It was almost a year ago I made the decision that something had to change. I felt stuck in my job, in my life, in general. I needed to shake myself out of this rut and so set myself a target – a long term target to change some things in my life.
Twenty-four months seemed a fair time to aim for a change. In those 24 months I would have a significant birthday and pass 20 years working for the one company, both landmarks that would push me along the change highway. So I drew up this chart, stuck it up by my desk at work, and on the first of the month I would get out my purple pen and look at the time remaining and think about what I was doing to get myself to change (and also to wonder what does change even look like?)
I tried to explain this to one of my colleagues once, and he completely misunderstood and told someone I was leaving at the end of the month, which prompted her to panic and come rushing to ask me how it could be I was leaving and she hadn’t heard anything about it. After that I took this chart down off the wall and stuck it in my diary.
So now we’re here at the start of June and I can see the halfway point is coming at the end of this month. What have I changed in this time? This might be a good time to look back and reflect and also draw up some plans for the next months. Expect some reflective posts to creep in over the next few weeks.
It’s the start of June! – A new month! A time for new energy and starting new practices. I have restarted the gratitude journal practice. I’m still not sure I believe in the ‘magic’ (and/or science) behind gratitude journals but I have felt more positive this week. I’m trying to be honest in my gratitudes. As soon as I think “I should be grateful for…” I stop and think of something else. I don’t want my gratitudes to be obligated to anyone or anything. And if my first item of gratitude is for having had a really good cup of tea then that is fine and acceptable.
This week’s yoga mood – what yoga mood? Apart from James’ Monday class I haven’t done any yoga. Instead I’ve tried something else, Barre classes on Sunday and Tuesday (which showed me very quickly how unfit I really am). It’s a different kind of physical challenge to yoga. I need to do it more.
Work mood – I’ve started putting things I want to get done in my calendar as appointments and that seems to be working. This week I’ve actually done some things I’d been putting off with this method. I’ll see if I can keep this up and feel more productive.
Cultural mood: this week I watched the film The Laundromat with Meryl Streep which wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it was entertaining, explaining the crooked and corrupt but also totally legal system of “tax avoidance”. I also watched the National Theatre broadcast of This House, which showed the machinations that went on behind the scenes in British politics in the 1970s. Considering I knew nothing about this before we watched it, I really enjoyed it. Sharp, snappy dialogue, believeable characters and an impending sense of doom as the Labour party tried to hold onto power. This week we were supposed to go see The Doctor with Juliet Stevenson but of course theatre is still suspended in London and this whole show has been cancelled so we can’t even reschedule.
Food mood – I am still plugging through the “old food” in the cupboard in my mission to get rid of all the packets of out of date food during this lockdown. So this week I cooked up half a packet of urad dal (I won’t mention how far out of date it was). An important thing I learned – old dal probably needs a bit of a soak before you cook it, or perhaps a much longer cooking time than I’d allowed for. This dal was cooked but still a little crunchy in texture. Lessons learned for when I cook the other half.
This week I finally used the roast beetroots that had been sitting in the fridge for nearly a week (oops) and made beetroot hummus. I love hummus and I love beetroot so this is a match made in heaven and it’s a beautiful bright pink colour as a bonus.
Physical mood. I made a physio appointment at last for my tingling arm. Not in person obviously but by video. I have now got a series of exercises to do that should eventually bring the pain out of my hands (referred pain, so this is not the point of origin) and drive it up my arm to the part of my neck where the pain originates. I just have to put the time in and make sure I do those exercises. The pain has probably come about from working with my head leaning too far forward, putting strain on my neck. I can also use this as a tick for supporting local business – I’d seen this physiotherapy place while out on our walks around the neighbourhood and was lucky enough to call up on their first day reopening for business after several weeks of being closed for lockdown.
Writing mood: I have been persisting with #1000wordsofsummer. I have churned through 1000 words every day so far and in general I found it not much more effort than it took to do 750 words. I’ve also been doing the exercises sent out by the Writers HQ Academy, including a 10 minute brain dump of ‘what story would you tell’ (surprising – I churned out a whole novel plot outline in that time) and the silly but fun fanfiction exercise.
Photography mood. A year with my camera #aywmc started and the first exercise aims to teach you what assumptions a camera makes about light when it’s on auto. I still haven’t done the exercise. I’m going to have to give myself a kick up the behind to get onto this. I don’t want to fall into the “large number who drop out in the first four weeks.”
Walking mood: Google confirmed it – it only takes 6 minutes more to walk to the station through the park instead of through the residential streets that we normally walk. So maybe one day in the future when we need to walk to the station again, we might walk through the park instead. I noticed on out Thursday and Saturday mornings that after the weather turned cold there were less people in the park in the morning. Fair weather park goers, it seems.
Neighbour update: No one has moved in to the house next door but someone was in there at some point and left a window open. We’ll keep watching.
Wildlife update: I try not to be too resentful of squirrels despite their habit of stealing strawberries from me. So I saw a squirrel on the fence recently and thought kindly of it, until it jumped onto the red pear tree, pulled off one of the baby pears, and perched on the fence, looking at me while it munched away. At least it ate the whole thing. But when I went out to inspect the red pear tree, there was only one pear left. So my chances of getting any red pears this year have dropped to zero. I’ve enjoyed watching the sparrows hanging about by our pond. They seem to be looking for insects as well as having a drink and a bath. I was happy to see them also hanging about on the rose bush and cleaning off the aphids that were sucking the life out of the new buds. I can forgive them catching the occasional dragonfly by the pond if they can keep the aphids off my plants.
This week I have been listening to: playlists of my old vinyl and cassettes. I’m not sure where the last remains of my vinyl collection is; somewhere in a box in my sister’s garage perhaps. I still have a record player but I don’t have a system that I can plug it into. The only vinyl I have here with me is a handful of 45s. So I have been having all kinds of teenage memories coming up listening to this music, for good and ill. However I have learned that the songs of Spandau Ballet have in general stood the test of time; the songs of Paul Young somewhat less so.
Have a good week!