Anatomy of a morning

I love mornings, I am a lark, not an owl.  That said, I need sleep, if I have not had my sleep I cannot wake up – those are the mornings I do not like.

The morning routine is something I think about a lot.  And it is a routine which changes over the years.

Pre-children it was a short shower, breakfast, leave for work routine.  With a lot of talking to anyone alive in the house.  They did not always respond, I did not always notice this.

Offspring the elder is a similar lark, so morning feeds were sometimes in the World Service broadcasting hours rather than Radio 4 (which means before 5.20am).  The mornings were long, cuddly, busy.

Offspring the younger is a night owl, he woke late.  So, I had a year or so of a child-free half an hour or so at about 6am.  I drank tea and baked bread and listened to the radio in a blissful time.

Now they are teens, they need to up and out early, but they do not need my assistance.  How times change.

Now my early mornings can be a good chunk of time in which to do what I want. I have discovered something exciting this winter.  Getting up and doing something quiet and sedentary feels as legitimate as getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise, which seems to be the usual recommendation.  So, to soothe me through the dark cold mornings of the quiet season, I am indulging in mornings of coffee, reflection, writing, reading and prayer.  Not all of those every day, but always the coffee.   Here’s to mornings.

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An unexpected day

So, the thought occurs that having to cope with the unexpected is what throws me most.  I am a planner by nature.  Some may say an over-planner, but actually I like it that way.  I enjoy knowing what is going to happen, I enjoy the anticipation.

I have just had a couple of working days which have been filled with what can only be called the unexpected.  It does not matter to me if the unexpected is a large event or a smaller one.  Even something trivial can push me off my tracks.

Nevertheless, I am very good in emergencies, at least I like to think so.  I love thinking on my feet and generally respond well.  But that is not the whole story.

One part of me wants to run my life within a well-planned routine; ticking off the to do list, attending scheduled meetings and appointments; keeping all habits in the same way and the same time every day.

But the odd thing is that I do not believe that even as I write it.  It sounds boring actually.  Both realities are totally true.  I love planning, I love having varied and challenging days.   Maybe my solution is to plan for the unexpected.

There are a few ways to do that I think:

  1. Block out parts of my day and week for the unexpected, I am not sure I can do that practically, but I may give that a go next month (this month’s diary is now full – mainly with annual leave though).
  2. Leave a few spaces on the daily to-do list to fill. I try and have a limited list for each day, recognising that in order to prioritise my brain finds it easier to have a short do-able list in front of me every day, rather than a huge long list from which I then have to pick a small number of things every day.
  3. Actually write down on the list: “react to the unexpected”.
  4. As soon as the unexpected hits, then my next action is to triage the to-do list and move other things off it.
  5. Spend two minutes every day jotting down what went well in the unexpected, not just noticing what did not get done on the list.

And maybe I need to spend a bit of time being grateful for challenges which exercise my brain, stop me from getting bored, but do not turn my world upside down.  And equally grateful for the weeks where the routine is less stimulating, but allows for some time to reflect, to rest and to enjoy the process.  I have experienced the illness of a child, turning my world upside down, stopping all usual routine and imposing a way of life that was very unexpected and even more unwelcome.  God forbid that level of challenge ever returns.  I am strangely grateful for the manageable unexpected and the boring routines.

 

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Why write a blog at all?

This blog is a totally self-indulgent attempt at creating a good habit.  A habit of writing.  I spend a lot of my day writing.  A huge amount of my work is spent writing emails.  Huge amount, I would guess at about 80% of my time is email writing and reading.  I ned to actually measure that I think.

A lot of my social life is spent writing.  Texts, WhatsApp, Facebook all feature very heavily in the organisation of my social life and the times in between meeting friends are happily spent writing to them instead.

And leisure time is often spent reading blogs, possibly not as many as I should, there are a lot of them out there.   But I really enjoy the ones I do read.  I enjoy the personal format, and the length of them. In just a few minutes there’s some food for thought without the reactions that news articles sometimes (often) arouse in me.  I struggle to read a news article without internally issuing a diatribe for or against that position.  I don’t watch soap operas and I think I crave that continuity of narrative about a person that soap operas give you.  You feel like you know the characters.  I feel I know the couple of bloggers I follow.  Obviously, I do not know them at all, I know their writing, but I enjoy dipping in and out of their blogging.

And I am trying to develop something – writing.  In a very boring reason for doing this – I enjoy writing, I love it actually, but I don’t actually do any just for fun.  This is my way of doing something I enjoy that is not an email nor a text nor minutes.  It’s just writing.  For the joy of it.  No one need read it, no one need react to it.  I am just writing for me.pexels-photo-257897.jpeg

 

The value of vacation

Freedom is not free

The mithering today is based around the summer holiday.  More specifically – what constitutes value for money in a family holiday?  The tension stems from the fact that holidays represent freedom from home, from the rituals and routines that define our usual life.  We see new things, new places, we read more, drink more, exercise a bit more.  Most importantly for me, we are free to think a bit more.  All good things.

But freedom is not free.  As we are tied to school holiday times (but this is only for another couple of years), the cost is substantial.  And that is where my planning always hits the wall.

I am really happy to pay a lot of money for a special occasion; a family narrow boat holiday to celebrate my Mum’s 70th birthday springs to mind.  But, the annual summer holiday: not so happy.

The current thinking is around our mode of transport.  We have booked a week of beach and sun-filled loveliness with dear friends in Majorca this summer.  But, only a week, due to logistical challenges.   And we love a two week break from the routine.  On reflection I think I may enjoy two weeks in order to give myself time to settle into a holiday routine; the irony does not escape me.   So, what to do with the other week?

Having a second week on the island without our friends does not appeal.  Well not to me, the youngest of the family does want to do that, but he is being outvoted by the financially powerful members of the family.

One great idea is to hire somewhere in Barcelona.  And this is where the value comes in.  I really want to go to Barcelona, everyone recommends it.   But it is expensive.

And the biggest problem – transport.  I think we have to fly to Majorca.  I loathe flying; I am not at all anxious about it, but I hate the environmental impact, it makes me feel ill.  I loathe airports, the process of luggage drop and retrieval, rules on size of cases, the security ritual, the hanging around, the queuing.  Did I mention destruction of the planet?

But, due to our logistics (youngest is on a Scout camp and we have limited time to get to Majorca), we will have to fly out there.   But there is the second week plaguing my conscience.  If we fly home the cost is ok.  If we get a ferry to Barcelona and then the train home, it becomes so so expensive.  Unfair, but a reality.   So, ‘just flying’ becomes the solution.

But… will that flight home leave such a bad taste, that it reduces the benefits of the holiday anyway.  All in all – what is it I want from a summer holiday?

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