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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Photo by Ghost Presenter on

Enjoying the books

This is a follow up post to my controversial statement the other day. I am of course not getting rid of all my books, but just the ones that don’t ‘spark joy’ to use Marie Kondo’s concept.

I have by no means finished clearing, but so far, it’s been a great experience.  The pile of books on the landing had some great books in it, which I had just stopped seeing, they were part of the furniture, something that sat next to the mirror, not something to read.  I am looking forward to SJ Parris’s historical fiction.

The space next to my bed contained some real treasures, I started the Claire Balding as soon as I could.

Yesterday I spent a few minutes tackling one of the shelves where I store my old university books – I studied French and German.   That was a real joy.  I kept everything that spoke to me.  So the grammar books are back on the shelf, as are some books which are now history books, but were factual back in the 1980s/90s when I was studying.  Germany was two different countries, odd to think. There were some odd choices too.  The three different versions of the Iphigenia tale all remain (really bright sparks of joy from them), as do the Zola novels in translation and Manon Lescaut.  The latter has me intrigued, why that spark of joy? No idea, I shall have to reread it. There are several Alphonse Daudet novels which were the subject of a project whilst studying in Provence.  I don’t particularly like them, will probably never read them in French – I will probably never read anything in French ever again –  but they sparked joy of memory.

The discard pile really made me giggle.  There are several books by Marivaux.  Who is Marivaux?  I am guessing I must have studied him, so how do I not know?  And I seem to have studied Gerhard Hauptmann, but that made no lasting impression either.

I am really looking forward to tackling the next shelf.


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.


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.