Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Balance- January

Carolyn holds a link party for people to share their one word posts. Thinking about my word for the year, Balance, once a month, seems like a good plan for helping me through this first full year as a widow. Yesterday marks the day when we first saw each other 50 years ago, so it’s no wonder I am having to rebalance myself.

I have indeed gone back to basics in my need for balance, prioritising the simple necessities of life. I sound like the Jungle Book! Apologies to anyone singing about Bear Necessities right now, or was that bare?

First thing I concentrate on every day is food. No more planning one thing and copping out to make something simpler because I can’t be bothered. I have actually managed to think of my meals the night before , making sure I eat meals based on things in the fridge or defrosting something. And sticking to it. Except for the day Dave the computer man came and didn’t leave till 7pm , then I had salad. The thing about starting the day knowing what my main meal is gives me an anchor for the rest of the day, maybe I need some shopping, or need to do some preprep. And thinking of the following day after I wash up at night, helps start the end of the current day leading me to the next. It’s not so much the food that creates balance but the planning.

Next identified exercise. I was when I wrote the first post still in the throws of shaking off Covid, I needed to get out in fresh air and blow it out of my system. So I went to Barbary Castle, the iron age hill Fort, and blew away the cobwebs.

The views are wonderful from here on the Ridgeway.
Incredible to think the M4 and Swindon is down there.

All I could hear was sky larks.

It did me good. The following day also dawned with blue skies, so I armed myself with my duck food and set off to Moulden Hill Lake.

Yum yum, they said.

Swans, ducks, geese, moorhens, coot, seagulls, a Robin and Wood pigeons.

I wish I could say I kept this up, but I didn’t. Because what I hadn’t taken into account is something else I completely failed to think about in the beginning. I’ll explain later.

Next up I’d thought came household maintenance. I don’t just mean fixing stuff but just those things that you have to do. So the car has had it’s MOT, which means its been officially tested for road safety. And I have the paperwork to prove it. I have also made sure the house has it’s correct insurance. Various bits of personal admin. I have dealt with letters and phone calls as they came in. Much less stressful than putting them off all the time.

I have also progressed a couple of bigger plans. I am in the process of acquiring a new laptop, current one has an ominous black line across the screen. Technology was Mr E’s line of work so I was totally at sea, hence the need for Dave the computer. And then the folorn patch which again had been Mr E’s baby now mine. Tessa the wonderful is helping me with my dream of a fruit Grove, ie orchard. She doesn’t think me crazy, she’s totally with me on wanting to use some older varieties to help keep them going. Come on, wouldn’t you plant an apple tree called Eynsham Dumpling? She does the digging, I am the goffer and tea maker. She has so far planted me a Victoria plum tree, and two peaches called the Duke of York and Rochester, and yes their names did play a part in which ones I choose. Tessa will also help me in the front to rip out the artificial grass and plant shrubs and flowers for the bees, butterflies and birds. Rats please note you aren’t beng catered for.

I am loving doing these projects. You may recall I had identified a lot of things I wanted to do. I have had the sense to stop at two.

I reckoned to have balance in my life I needed to feel useful. I have been doing some homework ahead of some training in Safeguarding. It’s going to be via Zoom which I hate with a vengeance. If I had known zooming was part of everything I might never have volunteered in the first place.

Balance also meant thinking about mental well being and seeing people. I do try to venture out daily and mingle but most of the groups I had signed up too closed for this month due to Covid fears. It’s meant I have spent more time at home than for quite a while. It turns out that actually I have benefited from this time alone. I can’t say I have been super productive in anything. I have just not been rushing around and feeling stressed and overwhelmed by stuff. I think what it means is I have to be a bit more picky about what I choose to do. I need time alone. I am of course very lucky that we moved in 2020. I have seen family every weekend. I have cuddled the gorgeous Baby P. I have been on a shopping trip for school coats and eaten pizza. On Saturday I walked with my son and family for a meal in a nearby pub. So it transpires rest is important for Balance too. I have been choosing reading over exercise. Maybe when its warmer and I am fully recovered this will change.

And that kind of brings me to this week. More computer stuff, collecting grandson from school so his parents can have a grown up outing by themselves and getting myself a senior rail card .

