Work mood: I had this come up in my facebook memories from a year ago this week. I remember what was going through my mind when I posted it. I didn’t get a job I’d applied for, and was told as part of the feedback that they would welcome my application for other jobs, or you know, person X is retiring in three years, they will need someone then. So although I took on board the feedback I got about things I could have done better in the interview, I realised I had done my best, but it wasn’t good enough, so I decided that door was closed to me now. Once I swallowed the anger and resentment and disappointment all rolled into one bitter pill, I was able to let it all go, by realising I was chasing something I didn’t actually want.

But isn’t that what I’m supposed to want? Promotion, more status, more money? And if not that, what did I want? Did I really want to be climbing the corporate ladder, chasing more money through longer hours and more pressure when I was already resentful about the hours I was spending at the office? So if I don’t want this << other>> but what I’m doing now is not motivating me, where can I find something in what I’m doing that interests me and makes me want to show up at the office? (Back in The Before, when we used to have to show up at the office…)

And I did find something, with the public speaking group I organised for my team, to give people the chance to regularly practice standing up and speaking and facing up to their fears. That was where my buzz came from.

Of course, that has gone now, into The Before. There is no face to face anymore and no-one seems scared of speaking on Zoom. That’s probably why I’ve been feeling down about work since we moved into lockdown. I know I am missing people. I am missing having my Special Motivation Project. I need to find another Motivation Project.

There was a formal communication from top management this week that people who had returned to their home countries during the covid crisis had the option to remain there until August 2021 – next year. The point was emphasised that they expect the office to open before then but this would allow people to make long term plans (such as deciding whether or not to give up their expensive London rental to go home and stay with their parents). A couple of people asked me if I was intending to go ‘home’ to Australia. A few points on this – (1) in terms of home, I’ve lived in the UK longer than I lived in Australia, here is where most of my stuff is, here is where my home is, here is where my cat is. (2) the management communication said that people working from their home country should try to keep in line with the working hours in the city where they are officially based, so if I were in Australia, I would be working from 7pm – 3am to match London 9am – 5pm. It’s fine if you’re from somewhere in Europe with 1/2/3 hrs time difference, but it doesn’t make sense for me.

Or does it?

I thought about this, and I thought about how I have seven weeks of leave, which I was planning to use up in a big trip back to Australia and New Zealand at the end of the year. And I thought, well, what if I went back for three months but worked every second week I was away? Not on London time exactly but I could split my day into four hours by day and four hours 7pm-11pm to kind of match with London morning. No idea if my manager will go for this idea but I’m going to pitch it this week and see what the response is.

Yoga This week there was no yoga mood. I just didn’t even try. Well I did try but I cancelled everything I booked. Am I being lazy or crazy? Instead of doing yoga at home I did four morning walks around the neighbourhood, and focussed on doing the physiotherapy exercises that have helped take the pain out of my arm and concentrate it where the actual problem is – at the back of my neck. So I’ve gone from occasional arm twinges to a near-constant head/neck ache. My physiotherapist seems quite excited about this because it means the exercises are working. I’m less excited – I don’t like headaches.

Food This week we used up the pears that have been sitting in the fruit bowl for… well… I don’t know how long. But several weeks. They ripen not, neither do they rot. So we poached them and plonked them into pastry following the Higgidy Pear and Whisky Tart recipe. A note to anyone thinking of trying this recipe – it advises a long thin pie tin, all the better to cook the frangipane to a satisfying crumbliness. However we put it in a round pie dish, which meant the frangipane in the middle was instead cooked to a warm gooeyness (But it was still tasty).

The berry harvest for the year is starting. The strawberries aren’t doing very well after a major re-planting this year, but what ones there are, are very tasty. The raspberries are starting to get ripe too. Oddly the ripest ones are the ones hidden closest to the fence that get the least sun. There are also a few blueberries ready to eat, but it looks like some wildlife in the neighbourhood has also realised this because I keep finding unripe blueberries on the ground by the pot, as if something heavy (or avian) has been at the bush for a snack. We are still a few weeks away on the boysenberries but the crop looks good. We did a first harvest of the redcurrants – not sure what we’ll do with these so have frozen them for now – they do look quite splendid and jewel like in their vibrant redness.

Reading I finally finished reading my current book. I started reading it on 22 May, so that took nearly 3 weeks. It wasn’t a complicated or challenging book, and in The Before I would have ploughed through it in a week of commuting by train. I need to read two more books by the end of the month to keep up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge targets. This weekend I’ve started Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and already got halfway through from one solid afternoon of reading.

Writing The two week #1000wordsofsummer challenge finished this week. I managed to write 1000 words on 13 of the 14 days; the day I managed only 888 was balanced out by the day I wrote 1261. Most days it was OK-I’ve-got-to-1000-words-so-let’s-finish-this-sentence-and-that’s-enough-for-today. This means my novel is now very close to the magic mental barrier of 70,000 words. I would feel pretty pleased about this but it’s not really in novel format yet. It’s still a scattered collection of three character points of view stretched over a forty-some year time period. And I’m finding as I write that different characters remember things differently. Which is fine, except when people’s names keep changing and I realise someone’s two brothers have turned into a brother and a sister. Who have the same names as someone else’s brother and sister. Which means the characters don’t know who they are. Or I’ve confused the characters. I am trying not to think about the task of editing this into a coherent and sensible narrative. Words first, editing later. That said, I’ve given myself some days off from writing the book. Partly because I am a bit stuck for ideas of what comes next and partly because the effort of #1000wordsofsummer left me a bit drained and I wanted to do some fun writing for a while instead, writing that involves a bit less thought, like blog posts.

Culture This week we watched Coriolanus with Tom Hiddlestone the National Theatre streaming. We made it through to the end which is more than we can say for the last Shakespeare we tried to watch, although Husband may have dozed off once or twice. We also reached the end of the second season of Altered Carbon on Netflix, which according to Husband bears no resemblance to the second book in the series, Broken Angels, which apparently took place on a space ship, not on a planet.

Photography I have done the exercise for the 2nd week of a Year with my camera (#AYWMC). This week was about the function of aperture and changing the aperture to achieve different effects. My takeaway is to remember that a small number means only a small amount of the aperture is covered while a big number means most of the aperture is covered, i.e. small numbers let in more light; big numbers let in less light. It feels counter-intuitive to me now, to think, make the number bigger to reduce the light coming in but I’m sure it will sink in over time. I’ve got a year, after all!

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