Week 1, 2020

Books Read:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler

“A wise man knows himself to be a fool, but a foolish man opens his wallet and removes all doubt”
from Dollars and Sense, p254

Another year. Another dollar. I said join me on my No Buy Year. Well I think a more realistic one is a Low Buy Year. Same thing but making better choices but not as severe.

I am making better choices. Last week I put some items into the virtual cart. I slept on in and then deleted them the following day. Nothing bought. Only imagined.

I have joined up with Mel Robbin’s “Best Decade Ever” and am dreaming bigger. Join that too if you like. It’s not too late.

Composting is something I want to get better at. In an ideal world I will eat everything I buy and there is nothing wasted. The spinach at the back of the vegetable drawer is never forgotten. There is no sloppy mess. Reality is something different.

I plan to take stock of everything in my kitchen. The edibles. We have tins in the wash house too. And more tins in the hall cupboard. Are we expecting a zombie invasion? No. We are stocking up for the unexpected. The emergency rations. If the power stopped and you had to fend for yourself how long would your pantry allow you to eat for? How long should that be? It depends on where you live, rural, town, city. It depends on the number of people in your household. It depends on the season too. If you were snowed in how long could you survive without leaving the house? I say that sitting here in summer. It is a hypothetical question for me. It never snows here.

Procrastination is the name of the game. I am living as I used to live when I lived in the countryside when the nearest supermarket was a 40 minute drive away. We had two freezers, shopped weekly and stocked up for what if the power cuts off. Lightening strike, car accident, high winds, forest fire. We prepared. I haven’t lived in a rural area for ten years yet my mind still haven’t realised that I no longer need to stock up like before. I have three supermarkets within a five minute radius. Make that four. One is open very long hours. I am never going to go without. I can simply hop in the car and get what I have forgotten.

Again in an ideal world I would have had my shopping list with me and I would have bought everything on it and so there would be nothing forgotten. Reality is not so easy.

The list of food inventory is a daunting task. Have you done this yourself? Do you do it every year? Every season? Never? I know I will find duplicates. I know I will find expired food. Some dates I will ignore and keep regardless. Some will be tossed into the bin. This is my task for January. My task to know what I have in order to use it wisely.

I love food. We have Japanese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese Middle Eastern and Italian ingredients. We do use them. It takes a lot of organising. I have fallen off the list. It is chaos in the cupboards. There are noodles. Oddles of noodles. Flat ones, thin ones, fat ones, white ones, brown ones, black ones, clear ones, buckwheat, bean, flour made ones, frozen ones, fresh ones and packaged dry ones. This is just the noodles. Now you can start to understand my reluctance to start.

Join me on my kitchen expedition. Discover the depths of your cupboards. Find what lurks beneath the bench and behind the tins. Place like with like. Devour the contents and make delicious meals. Would you go as far as writing out an inventory? And use it to make your future meals? Who knows what will happen until we begin.

Sober as. A bag of frozen noodles.

No Buy Year

I’m having a No Buy Year. A spending freeze.

What do I mean by that? It means I am buying necessities, food and toilet paper and things to help the home function. Insurance, rates, power, internet, water, petrol and phone bills are part of the necessities. Netflix is staying. Not a necessity but an exception.

What I won’t be doing is retail therapy or online shopping. No book shopping. No clothing shopping. No random items just because it’s on sale. Nada. No eating out. No gadgets.

There will be two exceptions. A book festival and the paving stones need changing. Correction: I think that the old paving stones are looking shabby and new ones will look better. It is a want rather than a need. So and the Netflix makes three. Make that four. Paint. When
I run out of paint for my art I will buy more.

This means hopefully I will become better at planning meals. I will appreciate what we already have. Spend more time following creative pursuits, reading, writing, getting dirty in the garden, cooking and walking.

I am doing this as a fun challenge. I’m looking forward to this. I’m not depriving myself of joy. I am focussing on what I have today.

Join me.

And the first job I have is decluttering the house. This will help me with an inventory of what we have and what we don’t need, what we can sell, what we can give away and what needs to go out in the bin. I have started. I can’t say the method is orderly but the first room is the bathroom. I decided that the bathtub needed to be a place of calm. Then after that the bedroom. I have started decluttering so many times over the years but never finished. I gave up part way through because it was overwhelming. I am determined this time. I want to be organised. The declutter will allow me to be so.

