Category Archives: exercise

21 for 2021: week 19 review

Week 19/2021: week of 10 May 2021

What did I want to do better this week?

More than one afternoon’s exercise in the week.

So, how did that go then?

I did two days . . .

I also did the City to Casino seven km walk on Sunday, and then walked back to my sister’s house afterwards, for a total of almost 13 km for the day, so I’m sure that counts as well.

Chilly start to the City to Casino on Sunday

21 for 2021 update

I didn’t work on a new chapter of the Change Journal (thing 4) this week. I’m working on the habits chapter (chapter 7), and pitch yourself (chapter 9) in conjunction with my resume review (thing 18). Really, this should just be a couple of hours work, a final check and hit publish. But I always seem to take so long to get to the final stage that I feel happy with on things like this.

Same goes for the behind the scenes work on my website (thing 13). It is taking far too long! 

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. This week I chose onion and the dish was ‘The Any Kind of Onion’ Tarte Tatin (page 286). Let me begin by saying I had no idea what a tarte tatin is. I’de seen people make them on Masterchef but I didn’t really pay that much attention so I had no clue. Apparently it’s more of a dessert, but Alice says, “if you think of it like an open-faced pasty or upside-down vegetable tart, it starts to make a lot more sense”. Okay. (But why not just make a pie?)

The main thing I would note about this recipe is that it uses a lot more sugar than I would normally use in a dinner dish, and I have to be careful with this, which I forget sometimes.

As I did with the mushroom pie a couple of weeks ago, I decided to make a second dish from the book to go with the tart. I chose Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips (page 360) and, scoff all you want, I like kale. I also like quinoa and I like avocado as well. I just don’t sip lattes. Whatever. Haters gonna hate. I like kale. Especially when its coated in olive oil, vinegar, salt and chilli flakes, and baked.

The problem with this was that the kale had to be cooked in a 140 degree oven and the tarte/upside down pie was already cooking at 200 degrees. Round one of kale chips = completely burnt. I ate them all anyway. They were very crunchy.

Just a bit burnt

Alice says that people complain that the kale chips can lose their crispiness and go soggy within a day. Leftovers? Who in their right mind would leave these left over? They are so good. I’m counting down the days to next time there’s kale in the fridge.

Back to the pie. I mean tarte. I cooked it in my controversial (don’t ask) Le Creuset skillet, which can go into the oven, and I’ll admit to having been a bit anxious about it cooking for 60 minutes when at 30 minutes the pastry already looked pretty well done. But I stuck to the recipe and it didn’t burn and it came out looking nothing like the picture in the book. Not a resounding success but not the overwhelming disaster I expected and it didn’t taste too bad either.

Looks odd, tasted good

I’m sure there are others who would do this recipe a lot more justice than I did. I might have to try it again to see if I can do it better!

I think this what the kale chips were supposed to look like

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. One of the things on the list is to read books I have borrowed from other people and give them back. I’m reading one of these books.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I spent two hours on one of these videos on Sunday and it’s almost finished.
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I went to see my mum on Thursday and talked a bit about what it was like to be a young mum in a small country town in the 1970s. 
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. This week I started module 6. 

21 for 2021 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 2 (1, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 8 (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 17, 18)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 6 (6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 16)
  • Things not started: 5 (3, 12, 15, 19, 21)
Murray Street, Thursday morning

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

I had two training courses this week, which was a nice change from work. I went to the 26TEN Plain English Writing workshop on Tuesday, which was a good overview of Plain English, most of which I was familiar with but it was great to review what I knew and pick up on things I hadn’t quite grasped. And I learned a couple of new tricks for communicating more effectively at work.

These workshops are excellent and 26TEN runs them across the state at various times during the year at no cost, so if this is something you’re interested in, it’s worth doing. 

The other workshop I did was Aboriginal Cultural Awareness presented by the government’s Aboriginal Employment Unit. This was interesting and built on understanding that I had already been developing on issues relating to Aboriginal people in Tasmania. One exercise in particular was really intense and clearly showed difficulties Aboriginal people can face in accessing basic government services. 

The challenge from this is to build what I learned into my work. I have a lot to learn. 

What do I want to do better next week?

That afternoon exercise thing . . .

What I’m reading

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
  • gulp! The seven day crash course to master fear and break through any challenge by Gabriella Goddard

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 3): 3
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine(Goal = 3): 3
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 4
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

21 for 2021: week 18

Week 18/2021: week of 4 May 2021

21 for 2021 update

This week in the Change Journal I tried out the Eisenhower Principle chapter, which I am familiar with but don’t think I’ve ever actually used. It’s a way of prioritising things according to their importance and their urgency. I’ve seen it used to organise things in a long term way as well as to prioritise things on a daily basis. (James Clear has a good explanation of it.)

One of the ideas it promotes is to try and focus most of your time working on things that are important but not urgent, so that you work on them before they get to the urgent stage and you start to panic. However, we also know that many things that crop up on a day to day basis might be urgent but they aren’t really that important in the long term. And there a lot of things we might do that aren’t urgent or particularly important, such as excessive social media scrolling, which we (by which I mean I) spend way too much time on when we’d be better using your time on things that are important. 

Chapter 6 lays out an Eisenhower matrix for each day of the week so you can have a go at prioritising your tasks each day according to their importance and urgency.

I had limited success with this as a daily planning exercise and I think it would work better for long-term planning. I see it more as a way of identifying the things I want to be prioritising and the things I would be better off limiting, and then developing my daily to-do list from that and giving it a way of identifying the top priority things (a la the Circle technique). Something like that anyway. Because, for example, I’m not going to put “check twitter” in the not urgent/not important box of a daily list, but it is something that in a long-term big picture view would go in there.

I’m sure that makes no sense. So I’m calling that chapter done. 

I did some work on my resume (thing 18) this week. Due to a recent reorganisation in my team this week, I started a new job this week, which is going to give me some new challenges and, I hope, more of an opportunity to use my strengths and skills. As a result of that, I’m not sure I need to apply for a new job this year, so I’m taking that part of thing 18 off. I’m only going to apply for a new job if something irresistible comes up. I’ve been putting off saying my resume is finished because there are a couple of statements in there that I’m being overly picky about wording and it‘s holding the whole thing up.

I think I just need to do it and be done with it. It’s not like anyone is going to see it right now. 

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable.

This week I cooked with fennel, which is anther vegetable I don’t think I’d cooked with before. The recipe was called Fennel Cacciatore with Free-form Polenta Dumplings (page 72), and it’s Alice’s twist on chicken cacciatore. It’s another simple dish, which involves browning the fennel pieces mixing in some olives and garlic, then cooking with tomatoes for about 45 minutes. Alice says you can add chicken if you like or, as I did, cut up some pork and fennel sausages, cook them and add to the sauce.  

