dear diary :: a moment’s pause…

Just to let everyone know I am taking a little blog holiday. Nothing is wrong here, we are all good but life, now lockdown is over, is beginning to speed up again and I need to get back up to speed with it and as the saying goes….. ‘something has to give’.

Happy Birthday

Last week I celebrated two things – my 66th birthday and a haircut – two events that brought a bit of normality back into my life. Although we couldn’t get together with all my family and friends on my birthday I had a steady flow of visitors dropping off cards and gifts (and social distancing on the doorstep of course) and phone calls all day.

I hope everyone reading this is also well, enjoying the mildly better weather and the extra freedoms we have – let us hope it continues.

So I will just go on pause for a week or two to gather my thoughts, but I will be back soon.

All the best, love to all xxx

creating health :: being prepared

I have a large stack of books by the sofa on loan from the library; health books, exercise books and recipe books. If only I could sleep with them under my pillow and the information transfer overnight by osmosis and I wake up healthier…..nice thought but I suspect this will not happen and getting healthy again is going to take a little bit of research, hardwork and determination.

There will be some changes to make to overcome some of the ‘lazy’ habits I have slipped into recently – it is never that evident to me how these habits form so quickly especially the bad ones…..funny isn’t it that good habits are always harder to establish.

Before I can change my health for the better I need to be clear on exactly what it is that is wrong. And this is the first problem, as most of my niggles are just that….niggles, no precise illness that I can name. I am a few pounds heavier than my ideal weight and my muscles and joints are often stiff and aching especially in the mornings and around my neck and shoulders as if I have slept in an awkward position. I also feel that I am lacking in both strength and vitality and my eyesight and tinnitus are slowly becomming worse and the Baker’s cyst behind my left knee refuses to go.

In other words at 65 I suppose I am feeling my age.

On the good side I do not suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems and my cholesterol is not too bad given that my thyroid condition does increase the level. It is hard to know if my muscle problems and tiredness are all due to being on thyroxine medication – some of it may be down to the mechanics of my feet and legs not working as they should because of my fallen arches. I should wear the support insoles I had made but they never fit into any of my shoes.

So far in my reading I am reminded that being healthy isn’t just a lack of ‘disease’ but a feeling of optimal health and vitality. There is a code for renewing health called the heirarchy of healing – I followed this method when I had the cancer in 2008 and it had a profound effect on limiting the extent of the spread and reducing the nodule size in my thyroid gland before the surgery to remove it. Although I had cancer I was otherwise in the best of health!

This is the list I followed back then – unfortunately I have no idea now where I read this but it encompasses all the aspects you would expect in building a healthier life. It reads in order of importance for the biggest effect on promoting good health:-

  • meditation and sleep
  • relaxation such as a relaxing massage or facial
  • exercise
  • diet and supplements
  • complementary therapies – herbal, acupuncture etc

It is now known that we are continually renewing ourselves approximately every 9 months – so I am definitely not the person I was last year! When I look in the mirror I can see that I am not the person I was as there are marked changes – a few more wrinkles here and there, bits of me heading south and flabbier – so the renewing process is not doing so well as I age but the fact that we do renew is good news as it means we can adjust and make changes that will help the regeneration – I am supposing here that how well we regenerate may depend on how good a diet we eat and how much we exercise.

So this is my starting point….my journey to a healthier life (and DH too as I won’t be cooking any separate meals for him).

Before I can begin on our healthier diet I need to remove all the unhealthy foods from my kitchen, pantry and freezer. As I am not willing to waste food, even knowing it is not such ‘good’ food in terms of nutrients we will be eating up the last of the Christmas cake, crisps, pies and anything else on the ‘naughty but nice’ list over the next few days whilst increasing our intake of healthier foods (though I can’t promise I will be cutting out all temptation of eating the forbidden foods – rather minimising them).

Over the coming month we will of course be making soup – lots of it and I will be dusting off the juicer and putting it to work once more to pack in more nutrients to my diet. I will also be taking one or two supplements and trying out different exercises and some of the suggestions and tips I have been reading about and let you know if anything is having any effect.

New Year’s day is not the best time to begin. We will be out with friends on New Year’s eve until early morning I suspect so my contribution will only be a gentle walk and lots of relaxation and I will begin for real on Thursday!

At the moment we are having to walk everywhere or catch a bus as our car broke down yet again on Christmas day. The suspension was still not right but this time because they had replaced the sensor we did get a screen message to tell us the suspension was failing and managed to drive home slowly at 45 mph all the way – which was hairy on the faster roads. We took it into the garage this morning and they ran a diagnostic report for a mere £100 as they could not locate the problem which turns out to be something with the hydraulic pipes and leakage – anyway it is now being repaired for an eye watering £700. Not the start to a new year we were looking for!

