HELP OR HINDER

Just like that our heat wave is over. Not only that, it’s now cool. I woke up to 12℃ this morning, whereas only a couple of days ago I went to bed with 30℃. Life is like that now, swinging from one extreme to the other. Sometimes there is a short almost normal in between. Now is the time to pay attention and try to live the best rest of my life. I do need alot of help. My attention span is the size of a gnat. Can you believe that I paid my property tax twice this year? How inattentive can I be, especially when I do make written entries of paid bills. If I had only glanced up a few lines….

But not to worry. The city will probably send me a refund cheque or I won’t have to worry about paying next year. Do you know how hard it is to speak to a real person on the phone these days? I was lucky the first time I called the city when I was alerted that I had made another payment. It was first thing in the morning and a person came on the line after a few prompts. He told me to call the bank to have them stop payment because it hasn’t shown up on his end yet. But he could see that I’ve already paid up. I wasn’t so lucky calling the bank. No real person came on the line. No luck for me either at the bank in person. They could not stop payment. It had already gone through and because I had paid online, they can’t do anything.

All of this had cost me some time. It’s my own fault really for not paying attention to what I was doing. It cost me more time phoning the city back. Now all I can get is a recording about their high volume of calls and to visit their website. On emailing them, I was informed that they are experiencing a high volume of mail and not to expect an answer for 5 business days. If it is urgent call the telephone line! Round and round we go. It’s almost 5 business days since I’ve emailed the city. I have not heard from them yet.

It is helpful to pay attention where and when we lose time and energy. Most of us spend too much time and energy online and scrolling on our phones. The last few days, it’s cost me both, trying to fix my Fitness app. I still can’t log onto it doing everything I’m suppose to – even enlisting help from my fitness center. I’ve decided not to phone the helpline. I’m sure I will get a recording prompting me to press this and that. So while technology can help us, it also can do the opposite. It’s up to us to be mindful of how we use our gizmos.

I am glad to have stumble onto Chris Baily’s The Productivity Project. It came at a good time. The thing is I’m just reading it and not doing the assignments as he recommends. So I’m backtracking to make the lessons stick. Here are 4 tips from the project:

  1. Consume caffeine strategically, not habitually.
  2. Work on your hardest, highest return tasks at your peak energy time of day.
  3. Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking is simply less productive.
  4. Compartmentalize email and social media to specific times during the day.

I know these tips are really helpful. I did a caffeine fast for a week. I felt more relaxed and things tasted a lot better after. No. 2 is what everyone recommends. The hardest task requires more energy and focus. Multitasking screws up my mind and I make more mistakes. Limiting time on social media and online makes me feel more restful and peaceful. I’m not exactly that at the moment. I have been very busy during the heat wave to keep all our gardens and greenhouse watered. It didn’t leave me much spare time. Now is my unwinding time.

WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER

I am most happy when I am working on a project or challenge. Right now my challenge/project is writing this post and baking bread. I’m in between risings. I have a few minutes to tap out some first words/thoughts. I’ve been away for awhile. It might take some time for my fingers to limber up and my brain to gear up. Thank God the heat wave is over. The 30+- 40℃ have chilled. I don’t function well in heat but I did remarkedly well through it this time. And that is because I’ve learned to work smarter, not harder. I owe my thanks to Chris Baily of the Productivity Project.

I’ve finished baking my bread. The loaves are out, cooled, bagged and put away. The mixing bowl, tools and all the pans are washed and dried. After everything is said and done, I know that I’ve worked hard. I’m not sure about the smart part. But it is at the end of the day. I am tired. Though it is only 22℃ now, I feel hot. I am sure I am still processing the past week of heat. I do not bounce back like the EverReady Bunny. I’m more like the tortoise. I am slow but I try to be steady and committed.

I’m intent on writing this post as I had set out to do this morning. It’s a good thing that I chose only 2 things for today. I’m not sure I have enough energy for more. Oh, I’ve done more than just baking bread and writing this post. I’m talking about commitments- things I MUST do from start to finish. I have a bad habit of starting something and not following through. I hope to change that by working smarter, not wasting energy and time on the wrong things. Coming back to this writing space will help me chart my way. I’ve been away for too many days.