The recipe also calls for what she calls free-form polenta dumplings on top, which I found a little bit dry, and I imagine you could also serve it with a creamy potato mash.

This was another for the “will make again” list.

Regular projects

There are several things on my 21 for 2021 list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. How about ten minutes reading one of the books on that list?
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I spent a couple of hours on one of these videos on Sunday afternoon.
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I went to see my mum on Thursday and talked some more about her school days. 
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. This week, I completed Module 5. I was supposed to attend the live workout on Thursday morning but I managed to mix the time zones up and tune in an hour after the actual start time. That was 3 am, and there was no way I would have got up for that! I only managed to get up at 4 because I woke up then anyway. But I missed it, and went for a very early walk instead.
Ursula enjoying the wet weather this week

21 for 2021 week 18 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 2 (1, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 17, 18)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 7 (6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16)
  • Things not started: 5 (3, 12, 15, 19, 21)

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s the final flashback to my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 17 December 2011: The unchristmas tree. Coming up to midwinter (okay, that’s a few weeks away . . .), it’s a good one to finish this series with.

I think that means I probably should have finished sorting out my websites to coincide with the 10-year blogiversary (thing 13) but I haven’t. It’s a small matter of getting some words right. (See above comment on my resume.)

What I’m reading this week

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 1 (er . . . )
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

What do I want to do better next week?

See that number one next to the number of days I did some physical activity in the afternoon . . . ? That.

21 for 2021: week 6

Week 06/2021: week of 8 February
21 for 2021 update

I did a thing!

I had my exercise physiologist appointment (thing 1) on Friday. I didn’t really know what to expect, walking into a gym to meet someone who I imagined would be super fit and super motivated and having to explain how I had got to be a middle aged sloth with back and neck issues from years of a sedentary lifestyle wedded to my computer. 
You might be able to understand my reluctance to do this and have put it off for 18 months.

However, there was no need for me to be worried or feel bad about my lack of fitness, which I am very grateful for! After me explaining my predicament, we ran through a few tests of my strength, because that’s a key area I said I wanted to focus on. Apparently, my grip is strong enough to gain me entry into the police force. I doubt any of my other results would satisfy the criteria, but at least I could hold on to . . . whatever it is cops have to be able to hold. It’s probably an easy test that they do first that most people can pass so you don’t feel too bad about your lack of fitness that’s revealed elsewhere as you go through the rest of the tests.

I say “tests” like it’s a formal assessment, but it really wasn’t like that. It was more like a session with my physio, where I had to twist and turn to see my mobility limitations, of which there are quite a lot, and some assessments of my core strength. That didn’t take long, primarily because my core strength doesn’t exist.

I came away with a very small exercise program that I have eight weeks to put in place before I have to go back. I think I can do this!

I’m still working on the pre-work routine (thing 20) through the Change Journal (thing 4) and I think it’s almost time to pick up a new habit. Maybe next week.

I also did some behind the scenes work for my website (thing 13).

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. 

This week’s vegetable was zucchini and I made Alice’s Summer Slice, which is like a frittata that you’d make to use up a glut of zucchini. It was pretty easy to make and really nice with a side salad. 

Summer slice (you’ll have to trust me that there’s zucchini in it)

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that I’ve made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. I offloaded a bunch of recyclable plastic that had been breeding in the kitchen for months, maybe years.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I did this for my allocated hour on Sunday afternoon. Who said I can’t stick to a schedule?
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I had my regular visit with my mum on Thursday for the next instalment, and I found out where my grandfather went to college. Then in a fabulous bit of research, after locating the uni that the college is now part of (University of Western Sydney), I found some of his records online, including photos of him in the college rugby team.

21 for 2021 Summary

  • Things completed this week: 1 (1)
  • Things completed to date: 1 (1)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 20)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (6, 11, 17, 18)
  • Things not started: 9 (3, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21)

Blast from the past
Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s one of my favourite posts from 7 March 2011 called Pushing papers. I’m not sure much has changed since then . . .

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

I learned that being irrationally irritated by the sound of someone’s tapping keyboard at work is actually normal for people who have a noise sensitivity like I do. I also learned (after a follow-up hearing test) that I’m not making this up and I’m not being a big sook when I say I can’t stand the noise. Having a low noise tolerance is a real condition, and the audiologist says that it really does affect people’s quality of life. So all this time when I thought I was being overly sensitive and needed to get over it, I’ve actually been blaming myself for something that does make my life miserable at times, and it’s something I can’t talk myself out of.

What was the best thing about this week?

I went to TMAG this week to see David Keeling’s exhibition, stranger, which was intriguing and thought-provoking, especially the gallery with the “Contested Sites” artworks, which show David’s impressions of the Midlands of Tasmania, “scarred by perennial battles over custodianship and management”.

David Keeling exhibition at TMAG

I also loved seeing David’s selection of sketchbooks.

A selection of David Keeling’s sketchbooks

I also visited the exhibition of the finalists in the Frank Hurley Photography Awards, which was an amazing collection of photographs that celebrate Frank Hurley’s legacy. Until recently I had only known him as the photographer who went to the Antarctic, but his work is much broader than that, and he has a fascinating story.

What I’m reading this week

  • The Tea Room on the Bay by Rachel Burton
  • The INTP Quest by A J Drenth
  • Personality Hacker by Joel Mark Witt & Antonia Dodge
  • Burning Out by Katherine May

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

21 for 2021: week 3

Week 3/21: week of 18 January 2021

21 for 2021 update

Some time ago I was chatting to my GP about getting older and how I want to make sure I stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can. I said one thing I’ve always had a problem with was exercising; that even though I walk a lot, my cardiovascular fitness isn’t fantastic and I know that as women age they start to lose a lot of bone density, which can be, if not prevented, then minimised by increasing their strength. I’ve tried exercise programs in the past, most recently before I got pregnant. Yes, that was 15 years ago. I have no wish to join a gym, I don’t like exercising, I have some very weak points in my back, and I can come up with every excuse under the sun not to exercise. Meanwhile, time marches on and little niggles in my body start to let me know they are there more and more often. 

My GP suggested seeing an exercise physiologist to get an assessment of where I’m at, what I need and what I can do that I’m more likely to stick to and that takes into account my weak spots. I had never heard of exercise physiologists before so I had to google what they were. I learned that exercise physiology provides injury rehabilitation and injury and illness prevention through exercise. The aims of exercise physiology are to prevent or manage injury or illness and to assist in restoring optimal physical function, health or wellness. It can include health and physical activity education, advice and support, and lifestyle modification, with a strong focus on behavioural change.

