Making Hay

Check out that awesome view. That view says “home” to me. I went to university an hour away from here, and used to travel home every weekend to work so that I could afford to actually be at uni. When the coach started to peel off the M4, I’d see the headland, with its mammary-esque pair of islands, the lighthouse, pier and lifeboat station, and know I was home.

The bay is a big deal around here. It gets compared with Naples, and on a sunny day it’s entertaining to walk the prom and count how many times you overhear the comment “You don’t need to go abroad” or words to that effect. It’s right next to the city centre and is the setting for my walk in the sunshine today.

This wasn’t my first choice of walking location. I really fancied a stroll in woods nearer to where I live, but I don’t have a walking companion today and I think I’d have felt uneasy on my own, which would have spoiled the sensation of being immersed in nature. Being single can be a pain, as you’re often reliant on the plans of couples and whether you can fit in with them. It’s easy to get paranoid about personal safety and end up going nowhere, but I like to think I’m sensible rather than over the top. So, I binned off the woods in favour of the bay, which is open and busy, and able to be enjoyed on my own.

And I did enjoy it. The sun was glinting off the sea; people were smiling as they walked their dogs or as their kids whizzed about on scooters or bikes. The air felt good: it was chilly but not unpleasantly cold. I feel like I have “done” something on my last day off, instead of moping about, dreading tomorrow.

I’ve even been productive with life stuff: a supermarket shop, some cooking, housework. I’ve got a busy week ahead of me so it’s sensible to be as prepared as I can. The good weather is set to last, so I’m hopeful that I can spend some more time outdoors and make some more hay while the sun shines.

The view on the way back wasn’t quite as picturesque, but still interesting.

Pleasant Pheasant

Sometimes nature gives you a little reminder of how amazing the world is. I visited a friend who lives really nearby, but whom I haven’t seen since before Christmas, which is rubbish. Whilst there, a pheasant calmly strutted around her patio, pausing to peck at the seed that had fallen from the bird table. It’s just a bird, but this felt like a really special moment.

I’m lucky enough to live next to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Do I take full advantage of that? Not really. There is breathtaking scenery and wildlife on my doorstep and I should take more time to appreciate it. The trouble is that the everyday gets in the way of what I would rather being doing, the stuff that makes me feel good. The everyday stuff has to happen, of course, and can also be satisfying, but it’s too easy to get bogged down in a cycle of commuting, work and household chores. When the sun shines, I need to make hay: get out there and enjoy it.

After yesterday’s comedy gig, I spent the night in Cardiff and clocked up over 10,000 steps before 2pm by wandering around the capital. I enjoyed feeling the cold biting at my ears and the brightness of the sun, but I think I’d have enjoyed it even more if I’d been walking by the sea or in the countryside.

Tomorrow is the last day of my holiday before returning to work, so I’m going to get outside and enjoy a wintry walk in some nature. Time to make some hay.

Laughter Therapy

This evening I’ve been to a comedy club to see a popular comedian on tour. I have laughed a lot. It’s not often that I go to see comedy, but I am seeing another comedian next weekend as well, so that’s a lot of chuckles in a short period of time.

Comedy is a tricky thing. I’m not keen on jokes that are at the expense of the weak or marginalised, but I do think it’s important to be able to laugh (kindly) at yourself. In work, I use humour to help build relationships with others, and I hope that most of the time I manage do that in a positive, friendly way. Of course, sometimes a remark can be misjudged, taken differently from what was intended. I make an effort to hold my hands up when that happens (thankfully it seems to be very rare).

My brother loves puns. I’m not sure if that relates to his autism, the enjoyment of double meanings. If I drive him somewhere and there’s a roundabout, he particularly enjoys the quip: “I’m driving you round the bend.” He then laughs like I’m the most hilarious person in the world. Other people aren’t quite so easily pleased. Of course, he makes me laugh hugely as well, like when he heckled my meditation app, saying he didn’t care about “fucking sensations” and he was “trying to eat in bloody peace”. I could see his point.

