One day, I will be the next person in the world to die.
This is not a reassuring thought.
I feel like one of the dodos in Ice Age, desperately trying to evolve the power of flight before I reach the front of the line and it’s my turn to fall off the cliff.
I’m trying to change myself gradually, one bit at a time, to have a happier, more successful, more rewarding life. Every change is a slight improvement – and I hope that one day I’ll spread my wings and soar across the sky instead of landing with a thud.
This could be my last chance to send my words flying across the internet to immortality, so…
Welcome to the opinionated and slightly peculiar realm of Emily the Dodo!
My mission is to solve all the world’s problems and have a crack at some of my own if I can find the time. I’m here to help you find a better life.
I hope to entertain my readers with witty, imaginative and insightful prose. But I’ll probably end up having a go at harmless strangers who can’t use apostrophes correctly or complaining about the price of cheese.
You have been warned.
Six months ago, I quit trying to improve my life.
I’d tried so hard for a year, setting myself targets, working on all my problems together and aiming to go From Dodo to Dynamite in a Year.
And, to be honest, I’d done OK, but I certainly hadn’t achieved everything I’d hoped.
Which was kind of depressing.
At that point I read some interesting advice from James Clear: forget about setting goals and focus on systems – concentrate on the day-to-day processes you use to work towards the things you want to achieve, and you’ll find you make progress towards your goals.
I’d just set myself a whole load more goals for the next year, but you know what I did?read more
I don’t suffer with depression.
Sure, I get miserable at times. But who doesn’t?
And let’s face it, over the last few years, my life has been so crap that anyone would feel depressed. But that’s not the same as being diagnosed with clinical depression, right?
So I got a shock last year, when a debt assessor visited to talk to me about why I couldn’t pay the electricity bill.
(Umm… because I haven’t got enough money. Duh! I could have told you that on the phone!)
And she looked at me and said, “I think you’re suffering from depression.”
There she was, this random stranger, telling me I need medical help. Looking at me and seeing a person who’s not normal. Excuse me?read more
One year ago, I took the first step in changing my life.
I was overworked, desperate for money, hugely stressed and in despair. My personal relationships were falling apart, I had no opportunities for self-expression, my health was suffering and I had nothing to look forward to.
I felt as if everything I tried was doomed to failure.
So I decided to give myself a self-improvement challenge: I would attack my problems all together, over the course of a year, and aim to go From Dodo to Dynamite in a Year.
That year is up, and now it’s time to take stock.
So – how did I get on?read more
What kind of friend are you? Try the Emily the Dodo Friendship Quiz: the answers are at the end!
Just follow your immediate response, rather than trying to figure out why the question was set or which choice will bring you to one particular result. If you can’t decide, choose two answers.read more
Life sucks, doesn’t it?
You get nothing but bad luck.
No one appreciates you.
You don’t have enough money.
You’re bored and lonely.
Every day is another struggle, or another disappointment.
But if you try seeing your life as a view from a hill, you start to get more perspective on things.read more
Just one month to go!
The finishing line is in sight at last. Here I come, puffing and panting up the final stretch.
I don’t think I’ll reach all my targets by the end of my Dodo to Dynamite in a Year self-improvement challenge, but I won’t give up yet. I’m going to run as fast as I can until the last second.
There’s one target I know I won’t reach – Make 3 new friends.
I’ve had time to think about this target, and although I haven’t made any new friends, I don’t feel I’m failing; I just have the wrong target. To be honest, I didn’t particularly want more friends, but I convinced myself I should want them.
Everyone needs friends, don’t they?
But I truly don’t feel lonely and want friends around me all the time. I’m a quiet, introverted person, and having uproarious nights out with my buddies three times a week is not something I crave. I have plenty of laughs with my family, and that’s enough.
I’d certainly enjoy the mental stimulation of mixing with a wider group of people, but I don’t believe it’s possible to find true friendship by treating relationships as if they are trophies to be won, so I’m going to cancel this target and let it happen naturally.
If I concentrate on being a happier, more interesting person and enriching my life with new experiences, friends will come. Or not. It doesn’t matter.read more
This week, I reached Level 500 on the Words of Wonder game on Facebook.
Hang on a minute…
It takes me about two minutes to play each level. And of course, I don’t always succeed the first time – sometimes it takes me weeks of trying.
And it’s not the only Facebook game I play, of course. There’s Candy Crush Saga, Juice Jam, some Christmas thing I can never remember the name of, Pet Rescue Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Guess the 70’s… and 80’s… and 90’s… and a whole load of others I tried for a few levels and then got bored with.
I’m not an online gaming addict, but over the last couple of years I must have played about 2500 games.
And I have to wait a few minutes before I play each time for it to load the game, ask me to ‘enjoy this message from our sponsor’ and try some pathetic attempts to trick me into buying ‘gold’ so I won’t realise how much the extra boosts will cost. Not a chance! I’m no sucker – or am I?read more
It’s been a good Christmas – and it’s not often I say that!
Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to Christmas being a bit of a disappointment. To be honest, I blame the Americans.
Well, OK, not all of them. Just the ones in Hollywood.
Expectations are so high.
We want it all in our traditional English Christmas – the carol-singers with lanterns and knitted scarves, the sparkling fairy lights on the tree, the glowing log fire, the gentle snowfall on Christmas Eve, the angelic rosy-cheeked children opening gifts with cries of delight.
And most of all, the big family gathering with the roast turkey dinner.
After all, we deserve it, don’t we? It’s been a long, hard year.
And for many years, once our kids grew up and left home, my partner and I haven’t had a proper Christmas dinner . Still, at least we had each other, and if we were lucky, one of our six sons would come round at some point on Christmas Day, but the others were all too far away and had their own lives and families. And they couldn’t leave the dog. And anyway we were old and gloomy and boring and they didn’t really want to spend Christmas in our chilly, cluttered house instead of their own warm, cosy homes with all their own stuff around them and Ultimate Power over the TV remote control.
Does that sound bitter? Actually, I’m not.
Most of all, I wanted our children to have happy lives. And they do.
And if their idea of a happy life doesn’t include us (even with the bribe of a big pile of presents), then perhaps we are the ones who need to change.
But this year my super sisters saved the day – we were invited to two family gatherings, one on Christmas Eve and one for the big family lunch on Christmas Day. So a good time was had by all.
And next year we’ll be spending a wonderful family Christmas Day with one of my sons and his family.
I haven’t told him yet.read more
Do I look sad enough to get your sympathy? Good. I need it.
No, it’s not due to my credit card bill for Christmas presents. (Well, not entirely!)
I always feel depressed at this time of year. Unfortunately, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, due to the lack of winter sunlight here in sunny England.
Events in my life over the last two months weren’t especially bad, but sometimes I just can’t shake off the gloom and it’s a struggle just to get through the day without biting people. Which is the reason I didn’t start my Dodo to Dynamite year in January.
Our house is an icebox, and I’ve been eating everything that isn’t nailed down, because I’m so cold – who feels like virtuously chomping fresh fruit when it’s apple-crumble-and-custard weather?read more
I had a bit of a shock this month.
I was at my sister’s party, and afterwards the photos were all over Facebook.
I saw one of myself, sitting in a chair, with my flab bulging over my waistline, holding a cigarette in one hand and a glass of Diet Coke in the other. Although it’s a party, I’m not mingling and chatting, but sitting with my partner.
“What a perfect ‘Before’ picture,” I thought. “It shows all the things I wanted to change.”
And then it hit me.
This isn’t ‘Before’. This is over HALFWAY THROUGH my Dodo to Dynamite in a Year self-improvement challenge.
Which is why I’m blushing!read more