Sunrise and sunset moments

It’s feeling like a long dark winter this year, but there is one delicious habit I have developed thanks to a dear friend which is lightening the season.

Since 24 November I have been consciously marking the moments of sunrise and sunset by texting a dear friend and letting her know what I am doing, however mundane or trivial. The friend texts back and sometimes we have a longer conversation and sometimes we don’t, just two short texts every day is the aim.

It has meant that I look forward to sunset and am able to place it in some sort of context. The light may have gone, but generally I am warm, safe, surrounded by colleagues or friends or family who I feel safe with. Generally life is good in that moment. It may be full of irritation or frustration, but it is one moment and taking a snapshot of one moment gives it some perspective.

It has been interesting seeing the difference in time between my sunset and my friend’s (we use the BBC weather app to give us the time). We were in different countries for one week, but mostly we’re about 10 miles from each other, so seeing that our sunset time can vary has been intriguing.

Most of all I get a little glimpse into what she is up to. It’s a tiny window into her family life, which crashes into our sunrises on most days. It’s sharing a moment of the to-do list, the projects, the frustrations which make up our daily lives. We see each other often, but those catch-ups often involve the big things in life like what the children and spouses are doing, our projects and plans.

Our daily texts are marking our friendship together in a precious way, recording a season together, both the changing light in the day and also the way life changes in small ways every day.

It’s making me enjoy sunset. That is a powerful benefit, believe me.


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.

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The danger of setting an example

This blog turns out to be a good example of doing something productive in the mornings.  I was not aware it was until this morning’s non-exemplary lack of productivity.  Or in plain English – I am having a Monday morning.  I seriously cannot be bothered this morning.  The weather was tough this weekend, I am tired, it feels like light years to the next holiday and the daylight hours are getting uncomfortably short.

All this will pass I am sure, but I decided to forego even attempting a blog and just try and sort out in my head where I am and what I am doing this week.  So, I was sitting with coffee, bullet journal and laptop.  The latter to check diary in fact.

The teen wandered in and asked, with genuine interest “so, what are you writing about today”. Genuine interest.  On a Monday morning.  From a teenager.  About seomthing his mother is doing.

That, my friends is known as motivation.  I did explain – in a VERY non-exemplary manner – that I wasn’t going to write, because frankly I just need to get my **** together.

Actually, it takes ten minutes to have a think about what needs to be done in the next couple of days, it turns out there are plenty of meetings in the diary to keep me on track. So, here we are, a blog.

It’s another one about blogging, I really do need to organise a plan in this.  Yet more **** to get together.  I am hoping for some enforced downtime later this week, so I may just get around to planning themes or at least have more idea than waking on a dark wet October morning and thinking that I just cannot be bothered.

Happy Monday everyone.

 

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New blog routine

Up until now, all of these have been written first thing in the morning.  But it’s the busy season at the moment, with various commitments and a lot going on, and frankly sleep is slightly more beneficial than blogging.

But sleep is making me blog this evening instead.  Or rather lack of it.  I am a great sleeper, it’s definitely my top skill in life.  It’s also the canary in the mine of health and wellbeing.  If I stop sleeping, there is something wrong. And I stopped sleeping a couple of nights ago, not in a huge way, I just keep waking up.  I can drop off again, because I am determinedly not engaging in a thought process, but that ability will wear off as I get more tired, I know.  So instead of having the day start with getting thoughts in order, tonight I am going to end the day with this habit.

Now, to work out what is keeping me awake.  I think it is an accumulation of things and I don’t really want to give credence to my fears. I am feeling overwhelmed, by a quantity of issues, rather than one thing in particular. I suspect what I am not doing very well is writing down everything I need to get sorted and then working out where to start.   In a peculiar way, my fear is writing everything down, because then I may just realise that I can’t do anything.

The problem with feeling overwhelmed is that it becomes harder to find a way to get the job done.  I am starting the inevitable downward spiral into feeling that I can’t do anything, I am hopeless at everything, the best thing to do is run away.  This is my very typical dramatic catastrophising of everything into something way bigger than it should be.  Tonight’s catastrophe is that someone has criticised something I put in place and I feel bad about having to deal with a difficult situation and potentially hurting someone’s feelings.  I seem to think that running away will help.  I know it won’t, but right now, that flight instinct is huge.

To add some perspective, I have handled the situation well.  Two things went wrong tonight on my watch, one was solvable this evening and so it was resolved and hopefully all will be fine.  The other issue felt much bigger.  So, I did what I will hopefully come to accept was the right thing, I listened to the concerns and I promised to deal with them.  And I will deal with it at another time, when I am not feeling overwhelmed, not today.

And meanwhile, I need to remember everything good that happened this evening, because lots did. Perfection is not mine on this occasion, but I need to not forget the good stuff, there was much much more of that than the bad stuff.

full frame shot of text on wood
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