Ignorance and Bliss

I’ve spent a lovely evening catching up with a good friend. It’s been too long since we saw each other, and we nattered away over food and attempted to answer all the questions in the pub quiz. We did not succeed! It was unfortunate that one round combined two of our weaknesses: sport and geography. We had 47 points out of 70, and there were only two of us. Not bad.

It’s been a day for friends. I’m extremely lucky to have some very good, close friends. Being single at the ripe old age of 40, I’m very glad that they include me in their family lives. Many people assume that, when you’re childless, you’ll have no interest in their kids and I’m grateful that my friends aren’t like this. I visited my best friend and her son today, and hopefully I was some help to them both.

I strive to show my friends the same love and support that they show to me. I hope that I’m successful in this at least some of the time.

The Power of Three

Some say that hell is other people. On occasions I’d agree with that, but today other people have been positively heavenly.

In previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned how other people help to keep me motivated. Well, today I got together with two others from my university course to work on our assignments for this module. The course is a bit of professional development and useful in that it is focused on current developments in our field. It’s not easy going back to studying and essay writing after so long, though; the last course I did was a graduate diploma about seven years ago. The assignments, therefore, are stretching. Sitting around a table together, even though our assignments don’t have exactly the same focus, allows us to keep each other motivated and thrash out ideas when we are stuck.

We also rewarded ourselves with a lunch break, which did cause this punctuation pedant some concern: the place we visited had a sign saying “Charlies cocktails” with a glaring missed apostrophe. The food was good, though, and the company even better. It’s been a good day.

So far, it feels like I’m getting the balance right on this week off. I’m getting things done, but still managing to relax and unwind. I’ve meditated using the mindfulness app this evening, and I’m feeling calm.

Holiday Work

This is my week off, but I still have some work to do. I called in to work this morning, to finish off some sorting out I started yesterday, before I found out that we were going to be on the news, and the craziness snowballed. I had a chat about the news item, did what I wanted to do, then had my me-time.

I met a colleague for lunch and did a bit of shopping. In work, there are great people I hardly ever see, because they’re based in different buildings and our paths don’t tend to cross during the working day. The colleague I met today falls into this category, so that made it all the better to catch up. In the past, we have talked about having coffee once a week or fortnight, but never seem to get into this habit. I’m really going to make an effort to do this when I’m back in work. It’s too easy for weeks to fly by and for opportunities to be missed.

Tomorrow I have work to do of a different kind: essay writing for my uni course. Again, the support of others is going to help here, as three of us are getting together to motivate each other. We’ve taken this approach before with success, so hopefully it will make a daunting task more manageable.

It’s notoriously difficult to get the work/life balance right. I’m hoping to have the right amount of rest and enjoyment this week.

Newsworthy

A project I’m involved with in work was on the news today. This has caused much excitement amongst my colleagues and family and is wonderful for all involved. However, I felt really nervous about it airing because it meant seeing myself on screen. I know that I’m probably at my biggest weight and I avoid photographs if I possibly can. So, it was through gritted teeth that I tuned in to the bulletin this evening.

The item was fantastic. It was really positive, giving recognition to those involved in the project and what it’s achieved. All night my phone has been vibrating with notifications of congratulations and praise. Why, then, am I inwardly cringing? Why can’t I enjoy the moment without scrutinising my flaws?

Perhaps all of us are plagued by self-doubt, but some people seem so assured that I am in awe of their ability to focus on the positive. I can easily see the very best in other people, but I see the very worst in myself.

There are things I can do about not liking my reflection, and I try to do them. It takes a long time to chip away at my weight, though, so I often become despondent and feel like I’m never going to get anywhere. I have made great strides in improving my blood glucose, so should acknowledge that even if the weight isn’t disappearing as fast as I’d like, at least I’m healthier than I was.

Something I’ve taken from mindfulness is that it’s important to notice rather than judge, and that is what I’m striving to do this evening. I’m also making sure that I notice every bit of support I’ve had and acknowledge how good that makes me feel. I’m very grateful that others are much kinder to me than I am to myself.