Sober as. A rubbish bag.

Happi

My Year of Well Being started on December 1st. Sounds awfully grand and OTT. It’s not really at all. I have been ruminating on the word Wellbeing, Well Being and Well-being. What does it really mean?

For every person this will be different.

I have been thinking on my affirmations too.

I am happy. I am healthy. I am wealthy. I am wise.

Again each of these words mean different things for different people. Making it to one year sober has been a pretty big deal, to borrow the expression from Ashley Graham.

Someone wrote last week in another person’s blog comment area that they didn’t think of being sober forever. I thought no, me either. When I started this sober journey I had the idea of seeing how I felt after a year and with the possibility of drinking in moderation after that. After my first month I thought that was a dumb idea for me. After six months, I thought how ridiculous for me. Who was I kidding. Now I think I am sober, and I want to continue being so. For how long? Who knows. It’s not a question I need to answer. For now and today I am sober. I like myself sober. I want to be sober. That’s really all there is to it.

Being sober is the first step. Tick. There already. Now I want to focus of being the best version of myself. Taking an internal journey and finding how to do this. I don’t expect to have all the answers at the end of my year. I expect to be further along the right path. I expect to be sober too.

I was looking at the word WELLBEING and hygge popped up again and again. It’s a lovely Danish word, Swedish too. It encompasses all that makes life comfortable with a candle, a cosy corner, a good book or a film and comfortable clothing, with or without company. It’s taking time to slow down. It means many things. Well being is one.

Hygge (pronounced HUE – GAH) really appeals to me. I got a book out of the library probably a couple of years ago on the topic of Hygge. I liked it immediately. I started to light a candle every time I wrote my morning pages. I used a plain tea light candle. No smell. And I added essential oils to my burner and away I went. It was a ritual I began and it became a daily habit.

How do I incorporate more candles into my life? Bath time. I have more tea lights for the bath. I gave the place a good clean and made it more inviting. I turn the lights out and watch the candles flicker. I turn the fan off and I lie in silence. It is peaceful. For now I’ve stopped reading in the bath. I no longer need to watch for wet fingers on the pages.

We are going into summer and the humid and hot weather hasn’t arrived yet so I will continue to have baths for as long as I can. Baths and summer don’t really go well.

Happiness and being happy is not the same for each of us. It is not plastering a smile on your face and wishing it to be so. It doesn’t work like that. I think we need to define it first.

Yet before we can begin to look at ‘happy’ we need the bare necessities. We need a roof over our head, clothing, food and sleep.

Happiness used to mean luck and prosperity and more of a collective idea for the entire country, these days it has become for an individual pursuit, a journey to an emotional state.

Happiness for me is when:

I spend time with DH.

I am in the zone with creative pursuits.

I sleep for at least eight hours a day.

I have a home that is clean, tidy and organised.

I have no anxiety.

I have depression tamed.

I have enough money to be able to live comfortably.

I fit the clothes in my closet.

I have no hot flushes or night sweats.

I eat/cook fruit and vegetables straight from our garden.

I am reading a book.

I am cuddling with the cats.

I am enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and something sweet.

I am watching a good film or series.

I am walking barefoot along the beach.

That will do for today. It’s not the entire list. It’s a start. Oh and by the way some of these above are written as if they are already achieved. I am not organised yet but I am making my way there. The garden is not where I want it but it’s on the way.

What is your version of happiness, either now or for the future? Write it as if you have already achieved it.

On the way

Progress is being made. I am learning to walk again. Today is the first day in a long while I haven’t felt exhausted.

Simple things you take for granted being able to do become a huge effort when you have a broken bone.

Can’t believe I’m writing this because it is so not me, but here goes, I’m grateful I was able to do washing today. Said it. I am one who detests housework. Yet today it was satisfying to be able to get some clean laundry done by myself.

Admittedly it was just pushing buttons. There was sorting and loading. There was adding the laundry detergent. There was the decision as to which type of load. Then the wait. Then once the washing machine had completed its magic the load was then transferred to the dryer. The lint holder cleaned and again a couple of buttons pushed and then another waiting game.

It was a bit like Frere Jacques except with laundry. Once the first load made it to the dryer, a second load began in the washing machine. The swirling of water and the rotating drums in their own rhythms. Followed by hauling warm clean laundry to the bedroom to fold. One by one, each placed into their sameness piles, undies on top of undies, t-shirts on top of t-shirts, socks paired then bundled together then piled into a mound.