Maybe our car needs to be on a getting healthy plan too!!

dear diary :: looking back and looking forward

It is that time of year in the quieter lull between the Christmas festivities and New Year when I always start looking back over the past twelve months; remembering all those unforgettable moments both good and bad that are etched on my mind for ever.

It has been an eventful and productive year, if not a little exhausting at times, beginning with the birth of little Freddie in January and followed by two Christenings, a 1st birthday and 40th birthday celebrations. Phew.

It was the year I grew more vegetables, started knitting again, made a christening gown and many of my own cards. In and amongst we had some lovely days out at the open garden events as well as in Scotland and a very memorable day at the seaside in Saltburn with Little L.

It was also the year we remodelled the downstairs cloakroom turning it into a walk in pantry. I did think at the beginning of the year that we would have made a start on the kitchen too – but that was not to be and we continue to live with our truly retro kitchen, patching and repairing it as we go along.

The cottage was put firmly on the back burner again as a difficult situation arose in the summer that required our full attention. The unexpected issues we had to deal with took all our time and are best forgotten – I remind myself we did our best and that hindsight is always better than foresight. If there are any regrets or niggling thoughts that I should or could have done things differently or better I just think that we are where we are and nothing can change that now all we can do is wait for the day when the issues will be resolved for better or worse.

********************

I don’t know about you but I am already pondering on my next actions and thinking about my word for 2020. ‘Transition‘ was my focus word for 2019 learning how to incorporate many changes into our lives as we moved from working to retiring.

Try as I might I have failed so far to get into a new satisfactory routine since leaving work and my life is certainly a lot different and feels like I am going at a faster pace than ever, trying to accommodate all the changing needs of our wider family who are all in transition too it seems and if anyone ever asks how I am coping my answer is always that I have less time now I am at home than when I worked.

Letting go of the familiar to sail blindly into unchartered waters is not easy and we have not entirely found our footing….but we know where we are headed and have made a start. I realised this year that to do all the things we want to do in retirement and have a long retirement, enjoying more time with both our chosen activities and our ever growing family, then our good health is key.

So I have been giving a lot of thought to this recently – I know our health could be better – I do not want to slide down the slippery path of having to take medication for those old age ailments that with a bit of attention from me I can prevent or reverse before they take hold.

Of course regular readers will know I am reliant on taking thyroxine medication as my thyroid gland had to be completely removed in 2008 due to cancer. This tiny gland that sits at the base of your neck at the front regulates metabolism – energy, heartbeat and temperature and how well you burn calories and digest food. It can be hard to balance the amount of Thyroxine I need daily to keep me stable – that is neither hypothyroid nor hyperthyroid – get it even slightly wrong and the side effects are not good.

Having a healthy diet and plenty of exercise does help my body overcome the lack of a thyroid gland but it can be hard to keep it up when we live such a pressured life.

January will be the month then that I will be focusing on my well being, diet and exercise in gradual small steps.

Over the year I also want to concentrate more on craftwork – sketching, sewing, making more cards – any creative activities would be nice. I feel this year I have laid the foundation and 2020 will be the year to build on this.

Minimalism and simplifying as you know are subjects dear to my heart and I will continue to reduce our impact on the environment by being mindful of what we buy and what we waste.

With all this in mind the word that has kept coming back to me is….

Flourish

meaning: ‘grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, to grow or develop successfully’

I do not just want to grow and adapt during the changes to our life but to do it with good health and a positive mind. The word Flourish to me just fits the picture perfectly.

I will be beginning in January to take our health seriously – maybe not on New Year’s day but the days after. Presently I am reading and planning for the changes I want to make and I aim to record these daily for anyone else who might want to follow along with me.

It will be more of switching to healthier choices rather than a diet as such or anything too extreme. I did this when I had the cancer and it saved my life back then – I hope it will prolong my life in retirement now.

Have a lovely weekend and welcome to my new followers. xx

fEAsible ~ what works for me

It is so grey outside but I quite like it – it feels restful and quiet – just right for a period of reflection and I find January is a good month just to ‘be’ rather than do.

Transition is my focus word for the year – a period of adjustment –  and I need to adjust some of my household routines to fit in better with my new circumstances.  So, since the start of this year I have been steadily working on a list of household tasks I need to do everyday now I am not working in order to …well keep order… and prevent a build up of clutter and chaos that can arise from letting things pile up.   You might have the same problem with little piles appearing in corners or on a table or worktop.  They tend to quietly build up over time because finding time to deal with them is often in short supply.

My starting point has been to think about what worked for me and what didn’t last year, what will I continue to do and what needs improvement or ditching altogether.  My word(s) last year were ‘The power of small’ and I did just that – some of the things were just little changes, some became major improvements and some…well I even surprised myself.

