Delving deeper than decor to explore the power of home as a path to wellbeing #happyinside

September 23, 2020

100 days to make 2020 count

In politics, they say the first 100 days of any new presidency or governing party sets the tone for the rest of its tenure. It becomes symbolic of its potential for success, or otherwise. This length of time also tallies with the approximately three months it takes for new habits to form. Why am I telling you this? Because, there are now 100 days to the end of 2020, which means there’s still time to make this heady hideous rollercoaster catalyst of a year count.

After all, no doubt through lockdown you vowed to make some changes…

Now is the time to make good on those change-for-the-better promises to yourself. Maybe you played board games, and liked it. So continue, instead of auto-defaulting to Netflix every night again. Maybe you read a thought-provoking book and challenged your opinions. Read more. Maybe you focused on keeping your head and mind afloat. Well done — keep on doing whatever works for you (but especially that hour of outside time a day). But also, maybe you realised that you need less than you thought? That non-essential shopping really was a distraction from other aspects of your life that need a review? So reset.

Now is the moment to commit to get prepped for 2021. Besides, doesn’t it make sense to get gently ready for a potential next pandemic now, rather than later? After all, surely now the power of your home to affect the way you feel is abundantly clear. That decor and layout really do matter. And that getting these things right for the way you authentically live your life absolutely contributes to making you healthier, happier, more productive and efficient. And you know what? From here on in, your home might just be the best freely available preventative medicine around. So it pays to get #happyinside. I for one am getting the door put back on my study!

how to get started…

Key is that you want to commit to change more than you want to stay the same. That you want to do new (better) things, more than you want to do something else. It really is that simple. For myself, my usual bleat for not getting stuff done was that I didn’t have time, or I was always too tired.

My solution? I prioritised my sleep. I worked out that my golden hour for turning in is 9.30pm. Sounds insanely early? Well maybe, but what it facilitates is a wake-up time of between 5.30am and 6am, without an alarm, and with me feeling fully-rested and properly ready to take on a new day. And most importantly, with upto 2 precious hours of uninterrupted me-time to clear admin, write my morning pages and get a huge amount out of my head before the day, and family life, starts to steal my attention. It’s made a huge difference. As to what I gave up? The compulsion to watch the news and late night TV. I figured I get enough from my Sunday papers, and via streaming can watch anything I want at a more convenient time.

I switched from being a consumer to a creator

And you can too. Here are 4 microsteps that you could take to still make an impact this year, and the 4 things that I intend to do in the next 100 days, by way of further suggestions…

Four easy ASAP microsteps…
  1. Change your energy supplier to one that backs green fuels. It is insanely easy to switch these days, with no interruption to your service whatsoever, so you really have no excuse. Advocate with your wallet for the companies that you want to stay in business. I switched to Bulb, the UKs biggest green energy provider offering 100% renewable electricity from solar, wind and hydro and 100% carbon neutral gas. It was also cheaper than my big six provider, so really a no-brainer. So use this referral code to get an instant no-obligation quote and save about £95 per year and get upto £50 off your first bill! Sustainability made easy.
  2. Buy a drinking water filter jug. If you don’t have one already, this is a must-have for instant clean drinking water. There’s too much stuff (chemicals, hormones, toxins from old lead pipes) that you don’t want to know about in our water supply to not do it. I love the ZeroWater filter jug but there are lots of others on the market.
  3. Commit a few hours to unsubscribing. All those spam emails and unrequested newsletters? Get them permanently gone rather than temporarily deleted. At the bottom of each there should be a link to unsubscribe. Do it once now and that should be it. If there’s no link, block them. A clearer in-box means a clearer mind, besides I’m sure I read somewhere that for every un-read email languishing in your in-box, you are incrementally distracted from pure focus. Who needs this.
  4. Paint a wall. Choose a colour you love and just do it. The power of paint is utterly transformative, and new brands like Coatpaints offer hand-painted peel-and-stick swatches that adhere (removably) to the wall for you to imagine any colour in-situ. No fuss. No mess. Move them about and see your colour in different lights. (Plus they’re eco-formulations with recycled packaging, sustainable logistics, operations and eco-accessories too!) My top spots for instant easy uplift then will be the wall that you see as soon a you come home, or the wall opposite your bed. Either way, they’ll make you smile every time you see them. And we should never underestimate the power of such subliminal emotional lifts.
four things I will do over the next 100 days…
  1. Re-start my meditation practice. Yes, this old biscuit, because it really is a game changer. And I write this as someone who lapsed completely during lockdown as I was just too frazzled. For sure it might have helped me but knowing myself, it would have also burdened me with an additional pressure to ‘achieve’ when I was already stretched to capacity, so I found other outlets for peace instead. But now I’m ready to return. I ordinarily use the Calm app because it registers each day you complete as a continuing ‘streak’ which can feel quite rewarding. However I may disengage from this as when I broke a streak I felt quite demoralised, which is what started my fall out of practice in the first place. I’d started a 100-day self challenge on January 1st, and got to April 25th, then had a hectic day and forgot. Managed another 4 days but was so peeved about the broken run, I completely fell off the wagon, so to speak. Thus, in order to lighten up about this, I may rotate a few different apps as I go this time instead (Insight Timer is apparently highly recommended, and free). After all, I will know if I achieved my goal if I’m still doing it on December 31st.
  2. Clear, give away, donate or recycle one thing every day. We all, almost definitely, have 100 things too many, under-loved, broken or unnecessary in our homes. Get rid of them. And no, a half-used packet of tissues does not count. I love doing this, because even when I think I’ve really refined my possessions to the nth degree, there is always more that can be cleared. Perhaps things that I resisted letting go of before but now realise have no relevance any more. It can be deeply revealing.
  3. Re-read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron I did this self-guided 12-week course in “discovering and recovering your creative self” through lockdown but there were bits I had to skip (the artist’s dates, where you take yourself off to do something fun, but unaccompanied) nevertheless it was truly revelatory in ways that I will write another blog post to explain. If you’ve not heard of it, I’d definitely urge you to check it out. Even if you only do the morning pages — Julia’s recommendation for a sort of written morning brain-dump in longhand across a minimum of three pages — it will become an extremely rewarding new habit in ways you cannot yet imagine. Find out more at Julia Cameron Live
  4. Plant some Spring bulbs. Or maybe I’ll buy some ready-potted from my local supermarket. Watching these grow regardless of what’s whirling in the world will be a positive visual metaphor for the optimism of the Spring that will come. And I think we’ll all need some simple cues like this to get through the Winter. After all, as the Early English poet Anne Bradstreet (born 1612) once wrote, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