It’s been quite a learning experience, and thanks if you managed to stay with me till the end! Have you chosen a guiding word this year? How are you getting on?

Leaving you with another picture from my lakeside walk.

And the link to Carolyn here- https://youronewordblog.wordpress.com/2022/01/23/one-word-january/

Comments on: "Balance- January" (48)

  1. I’ve been very scattered lately with so many changes that I’m just now getting to commenting, Cathy. Your statement ” I am surprised by how tired I am, Covid, old age, and maybe my mind going into self preservation mode.” rings so many bells. It’s the changes that your brain must make that cause the fatigue. I feel like I have been in that mode my entire life. You are learning a new way to be in this crazy world without your partner. It’s exhausting so give yourself all the down time and rest you need. Your body tells you when you need people and when you need rest. Balance is a good word. I have not chosen one this year. Maybe synchronicity as I’ve been watching the universe direct my every move lately. I cat sit for my son and his partner/wife for the last 5 days while they dealt with her mothers major surgery in Phoenix, 3 long hours from here. I’m not familiar with cats and have not spent much time with these but after coming back to my little apartment, I needed more rest. I’ve been without a partner for almost 11 years now. Divorced, not widowed. A cup of coffee tastes different when you drink it alone. Keep taking care of yourself first. You are doing a great job. We are all here for you.

    • And thank you too for these words. I can imagine how the cats tire you. I was very tired after looking after my grandson for an afternoon and evening. I think it’s the responsibility of it, rather than any actual effort. You too are going through a major change in life at the moment. Take care, xx

  2. You are doing so well in such a difficult time! You are taking a lot of really positive steps and thinking about balance is a wonderful way to do that. Your orchard idea and your plans for your front and back gardens sound lovely. Take care of yourself! Virtual hugs!

  3. I don’t really have any guiding words except to say , reading your post has given me balance. Life has thrown you a major curve and you are riding with it. Feeling peace is very high on my list and overthinking anything will take that away. Planning is a good plan and gives you a definite path to follow which in turn brings a sense of peace. There is no urgency in anything you need to do which again brings peace.
    I love reading your posts and it grounds me when I do.
    Take care and looking forward to the next one.
    PS… your pictures are spectacular ❤️

  4. Tess sounds like a fun person and glad you are getting sorted with your pc. My laptop isn’t great these days so I tend to do blogging on my phone. You are doing really well with your balanced attitude too. 🙂 Birdwatch this coming weekend, something to look forward to. Xx

  5. You are doing amazing. Love the orchard and front garden plans. After John’s heart attack in September we have obviously talked about the future and we have tried to put things in place which could help in some areas should the next outcome, if there is one, not be so lucky. I now have a diary with contacts and phone numbers, dates things are due like MOT’s, who supplies things like oil and how things are reset/turned on/basically work. A lot I know already but it’s a comfort to have it written down and added to as we think of them. So much is done as a couple (laughingly called blue and pink job in this house) and we now do so much more together (now purple jobs 😄).

    • Oh excellent I love the idea of purple jobs. Mr E worked away such a lot and rented flats, so could have coped with cooking and cleaning after a fashion, laundry would have defeated him for a while. He would have struggled with household admin, buying gifts, even remembering birthdays… we each gave strengths.

  6. I hear so much Purpose in your year of Balance, Cathy–and Strength and Will and Inspiration. I’m so glad you’ve joined the link-up; I’m so glad we’ve met. I love the vision of your orchard, and the fine teamwork you and Tessa have struck. I imagine that moving forward with the plans, even 1 or 2 (plenty!) I energizing and helps Balance strain and grief. (And not only did I stay with you ’til the end of this post–I could have kept on reading.)

    • Thank you Carolyn for your welcome and kind encouraging comment. I am learning such a lot about myself now that I am just one person and not half a couple. February is looking as if its going to throw up new things for me, so balancing new and old is going to be a thing I think, as well as getting in some walking.

  7. I have to walk, all year round. It’s so important for me to move regularly and I need the headspace that walking gives me, either alone (like yesterday’s 6 miler) or with someone else to chat with. It is very cold atm though! 4° yesterday and with a brisk breeze.
    I was recently reading that being outside is also vital for keeping up a good sleep routine and for the immune system to be boosted.
    I know you’ve had Covid and have a lot to deal with, but even walking around to feed the ducks is probably a very good thing.

