Jigsaw Jigsaw Jigsaw Jigsaw (46.20)

This week I have mostly been doing: Jigsaws! Every evening! During my lunchbreak! Most of the weekend! Please please no more jigsaws! We’ve now completed two jigsaws this lockdown and I need a break now before we start another one. (There are two more waiting in the cupboard.) I heard on the radio that the new series of The Crown is up on Netflix so perhaps we’ll spend some time on the sofa watching that this week, instead of hunched over the dining room table plugging jigsaw pieces together for hours on end and often for very little result apart from sore shoulders and a sore neck.

This week I learned How to Think like a Norwegian. The idea was to learn some coping strategies from Norway on how to cope with the winter ahead when we will be in some state of restricted movement for most of it.

So what is so special about Norway that they love winter so much? In their culture, they have a lot of winter festivals, so there are things to look forward to, and decorations in the towns that make things prettier. They also enjoy winter sportsfriluftsliv is a Norwegian way of thinking that encourages you to embrace the outdoors, to rug up and get out into nature, no matter what the weather. Diet also plays a part – the Norwegians eat a diet that’s heavily fish-based and all that omega-3 can provide a natural lift to your mood.

The most important lesson from the webinar was that the way you approach something, the mindset you have about it, can drastically affect your outcomes. For instance, if you exercise and believe that you’re doing well, you will get better results than someone who compares themselves to others and feels bad that they aren’t lifting that weight / running that distance. The idea is that we should approach winter in the same way. Instead of feeling a rising sense of panic or a spirit dampening gloom at the shortening of the days and darkening of the skies, we say instead, I love the winter, and this may actually help you to start to love the winter.

How to put this to use? Find beauty and things to love about winter. For me, things I love about winter are seeing Christmas lights in and around people’s houses. (I am always so sad when the lights come down in January.) I like those days where you don’t have to go out and can just spend a cosy afternoon on the sofa with a blanket and a book and maybe a cat and a cup of hot chocolate and a biscuit if you’re lucky. I like the way the morning sun sparkles on the frosted grass. I love seeing my breath misting in the cold air. I love my winter coats and scarves, and I love to rug up and go for a walk in the forest. I like lighting candles (as a substitute for a fireplace). I love getting the Christmas decorations out and briefly holding each one and remembering where it came from. I like to plan slow-cooking meals for Saturday night dinner.

What do you love about winter?

This week I was disheartened by the news that UK Covid deaths are now at 51,500. I don’t think about that figure too much though, because I’m not sure my heart can take the sadness of picturing what that number represents in terms of children who’ve lost parents; parents who’ve lost children; dear friends who have gone. That’s a grim number and yet people still deny this virus and insist it’s all a hoax. Don’t talk to me if that’s your thinking. I cannot listen to you.

This week’s exercise: I only got one run in this week, on Wednesday. But I have been doing yoga every day, even if only a short 20-30 minute session. On Thursday and Friday I didn’t leave the house, and after spending an hour and a half on the jigsaw on Saturday (ARGH!), I was ready to snap, so we went out for a walk… in the rain. Actually it wasn’t raining when we headed out but we carried on walking even when the rain came down because it was nice to be out, rain or no rain. Although walking in the rain would have been nicer if my trail walking shoes were waterproof. First there was a feeling of dampness around one heel, then my whole food felt wet, and then the other foot. By the time we got home I could have wrung the water out of my socks, they were sopping wet. Sunday we took a walk as well because there was a rare sunny spell in the afternoon after a day of rain – too good an opportunity to miss. We found a path we’d never taken before and ended up beside the North Circular, not at all where we thought we were. After two days of walking and Wednesday’s run, our hallway is full of my abandoned shoes – wet, muddy, dirty – that I took off to not trek grime through the house.

This week I also got the results of that corporate race thing I mentioned a few weeks ago. I came 27th out of 28 people in my company who participated. Yes! I did not come last! The average run time was 37 minutes. My run time was 47 minutes. This gives me something to aim for next year.

This week I’ve done some birthday planning. Two and half weeks to go and my original birthday plans have changed somewhat. Original plan (admittedly somewhat pie-in-the-sky): two week holiday in the Caribbean, learning to scuba and windsurf. Revised plan: go back to Australia. Revised plan #2: take the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and spend a long weekend in a cottage in Scotland somewhere remote with some books, tea, biscuits and wine. Current plan: stay in Walthamstow, have champagne afternoon tea with rainbow birthday cake with Husband and household-bubble-friend. The current lockdown lifts the day after my birthday so it will be possible to go out over the weekend… but I’m not sure if I will. That’s the problem. The less I go out, the less I want to go out. And having people over for a get-together is not exactly an easy option at this time either.

This week I’ve been thinking about newsletters. They seem quite an old fashioned idea but in this disconnected world I find them useful and quite like the feeling of connectedness I get from reading them. They’re like mini letters. And they are kind of the inspiration behind this weekly blog (since I don’t write letters these days). Newsletters I have signed up to/receive are:

  • Author/comedian Viv Groskop whose tips vary from what she’s reading to what she’s doing to where you can order cocktails online (yes, it’s a thing) to how she’s coping with the situation this week (along with some promo for her podcast of course). It was Viv’s mention of newsletters this week that got me to thinking about it.
  • Author Jami Attenberg who sends out writerly emails once a week with advice on writing or perhaps just stories about what’s going on in her life and what she’s thinking.
  • I’ve also signed up to get updates from Ingrid Fetell Lee on how to bring more joy into my life, which I think all of us need right now.
  • I also get a weekly bulletin from one of the senior people at work – not me personally, he sends it to the whole division – but I like to read it and get his position on how things look at the top. And he always manages to put a positive spin on things which makes me feel… good, I guess. That there is someone at the top with positivity and energy and who still takes time to drop us all a short message every week to carry us along with him.
  • Oddbox send me weekly newsletters about what fruit and vegetables are being rescued this week to make me feel good about paying them to deliver produce to my door.
  • Gardening club newsletters, once a month. I usually get the email, read it, and then forget to join the Zoom meeting. I went to the first meeting of the year back in February, but we haven’t had a live, face-to-face meeting since. And I haven’t made it to any of the Zoom meetings either. But they do have my subscription money so I don’t feel too bad about it.

This week Viv recommended some other newsletters that she subscribes to: Austin Kleon, Gretchen Rubin, Tara Mohr, Seth Godin. How about you? Do you subscribe to any newsletters? Would you recommend them? What’s good about them?

Have a good week all.

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