at the age of 25 rather then 20 years down the line, hey? This year has really shown me who my true friends are and proved to me once again what amazing parents I have as well as the best siblings a girl could ever ask for.

new shoes

There’s been many good experiences to come out of 2013 for me, but one good thing, one incredible thing, was me learning to stand on my own two feet. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate my size nine feet, but it seems that they’ve finally served their purpose because I’ve been knocked down this year more times than I care to imagine – but I’ve pulled myself up each and every single time and now I’m standing on my own size nines for good. By Kirsty McCormack.

I (Don’t) Hate My Job

I didn’t really hate my job, but I didn’t love it either. I always told myself that the great money made up for the fact that it wasn’t my perfect job – plus I wasn’t sure what I actually wanted to do anyway. In November I handed in my notice and then started working as a waitress. I’ve been doing some evening courses, as well as a LOT of thinking. I’ve booked to volunteer overseas for a month in 2014, but I’m in no mad rush to jump into a new career. I want to be sure that when I make my decision it’s the right one.

new job

Hello to Happiness

2013 was the year I finally said goodbye to the unhealthy relationships that had been haunting me for longer than I can recall. From June I made a conscious effort to cultivate a relationship with myself and my own happiness. It wasn’t easy but I disciplined myself to only say yes to the things I truly wanted to do, and reject those I had once felt obliged by. I travelled a lot (often alone), discovered beautiful new places and best of all, a new person who has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. This year proved to me that sometimes clichés can not only be true, but soul-defining lessons. Sometimes breakdowns are merely breakthroughs, the energy you put out there does come back to you and it is honestly possible to find true love when you least expect it. By Bianca Bass

Body Confidence

After years of trying out every diet conceivable, 2013 is the year that I finally became happy with my body. I started the year out doing the 5:2 diet that everyone had been raving about, feeling confident that this would help me blast those extra pounds. It became apparent pretty quickly that your body isn’t designed to survive on a minimal amount of calories each day – apart from a real lack of energy, I was snappy, short-tempered and just felt depressed at being so exhausted. The turning point came when (on one of the ‘fasting days’), I was cross and started a stupid argument with my boyfriend – mainly because I was so darned hungry! I suddenly realised how ridiculous it was to be arguing because of a lack of food.

I’ve always hated being tall and having a large frame, but I decided at that moment that this all had to stop and I had to find a way to make peace with my body and stop tormenting it with a manic-depressive cycle of diet and exercise. A small percentage of human beings may be almost six feet tall and a dress size six, but it would be physically impossible for me to look like that. So I resolved that instead of aiming for the impossible, I would make 2013 the year I became the best version of me I could be. I quit the treadmill and tried out Pilates. I didn’t love it. But I stuck at it and gradually, session by session, I felt stronger and the sequences became easier. 2013 was the first time in years that I wore a bikini, on the beach, in public. No, I didn’t look like a swimsuit model, but I did look leaner and more toned than I ever have.

beach

I’ve given up with dieting for good now, and instead eat healthy, fresh meals at normal times. And I go to Pilates three or four times a week. It’s all about moderation – that’s what makes me happy. I feel confident about my body and at peace with my size and shape. I just can’t believe it took me so long.