WHY I BOTHER

Why I Bother

I often wonder why I bother with a lot of things. I get into these mood sets. It’s habits that keep me moving. I’m feeling quite blasé with my November adapted NaNoWriMo writing. I wonder if my readers are feeling as bored with it as I am. But then I came across a post in Brevity, Write Anyways and I feel heartened once more. So here’s on with the show.

This morning the U.S. election results are still the same with Biden at 264 and Trump at 214. So why is America so great? It takes them forever to run the election and forever to get the final results. Why am I talking about it anyways? Habit, a bad one this time. I have many of them. I should be focusing on important issues but my mind is wandering – I would like another cuppa, I want to do my cross stitch, I should put away my laundry. The list(mental) goes on. At least I can say I am aware of it. Now I can settle down to the heart of this post.

It’s really not as easy as that. I couldn’t settle down to the heart of things. I was restless. I wrestled with myself for awhile. Then I had to move around. I wandered down the stairs. I settled my restless energy on cleaning and tidying an area. I have many of those throughout the house. I have to match each area to the state of my mental and physical energy. Do you know what I mean? No? Well sometimes one spot is too hairy for me to deal with. So I move onto a different one. On a different day, I can come back to it.

Now the day is almost gone. I did have another cuppa. I got 2 rows of cross stitch on Jesus in. I’m ready to get back to the heart of this post which is contained in this video. I was excited by it this morning. I have always been passionate about sustainability. I am interested in living with as little as possible. I don’t mean in a self depriving way. I want to find meaning without ‘meaningless’ consumption. We each have our own idea of meaningful and meaningless. I’m not here to judge but to find my way.

Finding and knowing my passion gives me fuel on days when I’m feeling ‘why bother’. There are many moments in my daily life when I just want to sink into the couch/chair and while them away. I think it is part of our ‘natural’ inclinations. Then something gives us a spark. We get up and chase after it. It’s how I am anyways.

Today was warm but not an especially sunny day. I was feeling maudlin gathering up the lunch dishes. I thought of cancelling my daily without-Sheba walk. But then the sun came out. I feel myself perking up like a drooping flower. Well, I had to go for my walk. It’s time with my puppy girl though she’s not here. I was just leisurely strolling but it was still good for my heart.

Our greenhouse now has a real door with a latch. The raised beds are built. The soil brought in. Tomorrow I shall plant some onions and seed some greens. Snow is coming on Saturday. It shall be an interesting winter.

JAVA MORNINGS

Have I told you I’ve given up my Orange Pekoe cuppa? I’m making some changes to the way I live. I’m starting small with a cup of coffee in the morning, a very small cup. It holds 125ml, just a swallow. That was all I needed. I surprised myself with a burst of energy and a flurry of hard-to-do activities.

I warmed up with my usual pushing the damp mop around the floors and a little dusting along the way. I’m getting quite good at it now. Having limbered up, I used my hula hoop, what Amy Tan call the gym for seniors. I’ve already achieved the 1 minute mark, so now I’m working towards 2 minutes without stopping. Took a few tries but I got it! By then I was in a good sweat. I had to do a walk around the house to cool off before doing 3 rounds of 20 seconds of planking. I stretched by doing my qigong routine.

I probably over did after 2 months of potato couching. It was so nice to have the energy. It was hard to stop. I went for a little bike ride after lunch before taking Sheba out for her walk. Then I finished raking the leaves in the front yard. Now I’m all revved up. I hope I can sleep tonight. I did have another small cup of coffee after lunch. I was tired of being a wet noodle. I hope to repeat my day tomorrow but maybe a little more moderate. I might have to skip the 2nd coffee.

MONDAY, MONDAY

Monday morning coming down. May 11th, the calendar pages are advancing. The sun is out shining bright. My day has started. Breakfast over and done with. I’ve shaped my sourdough loaves. They are chilling in the fridge. They can chill up to 24 hours. The longer they stay, the tastier and more stable they get. That is what they say. Maybe I will wait to bake them tomorrow morning and test out the theory.

My Sheba and I are growing old together. She has a little more white than I do. Her hips are worse off, too, giving her trouble these last couple of weeks. I try not to feel too bad or sad when I see her stumble. She still loves her walks and able to go up and down the deck stairs. There’s a few more things I can do to help her like doing range of motion on her hips. She’s content to let me massage and brush her, even on her backend. She is already on fish oils and glucosamine. I will try to wean a little weight off her. It will be a task as she loves food. I’m adding a little ground flax to her food and see if that will help. I hear that cumin is a good anti inflammatory. We will check with the vet.

