Silence

Today I picked up a copy of the free magazine published by Penguin Books, underline, which had a feature on a book called Silence: In the Age of Noise by the Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge. I had never heard of Mr Kagge before today, but according to the magazine, he is the first person to walk to the South Pole alone and has also climbed Mt Everest and travelled to the North Pole.

20171126 SilenceI was most fascinated to read that he had explored the underground sewers of New York and he had walked from one end of Los Angeles to the other in four days – slowly, staying in hotels along the way – attracting the attention of the police as he went. In another article I read, he said that the police thought it was really suspicious for someone to be walking around because the only people they saw walking were “crackheads, prostitutes, and crazy people”.

That really blew me away. I cannot imagine a place where walking around was so unusual that the cops would think you were up to something. I love walking and exploring on foot. It’s what I do. It’s part of my identity. A journey like that would have been fascinating. To have taken four days to explore 35 kilometres.

The magazine had an extract from Mr Kagge’s book, which had me captivated from the first word. I need to read this book. I will be going to the bookshop on Monday to see if they have it. The whole extract spoke to me, but two passages really stood out.

“The secret to walking to the South Pole is to put one foot in front of the other, and to do this enough times. On a purely technical scale this is quite simple. Even a mouse can eat an elephant if it takes small enough bites. The challenge lies in the desire.”

As I was reading, I thought that this summed up exactly the struggle I have every day to try and ingrain the good habits I want to have in my life. Technically, it’s simple. Do the thing enough times, day after day, consistently and you build a habit that sticks. But until you’ve done it enough times to make it stick (and the 21-days theory is complete bullshit in my experience) you have to have the desire. And when the desire for another whisky outweighs the desire for a 10pm bedtime, you’re (I’m) in trouble, and the bad habit, rather than the good one, is reinforced.

“On the 27th day I wrote: ‘Antarctica is still distance and unknown for most people. As I walk along I hope it will remain so. Not because I begrudge many people experiencing it, but because Antartica has a mission as an unknown land.’ I believe that we need places that have not been fully explored and normalised. There is still a continent that is mysterious and practically untouched, ‘that can be a state within one’s fantasy’. This may be the greatest value of Antarctica for my three daughters and generations to come.”

This made me think of the desire within Tasmania to “unlock” more of this precious state to commercial ventures that would allow more people to experience our wild places but at the cost of the pristineness of those places. It’s a practical example of the observer principle. Observing something changes its nature. To open up these places to more people changes the fundamental thing that makes them worth seeing in the first place.

(You know I gave in to the desire for another whisky, right?)

I can’t wait to read the book. Silence is something that I crave, and learning to find it as Mr Kagge did “beneath the cacophony of traffic noise and thoughts, music and machinery, iPhones and snowploughs” (maybe not snowploughs) is something I would love to explore more.

Advertisements

Challenge 7 – 30 days of yoga: overview

Friday was Day 30 of 30 days of yoga. I did it! I gave up my morning walks most days to make the time to do yoga in the mornings, and reduced my daily step target to 12,000. I missed reaching it on nine of the 30 days but most of them were weekends or holidays where I don’t have my regular walks to and from work, so I’ve often struggled with reaching my target, even if I do go for a walk in the morning. And of those nine days there were only three that I didn’t reach 10,000 steps, which is my ideal minimum. Those were all days I was home by myself with Kramstable and didn’t get up early enough to do yoga and go for a walk as well.

I’m not too disappointed overall, because I did yoga every morning. Because I hurt my back doing an over-enthusiastic locust pose early on, I’ve been taking it very easy and spend the first five minutes or so of each session doing the exercises my physio set for me when my back was really bad at the end of last year. I do not want to go back there, so I’m being a lot more careful now.

Between the last yoga class of Term 3 and the first class of Term 4, I effectively had three weeks away from formal instruction. I really noticed this at the start of Term 3, but this time, even with a relatively short daily practice, I didn’t have the same issues when we went back to class this term.

So I’m going to keep doing it and maybe mix up the poses that I do a bit more, because I’ve pretty much been doing the same ones every day.

The other thing I did was do my yoga practice before my 12 minute meditation, to try and wake my body up and get out of sleep mode before I meditate. It’s worked most days, except the ones where I went to bed too late and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep.

I think someone needs to review the evening routine challenge right about now.

Anyway I promised myself a new (thicker) yoga mat if I could keep it up for 30 days to encourage me to keep going, so that’s this week’s project.

In the other challenge, I’ve been doing cryptic crossword puzzles in the mornings instead of drawing, though some days I’ve had time to do both. I’ve just started my 18th puzzle on Day 8 of the challenge, and have completed nine of them. Most of the others are sitting there with only one or two clues that I just can’t figure out taunting me. I don’t know whether to look up the answers and work out how they fit the clue or to leave them until I get more experienced and can figure them out.