So 2021, we’ll be ready for whatever you choose to throw at us. Seriously, it surely can’t be worse than 2020!

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16 replies »

  1. Hello, Michelle,
    Several decades ago, Calvin Klein, the American champion of minimalism, photographed Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in New Mexico as part of a story for the New York Times. Since then, she has been my role model in what a clutter-free-but-filled-with-things-meaningful-to-me home and old age look like. The culling of stuff from my life and home is ongoing.
    Not only have I been with a 100% wind energy supplier since 2005, I am very pleased to have persuaded three friends and a cousin to go green over the years. That challenge continues.
    I too need to make my meditation, and in my case exercise as well, a consistent, committed, daily practice. Even though I am retired, I tend to get up and launch myself into my day. Every morning I have to remind myself how wonderful it feels to ease into the day, starting with a joint-supporting floor barre and ending with the energy boost of the rowing machine.
    Thank you for your lovely insights, reminders, and inspiration.
    Warmest regards,
    Stephanie Bowens

    • Wow! I think YOU might be my new role model! Barre AND rowing machine. Respect. And I’m going to see if I can look up that feature. Would love to see it. It sounds marvellous. M xx

  2. Love The Artist’s Way a friend and I have done it together over lockdown. I first did it 20yrs ago – fun to revisit!

    And yes create not consume – do 1 thing creative before any consuming, has been added to my morning routine of meditation & exercise.

    Plus I bought & read your book Michelle. All during lockdown.

    Thank you 🙏 😊

    • Gosh Lis, sounds like you have had a very productive lockdown! And I love the idea of adding one creative thing to do before consuming of a morning. Might have to borrow that one! M x

  3. So timely Michelle thank you. I’m sitting in my new house (project) waiting for the removals truck to arrive, looking at the architect’s plans for our future home. I definitely packed 100 surplus possessions and they will be in the front door and out the back pronto!! Love your inspirational writing, working on seeing 2020 out positively.

  4. I ordered Happy Inside after reading a newspaper article during lockdown. I am already reading it again as everything you wrote resonated with me and I am enjoying taking it in even more this time.
    I am working on making our home show itself off: not through new things but by looking after what is already there. To show the house love so we can feel the love as a happy family.
    I like the optimism of this post; yes, things have been (and still are) difficult but there’s still time to make positive changes. There is no way we can stop bad things from happening to us but I think to feel prepared to take things on can make us feel stronger.

  5. I will definitely not be unsubscribing from your articles. Thank you for the reminder of the year coming to an end and making time count.

    • 100 days feels like enough time, and yet it will go by so quickly. Felt important to post something like this as for many people this has been a washout year, but then again, so pivotal in many other ways too. Either way, it’s an evolutionary year.

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Writer, Author, Brand Consultant & TV Presenter

Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.