    Well done on all the plans and action – especially the orchard, it’s exciting!

    • Thanks, I know you are right. The thing that united Mr E and me when we met was we had both been brought up to go walking, and at college we missed it, Living in a small city I really missed muddy fields and woods. Within a fortnight we were taking buses out to muddy fields and woods.

  8. It must be challenging walking alone on a path that you shared for fifty years with the man you loved. My heart goes out to you. Congratulations on tackling this first month of food prep. You’ve got an exciting year ahead.

    • Thank you, the novelty of doing what I like without the need to consult another wore off quite quickly, now I need to self motivate kicks in. Trying not to look to far ahead yet as it seems immense.

      • Cathy, be gentle with yourself and remember that it’s okay to take it one day at a time, maybe even one hour at a time. It’s also mid-winter, a time when many of us feel more like hibernating. If you put too much pressure on yourself then it will no longer be fun. xo

  9. Balance is a good watch-word for all of us to think about.
    You have such an inspiring way of looking forward with action and optimism.
    My word is FINISH. I have far too many WIPs – some have been hanging around for years.
    I am really looking forward to hearing about your garden growing and developing.
    Saturday is my gardening day – it seems to help me to assign a day to certain jobs.

    • When my boys were little I assigned certain jobs to each day, it helped me keep in top of life . I spent a lot of time with them playing, reading, going out , so chores needed to be organised. I’d love to get in a routine again, but so far no sign of it. Weekends I do try to keep free so I can fit in around family stuff, so if one phones and says would you like to, I say yes,

  10. Going Batty in Wales said:

    I don’t have a word for the year but I love the way you are using yours to get you through the early stages of being a widow. It is hard but it does get simpler as routines and ‘I did it last year’ kick in. When I think about balance it is the inner world / outer world bit I find hardest.

    • On the inner life a lot of what I manage is habit based, rather than truly felt. A post like this helps but I do know I have a long way to go still. I am surprised by how tired I am, Covid, old age, and maybe my mind going into self preservation mode.

      • Going Batty in Wales said:

        Grief is hard work, Covid seemes to be exhausting and getting older means less energy and stamina. Be kind to yourself. Big hugs coming your way.

  11. Nice self care! Planning meals, exercising, dealing with changes in life – finding new ways to get done what used to be done for you in life! Congratulation on getting a new laptop – you will so enjoy it! I have not chosen a word but I will borrow yours for balance – I like it!

  12. Hi Cathy, the idea of an orchard is brilliant! It was suggested to me before I bought my trees that I choose according to apples I liked. So, if you can hold off buying till harvest time and them have fun going to Apple Days. I know loads of places in Yorkshire but it must be similar where you have moved to.

    • Tessa was brilliant with her advice and left me with catalogues. Then I decided what apples I enjoy, then researched the possibles, just went to Tessa who refined it based on root stock, soil etc. Then she consulted the owner of the apple places, who further refined it, and now I await delivery. At the moment the ones that have come look like sticks!

  13. claire93 said:

    I think a lot of us got used to being at home, and becoming hermits with the Covid situation these past 2 years. I can count, on the fingers of one hand, the number of times I actually go out each month, and that’s usually only for essential shopping.

    • Covid has certainly altered our behaviour. I will be out and about this week on various errands but I really try now to bunch them all up rather than spread them out. Saves petrol and car parking fees too!

  14. Truly an excellent month of progress Cathy! I am seriously thinking I need to print your observations, as I expect my time to be a widow will come sooner than I ever thought, and your words will someday be a source of strength and inspiration. The trees are in! I’m with you, the walking has not commenced as planned, but this week I will do better. The meal planning is such an anchor, I find I am much more productive when I know what we are having for dinner, even if DH is cooking! The new computer is such a huge transition, but soon you will be flying along! I do believe that covid has helped many realize that being crazy busy is not really what they thrive on. Even though South Dakota has never been locked down, social functions have been cut back, and I think families have been more selective in what they are involved in. You are an inspiration, thank you for sharing your journey!

