My February plan includes taking a 15 minute weekly walk and allowing nature to fill me with awe. The walk I took this week took an hour with plenty of sit downs on benches and tree stumps to just take in my surroundings and focus on the five senses. It wasn’t a particularly brilliant day, typical England in February, bit grey, bit damp, bit windy, bit warmer than last week.
I love the trees in silhouette in Winter. I love wind in the trees. One branch was creaking with a gentle sqweek. The squirrels were bounding around and blackbirds tossing fallen leaves around looking for grubs to eat.
So much to just look at on the tree trunk.
I sat by the lake, watching ducks, moorhens and Canada geese when I became aware of gulls circle overhead round and round looking as if they wanted to land on the water, yet unable too as the currents of wind blew them round and round.
Eventually they disappeared from sight.
The walk was awesome..nothing out of the ordinary but stopping and looking made all the difference.
Divest is my one word for 2023. My aim is to divest myself of thoughts and behaviours which cause stress, procrastination, over reaction and ownership of excess stuff. The objective is to feel more confident and unencumbered . I will be joining Carolyn and others who also use the one word idea to help them reach their goals. Link here- https://youronewordblog.wordpress.com/2023/01/30/checking-in-1-23/
I had a plan in January, and it was a good plan.I stuck to it and made progress,
Step one- draw up a household maintenance plan. I did, it’s based on one I found on this website –https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners which I used a lot when we sold our last house and moved here. Just having something to refer too gives me confidence.
More importantly this month I actually started to implement planned maintenance and had the gutters cleared of at least two years moss and leaf debris. Responding to unplanned issues a builder has just finished repointing the porch. Hopefully an end to wet surprises. I mentioned earlier this month a DIY book. It made me think about being a Good customer, which led to more research and thinking about how you approach asking for a quote.The need in particular to specify clearly what the job is. And being able to understand what is happening at each stage. Suffice to say I now know more than I expected to ever know about bricklaying and pointing – especially about … well you don’t need to know the ins and outs. The thing is if you understand something it’s not so scary.
Step two- improve mental health and well being– I need to refer back to the book I was reading at the time by Benjamin Bonnetti- How to Stress Less. He is primarily writing about work related stress, but it easily translates into living alone for the first time in your life stress, when you are supposed to know what you are doing. It’s not a Poor you tell me about your dreadful upbringing book. It’s this is Life you can do it book. He talked a lot about flight/fight reaction and what it does to your body. And that after something you need the Three R’s. Rest, Recover and Resolve. To aid that you need to think about food and exercise.
So I have implemented some changes. Breakfast in particular. Gone is my golden syrup laced porridge. In has come yogurt, fruit and seeds. Good news. I am not growing feathers eating “bird food”. At weekends I have toast with honey on Saturday and marmalade on Sundays. Helps me keep track of the days. Can get confusing when you retire.
Step three – was to give up caffeine for a week. It took me three weeks to fully implement it due to lack of decaffeinated alternatives at some of my group activities. I was very grateful for the advice to expect headaches, and to drink water. I did wake up a few mornings with a niggle which was soon dispersed with a glass of water.
Have these two changes made a difference? Well if I think about it there were in the past some days when I felt jittery for no good reason. Since making dietary changes I have not experienced them. So the breakfasts and hardly any caffeine will remain.
Meantime I have tried to move more, and went a lovely walk here by myself.
It was a bit windy!
And just over a week ago I joined a group of ladies on a four mile walk. Stunned to discover I can walk four miles with no after effects the day after. I live in a large town of over 200,000 people, many have moved here for work or like me to be close to family. Many women are like me widows, or single parents, or even stay at home Mums, or moved here for work and know no-one. All needing to make new friends. How? Well a little group got together to start a friendship group using the power of Facebook. Anyone in the group can set up an event to socialise , a walk, coffee and chat, a meal out, a day trip etc. I have been hovering for months and finally joined a walk. And everyone without fail was kind, inclusive and welcoming. I joined in so many conversations and what struck me was how far the topics ranged, from menopause to muslim funeral services!The number of potential friends in the group-2000! Number on the walk 22. That such a group exists in such a big town and that is so inclusive.. brilliant. No joining fees, just the wish to meet people, strikes me as being a Jolly Good Thing.
Step four -divesting myself of stuff. Progress here too. Eight towels gone to a lady who rescues unwanted pet rabbits. A large bag of leftover 4ply baby yarn eagerly snapped up by a member of my craft group ,six recipe books ready to go to a charity shop along with a big stack of books about aeroplanes and railways. My heap of to be reads are no longer in a pile on the landing, they are on a shelf.
Step five-Daily reflections. Mostly in the morning but sometimes at bedtime. How do I feel right now? Well positive, less battered by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and happier.