That ticked all the boxes for me. It sounded exactly what I needed. Now the only thing was to do it. It might not surprise you to know that I had this conversation with my GP about 18 months ago and she had even recommended someone to see. I was brilliant at coming up with excuses why I couldn’t do this. I put it on my list to do this year (thing 1) hoping that having it there might act as an incentive to do it some time this year. The first time I went onto the practitioner’s website earlier this year, there were no appointments available but this week there were two or three. I told myself there was no excuse to not do it. So I booked an appointment and it’s done and now I just have to show up. 

I started making a few behind the scenes change to my blog (thing 13) and posted the first of what will be a short series of posts about my ten years of blogging. 

I’ve been working on the Habits chapter of the Change Journal (thing 4) , one of which is to implement the pre-work routine (thing 20), which I have now done every day for three weeks. It’s probably time to start exploring some of the other chapters in the journal now.

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. 

I decided to make up for missing my vegetable cooking last Saturday and do one of Alice’s veggie recipes mid week. This one was Samosa-mix stuffed peppers (aka red capsicums). I had never made samosas before and I had never stuffed capsicums before. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, it turns out, nothing. It was a pretty easy recipe and the spice combination of mustard seeds, turmeric, garlic, curry powder (mine is called x-hot) and garam masala smelt so good when it was cooking. The only things I didn’t have were green chillies (accidentally overlooked at the shop) and coriander leaves for the garnish, which brings me to another topic of food waste, which is coming up very soon. I even used the rest of a tub of yogurt that was a week past its best before date (don’t tell anyone; it was fine).

This was really good and a lot easier than I’d imagined

Saturday was regular veggie cooking day. I have had Alice’s yam recipe on the list for a few weeks because Slabs saw them in the shops a while back but I’ve always had a backup in case he can’t get them when he does the shopping. Today was no different and he came home and said I was cooking eggplant. Yay! I love eggplant.

The recipe is Sichuan Sticky Eggplant (page 270 if you’re playing at home) and requires you to cut up the eggplant and let it sit in salt for an hour until it softens. Somehow I’ve never learned from past mistakes of not reading through the recipe earlier in the day so I know how much prep time I need. Dinner was going to be late again.

After that, though, the rest is pretty simple. You make the sticky sauce from a variety of Chinese sauces that until today I had never heard of but now have in my fridge. You dry out the salted eggplant pieces (Alice calls them “batons” I’m not sure how big they’re supposed to be but mine looked a lot like chips), coat them in cornflour and fry them in a shit-tonne of rice bran oil.

I know, right. I said I don’t fry. Seems as though I do now. And I didn’t burn the house down.

Sure, I fry

Then you cook some rice, mix the eggplant into the sauce (which I think I overcooked a bit) and serve with the deep fried sliced garlic and red chillies that you prepared at the start.

The end result

It was really good. I’m going to ignore the sugar content.

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that are going to work best if I make a regular commitment to doing them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list.) One hour on Saturday morning.)  I cleaned out the back foyer and closed some bank accounts.
Yeah, you can see why this was on the undone annoying things list, right?
Much better
  • Thing 6: Grow some vegetables in the garden bed. (One hour on Sunday afternoon for garden projects.) I did a bit of work on Sunday and threw some seeds in. In hindsight, perhaps 3pm in the middle of summer isn’t quite the best time to be doing that. Especially not in my morning walking clothes that I was still wearing, including my polar fleece. Incredibly bad idea.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I spent my allocated hour on Sunday afternoon doing this. 
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I visited my mum during the week and started to write up what I’ve been learning. 
  • Thing 10: Complete the Compelling Frame course. I’m working through the first lesson.
  • Thing 17: I did the first lesson in module 2 of the Brainsparker gym* program.

21 for 2021 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 0
  • Things I progressed: 11 (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 17, 20)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 1 (18)
  • Things not started: 9 (3, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21)

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

I continued to expose myself to Indigenous voices on the issue of 26 January. I was, like many people, appalled at the Prime Minister’s suggestion that 26 January hadn’t been such a “flash day” for the people arriving on the British boats either, as if a few months stuck on a dodgy boat was in any way comparable to the atrocities committed against the original inhabitants of this land, and the continuing disadvantages and systemic discrimination faced by their descendants.

I have learned a lot recently and I have a lot of time spent in ignorance to make up for. As in any area of growth, however, it won’t achieve anything for me to be mad at past me for what I haven’t known or understood. I can only change me now, and acknowledge that I have a lot to learn, a lot to understand and that I have to do more of what needs to be done starting now. 

I saw this quote from James Clear during the week, which I think I need to keep in mind at all times, because worrying about what other people might think is something I do very well and it often stops me from doing the things I want to do.

When I notice myself worrying about “what other people will think” I find I’m usually not worried about any single person’s opinion.
If I pick a specific person, I‘m rarely concerned about what they will think.
What I fear is the collective opinion in my head. It’s imaginary.

Saturday sunrise

What did I do for the Earth this week?

I recently saw a reply to a comment on Instagram post from someone who said they were committed to never throwing out food. The reply was along the lines of what that person did in their kitchen really wasn’t the biggest food waster. True, but  if everyone thought like that and didn’t care how much food they threw away, there would be a huge snowball effect, right? In her book Simplicious Flow, Sarah Wilson says if waste food were a country, it would be the third largest producer of CO2 in the world after the US and China, and that the number one contributors to this are consumers.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I did find out from here that

  • On average, Australians throw one in five shopping bags of food in the bin—that’s about $3,800 worth of groceries per household each  year.
  • Australian households throw away 2.5 million tonnes of edible food each year—that equates to nearly 300 kilograms per person—and the average Australian household sends roughly 4.9 kilograms of food waste to landfill each week.
  • In Australia, 7.3 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted each year—enough to fill 13,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. Households are the biggest contributors (34%), followed by primary production (31%) and manufacturing (24%). 3.2 million tonnes of this is sent to landfill, and 75% of all food that is sent to landfill comes from our households.
  • Rotting food in landfill produces methane, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. For every tonne of food waste in landfill, a tonne of CO2-e greenhouse gas is generated.
  • When we waste food, we also waste the natural resources that go into making it, like land, water and energy.

Sorry, instagram commenter, I think what that person does, multiplied by 25 million people, could make a pretty big contribution to reducing emissions.

There is a whole world of opportunities here to make a huge difference to my footprint on the Earth and that is my focus moving forward. I realise I also have to stop collecting tips to reduce food waste and start not only buying smarter but making better use of what I buy.