    • I am so sorry to read the first part of your comment. We knew Mr E was very poorly last year from about May, but it wasn’t till early Summer it was decided he couldn’t have further treatment, and then the decline was very fast. We had had many talks on his wishes, to be at home, his funeral etc and that did help. Then came the stuff we didn’t talk about, computers, internet, practical stuff…. I do still chat to him and my Dad when I need their advice, their words are in my head. Dad’s phrase of Get It Done, keeps coming back to me, sound advice to me when I tiz.
      Meantime you treasure every moment.
      Thank you for the encouragement. The comments on these posts really help me, and its Good to know they are helping others. Hugs, xx

      • It’s OK Cathy. Right now DH is doing well, but I am very cognizant that if we were to be without power or access to the necessary drugs, things would change very quickly. I am resolved to treasure each day, and hopeful for many more years! XXOO

  15. I am so happy to see that you are joining the one word link up. Your word seems to be guiding you along this month – well done on those bits and pieces. I hope you are feeling well enough to resume walking soon. I am weary of getting bundled up against the cold but I know if I stop, it will be hard to restart.

    • You are probably right about not stopping. Hard to think as a child I walked at least two miles daily to and from school, and again taking children to school on foot, then goodness knows how far as a dog owner for 13 years. I think having got food in balance this month I shall focus on exercise in February.

  16. Cathy, it really sounds like you are making fantastic headway, especially considering you have had covid. Rest and time alone are very important, although I know it feels totally different when the restrictions are imposed from On High.
    The importance of planning meals when one lives alone is underestimated. If I don’t think about what’s in my grocery cupboard, I can go totally off the rails – either eating a whole lot of rubbish while I’m out and about, or eating nothing at all if I’m working from home. Unless you count an excess of coffee, of course. But who expects anyone to achieve anything without lots of coffee? Am I right? Of course I am!
    I find that having a list of things to do every day and being able to tick things off that list is very helpful. I try to focus on what I have done rather than what I haven’t been able to get to – which can always be added to the next day’s list. Go easy on yourself xxx

    • Thank you for the empathy and excellent advice. I used to write a daily to do list, then get frustrated by lack of progress. I now write a weekly one and try to do something towards it every day.! Living alone is difficult. I try to remember that really and truly I have only been truly alone making my own decisions for a mere three months as a 19 year old so no wonder it’s hard now. In fact if I think about it I have now managed nearly five months as a widow. And the sky hasn’t fallen down.

  17. Oh my. First, I want to share my condolences for your loss… I can’t imagine all of that plus COVID too. I love that you have selected Balance for your year… I think this will be an incredible journey for you!

  18. I think balance is a great word for these times, it’s so easy to drift along, it’s getting the right measure of planning and organising so it helps and doesn’t overwhelm. Rest is just as important as getting out, though it always amazes me how a good walk makes us feel so much better mentally. I think you’re doing amazing well x

  19. It’s wonderful hearing how you continue to progress, Cathy! ❤️❤️❤️ the trees you’ve chosen thus far. I hope it won’t be too many seasons before they blossom and begin presenting you with delicious harvests!

  20. Sounds as if you are getting it all together. The first thing I decided when I was alone with children having left home was that I should cook myself meals that I enjoyed even though it was just for me. It is a shame about the social side but with Covid it is a common problem unfortunately. Here’s to a good ‘Balanced’ year. 🙂

    • We are all in the same boat post Covid lockdowns etc. I wonder if I just got used to time at home so that it’s become a necessity ? You are so right that just because we are by ourselves we can take time to cook tasty meals. Poor Mr E had such trouble eating at the end that our diet had become very bland and repetitive. I am now sometimes surprised by tasty food and just how good it feels.

  21. I’m not sure I have a guiding word, as such, but Restore seems to be popping up in my head a bit. Sometimes I feel the need to restore equilibrium, silence, balance, health, levels, rest, stocks, order… well, you get the idea. Bringing order back in one form or another. I gave myself the first half of January mostly off from things I’d been pressuring myself about. Now that I’m Restored, I can get cracking again!

    • I wonder how we keep getting disordered? I am picking up after a life changing event and sorting out that, but under that I have all my own disorder. A question I need to address at some point is all my stuff!

      • One of my friends has recently been addressing stuff – ie clutter. Her inspiration is a podcast called the Minimalists. I guess, if you were interested in finding out more, you could look them up on a search engine.

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