Picture below-what happens to a light bulb when the glue melts and the electricity fuses firing the bulb onto your bed, Just glad I wasn’t in the bed at the time as it was a big bang with sparks everywhere.I cleared up the debris, checked the bed and dealt with the fuse box , and then rested, recovered and in the morning resolved the the problem. The 3R’s worked for me.
“Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” Hans Christian Anderson.
I am treating myself to a weekly bunch of daffodils.
I’ll leave off here, I feel the need to make a February plan. Do check out the link for other one worders, and good wishes if you are one of them.
I’m not going to finish the Hilary Mantell book this month, still only at the half way point of the 800 pages, so here are the three books I did manage to read.
Benjamin Bonetti- How to Stress Less- A self help book I read from cover to cover including completing all the tasks and making 10 pages of notes. He covers the flight/fight reaction to perceived threats, and what happens to you physically, and thence to how you can help yourself, through diet, exercise and relaxation. I like what he has to say and how he writes in a nice straightforward manner that made sense to me. The test is does it work? Well it was put to the test almost immediately when a light bulb exploded flying across the room with sparks and an enormous bang thereby blowing the upstairs light fuse, and leaving half the bulb stuck in the fitment, at bedtime. I coped with the immediate issue, clearing up the light bulb from my bed and reset the fuse box. Then I followed the advice. Suffice to say I slept well, ate breakfast, called an electrician who bailed me out last Summer and to whom I had subsequently sent two customers his way, he duly came and the problem was solved by 10.30am. What more can I say?
Sarah Winman- Still Life- a Good slow read. It took me a while to get into it, but glad I did. The style and language is a bit odd, and come to think of it so are the characters. The story spans a 100 years, beginning and ending in Florence, by way of London, and wars. Concerns an odd mix of people from educated posh folk to characters from the East end of London, all of whom find solace and friends in the beauty to be found in Florence, somewhere I have always wanted to visit. And being a modern book there is swiming in the ponds on Hampstead Heath. I’d love to know why authors these days need to have females swimming on Hampstead Heath. Is it shorthand for something I’m missing?
Richard Coles- The Madness of Grief-So I spotted this book when I was looking at reading material that might help as I divest my self of negative thoughts of one kind and another. It’s written by a Vicar, broadcaster and presenter of a radio chat show on Saturday mornings on Radio 4. He’s also Co presented TV art competitions.It occured to me that some of what I have experienced recently could be related to grief. The book wasn’t what I hoped for. It’s a memoir covering the final illness, death and funeral of his husband. It doesn’t relate terribly well to most people’s experience of these things. If I mention his husband died just before Christmas, and he was subsequently invited to spend Christmas with Princess Diane’s brother and family and did, our lives are poles apart. It was very readable, but not particularly informative orhelpful, and if I’m honest too revealing of his husband’s personal life. That said there was one part where he talks of dropping in on his disabled Mother sometime over Christmas. He talks of how when she was well enough she came to them for Christmas. Now it was just them, a cup of tea and a mince pie ,recalling Christmas past, her with three children, cooking for a dozen on Christmas Day… Life , towards its end ,gets thin. What I have been thinking, and why I need to divest myself of now un used kitchenalia.
Glad I read the two non fiction books especially the first. I’ll be referring to it on Monday when I let you know how the divesting is going.. Rather well actually.
Now, do I read the enormous book, or do some knitting….mmm
When will I learn to avoid starting three things at once. First of all there is the rabbit I mentioned last week- small amount of progress.
But then there was an appeal from the local hospital for fabric bonding squares, and small baby blankets. Oddly I have never knitted a baby blanket, but a bit of googling and I found a pattern and a bit of rummaging, and I found the necessary yarn in my stash for a rainy day- small amount of progress.
Followed by an appeal from church for poppies for remembrance Sunday, so I had to go shopping for red yarn, mine being all gone now after the blanket. I’m doing one a day, except for today when I did two as I was teaching crochet, rather badly I’m afraid… so small amount of progress. There are 11 of us at work and we do have till November- good to be part of another communal project.
So quite a bit of yarny activity, just not much to show for it. These poppies have already gone to the organiser, so…
Meantime I’m still reading this
Nearly reached the half way mark- it’s 800+pages long. I don’t think I knew there was a rebellion in England after the death of Anne Boleyn, when some of the populace wanted to return to Catholicism and the Pope. Living and learning.
I have completed the red and white crochet blanket for The Big Knit at the Orbital. The majority of the yarn is leftovers. My own plus yarn from the big shopping trolley which comes to our gatherings , donated by anyone with leftover yarn, and free for us to put to good use in the form of warm clothing and blankets, which are then offered to people who are homeless. In the case of blankets, toys etc offered to people moving into a home of their own with few personal goods. It is to give that accommodation the homely touch. Anyway enough prattling, here it is –
I bought the White yarn for the border as I didn’t want to play yarn chicken. Colours chosen to appeal to football fans.