I saw a post recently from someone who said you can regrow spring onions if you just chuck the bottom of them with the roots still attached into the ground. Apparently, the tops will regrow and you can keep cutting them as you need them, and this person said they never buy spring onions any more. I had some left over from my eggplant dish, so they are part of the veggie box now. I will wait and see if this works.

After the hot afternoon debacle, I went out later when it was cooler and threw some (very past their use-by date; one packet said to sow before 2010) basil, coriander and spinach seeds in and left it at that. I pulled the cover over the veggie bed, not that it’s much good as all the plastic has deteriorated and it’s mostly holes, so I don’t hold out much hope of it shielding them from the 31 degree sun tomorrow. But since the seeds are so old, they might not grow anyway, so this was really just to see what happens.

I rode my bike to work

Summary of the week

What I’m reading this week

  • Hollow Places: An Unusual History of Land and Legend by Christopher Hadley
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  • A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough
  • The Queen of My Self by Donna Henes

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

2020 in review

Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year 2021 workbook asks you to describe the year just gone by in three words. It’s left open to you how you interpret this: you could, I imagine, choose three words that describe the year from a global perspective, from a personal perspective or anywhere in between. There’s one word I’ve heard more often than I care to remember that has been used to describe 2020 that I never want to hear again and I have no intention of using it. It starts with unp . . . .

And that is the last I will say about that word.

I’ve chosen three words to describe the year from my own isolated perspective from the bottom of an island at the bottom of the world. They are:

  • Unexpected
  • Inconsistent
  • Introspective

Unexpected because I didn’t in my wildest dreams imagine that the world would be thrust into a pandemic that shut everything down, took so many lives, and shook everything up, leaving people jobless and causing so much worldwide despair, uncertainty and confusion. On a personal note, I didn’t expect the issues I was having in my workplace with noise to be (temporarily) resolved by having to work from home. There were other unexpected things too, not all good, and not all for this blog.

Inconsistent because, while I made a lot of progress in some areas I wanted to work on and I achieved a lot, I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped in other areas. I completed my uni course, and I had some good results at work but, there were other areas I was less successful in developing (no judgement here, just stating a fact) and they continue to haunt me. A lot of that is connected to me not being able to stop procrastinating and giving into distractions. And not getting into an exercise routine that works for me.

I struggled to find a third word but I chose Introspective because I started to work on some long standing personal issues in my head that are preventing me from being the person I want to be. It was hard work but rewarding, and I think I am starting to discover small chinks in the façade I’m trying to break down.

I would also add interesting to the mix . . .

I started the year with beautiful sunny Sunday morning photo expeditions, a couple of times with a good friend and other days by myself. It seems like so long ago now . . .

Sunday morning explorations with my camera

A major focus of my year was my uni program, of which I had three units to complete. The first one was intense, involving a lot of self examination and analysis, which left me feeling drained but also with some very clear ideas of what areas of my life I specifically needed to work on. I finished the course in October and received my qualification in December and am very glad that’s over but also grateful for the opportunity to have done it and learned so much.

I managed to keep reasonably healthy in 2020, not least because I have now gone for nine months without drinking alcohol and, as a formerly very regular moderate drinker, I’m particularly proud of my efforts to do this. I read the book The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace, and it totally changed the way I looked at alcohol. I’m not saying I will never drink again but for now I’m very comfortable with my decision not to.

This book changed my life

I had a potential issue with my eyesight that I had to have checked out a couple of times during the year but it all seems to be okay for now and the professionals are monitoring it. I got a hearing test at the start of the year, which revealed I have a low noise tolerance, which makes sense of all the issues I’ve been having at work and in other situations. I’m not sure what we do about this but a retest later in the year showed that my sensitivity had increased and I still don’t really know how to manage it. I kept up with my dental checks and my physio visits to resolve long-standing neck, back and posture issues.

I’m grateful there was never a time during the lockdown that I wasn’t able to go out on my regular morning walks. That would have made it a lot more unbearable.

Morning beach walks, muwinina Country

I started riding my bike to work, which became a whole lot easier when everyone had to stay home because of the pandemic and, as I said at the time, while I didn’t love riding in the traffic, I didn’t necessarily want the roads to be clear because no one was allowed outside. I stopped doing it as much (at all) as the weather got colder, the buses stopped charging fares and, eventually, when I was working from home full-time. It’s something I will start to pick up again when I go back to work after the holidays.

Bike riding to work

Another habit that I actually stuck with was reading, and there were a couple of things that made this possible. First, my goal was to develop the habit, rather than to set a number of books I wanted to read, which the pressure to read a certain amount off and allowed me to just focus on doing it. Second, keeping my no alcohol month going the whole of the year led to me going to bed earlier, which meant I could read in bed before I went to sleep. As of today, I have finished 34 books, which is 13 more than in 2019 when I set myself a target of only 12 books to read and never really stuck with it after I’d finished the 12th book.

The most powerful book I read in 2020, Truganini by Cassandra Pybus

I didn’t do as much work on learning Photoshop as I had intended at the start of the year when I signed up for a bunch of courses. Even though my uni work took up a lot of time, I still had a lot of free time that I could have done this work and I’m not sure what was stopping me. It’s not like I have to do the courses all at once or that there’s a time limit. I can do them in my own time, and maybe that’s the problem. I’ve worked well to deadlines where there is a clear assignment to complete but with these courses there are no assignments, just instruction and it’s up to you to play around with what you’re shown and see what you come up with. This is one of the areas I’m disappointed that I didn’t achieve very much in, and I want to do more in 2021.

I completed the major photography project I wanted to do this year, which was to spend 50 days making a photo a day with my 50mm lens. I’m really pleased with that project and it’s made me appreciate and understand that lens a lot better. I certainly won’t be keeping that one stashed in the bag again!

50mm photo of the Aurora Australis, the day before she left Hobart for the finial time

I had a couple of exciting moments in my photography in 2020 too. In January, one of my photos was published in Australian Photography magazine.

My first photo published in a national publication

I was equally chuffed when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court asked if the court could use one of my photos of the court in their Christmas cards this year.

Supreme Court 2019

And just before Christmas, I found out that one of the photos I had taken of the Hobart Magistrates Court at the Open House Hobart weekend had been chosen as a winner of their photo competition, which was a lovely way to end the year. I’ve really enjoyed my photography this year.

Hobart Magistrates Court 2020

I was lucky to be able to get away for a couple of short breaks during the year. We had a trip to Bridport in the July school holidays. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and couldn’t remember it at all, so it was great to be able to explore a part of Tasmania I wasn’t familiar with.