The small changes that worked for me are…
  • Making soup – I never seemed to have the time to do this regularly when I was working – now it is almost routine – and what is better than a hot bowl of soup full of winter vegetables.  We don’t have it for lunch everyday but I do freeze some and it is great to use at a moments notice for a  picnic.Tomato Soup

Winter Picnic

  • Taking picnics and flasks on our trips out – it might be shopping, or a day out or travelling but wherever we go the first thing we do now is make the picnic and fill the flasks.  DH is getting very good at this and not only is it a good money saver but we also prefer it to some of the cafe lunches we have had as the vegetarian choices can be limited.  It will be a real treat now to have a bought lunch and we can limit this to visits our favourite places that we enjoy.
  • LaundryKeeping up daily with the ironing and the finances – I make sure that I iron everything I washed the day before in the morning and this way the pile never builds up.  I did lapse at Christmas when I was busy doing advent activities but I am back on course again now as I love seeing my empty ironing basket.  I do the same entering my receipts and keeping a tally of my spending.Courgette plant
  • I grew courgettes in a large pot again this year and this time from seed – it is so easy and the results are so satisfying and they taste wonderful.  I am expanding this to grow some outdoor tomatoes this summer – I have earmarked a little space for them in the garden by the fence where they will have the most of the sunshine and shelter.
  • My Year Book – I can’t tell you how much pleasure this has given me and I have just started a new one this year.  I keep a list of my monthly intentions, notes of books I want to read, recipes I might find, decor and gardening ideas and bits and pieces of everything and anything and it is a great place to stick all my cuttings of things I might want to do.
…and the major improvements
  • this has to be focusing on the outside of the house – we took one step at a time completing one job then moved onto the next and the rendering and repointing has made such a big difference to the look of the house and cleaning the brickwork brought it back to look like new.  Once the weather is better we will continue with painting the front door, replacing the garage door and relaying the tarmac drive – but of course these are quite expensive projects so we need to make savings elsewhere.
  • Somatic Exercises – the Feldenkrais method – if you have never tried these then I can only recommend that you have a go.  Try the Posture Queen on you tube – it is the best way I know to help any posture problem like tense shoulders and general stiffness – it is so gentle it feels like you are not doing very much but the results can be felt after just one session.  They do take quite a while as taking it slowly is key and scheduling time for this is still difficult for me so I am going to make a positive effort to do some each day because it works.
and then the unexpected –
  • Our Italian holiday – I had forgotten how much I enjoyed travelling and seeing other countries and cultures.  Since we bought our little cottage the renovations took up all our time and holidays but having the wedding to go to gave us the nudge we needed to have a break from this and plan a proper holiday.
  • Leaving paid work – this was a ‘biggy’ – not exactly planned and not exactly ideal timing as I cannot draw my state pension yet but I am getting used to being at home, trying to get used to a drop in income and easily getting used to not rushing about all the time – though I can still feel guilty about that.

The little changes have almost become habit and I will add more changes to these as there are things that did not work for me last year and I will need to work on those.

More on this later…

Meanwhile a big welcome to my new followers and everyone that has left a comment recently – I love getting to know new readers and your ideas are always so helpful.  I promise I will get round to posting the recipes soon – I am sorry Dar that you have waited so long for the Stroganoff!

 

 

dEAr diary ~ mEAndering and rEAsoning

Life has been busy recently but today, right now, is the start of my new journey.  We have a bit of a gap this week between our commitments and obligations – paid work is behind me, at least for the moment,  though I haven’t as yet ruled it out altogether and I just need some me time, time to think or rethink my life, time to ponder and reflect.

We had a lovely few days in Yarm with my mum and we took her to see Mount Grace Priory which is nearby.  If you are ever in the area then do go and see it – I found it a fascinating place.  Most of the priory is in ruins but they have reconstructed one of the 25 monk’s cells to look around, however, don’t be misled by the term ‘cell’ as they are more like small houses which served as a private monastery for each monk – 3 rooms downstairs; living room, study and bedroom with a private chapel and a large work room upstairs for spinning and weaving. Outside each house had a walled garden to grow herbs and vegetables and a covered walkway to the latrine as well as a private cloister for meditation. I imagine they were pretty comfortable living here.

The Carthusian Order is a solitary order and the Monk’s spent many hours each day in prayer and meditation with vegetarian meals being brought to them and left in the little hatch to the side of each doorway.  Only on a Sunday did they socialise and pray together.

I was quite taken by the peacefulness and simplicity of the place – set in beautiful surroundings and everything in the house made of natural materials (no plastics to be seen) which gives it a very earthy, solid quality that feels timeless and you are left in no doubt that as it has been there for many centuries already quietly following one season after another, it would still be the same many more centuries ahead.