In the mean time I have learned some interesting things this week:

  • Nubia is a region in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, along the Nile River.
  • The okapi are the only other living members of the giraffe family, aka the Giraffidae, besides the giraffe obviously. They are striped like the zebra but they look like the giraffe without the long neck.
  • Lissom means supple, thin and graceful. I am not lissom.
  • Puttee is a large strip of cloth wound around the leg from ankle to knee. It can be part of a solder’s uniform. Can also be a leather legging. (This wasn’t a crossword clue; it was on the TV quiz show The Chase.)
  • The capital city of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo. (This also wasn’t a crossword clue; it was a question at a trivia night.)

In my drawing, I’ve moved onto trying to draw faces, eyes and hands. The results have been somewhat different to the subjects. I keep trying to tell myself that this is early days and I’m not supposed to be good at it at this stage. It’s a challenge I want to persist with.

This week’s goals:

  • Get a new yoga mat
  • Get as far as I can on at least 6 more crossword puzzles
  • Draw two faces
  • Complete steps 5-7 of Living With Intent
  • Write a blog post on where I’m up to with the “clarity” challenge
  • Write a blog post on what I learned this week

Walk in her shoes – a reflection on the week

So another Walk In Her Shoes week is over; my third time participating in this event for CARE Australia.

I love the idea behind the challenge: to walk 100km (or the distance of your choice) to raise funds for CARE’s work in countries where women and girls miss out on opportunities to attend school and work because they have to walk for several hours a day to get basics for their families like water, food and medical supplies.

Having to walk six kilometres carrying 20 litres of water on the way back isn’t something that sounds like much fun. I’m often guilty of forgetting that it’s nothing but my good luck that I was born in a country where I have access to plentiful water, food, education and opportunities for work. Walking for pleasure is a luxury that I am grateful for because it symbolises many other things I have.

Even so, I found this year’s challenge a struggle. I didn’t build-up to the week through the structured training and gradual increase of my daily goals that I’d done the past two years. And there wasn’t the excitement of being in the local papers like I was last year. (Yeah I did kind of like the attention for a couple of days!) I was distracted by other things going on at the same time, and just as the challenge started I came down with a miserable cold.

I think it’s the equivalent of the “difficult second album” syndrome that bands get afflicted with after a successful debut album, only for me, this was the difficult third album.

Not such a good analogy then. It sounded better in my head.

Anyway, as you know, I struggled through, and I ended up with a total of 150,400 steps for the week. A long way short of the almost 200,000 I did last year, but I’m OK with that. I can have a go at cracking 200,000 next year (maybe!). I’m pleased with what I achieved this year. I’m also thrilled to have raised $610 for CARE Australia – thank you to everyone who donated.

20160320 WIHS Steps

The main difference between this year and the previous two years is that after the challenge in the past I’ve stopped walking. I’m not sure why – maybe because there didn’t seem to be much point to be getting up at a time that Slabs mutters “it’s still the middle of the night” and going for a walk when I didn’t have to be accountable to anyone about it. (I told you already, if you believe Gretchen Rubin’s “four tendencies” I’m an obliger, so I tend to meet obligations to other people but not to myself. This is a really interesting framework – go check it out here if you’re interested.)

I want to keep walking, and so far I’ve continued the routine for almost a week after the challenge finished. I dropped my goal back to 15,000 steps. It’s that high because walking is the only exercise I do, apart from a weekly yoga class, so I wanted to make sure I had to do more than my everyday walking to and from school and work. One week in and it’s going well.

Ask me in the middle of winter if I still think this is a good idea . . .

So – a successful challenge that has given me a foundation on which I can build a regular exercise routine. Now to keep it going.

I also intend to wear bright leggings to work more often because I can!

And in case you missed my leggings pictures, here they are for the whole week.

20160314 WIHS Combo

Walk in her shoes – Days 6 and 7

Yesterday I thought I was feeling better so, while I had my chance, I went for a long morning walk along the walking track. This time I decided to do the whole track. I knew I wouldn’t have much time to walk later in the day so I had to make the most of the early morning.

My cold has moved from head to chest. So less sniffing, more coughing. Super!

We had a date in town in the afternoon to see Frank Woodley’s kids show Noodlenut at the Spiegeltent. We were all looking forward to it. Kramstable had loved it when we watched his TV show, and of course Lano and Woodley had been essential viewing for us many years ago.

20160313 Waiting for Woodley 1

It was a fun show, and we enjoyed it. It was very hot, which made Kramstable a bit irritable, and my learning from the day was to always take a bottle of water everywhere we go.

