Checking the foundations

It’s one of those weeks where the diary is full and there are lots of people to meet with and conversations to be had and thinking to be done. The meetings are later in the evening than I love, the work days involve travelling a fair amount.

So today I am checking in on the foundations. I am considering blackout blinds, because the earlier sunrise is waking me slightly earlier than I want. But in the meantime, my new found habit of not drinking caffeine after noon and my Lenten avoidance of alcohol are ensuring I am sleeping well for the hours I am in bed. I am also trying to wind down at the end of the day doing some light journalling and reading before bed to switch off, even when the meetings finish late.

Exercise has been a bit harder to fit in, but I have done some yoga and a run so far this week. Even the days without yoga and running have had good walks in the sunshine. And the sunshine has really really helped.

Food has been great thanks to planning the week’s menu and deciding who is cooking each evening (I have got off very lightly on that this week). That said, I need to stop writing and go and make some lunch to take with me today!

I have had time every day to catch up with family and have grabbed coffee with friends. All the Scout meetings have been interesting and full of lovely, supportive people. And we are not quite half way through the week.

The second half of the week – that is after 6pm on Thursday – has no work (I have Friday off) , no volunteer meetings and lots of fun planned. I will definitely have plenty of time to be quiet, reflective and prayerful and to play the piano and spend some time being creative. The balance of life is not within every hour or every day, but over the weeks and months.

Counting up the small steps

It’s that time of the year when the days are feeling much shorter, we are losing the battle against the falling leaves, the weather forecasters are warning me how chilly it is out there this morning.  Winter is close. The year is drawing ever closer to its end, it will be time to sum it all up very soon.

This year has been one of a lot of big changes in our family, but also some tiny changes.  Tiny changes which became strong habits. Simply by keeping going.

The first is a gentle exercise programme.  I say gentle because it started with a wearable gadget – in my case an Apple Watch. The aim is to close all the “circles”, which insist that I exercise for 30 minutes a day, burn a certain number of calories through activity and stand up at least once an hour. It was a relatively easy step to make it as easy as possible for myself and putting some actual exercise into place – a short run, a long walk, or some yoga are now a feature of most days.

The second is a healthy diet.  Last year I got fed up with being obese, I wasn’t unhappy, I was just uncomfortable with sore knees and asthma difficulties.  Slimming World was my route of choice, as it encourages small changes , encouraging a healthy diet based on fruit and veg, less saturated fat, a good balance of food types and regular meals.  I am now a normal weight and have built up some healthy habits.  We plan all our meals, we enjoy cooking new recipes.  Cooking a meal from scratch is now as habitual as shoving a pizza in the oven.  One very useful habit is not eating biscuits or cakes at meetings.

The final gentle habit is budgeting.  A podcaster I listen to mentioned a programme called You Need A Budget (YNAB).  It has been hugely useful in our household as we moved from being generally clueless and somewhat careless with our decisions on what to buy or not, to being much more in control of what we are saving for, what our financial aims are (they’re still very frivolous, but at least they’re actual aims) and when we might get there.

In that end of year review I need to remember the many tiny steps which have helped make this year a success overall.  And not to beat myself up that they’re not dramatic, just small and effective.  There’s a lot I have not achieved, but some crucial things that I have.

close up of salad in plate
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