Mornings are my best time. It is late afternoon. My mood and energy are sagging and dragging the floor. It is impossible to work on the hard stuff when I’m feeling thus. Bad habits are hard to break but I did get the kohlrabi and broccoli seedlings transplanted. They were beyond leggy and flopping over. Gardening has not been easy this year. I keep plodding along. I will be glad for my persistence and efforts come harvest time. I think of the reward to keep myself moving along.

Excuse my monotone. I’m struggling to finish this post. I find myself struggling with everything. I just have to take life in smaller bites and swallows these days. You wonder why I bother with my mutterings. Sometimes I wonder, too. But I’m the better for showing up here. It gives me order to my day. The rhythm of the keys tapping calms and soothes me. It gives me purpose. It records my moods, problems and helps me find workable solutions. It keeps me sane.

 

THE QUIET AROUND ME

 

Sometimes I get tripped up starting the day. The morning can be an obstacle course. I try not to get sidetrack too much, wasting time reading useless articles or things that I already know. How many versions of the same thing do I need? I try not to be obsessed about not being sidetracked. That can take the joy out me. I try to remember to do simple – just stop when I catch myself doing the repetitive and nonsensible. STOP.

Life is a little easier. The weather is a little warmer. My body is feeling more at ease. Sunshine is streaming through the windows. I’m tap, tapping on my keyboard, rearranging my thoughts, putting them in order, getting the kinks out. I’m calming my neurons. They misfire every which way. My keyboard is like a pacemaker, putting the impulses into rhythm. I can breathe again – in for 4 counts, hold for 7, out for 8. I do this four times.

The last few months or so have not been a good space for me. But there are some things that are working for me. It’s good to pay attention to the positive. For one thing, the pain in my hands and hips have been absent for over a year. Doing the work, paying attention to what I eat and exercising regularly have big dividends. It keeps my spirit afloat in the face of knowing that life is never easy. It goes on and I have to put one foot in front of the other.

I’m recognizing the value of my time and energy now. They are not endless as my years advance. Now when I catch myself doing things that don’t really matter, I stop. I redirect myself in another activity. I’m repeating myself but it’s something worth repeating. It’s a hard lesson for me. I waste and fret away my time and energy on things that can’t be changed or help me. For all the mornings sitting in meditation, it’s taken me a long time to get here.

I AM here, sitting in sunshine, in silence, listening to the rhythm of my breathing and the beating of my heart. I am alive. I am tapping out my inner conversation, the voice of all my cells. I should listen to them and the quiet around me.

USE IT OR LOSE IT

August 11

Surprisingly, I had a whiff of energy last evening. Not to waste it, even though it was not my time of doing things, I took the vacuum stick and sucked up the dog hair on the floor. It did not take all that long to do the kitchen, dining, living and the sun room. Next, I tackled  the dirty screened window in the sunroom. I’ve been looking at it all summer and haven’t made any move on it. My energy is like that. I know it and learning to work with it.

My brain is such that it gets overwhelmed easily. I have to work in the one-inch frame that Anne Lamott speaks of and E.L. Doctorow’s ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ They’re referring to writing but I apply it to everything. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is a book full of such wisdom.

I am happy that I started this conversation in the morning. I am happy I paid the house insurance this morning. The afternoon has been a bit of a struggle. I am feeling the seasonal bad, but not sad. I can’t think at all. Doing a simple sewing project is difficult. Trying to figure how to measure and cut on the bias felt like doing brain surgery. Having the right equipment and tools helped alot. In the end, I got my bias strips cut and sewn to specification. But somehow one end ended up in my cup of coffee. So now it’s rinsed off and hung up to dry.

Sheba and I have been out and back from our walk. Nothing exciting except I did dropped the roll of doggy bags and didn’t even know it. It was lying on the sidewalk, waiting for me on our return. I think I should call it a day. I should make a cuppa, put up my feet and read my murder mystery. It’s always good therapy for my foggy brain.