The mountain in the wash house is getting smaller. The clean piles are put away and I am feeling satisfaction.

Today was a good day. Told you I liked Mondays.

Five days away from being one year sober. Feeling pretty amazed that I have got this far.

Weight for me

I am so so sick of thinking, breathing, writing and talking about WEIGHT.

Being sober is a choice and yay I am glad I did it. I decided 11 months ago that enough was enough. With food you can’t say enough I am done with eating and stop completely. Simply you would die. Obesity and weight isn’t about food anyway. That is the tip of the iceberg and all that you can see. The mind games and the rest is invisible on the surface but oh so very present, day in day out.

Enough!

Instead my solution is to hang a lovely item of clothing that I aim to wear in my eye line.

Ahhh. And a photo too of the lovely item of clothing so even if I am in another room or out and have a decision to make I can look at it and make the right decision. A photo of a swatch of the fabric is all I need. Note that the swatch of fabric isn’t black. We all know which is the right decision anyway. Fu*k it food is off the menu.

(I know this strategy probably won’t work on a low day. The item of clothing will make me laugh. But not in a good way. A sarcastic laugh. Unbecoming. )

It is a positive incentive strategy. There is no NO. There is no limitation on what I can or cannot eat. There is only a choice. With each choice about what I eat, hopefully I will be making more and more better choices. This is for me. A healthier me.

So next time I decide to have a second ice cream for the day I won’t just hesitate. I will politely decline to the child inside of me who is jumping up and down at my side pulling the bottom of my T-shirt and whining, pleeeasseee. Enough. My choice is to say no thank you. That’s it. No whining. No performing. Just no thank you. I can picture my lovely item of clothing.

Yesterday we sat outside and ate dinner. It’s the first time since the bone break that I have sat in the garden, weeded the raised garden beds or eaten outside. Yay for knee scooters! The spring weather is here. There was no wind. I turned on the outside heater so we could be outside in T-shirts and enjoy the moment. My substitute for a candle! Hygge!

One better decision at a time.

Answering phone calls

Phone calls are a connection with the outside world. They can save a life. They can connect you to family and friends. They can be job related. They can be calls from Nigerian princes wanting to fleece you of your hard earned money. They can be congratulating you on winning a competition you entered. They can be good news and bad. They can be reminders of appointments. Although nowadays reminders are texts or emails. Automated to be more efficient.

“No Caller ID” lights up your phone when it rings. Do you answer it?

I do at the moment. I have appointments and deliveries and pick ups to co-ordinate so I pick up. Normally I wouldn’t.

So I was sitting down in a restaurant to eat a cheese burger. My first outing in six weeks. What do I do when the meal arrives. I answer the phone.

What I should have done was this. Answer the phone and ask the caller to call back in half an hour. And if I feel the need to give an explanation I say that I’m just about to eat lunch. Done. Then hang up and eat.

What I did was answer the call, never mentioned the food, being time sensitive, and slowly getting cold in front of my eyes. I replied in all the right places and continued the short call, but I did not concentrate as I was thinking the entire time of the burger in front of me. I hung up at the end of the call. I remembered none of the important information. I can’t say it was multi-tasking I was attempting. It was single tasking poorly. I was distracted. I was considering the other person at the end of the phone over myself. I was attempting to be polite.

In actual fact I was believing I was being polite by staying on the line. I was not respecting myself. I was not respecting the other person either. I wasn’t listening. It was not a conversation. Talking was involved but I was not listening. It was the pretence of interaction. I was not mindful of the conversation. I was not present in the conversation. I was there yet I was not.

I was not respecting the person who made the burger. I was not respecting the person I was with at the table.

DISRESPECT all around.

I can do better.

I know my behaviour is learned behaviour. It is behaviour I want to unlearn. I have observed myself and my actions. I do not like the actions. I know of better actions I can do to replace this automated behaviour. It will take practice. I am willing to change. I can do better.

One good choice at a time.

11 months sober

Yippeee. Here I am today 11 months sober.

What have I learnt so far? A lot and a little.

Yesterday I said no without the need to explain why not. I didn’t apologise. I typed it and then deleted it. I had nothing to apologise for. I made a good decision as well. Who is this person I have become? I barely recognise her. Cue dramatic music. Of course I recognise myself. I am proud of the fact I am sober.