Old pier at Bridport on pyemmairrener Country

In October we had a night at Port Arthur, a place I am always somewhat reluctant to visit because of the many sad layers of history held by the area. And then, as a reward for finishing my uni course, I took myself off to Launceston for a photography retreat and I had a wonderful time photographing some of my favourite buildings and walking all day.

Tessellated Pavement near Eaglehawk Neck on paredareme Country

Kramstable adapted really well to online school and I was impressed with his commitment to his work, his ability to self-direct and to manage his workload. The schools did a huge amount of work to ensure that kids could continue learning during the lockdown and I have nothing but admiration for them for what they achieved. Thank you seems like such a lame things to say to convey how grateful I am for what they did. It has been wonderful watching Kramstable learn and grow this year, and for it to start to become more obvious what his strengths are and where his passions lie. The high point of his film work was his nomination as a finalist in one of the categories of this year’s My State Film Festival. It’s also exciting to watch his work and interests develop outside of school. Seeing his dedication sometimes makes me wonder how my life might have been different if I’d had such a passion as a teenager and had been supported to pursue it in the same way I hope I’m supporting him.

Sadly, Bethany the Australorp chicken and Rex the rabbit died earlier in the year. Two new chickens joined the flock in November, Dorothy and Shirley, who are black copper Marans and are very cute. After a month in a cage in the chook yard, they are now finding their feet with the big girls, some of whom are none too pleased to have them there.

The new chickens

Aside from the working from home, covid didn’t have a massive impact on my life. I don’t like going out much, I detest shopping, I don’t play or attend sport and I don’t enjoy being around large gatherings of people. I spend a lot of time at home anyway, and I love it. So I pretty much did what I always did, it’s just that I didn’t have a choice any more. Regular Friday night dinners at the bowls club were replaced with trying out various takeaway and home delivery options from local restaurants and pubs. I actually reversed my no caffeine strategy and started getting takeaway coffees from my local cafe (I am sorry for the plastic, but they weren’t allowed to use keep cups). I’m not sure why. One day I felt like a coffee and it was a valid reason to get out of the house and one day tuned into a couple of times a week, turned into every day. And when they were allowed to reopen, it because my go-to place to write. And a place to work when I needed a change of scenery.

Monthly review at the coffee shop

I realise that I am incredibly lucky that this was my experience when so many others suffered greatly and many continue to do so. I am so grateful for having the job I have and that the Tasmanian Government did what it needed to do to keep our state safe. I haven’t stopped being grateful for being in the position that I’m in this year.

It was, indeed, an unexpected year.

A weed is just a plant growing in a place someone doesn’t want it to grow in

Unravel Your Year asks you to consider what the gifts of 2020 were. I know for many, this would be difficult. I offer the following.

2020 brought me the gift of afternoon walks. Instead of being at work all afternoon, packing up and catching the bus home, I packed up my home office and went for a walk every day. I watched the afternoon light dance on trees, rocks, water and the opposite shore, and I made photos of what I saw. I would never have been able to do this if I hadn’t been working at home.

2020 brought me intense self reflection and the deep inner work that I need to do to start to heal myself.

2020 brought me a confidence boost that tells me maybe I do have an artistic side.

2020 brought me a brain that is no longer befuddled by alcohol, and the clarity and health benefits that go along with this.

2020 brought me respite from a work environment that was becoming increasingly stressful and difficult for me to cope with. My stress and anxiety levels are lower than they have been for a long time as a result.

A friend recently posted that we all need a little more yellow in our lives. I agree. You can never have too much yellow!

Goodbye, 2020.

You were not the year I expected you to be. I know the challenges you have presented, both on a global level and to me personally, are not going to disappear when the clock ticks over to 2021. In reality, the date on the calendar is just an arbitrary thing anyway. The sun is going to come up tomorrow, covid is still going to be here and I’m going to have the same struggles I have today. The climate emergency hasn’t gone away and there’s a lot of work to do. However, the end of the year is a good time to have a bit of a reset, to re-examine my priorities and goals, and make sure the course I’m on is still the one I need to be on.

Thank you, 2020, for the gifts and the opportunities you have offered me. I ticked 18 things off my 20 for 2020 list. I haven’t made the most of everything, but I think I’ve made some progress and I have learned a lot. I intend to continue to learn in 2021.

One thing I know, 2020, is that I won’t forget you in a hurry.

20 for 2020: week 48

Week of 23 November 2020

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
I wanted to stop looking at my phone in moments between activities and do some kind of movement instead.

So, how did that go then?
Probably not so well. The phone’s in reach. I just mindlessly grab it and look at it. Perhaps the thing I need to do first is to find out exactly how many times I pick it up during a day to look at it. That’s the task for this week then.

I’ve become a lot more aware of scrolling Instagram during my work day and I don’t do that any more because I have to log it in Habitica and it takes health away from my cute little avatar.

On to 20 for 2020
The only thing I did this week was work on my 50 in 50 photo project (thing 9). I’m now a month into this project, where I only have my 50mm lens on my camera and I take a photo every day. I think I’d actually have completed it if I’d decided to stick to the original task, which was to do it for 30 days. But 50 days makes way more sense with the 50 mm lens, so the task continues.

50 in 50: Day 29

I’m a bit behind in editing the photos because I’ve been working through my Open House Hobart photos at the same time and updating my blog with those too. But I finished the last post on the weekend, so they are done now and I can go back to focusing on the 50mm photos.

Sunday was monthly review day (thing 22), which I did at the coffee shop.

Not this coffee shop

What did I achieve this week?
My regular check in: I stayed up to date with my Hobart Street Corners project and I have a bit to do to catch up with my weekly photo journal.

I finished my NaNoWriMo goal of 15,000 words on Monday. Okay, it wasn’t anywhere near the full 50,000 words so I’m not a NaNoWriMo “winner” but I did sit down and write the foundations for a writing project that I want to work on, and that’s what I wanted to achieve in November, so I’m a winner in that sense.

I had a big success at work, with a project I’d been working on for about 18 months finally being launched into the big wide world after much to-ing and fro-ing between various people who have more control over what happens to these things than I do. I was really happy about this because a lot of my work in recent years hasn’t really gone anywhere. So to have something I ‘d worked closely on get the tick from the highest level was a good feeling. This week also saw the end of the Budget Estimates process, so all of that work is done and dusted and I can go back to normal, whatever that looks like.

I’m not really sure what this will be as my job had to be reshuffled a bit to let me focus on the Estimates work, and I don’t have to go back to the role I used to have. So this will be a time of new things and possibly new work. Which seems a bit odd to be doing this close to the end of the year.

What didn’t go so well?
I went to the doctor about recurring pain in my heel, which had turned into a big lump on Tuesday night that got me worried. It was an amusing visit in the end, which included him promising me that it wasn’t a tumour. It’s actually an Achilles issue, caused, he said, by over-use. Basically I walk too much!