TIME THIS MORNING

Sunny Sunday morning. Another new day. Another new week. I’m trying to utilize what I know for sure. Mornings are my best time for energy and for tackling hard to do things. It’s not working for me right now. I’m already sleepy eyed, not knowing what to do first. Even my fingers are limp with sleepiness and lethargy. Is it spring fever? What exactly is spring fever? I have never understood the term but I utter it anyways. It sounds good. Here’s what Wikipedia’s definition:

Spring fever is any of a number of mood, physical, or behavioral changes, which may be experienced coinciding with the arrival of spring, particularly restlessness, laziness, and even amorousness.

Laziness fits me the best at the moment. I am trying, fighting against it. Sandman is tugging at my eyes and my head is full of cobwebs. Perhaps another cup of tea is in order.

I’m back with my cuppa. While I was at it, I got out of my pjs and vacuumed 2 rooms while waiting for the water to boil. Living life in small moments do get things done. It’s easier to stay awake, standing up and moving. I continually surprise myself at how much I can do in minutes. I learned that long ago on a slow overnight train from Hiroshima to Tokyo. I found that a 7-minute shower card that came with my cabin was quite adequate for a shower and shampoo. I huffed, puffed and rushed unnecessarily. I had lots of minutes left over.

This morning I spun for a few minutes looking for the card for my appointments at the hearing center. I had put it in a ‘safe’ place. It was a mistake because I have forgotten where that place was. It was much better to leave it in its first resting place. But I did find it without tearing the house apart. This time, I wrote the dates in my notebook for such purposes. I have to remember to do it till it is a habit. I’m still remembering to put my credit card receipts in a little box for matching up with monthly statements.

 

 

THE DOG, THE PARK AND EVERTHING

Beautiful sunny October and I’m feeling oh so fine! Coming from this elevated level, it’s hard even for me to believe that I can crash and burn. It’s all a part of living this human journey. Are you tired of hearing it, even if it’s true? I’m tired of saying it but it’s such a good line. How can I resist? I’m tap, tapping merrily along here. The words are bouncing off my fingertips. My endorphins are at a record high. I’m making use of them. Who knows. Tomorrow the clouds could crowd my horizons. I might not be able to elbow them out of my way. I’m making hay while the sun shines.

Taking advantage of my energy I rounded up Sheba for the dog park. She’s also in her best form for a 12 year old. She could still bounce up into the back of my Honda CRV with a little coaxing and a treat. Coming back was another matter. She looked up at the car and shook her head. I can’t do it, she told me. A treat couldn’t convince her. Maybe it was all the romping with the youngsters that did her in. I had to carry her up and in. Goes to show how strong I am. I’m sure she will sleep well tonight. Maybe we’ll get to sleep in tomorrow. She usually wakes up at 6 am, almost on the dot.

It’s good for me to show up here on my good days as well as bad days. It’s proof for me on bad days that I can feel awesome. I’m not down in the dumps, a wet blanket, raining on all the parades. I do miss one or two. Some days I even shine.

 

 

MY CAMINO ROAD

Beginnings of anythings are hard. Mornings are the best for me. It’s that time before trivia creeps in and fills all the recesses of my mind. They block the flow of oxygen and ideas to my being. But it is so tempting to linger over that cup of tea/coffee and scroll one more page and read another article, then another post. Before I know it, an hour or two have passed. The good/bright ideas/intentions have disappeared. All I’m left is lethargy and annoyance with myself.

I have to be stern with my lagging, sagging self. Nip it in the bud or it could run rampant, like an infection. So here I am, showing up before I get feverish and succumb to another lazy day. Movement begats more movement and energy. I go back to things that work for me, working in small blocks. If I get stuck, I stop and do something else. I’m learning not to sabotage myself. It’s been a long journey of many slow steps. But I am seeing more clearly as I am walking this, my very own Camino Road of enlightenment. No need to go to Spain. I have Sheba to keep me company here on the road.

Now it is 3:30 in the afternoon. I’m pecking/tapping away at my day. An index card painted for 365 Somethings 2018, a photo for April Love , Sheba’s afternoon walk done – these are the sign posts that guide me. They add order and rhythm to my day. In between these projects, the bedding plants are placed onto the deck, getting some natural light, readying for permanent residence out of doors. The deck chairs are rid of their dust and grime. Corners of the deck cleared of last year’s dirt. Screens wiped. Not all finished but a good start. That’s all that is needed. A start and the rest will follow. Repeat this every day.