When we got home it was late afternoon, but it was pretty much my last chance to go for a walk yesterday. The late afternoon sun is not my friend, and it was a very uncomfortable walk.

20160313 Day 6 Leggings IG

I made it in the end. Day 6: 21,312 steps.

This morning I got up determined to get through the last day. Only 20,000 more steps and the challenge will be over. If this had been a school day it would have been fairly easy, but it’s not, and I was still feeling rather ordinary when I woke up. However, it is, I reminded myself, a challenge. It’s not meant to be easy.

I didn’t feel like doing the walking track this morning, so I headed over the bridge. I think I might have walked too far, and tired myself out. I hoped I’d make it home! Today was one of those mornings where, if I’d had to go to work, I’d have been unable to make up my mind up about whether to go, so I’d have gone, and by 10am would have been wiped out.

It wasn’t a work day, so I could go home, have coffee and rest on the couch.

20160314 Day 7 Leggings 1 IG

After that I had the final 10,000 steps to go, and I did another short walk before lunch. (Note to self: It helps to make sure you have your Fitbit on when you go out.)

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching DVDs and wondering if I should just call it a day. I didn’t want to. It looked like it was about to rain, so I took a deep breath and went out one last time. I was on my way home, with less than 1500 steps to go, when a tweet from CARE Australia reminded me that I’d already completed a week of 20,000 steps a day, because if you remember, I walked 20,000 steps on Monday, the day before the official start of the challenge.

The tweet to another walker who had started a day early by mistake and hadn’t met their goal today was: “. . . starting a day early means you could finish a day early (timing doesn’t have to be exact)!”

AAARGH! This hadn’t occurred to me! I’d finished the challenge already! The only thing that had been missing last Monday was leggings.

Well don’t I feel like a goose! Instead of whinging about sick I was, I could have been relaxing and celebrating having finished yesterday.

Never mind. What’s done is done, and I’ve finished the challenge for real. I’ll write a reflection post, with my final step count later in the week.

20160314 Day 7 Leggings 4 edit

Last year’s tshirt gets a workout.

12 of 12 March 2016 – Part 2

Part 1 of this post, in which I try to get into the habit of an earlier bedtime, is here.

The story continues . . .

I decided that, even though I wasn’t feeling so good, I’d get up and go for a walk this morning. Slabs suggested I sleep in and walk later in the day. While the idea sounded good, I didn’t think this was going to work because it’s cooler earlier in the day and walking in the heat* is likely to have tired me out more. And that’s assuming I’d be able to muster up the energy to get out of the house later. I find it much easier to get my walks out of the way first thing, before I get caught up in everything else I’m doing during the day.

2 of 12: I did sleep in. A bit. For me. By the time I got up and out of the house it was light, so I decided to wander along the walking track, which I can’t often do because it’s too dark most days when I get up.

20160312-02

3 of 12: I took it easy. No 16 km walks this morning. 30 minutes was about 3000 steps, and I was grateful for the park benches dotted along the walking track, as I needed a rest by this point. This meant that I’d need to do seven lots of 30 minutes to reach my target. This sounded like a lot at 7am, but I was confident it was doable if I rested up in between.

20160312-03

4 of 12: These signs are quite new. I can’t figure out if the council retro-fitted the dog poo stickers or if someone who was sick of stepping in poo go the shits and stuck the stickers onto the signs themselves.

20160312-04

5 of 12: The river looking very peaceful this morning.

20160312-05

I cut my normal route a bit short because I was getting tired and my walk was taking longer than normal. See! I’m not pushing myself.

6 of 12: I used some of my walking time to catch up on my French lessons on Duolingo, which I’d recently started again after a long absence. I followed the principle of making a new habit as easy as possible to do, so I reduced my daily goal to one lesson, which is possible to slot in almost anywhere in my day. I’ve generally tried to do it first thing after dropping Kramstable at school on my way to work. So if you see me walking along hunched over my phone in the morning I’m not on Twitter (probably). I’ll be learning French.

20160312-06

After breakfast it was time to take Kramstable to swimming. An ideal opportunity to fit in two of those 30 minute walks I need to do. While it’s not the most pleasant and relaxing walk, as it’s mainly along main roads, it’s a good way to get us both moving.

The thing that struck me, as it did last week when we had to walk because Slabs needed the car, was how many cars went past and how few people were walking anywhere – I could count them on one hand each time. Most of the people that were walking were walking dogs rather than looking like they were walking to somewhere for a purpose.

As I watched the never-ending stream of cars go past, I wondered how many people were driving because it was quicker and easier than walking. After all, most people are busy, and taking an hour out of your day to walk to somewhere you could drive to and back in ten minutes is a big chunk of your day. Unless I’ve had no car, I’ve always jumped in the car and driven to swimming. It’s so much easier, I can leave a lot later and I have more time at home to do stuff like checking Twitter. I mean vacuuming the floors.

