I went out for a run yesterday morning – for the first time in about three weeks. Winter illness, a lot of work travel and inclement weather all combined to stall the running habit this winter. Yesterday I was hit with a bizarre determination to go for a run. Bizarre in that husband was travelling for work, and I had woken up with his alarm in the middle(ish) of the night. So, I was lacking sleep and my running partner. And the weather was atrocious – rain and wind. Not as bad as it has been, but not gentle weather at all.
Nevertheless, I ran. I ran slowly, I had to keep stopping to retrieve the wandering dog who is less keen on running than he used to be. I even stopped for a chat with one of the dog walking friends. But I ran enough to feel I had had a workout.
And it was hugely fun, I had to divert around puddles, I leapt a few of them. I got wet. Very wet. But I had enough layers to stay warm and I certainly felt more awake at the end of the run that at the start of it, which was sort of the point.
I felt hugely grateful for a supply of towels on returning home. For radiators to dry out the very soggy shoes. For the delicious warm shower to recover. For the washing machine in which I could pile the soaked clothing.
A good mix of exhilaration and gratitude for home comforts to start the week.
Now, has writing this encouraged me to go out for another run today?
For months now, my to do list has had either the word ‘blog’ or, as I realised that that was not going to happen, the word ‘write’ scrawled on it. I’ve put it on daily to-do lists, on weekly habit trackers, on priority lists for months or weeks or seasons. It has been something I want to do, but, well, just have not.
How does a habit become a not-habit? Something occurs that breaks the physical aspect of the habit and then, before I know it, I just don’t do something any more.
In the case of writing, it was sleeping badly in the night that broke the habit. Waking up early to write was hard work. That phase of sleeplessness wore off months ago though and yet, no writing.
The summer routine was definitely different to the winter routine, and somehow, although I can’t quite work out why, writing first thing didn’t fit quite as well.
Then came a slight obsession with not reaching for a screen first thing in the morning, which made writing on a laptop impossible. I have no doubt that not working on a screen first thing, when my day is spent doing that almost exclusively is a good thing. But, despite that, I kept ‘ blog’ or ‘write’ on the to do list and felt a bit rubbish about myself for never getting it done.
As we move towards November, I am steeling myself for winter proper and the reduced daylight. And sitting here and writing first thing in the morning feels like a comforting thing to do in the winter, so well worth getting back in the habit I think.
I am struggling with making myself write in the mornings. Yesterday was a good lesson in why I should though. There is always a list of things I should be doing in the mornings; various parts of my volunteering roles are very much email or computer based, so this precious 15 minutes could definitely be used for the greater good.
This morning is no different. I need to write a report, it should have been done a few days ago, so I need to crack on. Yesterday I got the laptop out deciding I would check my diary for the week and then do my account reconciliations – also overdue. I wrote this blog instead.
The result surprised me. It gave me a bit more energy than crossing things off the list would have done. I had forgotten that this exercise of putting thoughts onto paper first thing seems to straighten out my thinking for the morning and enables me to just get on with things a little bit faster.
I still didn’t get the report written, but I did get lots of other bits and bobs done yesterday, which I suspect I would not have had I not taken this bit of time to do something fun first. To get my own thoughts sorted and out there before I start writing for everyone else and doing the chores that enable everyone to flourish together.
This is my version of putting on my oxygen mask before helping others. I still need to plan what I am going to write though, eventually this is going to descend into sheer babbling if I don’t. Some may say it already has!
The photos that accompany these blogs are generally not mine, they are from the free photo stock on WordPress. This is because I am not good at taking photos. Technically the photos I take are not great , probably because I never really think to take them., so I get little practise. I love photos and love it when people share their photos with me, but I don’t get around to taking them myself very often. Sometimes I have a phase of taking lots of photos, and then I forget again. I can go weeks without taking a single snap.
Every time I choose a photo to illustrate this, I regret my lack of photography and I have considered trying to take more photos as I go through my day. In reality that is another challenge and this was about writing, not photographing, so I am trying to resist the temptation to turn this into a bigger task. Keeping things simple does keep me happier. My aim is to write a blog nearly every day. That is what I am doing, so I am persuading myself to rest in that satisfaction for now.
I have a similar view of running, I don’t run very far or for very long, I still cannot get to 5k. But I run, I run three times a week, every week and six months ago I had never run before. So that is an achievement and I feel proud of it. The fact that I am not trying to do more is ok for me, I am getting some cardio vascular exercise, I am getting fresh air and that is all I need.
Keeping a habit easy to do feels like a key to keeping the good habits going.
My son has just asked whether I write every day. I try to, but do not succeed. After a successful run of posting daily, I was feeling a bit of a failure. Yesterday, I decided that writing a blog was not a good move, I needed to do some urgent tasks instead. Well they had become urgent, having lurked on a to do list for a while. I had a nagging feeling that I had failed throughout the day though.
But the offspring’s question this morning was swiftly followed by another: “so how many people read it?”. He is the generation of media users where if there are no reads or likes, there is no point. Is this a clue to that nagging feeling of failure, am I getting swept away with that sort of thinking? I am very grateful indeed if you’re reading this, and more so if you respond to it in some way. I am posting this into the public for a reason, to have an audience and to feel accountable for making the piece readable.
The main reason for writing though is to have a positive habit every morning which enables me to face a complicated day having exercised my brain with something enjoyable, but still a bit challenging. Yesterday I knew I had not let myself down, I needed to do the tasks more than my brain needed this. Yet, I felt that I had broken the habitual nature of the exercise, and maybe I missed the interaction as well. But, of course missing one day does not destroy a habit, it’s making sure I get back to it that counts. Hopefully someone will read this today. And life feels a bit smoother having spent some time catching up on domestic stuff.