In a nutshell, he said I need to reduce my activity to let it heal and that it could take anywhere from six months to six years to come right. It reminded me of a tennis elbow issues I had a couple of years ago that eventually came right by itself after about 18 months. I guess this will be the same.

A function at Government House on Friday was a nice way to end a very busy week

My physio had a slightly different take on it on Friday, and he said it all stems from the area of my body that’s getting overloaded and causing all my other issues, which has resulted in this as well. So we keep working on that and I have to wear better shoes. No thongs, no bare feet and basically nothing that isn’t a fully supportive running shoe.

It might be time for a new pair of shoes.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 15 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (9, 22)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (7, 11, 13, 17)
  • Things not started: 1 (19)
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 7
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I went for a walk in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 4

Bicycle days

On Monday morning I left home at 6.45 to ride to work, which is number 10 on my 20 for 2020 list.

Some background. When I moved to Canberra and started my first job (last century), encouraged by one of my bike-rider colleagues, I bought a bike and started to ride to work. Canberra has this wonderful network of off-road bike paths, at least it did in the suburbs I lived in in the north of the city. So riding to work was a relatively safe activity. But because of the ramblingness of them and the tree roots that were a trap for young players riding home in the dark, I used to get frustrated and ended up riding into the city down the main road, Northbourne Avenue. Lots of riders did it and it was a lot faster.

I’m not sure how long this lasted, but I guess I must have tired of it pretty quickly. Then I ended up with a job close to my house so I walked and after moving jobs again was a car passenger for many years.

The bike, meanwhile, because very neglected and I rarely used it. (Rarely is code for never.) It just took up space in the shed and space in the shipping container when we moved back to Tasmania. And space in the shed at the new house.

One year I put it on a list of 100 things I wanted to do that year. It was 2016 (I was very ambitious back then. 100 things in a year! What was I thinking?) and one day I did pull it out of the shed, clean it, pump up the tyres, lubricate the chain and I rode it. Once.

20160326 Clean bike

March 2016

From memory, this had been on the 100 things list for many years, and during that time I met a new friend who is a very keen cyclist and who kept telling me to get the bike out and ride it. When we moved closer to the city, he kept telling me I should ride to work.

Haha, no. Was my reply every time. It’s a ten km ride. On a main road where drivers are often, let’s say it politely, complete dickheads. Buses are frequent. All the cyclists who ride on these roads seem to be Bike People and they look like Bike People and they ride really fast. Yes, there’s a marked bike lane but it’s a very busy road. It is way scary and I am never doing that.

Fast forward to November 2019. I’m in a cafe and I see a poster for an e-bike expo in a couple of weeks. What’s an e-bike? I wonder. It might be fun to go up to the Regatta Grounds and hoon around on an e-bike for a bit. So, with no clue about what was going to happen, I went to the expo.

It was all a bit intimidating. There were Bike People there. I didn’t know who to talk to. The first stand I went to I asked the guy to tell me all about e-bikes because I didn’t know anything and hadn’t ridden a bike for years, and he said he didn’t know either, he was there from the Government’s climate change policy unit and I could take one of their publications if I wanted.

Not awkward at all.

I wandered round for a bit feeling very lost and confused. I’m not very good in crowds, even small ones, and I’m not very good at putting my hand up and asking for help. So I wandered up and down the bike shop stalls trying to overhear conversation fragments between salespeople and potential customers so I might find out how to actually try one of these machines out. I was finally able to find someone who was available to talk and told him my story. I know nothing, I haven’t ridden a bike for years, I live ten km from town and want to be able to ride into town and home again. At the time, I hadn’t thought about riding to work. I was thinking more about being able to get into town early in the morning to take photos more quickly than if I had to walk.

He showed me a bike he thought would suit me. It’s small, it has a battery capacity for up to about 50 km, and it’s . . . grey. Can I try it? Of course. A few formalities were needed. I had to exchange my massive sun hat for a fabulously fashionable bike helmet, hand over my driver licence, and sign a waiver in case I died. He showed me how it all worked (remarkably easily; these bikes are pedal assist, so you set a speed you want to ride at and then the motor will kick in if you drop below that speed—but you have to be pedalling for it to work. And its top assist speed is 25km per hour). He adjusted the bike to fit me and then I was allowed to go riding round the Regatta Grounds.

Whoooo! It was so much fun! All of a sudden, riding a bike wasn’t work. Sure, I had to pedal, and any time I got over 15 km/h I started to feel a little terrified but I couldn’t stop smiling. Can I ride over the memorial bridge as easily as I could ride on a flat street? Yes, yes I can. I exchanged smiles with other people experiencing the same thing. This. Was. So. Cool.

I imagined the possibilities for my weekend walks if I wanted to go and take photos somewhere around town. I don’t drive and on Sundays the buses don’t start until 8am, so I walk. It takes about two hours so it’s a very early start if I want to catch the morning light. At 15 km/h on a bike it would take less than one, or I could go further. The more I thought about the idea, the more excited I was. Finally, I could have some transport of my own.

I did a bit of research when I got home and the more I read about this bike, the more I liked the sound of it. I went into the shop the next week and chatted some more to the guy I’d talked to on the weekend (Ahmet, who, it turns out, knows my cycling friend because this is Hobart). I decided I was going to do it, that I was going to become a bike person (not a Bike Person) and ordered one.

It took about two weeks to come in and in that time I rode my old bike to the beach, a trip that takes about an hour on foot but only 25 minutes on a bike, even without pedal assist. I loved it. The trip back, uphill (up-incline?), was not quite as enjoyable, but I’m not used to riding so, of course, anything other than flat or downhill was going to be challenging.

20191208 Bike ride 1 edit

My first trial ride and a bonus sunburst

I probably annoyed everyone for the next two weeks talking about when the bike was going to come. When it finally came, I arranged to go in on the Saturday afternoon so I could ride it home. There really wasn’t any other way, and I figured Saturday would be preferable to a weeknight because there’d be less traffic. I was so excited to pick it up as well as being terrified that I would have to get it home on my own. Ahmet was very thorough in explaining how everything worked and all the things I needed to know, he showed me how to adjust everything and pointed out a very handy feature of power assist walking where you can turn the motor on while you’re walking to keep the bike moving faster. These are heavy bikes, around 27 kg, so pushing them up a hill is not easy.