Personally I’d have made it bigger but that’s the size they wanted.
So now I have a blanket and a giraffe to take with me to group next month. I’m going for yellow and blue next, more football colours.
New knitting project just started, for an Easter gift for Toddler P. So little done that I’m just sharing the pattern this week.
I suspect this will be the last one I make with this pattern as I don’t know anywhere that stocks the yarn now. Fortunately I bought this yarn as soon as we moved here, making it one of the many projects that I have in the wings.
And my book…
is the third in the Wolf Hall triology. It’s 800 pages long. It’s going to take a time because there are so many characters , many have a name, a title and some a nick name too. I spend a lot of time having to go to the front of the book for the character list, just to know who is who. That said, it is good if you like Tudor machinations, which I do. Gradually Hilary Mantel is showing the readers what precarious events the court lives through, plots and secrets everywhere. Makes the current situation in the Royal family look very tame by comparison.
I attend a knitting group held roughly every 10-12 weeks. We knit and crochet for charity. Tracey Our Leader arrives with a shopping trolley containin a HUGE quantity of donated odd balls of yarn. Last time after we all had a good rummage this forlorn chap emerged from the depths.
People were what ther is that ? I recognised it straight away as a half made giraffe. No-one was keen to take him on , and I simply couldn’t just leave him there. Home he came. I found the kntting pattern I had for a very similiar giraffe I had knitted a few years back. That’s why you keep stuff…
And in a few hours he was looking a bit more cheerful, with legs, horns and eyes
Ready to go back next month for someone to cuddle. All the yarn and stuffing were in my hoard. So scraps to save a scrap of a giraffe. And here he is with the original one, which stays with me for visiting children.
Unusually for me these days I have a finish, already. That’s the hat.
Deadline was the 16 January for a hat yarn bombing, now I just need to find out where to deliver it. I’d also like to know where and for what reason we are yarn bombing hats- it is the Big Knt group so I am assuming someone in need of a pink bobble hat will receive it in due course. And I have volunteered to knit some poppies for a November yarn bombing. Keeps me out of mischief.
Red and white crochet squares are all joined together. I am crocheting a white border of trebles now. Who knows there might be another finish next week?
I am reading a lovely novel called Still Life by Sarah Winman, set in Tuscany and London. It has a big feel good factor about it which I am loving in the dark days of January. Don’t confuse this book with a rather sweet film I found on ITV with the same name- it’s a very good bitter sweet film, well worth a watch.
The aim- divest myself of negative thoughts and behaviours which cause stress- procrastination, over reaction and the ownership of excess stuff.
Objectives- Feel more confident and unencumbered.
Plan for January-
Aided by an excellent book called How to Stress Less, by Benjamin Bonetti, but with my own take on it, I hope to improve my reaction to unexpected events.
Step one – I will draw up a list of household maintenance for Winter/Spring , and contact relevant tradespeople. Before there is an emergency. My son who knows I am prone to what he calls catastrophising, even gave me a DIY book for Christmas. I may well not use it to Do It Myself, but I’ll be a better customer with it. So hopefully there will be fewer unexpected things.
Step two-, try to improve my mental health and well being, so that I am better able to deal with stressful things, and recover faster from them. Needless to say, this involves food, exercise and finding a happy place in my mind to go too to calm down.
I started to read this book in what to my mind, is an odd time between Christmas and New Year. I borrowed the book shortly after the soggy porch incident. It occured to me after some thought that I perceive December as being a difficult month. August is another one. Both have the extremes of weather and due to holidays an absence of tradespeople and family to call upon for help. Added to which we did once have an electrical problem on Christmas Day approximately 25 years ago which took out a major part of the houses wiring, and proved hard to get help for!
So I was already primed for panic and overreaction. Add to that dire warnings of power cuts ,expensive fuel, bad weather and flu and I was dunfor. Already somewhat over tired from too much fun and activity in the Autumn I hunkered down and hoped I could avoid spoiling Christmas with illness. I’ll be totally honest the boiler situation frightened me, and five days later having a wet porch pushed me into realising I had to do better. So to the library and this book.
And a little snippet on the radio about seasonal affective disorder. Now I don’t think for one minute I have this, but for certain sure hunkering down does include not going outside. So second step, which was actually the first step since I have already started is to include going for a daily walk and just get fresh air, and the feel of the elements on my face. After just three days I found myself working out when I could fit in going for a walk, looking at the forecast, because after the cold it ain’t half rained a lot. Not only that but feeling a bit twitchy until I went.
Step three- give up caffeine for a week and see if it improves sleep etc. Now I maintain that coffee doesn’t effect me, so this will be interesting.
Step four- Choose something to give to a charity shop, or craft destash table, or book free-library, or all three!
Step five- probably the most important one of all. Reflect on how I feel day by day, note if something happens how I cope, and have fun, enjoy using the things I keep, and show up here at the end of the month.