Even when sober you can still fall over and break a bone.

I remember at the hospital emergency room they asked had I had any alcohol within the last six hours and I could easily answer no. Such a simple question yet it made me feel stronger to be able to answer so quickly without having to calculate. No I had not had any alcohol within the last six hours. Today I have been sober for 11 months. Absolutely worth it. Would not hesitate to do it again. Only wish I had become sober sooner.

Yesterday I got my cast off after 6 weeks. The replacement for the cast is a moon boot. I am allowed tentative weight on my right foot with the aid of crutches. I feel grateful to be out of the cast. Slept all afternoon yesterday and a full night’s sleep and still feel tired. I still have yet to master going up stairs on crutches, still on my bum going backwards.

I realise I have a long recovery to go. My ankle was sore when the doctor prodded and now the foot is exposed to air, bring on the dead skin cells. Sorry for the gross image. That’s the reality of it.

I have been craving a hot bath for six weeks. I am still to take the plunge. I tossed up between sketching or a bath before bed last night. Sketching won over the beloved bath because I have been sketching everyday and didn’t want to break the habit. I think I chose well.

Physiotherapy starts today. And my slow road back to walking. I think I thought that I would miraculously be fixed when the cast came off. Fooled. I no longer have to carry a hard shell on my leg. My left leg toes no longer fear being scraped or kicked. Everything is soft again. One leg is slim! Yay. Sarcasm does not become me. Apologies.

Sleep

Never underestimate the power and value of sleep.

I have always placed importance on sleep. Right throughout my life. I cherish my ability to be able to fall asleep quite readily until I can’t.

In my late teenage years I would lie in bed waiting for sleep to come. It always came later than my bedtime. It infuriated me. At the time I didn’t recognise it as insomnia. I didn’t realise that my time clock was functioning a couple of hours behind. This is normal for teenagers. Again I didn’t know this at the time. I didn’t really think about turning on the light to read in the space between awake and sleep. During those years I had turned my back on reading, I was more interested in drinking and trying to fit in. Luckily I found my way back to books a few years later. And sleep came as easily as it did before.

Now I again treasure books and surround myself with them as if my life depends on them.

The other time I couldn’t sleep was right after giving up alcohol. I would lie awake and wish for sleep to come. Sometimes it never came. I kept saying to myself to be patient. Close your eyes. Sleep will come. But it didn’t. I must have gotten some winks because I woke up exhausted and wreaked. Becoming sober was difficult because I lost so much sleep. I had bad insomnia. I didn’t get dry horrors. I didn’t suffer from hallucinations. I didn’t really crave alcohol too much. I was tired of drinking and I could see an early unnecessary death at my lack of ‘stop’ when drinking. It must have been about 3-4 months before my sleep got back to normal. It was a tug of war between is it worth giving up drinking to feel so wretched with the lack of sleep. I persevered and kept believing in it will get better, sleep will come back. Thank God it did. I do not think light of my ability to sleep well. It is a habit practised everyday. It is something to be looked forward to and enjoyed. Sometimes we get less than we need. We adjust and make time to get to bed earlier. To make sleep a priority.

Sleep. Invest in a comfortable bed. Good sheets and blankets, duvets that you can afford. You will spend a third of your life in bed. So it should be enjoyable. A good night’s sleep gives you the strength to face the next day. It revives. It restores. It allows our body and mind to rest. Although they don’t seem to rest at all. The body is forever mending itself. The brain is dreaming. Most of which we never remember and can’t make head nor tail of it. Regardless sleep is important.

I am thankful I have a roof over my head. A warm bed. There is no war or violence that prevents me from waking up at any sudden sound of danger. I am grateful for the softness of the sheets. The more you wash them the softer they become. The rituals the cats perform before sleeping is as peaceful as can be. The mandatory circling. The mandatory licking and preening. The stretching and the final position chosen. Sleep achieved. They don’t overthink, they no longer worry about their next meal, they feel safe. They are home.

Our rescue kittens have transformed into relaxed cats. Sure they run and hide with the occasional stranger in the house. They growl at cars from the windowsills. They dash in the opposite direction at the sound of an engine when outside. For that I am glad. Protection from cars is instinct.