Fully briefed and relieved of a lot of money, I left the shop with my new bike. Walking through the streets. There was no way I was going to ride it until I got to somewhere more isolated. Because it was a couple of weeks before Christmas, the streets were packed. I don’t think I’d ever be game to ride in town, even in the quieter periods. My workmate, who I learned had recently started riding to work along the same road I would need to ride on, had told me she got her bike confidence by taking a few trips on the inter-city cycleway before she went on the road. This wasn’t really an option for me unless I walked the bike down there so my test ride to the beach on the old bike was all I had. I was going on the road today, no matter what.

I felt so awkward and visible walking through town, even though I’m sure no one looked twice. I’d worked out a route than involved a bit of footpath riding (never again, too narrow and pedestrian-rich), riding some back streets of Battery Point, walking down Napoleon Street (because there is no way in hell I am ever riding down there), and then riding along Marieville Esplanade to where the bike path is still on the footpath on Sandy Bay Road, and then (gasp!) the actual road. I made it home unscathed, bike undamaged.

20191214 My new bike 2

I made it home!

Since then, I’ve ridden to the city a couple of times on Sunday mornings and it’s been great.

I’d been thinking about riding to work but thought that I wouldn’t want to do that until I was more confident in riding and knew the bike better. I wrote it down as a thing for 2020 to make sure I did it. Then it occurred to me that January is actually the perfect time to get that confidence because there are fewer cars on the road before school goes back and it’s light all day. If I’d left it until later I’d have to immerse myself in a more hectic road space and it would be more scary. No time like the present and this window won’t be around for long. I have no excuses. I picked Monday as the day and I did it. No special riding clothes, no shower at the end. I didn’t need them. It was no more energetic than walking 40 minutes to work (or however long it took).

It’s a good ride. I’m happy sitting at around 20 km/h, which I can do under my own steam most of the way. But the pedal assist is awesome for getting up hills. Well, not exactly hills, more like upwards gradients in the road. And going down the other side at speeds of nearly 35 km/h is way fun and I feel a lot more in control doing it, compared to a month ago when I would have sat on the brakes the whole time.

20200106 My bike at work

Bike at work. I rode it.

So ride to work is now crossed off the list and I think I will aim to do it at least once a week, at least in the lighter months. I’ll see how I feel when it starts to get darker. I might buy some more lights before then too.

20 for 2020: week 1

Week of 30 December

Week one of 20 for 2020 was only five days, but I’ll count it as a week.

I haven’t made a page for the list yet, but here’s a link to the first post where I outlined the 20 (or 22) things I want to achieve in 2020.

Wellbeing course (thing 3): I went through the last module, watched the videos I hadn’t watched and wrote down all the things I needed to do. I have a master list of tasks on a Trello board that I want to relating to this course so I can see everything in one place. The only thing left from 2019 that I want to complete is to do some journalling activities, which in some way are connected to the work in the creative kickstart course (thing 6). From then on, I will dip back into the course over the year and take things I need from it at the time.

Creative kickstart course (thing 6): My intention for this is to complete it by the end of January. I think some of this work will connect with the work in Indistractable (thing 13). I rewatched the first three videos that I watched at the end of 2019 to reacquaint myself with the material and to remind myself where I got up to. The idea is to watch the videos and put the strategies into place right away, so that’s what I intend to do.

In the first video it asks why I want to do this work and I said:

My goal is to create more, enjoy creating more and get better at creating work that I love. I am sick of achieving nothing because I’m tired and get easily distracted. I’m wasting my time on meaningless activities while others are going out, learning and making progress. I want to be like that.

Uni course (thing 8): I printed off the unit handbook, had it spiral bound so I can carry it round and work on it more easily, and started the first reflection activity. The unit doesn’t officially start until 20 January so I am trying to get some of the early work done now so I’m not hit with too much work at once. I think this will be a really interesting unit because a lot of it is about knowing yourself and self-management, which are subjects very dear to my heart.

Ride my bike to work (thing 10): Instead of my Sunday morning walk, I rode to town to try and find the best route to work.

Indistractable (thing 13): I read Part 4 and 5 of the book on the bus on the way home from work.

20200101 Indistractable

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

Reorganise my sock drawer (thing 18): I completed this on Sunday. It involved swapping the contents of two sets of drawers in two rooms, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages to make my socks (and the other things in the drawers) easier to access in the morning. It took less than an hour. I’m happy with that.

In other things, I’m counting progress I made in 2019 on my photo project (thing 1) as progress for this year because the project is really underway. I’m not counting what I did about making contact with the sewing machine repair people (thing 2) because it’s come to nothing and I really need to start again with that one. The 2019 photojournal (thing 4), although I kept mostly up to date in 2019, I have about 10 weeks worth of photos to sort, along with keeping up to date in 2020, so progress only counts on getting that backlog completed. So no progress on that one this week either.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 1 (18)
  • Things completed to date: 1 (18)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (3, 8, 10, 13)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 1 (1)
  • Things not started: 16 (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

19 for 2019: week 26 update

Coming up to the middle of the year, I’ve completed nine of my 19 things I wanted to do this year. That’s pretty close to half, although the pedant in me says that half of 19 is nine-and-a-half, which is rounded up to ten, so I should have completed ten things to be on track at the half-way point.

The realist says that’s ridiculous and that many of the things are more than half-finished so if you added in all of those to the mix, then the grand total would be way more than ten.

The pedant says that’s stupid and that a thing is either done or it isn’t done and only nine things are done. There is no part-done . . . and so I let my brain carry on its pointless argument while I actually sit down and do things. Or write about them, which isn’t really achieving anything. Well, it is. I like writing and I’m trying to improve, so any writing I do is helping me do this. I hope.

By writing these posts relatively quickly and publishing them, it’s also helping to reinforce the message in my brain that “done is better than perfect”, a concept I struggle with. I touched on this in my Weekend Wisdom post this week, and I lived the experience on Tuesday morning.

Tell me more, I hear you say.

To set the scene, I’ve been feeling more and more like I’m getting my walking back on track (see what I did there?) since I got sick in May and stopped doing my morning walks. I think it must be three weeks now, maybe four, when I’ve been for a walk every morning even if, on a couple of days, it was just to the end of the street because it was all I could do that day (because I slept through the alarm and had no time. True story).

On Tuesday, the “do what you can do” got taken to another level. It was freezing cold. I went outside for my walk at 5.45 and I could see frost on the road. What I didn’t realise was it was also on my driveway, which, although short, is steep. I discovered the frost pretty quickly when my feet started to slip out from under me and I just stopped myself from falling.

20190625 The frost that bit me edit

The frost that bit me

At first, I thought if I could just get to the road I’d be okay, but after three slips I still hadn’t got anywhere near the bottom of the driveway and I was worried about falling over. I slipped down my front stairs a few months ago and hurt my back really badly and I didn’t want to go through that amount of pain again.