(What followed here was a ramble about the time needed to walk, slowing down, using the time as one-on-one time with Kramstable, environmental concerns about using the car for short trips. Followed by the eventual realisation that if I get up at the same time, walk for an hour less in the morning and walk to swimming instead I’ll still have the hour I would have saved by driving, plus all the other benefits. I’ll save all that for paspresentfuture: the director’s cut.)

8 of 12: Kramstable had a good swimming lesson.

20160312-08

9 of 12: While we were up the street today we noticed someone had tried to set fire to the community notice board. Nice one.

20160312-09

Also up the street, we learned some new roundabout etiquette where you indicate you’re going left before you even get onto the roundabout, and then go straight, confusing the hell out of people who are trying to cross the road. A change from the usual “indicate right when you’re going straight” crowd.

10 of 12: Washing day for the leggings!

20160312-10

11 of 12: Today’s leggings. Today’s step count: 21,406. Two days to go. I might just make it.

20160312-11

12 of 12: I made lasagna tonight. This is one of my favourite epic dishes that takes all afternoon to prepare. So you know that I’m not overdoing things, I had a rest first. And I went to bed early.

20160312-12

 

* By heat I mean anything above about 18 degrees when the sun is shining. The sun here is burny and melty, and saps my energy every time I go outside, regardless of the actual temperature. I’m told the sun is more intense in Tasmania than in other places, and I find it to be really uncomfortable to be outside in. I hate walking in the sun.

Walk in her shoes – half way

Today is Day 4 of my 20,000 steps challenge for Care Australia’s Walk In Her Shoes.

To date my step counts are:

  • Tuesday: 21,146
  • Wednesday: 22,438
  • Thursday: 21,199

Getting struck down with a cold on Wednesday was unexpected and unwanted. If it’s my body’s way of telling me to get some rest, couldn’t it have waited until next week when I’m actually able to slack off a bit?

Obviously not.

And if my body needs rest could it, at the absolute least, let me sleep through the night, which, until I got sick, I could normally do very well thank you.

Who knows what’s going on?! I can’t stand another night like the last two, so I got some day & night tablets (you know the ones that you have to show ID to get from the chemist) that lady at the chemist said should give me some relief. I hope so.

So I’ve been trying to strike a balance between not pushing myself and getting my steps done. I think it’s rather a fine balance. I don’t want to wipe myself out, but I have committed to doing this.

It’s more than half way through Day 4, so I’ve passed the half way point. I can’t stop now!

On the plus side I’ve been having fun with my leggings.


I had someone stop me in the street yesterday, when I was wearing a bright purple outfit to match the leggings, and tell me they thought the colour really suited me and that I looked “absolutely fabulous”. His companion agreed. I’m so unused to anyone saying something like that to me, I wasn’t sure if he was taking the piss or being genuine. I chose to think he was being nice and that he meant it, so that made me feel a bit better for the rest of the afternoon.

Even though I’m not listening to competitive me, I was contemplating tackling my longest distance tomorrow morning. But in the spirit of knowing my limits and doing what I can, I’m not going to. I’ll probably space shorter walks over the next three days with some rest, so that I achieve my goal without overdoing it.

Wish me luck! Or bring me a Hot Toddy if you feel that way inclined. Or even better, sponsor me 🙂 

Walk in her shoes – Day 2

I woke up at that unspeakable hour this morning to hear an unusual rumbling.  At first I thought it was trucks, but didn’t take too long to work out it was thunder, accompanied by a huge lightning show out the kitchen window.

Well I wasn’t about to go outside and walk in a thunderstorm. I love the cause but I’m not going to get struck by lightening for it.

After tearing myself away from the lighting show, I sat down for my meditation/breathing/distracting thoughts exercise. It started to rain. I had visions of walking round my lounge room for 30 minutes to kick off my step count.

Fortunately, the storm was short-lived and I was able to go out. About half way round my circuit I saw more lightning, but it looked like it was further away and there was no thunder, so I imagined I was safe by then.

I had to go to work today. I decided to start out with some fairly conservative leggings. The bright ones will come later. 

Today’s steps included walking to work, a walk around the docks at lunch time, where I almost got knocked over by a driver who thought it wasn’t necessary to put his indicator on until he’d actually started turning the corner (thanks), walking to the boy’s school, doing laps around his school while we waited until it was time to go to his doctor appointment (he’s fine), walking to the doctor’s and walking to and from yoga.

A successful Day 2, although I feel the beginnings of a cold coming on, which I really do not need.

Day 1 step count: 21,146.