I watch them sleep. It brings me joy. With the cast on my leg I seem to go to the loo more often at night. And with that, the movement of the duvet, the light turned on, the sound of the knee scooter making its way to the bathroom. One cat has dutifully woken up and accompanied me each and every time. Her care for me just warms my heart. Lately she comes sometimes. I put that down to the fact that she believes she can trust me to be alone on the loo. She believes the bone to be healed. She believes that I am okay.

Watching them sleep, one curled up into a ball, neat and tidy, tail encircling the body, the other one sprawled out, underbelly showing, untidy and relaxed as cat-possible, as I said it brings me joy. They no longer bother to wake if I roll over, or adjust the pillows under my leg. They carry on sleeping. They feel safe. They feel protected. They feel loved. They are content. They have a home. That is all.

Sleep well.

Ch ch change

Change is made when small actions are repeated until it becomes a habit.

Change doesn’t happen over night. Change doesn’t happen when you do a new thing once. Actions must be repeated again and again consistently in order for change to occur.

I am writing this for myself as a reminder that change just doesn’t happen by itself. As obvious as it sounds I keep forgetting this and stumble when change doesn’t materialise immediately.

Change requires patience, consistency and repeated behaviour.

I decided while having a cast on my broken ankle that now would be a good time to lose weight. Not so. To heal a broken bone it requires nutrition and possibly more food than normal. I ignored this fact and installed my “new found knowledge” and had just fruit for breakfast, toast for lunch and you can guess what happened…

Low blood sugar reared its head again. Bananas are food from the Gods. Bananas are my go to food if I need instant energy. So I recovered from my moment slowly.

Throbbing headache, feeling nauseous, shaky, sweaty, chills, thirsty, elevated temperature. Why do I do this to myself? Far from clever.

Sweet tea, banana, water, sleep. Followed by dinner a couple of hours later. Followed by more sleep.

Moral of the story is heal the bone first and then deal with the weight.

It may seem obvious to observers but when you are in the thick of it and with time on your hands stupid ideas can appear sensible and efficient. Well stupid ideas are stupid, before conception, during execution and when they have failed.

Lesson learnt this time.

At no time have I felt like having a drink. Except when I heard good new music and thought that this would go well with a glass of red wine. I then rebuked myself and squashed that thought.

Sober and I know it, clap your hands.

Clarification on the word “Best”

My last post was on the theme of “Best time of day.” What I failed to include was a definition of what I was meaning by the word ‘Best.’

Best could have meant a number of things, from best time to sleep, best time for sex, best time for concentration, best time to nap, best time for meditation, best time to exercise, best time to relieve oneself, best time for relaxing, best time for driving, best time for eating, best time for you name it. I didn’t specify. I was/am trying to figure out my best time for concentration.

There I said it: best time for concentration. When there are prolonged periods of concentration, plus optimum circumstances, we have the chance to reach the state of “flow.” For each person the level of concentration required is different. The key point though is continued effort or ‘trying’ on whatever activity concentration is attached. The optimum circumstances are also elusive and individual for each person. We each have to find our own flow state through continued effort. One day after we achieve flow state, if we repeat the same level of concentration we may not reach the flow state. Much to our own frustration. Flow is not an exact science. It is fluid. It is forever changing. With increased concentration we have a higher chance of finding flow. The length of time we have in the flow state depends on us. More concentration requires more energy and time. A higher chance of flow state but it should never be taken for granted. Once we get cocky and expect to reach flow state, that is when you know that it will be gone. It is a gift,not a given.

What is this flow state? A state where you feel at one with the activity that you are doing. “At one with” means that you are completely consumed by the activity and your complete focus or concentration is on the activity, everything else around you no longer exists in that moment. Time disappears. And to be clear it is a positive state, not something to be dreaded. You might feel wiped out after the flow state is over but it is because of this heightened state of concentration for a certain period of time that causes the exhaustion. Off to find my flow.

Best time for concentration for me: 5-10pm-ish

Today I’m trying from 2pm to see if that’s best for concentration. It really all depends on the weather, the season, your age, your weight, your environment, the amount of sleep had, food eaten, liquid consumed, mood,… Anything can alter concentration. They say if you organise your day around a schedule that is maintained day in day out that your body clock adjusts and improves your sleep hygiene and your mental health. Of course some sort of exercise and eating helps too. We all know what’s best for us but tend to ignore it when it’s inconvenient.