Compare this with my lifestyle at the moment and my own abode – I have to confess I am in catch up mode, as my house is basically a mess added to which I have no idea on our financial situation, our diet is not as healthy as it should be and I am desperate for sleep and rest as well as exercise.  I feel like I have just completed a marathon in the last three weeks and my lack of posts and comments are proof of just how busy I have been.

After leaving mum we collected Little L on the way home to stay with us for a few days.  Each day we packed a picnic and set off for an adventure.  We didn’t have to go far – a few swings, a river to paddle in and ducks to watch and this is more than enough to keep a 4-year-old content.  On the final day we baked buns and made jellies with custard topping all decorated liberally with sprinkles.

After taking Little L back to her mum we came home and just flopped on the sofa and watched TV too exhausted to move!   It has been a long and tiring few weeks and I have been yearning for a few days rest and time to gather my thoughts.  I desperately need to change all this busyness for a calmer, simpler lifestyle but with so many conflicting demands I know it won’t be easy.

I don’t doubt there are many of you reading this that can identify with my plight – ‘not enough hours in the day’ syndrome.  My challenge now is to turn this around one day at a time and get my house in order.

To help me capture my random thoughts and tasks I bought some of those coloured index cards, from a well-known store, each of the four colours representing a major area of my life.

I have chosen pink for Health, yellow for the Home, blue for Finances and green for Self, Lifestyle, Hobbies and Socialising.

I have made a start giving each card within the category a sub-heading such as meal planning, skin care, exercise or decluttering and these will be the areas to focus on at some time as I get to them.  This may all seem a bit drastic but for me having the cards is a bit of a prompt and I like to get my thoughts and ideas down on paper so I can see clearly what I need to do;  declutter, clean and maintain – with what I would like to do; sketching, gardening , healthier lifestyle.

It is all a question of balancing.  At this present time my life feels very unbalanced and reactive as different situations present themselves.  I am struggling with minor health issues that I want to address to prevent them turning into anything more major and I often feel daunted by the amount of tasks and maintenance that needs to be done.

I have until the weekend to make a start before we have my mum for a visit over the bank holiday and possibly followed by Little L again.  So next week will be a slight interruption to my plans but come September my time will be my own once again.

One of my first tasks is to go through my kitchen cupboards and check for food going out of date and restocking.  I am not sure what I will find lurking at the back.

Have a lovely day – back tomorrow x

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ reappraisal…the next steps

As you might have realised by the sudden gap in transmission we are now back home in Yorkshire and I am back at work.

Back at work wondering why on earth I didn’t put my final day to leave work as June 30th when I handed in my notice – so now I am stuck with 31st July (I gave them two months notice) and to be honest this was a mistake.  The break from work for our two-week holiday has meant it has been so hard to return to fulfil these remaining days of which I have now only 7 to go (not that I am counting), but it suddenly seems an eternity.

It is a bit scary leaving but now I just want to get it done.

Overwith.

Start my new life…whatever shape that will be.

Today is my first day off this week.  We arrived back quite late last Sunday, unloaded the car, watered our devastated and thirsty garden with endless watering cans of water (as we didn’t know if a hose pipe ban was in place) then fell into bed.

So now my home looks like it has had an attack of some kind with the contents of all the bags from our holiday dispersed around the rooms waiting for some action.  So my task for today will be to CLEAR IT ALL UP.

I have washing to sort, unpacking to finish, menus to plan and a shopping list to write.  I actually feel a bit disoriented and exhausted.  Maybe that is just age, maybe just me but somehow as they say my get up and go has got up and gone.

I have a new follower, Cathy from Still Waters – welcome Cathy.  I noticed her most recent post was about insomnia.  I can relate to this –  I did not sleep well the last three nights and it was not the heat but the pressures of work, or should I say the pressures of leaving work.  There is still much unrest in the office – speculation as to where the new directors are taking us, the new imposed restrictions, the never-ending meeting and setting targets to bring in more money.  It is all about more money – never about client satisfaction and care or even the employees satisfaction and care.  I can’t continue to work in that world.  So I won’t be.

Well I don’t wish to moan anymore I just have to sit out my last seven days over the next three weeks – my replacement starts on Monday – and then I can turn my focus to my new life.

What am I going to do with my new life?  It is a bit like having a blank page or the start of a new year.  I need a plan.

But that will be another post another day – I have to get moving on the tidying and shopping.

Quick update – whilst out shopping this afternoon I picked up a few things in Sainsbury’s – the rope coil basket was £6 and will be useful to keep our laptop chargers and cables in, the gardening gloves are reduced to £2.25 and are great for gardening – I had a pair recently at the cottage so I have bought 2 more.

Lastly, I got a copy of Mollie Makes – I hope it is the right edition –  No 94 as it should have the feature in of Gillian’s home from the blog ‘Tales from a happy house.’

Back soon x