I decided that walking wasn’t worth the risk of injuring myself and I stopped trying and went back inside. My fitness will not dramatically drop off because I missed one day. My health is my top priority, and I decided that if going for a walk presented a risk to my health that outweighed any benefit, I wouldn’t walk.

I told myself that I had walked to the extent that it was possible to walk that morning. I had followed the routine. I’d got up, got dressed and gone outside to walk.  Just like the days when I only get to the end of the street and that’s okay if it’s all I can do that day, on Tuesday I got out of the house and onto the driveway and, in the circumstances, that’s all I could have done. It was my personal best that day. It was different from what my personal best would have been the day before and different from what it would be tomorrow. But it was okay for that day.

Was it a perfect morning walk? No. Did I do the best I could do in the circumstances? Yes. Was I happy with that? Yes.

I’ve told myself time after time that done is better than perfect and that “done” looks different every time. It’s an antidote to the other voice in my head that whispers “it has to be perfect or it’s not worth doing”. That’s the voice that usually wins, despite every argument I throw against it.

But lately, I’ve been noticing a shift. The “done is better” voice is getting stronger and drowning out the whispers of the perfectionist. I’m starting to feel like it’s okay to call something done if I’ve done the best I can with what I had in the circumstances I was in at the time.

It’s one thing to know something and another thing entirely to believe it and to live your life by it and I wonder why, having known this is true for many years, I didn’t accept it sooner. How different my life might have been if I had fully accepted this belief 10 or 20 years ago. But I didn’t, and there’s no point wondering. I’m learning to accept it now, and how I take it forward into the rest of my life is what matters, not what might have been, because I can’t change that.

I suppose it’s part of the journey of life that it takes time to incorporate new beliefs into your way of thinking and behaving. You can see the same phrase over and over again, read countless articles that say the same things from different angles and sit there nodding your head, thinking, “I have to start doing this”, but when it comes down to it, you carry on as you always have because you don’t really believe it.

Changing long-held beliefs is like trying to change any other habit you’ve had for a long time and struggled to break. It doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just wake up one morning and say, “hey, I’m not going to beat myself up for not being perfect any more” and never do it again, just like you don’t wake up one morning and decide to quit smoking and never do it again. (Well, I suppose some people do, but they are not me. I struggle with replacing behaviours that don’t support me with ones that do, so it comes as no surprise that I also struggle with replacing beliefs that don’t serve me with ones that do.)

I hope Tuesday morning is a turning point for me in my quest to overcome perfection. I hope that it has started to prove to me that it’s okay when my best isn’t really very good because what matters is that I did it, even though it wasn’t perfect. And that tomorrow I will have a chance to do it better. (And I did go for a walk in the middle of the day after the frost had gone.)

20190625 Hinsby Beach 2 edit

Lunch time walk

And so, to the pedantic perfectionist, which is still arguing with the realist, it’s half-way through the year and I’ve completed nine of my 19 things. Nine! Yay! You need to remember this was a wish list to guide me through the year, not a rigid set of goals that I had to achieve no matter what. Nine things completed and eight more in progress is tracking pretty well at the half-way point. So thanks for your thoughts but I’ll let that one go.

This week I only progressed three things.

Wait, no. I progressed three things. Three is good. I had a lot of other things on. I progressed three things on my wish list. Great!

I didn’t do any work on the photo course or Lightroom (things 1 and 19).

I’m working on trying to re-establish my evening routine and get to bed at a reasonable hour (thing 6) but I’m struggling turning my computer off at night when I’m not being productive, I’m just mindlessly scrolling and surfing. It might be relaxing but it’s not giving me the kind of rest that I really need.

I think I need to approach this with the “personal best” mindset, which is that any night where I get more sleep than I normally do is better than beating myself up because I didn’t turn the computer off at my scheduled shut down time and be in bed with the light off at precisely 10.30. No one will die if I’m still brushing my teeth at 10.35. The aim is a gradual shift into building the habit, just like I gradually got walking back into my life.

I stuck November’s collages into my photojournalist (thing 11) and I spent some more time tinkering with the draft list to go into the bucket list journal (thing 18).

20190628 Argyle & Davey St 754am edit

My favourite @hobartstreetcorners photo from this week

Status for week 26

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 9 (3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 3 (6, 11, 18)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  5 (1, 2, 16, 17, 19)
  • Things not started: 2 (10, 14)

19 for 2019: week 24 update

Week of 10 June

This week was much better than the last few weeks have been. I got up every day and went for a walk. I count that as a win.

I also completed another of my 19 things! Yes!

I had to go to the GP and this time I remembered to ask about getting a skin check (thing 4) and she agreed it was a good idea. I got a recommendation from her about a good doctor and I phoned them the next day to make an appointment. When they said they had an appointment available the next day, I decided to just do it and get it over with rather than drag it out to next week. So I did it, had a great conversation with the doctor about where he gets his very cool socks from and learned that I should be using sunscreen a lot more.

This is a thing that has been on my list for six years. I now have a standing task in my to-do list to make an appointment every year as is recommended for people with my Celtic Princess complexion living in this unforgiving sunny land. It’s either that or move back to the land of my ancestors.

I watched seven of the photo course videos (thing 1) and completed two assignments in Lightroom (thing 19) with photos I took last year near Lake Pedder. I’m working through the last few photo course videos, which are all around using different functions within Lightroom. I haven’t learned a lot that I hadn’t already figured out for myself but it’s good to see that what I’m already doing is pretty much on the right track and I have picked up a few extra tips and tricks along the way.

20190610 Assignment 24 1

A foggy day in South West Tasmania, July 2018

20190610 Assignment 25 1

The Needles, July 2018

20190610 Assignment 25 2

Serpentine Dam, July 2018

I watched this week’s wellbeing videos (thing 6) and completed some of the exercises from a couple of weeks ago, including looking at ways to better support myself while I’m in this winter slump.

I stuck a couple more collages in my 2018 photojournalist (thing 11), I did some work on my photo project (thing 16) and I googled some manicure places to work out where I want to go (thing 17).

I finished a list of 100 things to put in the bucket list book (thing 18). I want to sit with it a bit to make sure there’s nothing I really want to do that isn’t on the list, or anything that’s on there I don’t really want to do. I know I’m overthinking this, because there’s nothing to say I can’t change anything on the list and I don’t *have* to do everything this week (or ever). It’s just an inspiration list and I’m sure I’ll think of other things to go in there along the way (which means I’ll just need to get another book!)

Status for week 24

  • Things completed this week: 1
  • Things completed: 9 (3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 6 (1, 6, 11, 16, 17, 18, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  1: (2)
  • Things not started: 4 (10, 14)