greenbottletree











sdrI’ve made a few changes – well, two.  A cursory review of June’s achievements isn’t looking good.  I did feel like I’d achieved something by reviewing my list though, but the issue of the “i”s popping out, hence the jaunty angles, and a lack of letters led to an enthusiastic resignation of further review.  Small steps, right?!

  1.  1.  3 times per week at gym.  I have had gym membership forced upon me (does that sound ungrateful for a birthday present?!) but I do want to get fitter and more toned.  So far, month one, it’s averaged out to at least three times per week.  Good start.  I still hate the gym though.
  2. Website with clear purpose.  Ah, yes, maybe I forgot about my website in June.  On this basis, July can only be an improvement, which is the only positive thing I can think to say about the progress of my website.
  3. Quit steno.  I might as well have written “Bathe daily in warm Champagne” for all the progress I’ve made on changing my job.
  4. Lose 14 lb.  Been to the gym, building muscle, appear to have gained a bit of weight.  Spent a week in India, ate roughly double normal quantities of food, sweated a good five litres of water every day and overall my unofficial weigh-in has me a pound down.  It would be a shallow victory to say I’ve succeeded on this front though, even by 1/14th.
  5. Write two blog posts per month.  I probably wrote that intending it for July …
  6. Read 12 books.  I finished The White Tiger, a fascinating insight into lower caste life in India.  This is a really insightful, thought-provoking story and I enjoyed it a lot, despite the dark undertones.  Oh dear, it took all of June to read most of one book.  Not quite the minimum for 12 books over the year.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  While it is still largely on silent, I have recently taken to checking it all the time.  This is almost as bad as having it with sounds.  I’ve annoyed myself by being so phone-focused of late.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  Oh, the clothes thing.  I thought I’d got rid of that one … so, no, I “forgot” I had intended to get rid of more in June.
  9. More picnics.  Surely I had one, it having been so hot in June.  Surely … (obviously another fail!).  No, wait, maybe I should change this to “more al fresco meals” as I have managed that a fair bit in June.
  10. More fish.  I can probably give myself a limp pat on the back, though with emphasis on prawns.
  11. Tax in May.  I got into my self-assessment Government Gateway site.  Don’t underestimate how difficult that was.  Just by getting in, I feel I have made progress (in a belated kind of “oops, May has gone” kind of way).
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  I’m on course to succeed, it being 1st July.  I feel this was a duff resolution as it’ll be relevant in the run-up to December.  Brace yourself for over-achievement in November.


With the odd non-life-changing exceptions, I might as well copy and paste last month’s “progress” report.  I haven’t ruled out changing my resolutions for next month, a half-year reassessment, but going by my, “Ooops, forgot I was supposed to be doing that” mindset with this, the odds are high I’ll forget.  But do note the perfectly timed 31st of the month post, the impressive timing of which I put down to the Bullet Journal obsession I started in May, a far bigger success story than this resolution list.

  1.  One new country.  Been there/done it three times.  Of course I haven’t over-achieved again!
  2. Website with clear purpose.  I got into the website, progress, and I actually wrote something for it, almost unprecedented progress.  Maybe this list is going to go better than I initially thought.
  3. Quit steno.  Yeah, right.  I did look at two job adverts and dismiss them out of hand, pre-empting the dismissal I would have had inflicted on me had I applied based on my questionably relevant experience.
  4. Lose 14lb.  Don’t be ridiculous, the struggle is in maintaining January levels.
  5. New 365 Instagram.  Done/doing travel and portrait posts, though I peaked earlier in the month while I was working abroad.
  6. Read 12 books.  I read one book, White Masks, by Elias Khoury, translated from Arabic and set in Lebanon.  I found its content quite consuming and the detail of a new kind of everyday life continuing during the civil war was disturbing.  Very atmospheric, thought-provoking book.  For my enjoyment, which equates to how happy it made me feel, only a 5/10, but for the quality of the writing and narrative, probably 8/10.  I have now started The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  Still doing well with this.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  I fear a few incoming that haven’t been matched with outgoing.  I will redress the balance in June.
  9. More picnics.  I was given a cool cool bag for my birthday and used it the next day for a picnic on the beach.  It may only have been one picnic, but that is “more”!
  10. More fish. Four fishy meals in the photos and I only took the photos because of the dishes’ spectacularness, ie I had more than four fish meals but I actually photographed four because they were such good meals, including a home made salt and pepper squid with fried bream.  Definitely more fish this month.  And, ahem, yes, there were two very fancy restaurants there, The Ivy and Cinnamon Club, both of which were birthday treats, I feel I should point out.
  11. Tax in May.  My accountant resurfaced, I have my paperwork back from last year and I am in the process of getting new Government Gateway access codes and passwords.  A suggestion of progress if I ignore the May element.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  Pff.


Manama Gold Souq, Little IndiaBy re-reading last month’s post, I am shamed into acknowledging an increased lack of focus and a ten-day delay in posting.  All in all, there is, unsurprisingly, little progress to announce.  This list is seeming less and less productivity enhancing as the months go by.

  1.  One new country.  Turns out this is my most over-achieving goal as I went to a third new country in April, Bahrain.  I am very much enjoying this challenge for the year and I wonder if there will be a fourth new country this year?  Surely not!
  2. Website with clear purpose.  Ah, yes.  Complete and utter fail, down as far as not even looking at it.  Total fail.  Maybe May is website month … if I can remember how to get into it.  Again.
  3. Quit steno.  Oh dear, another clear fail.  I have at least spent a lot of time wishing I could think of a plausible plan B.   Surely that counts for something?!
  4. Lose 14lb.  A hat trick of failure.  I have had over two weeks of buffets and eating out in UAE and Bahrain, but my having sweated as much as I did has at least  meant, miraculously, I’m back to around January levels.  Could this count as a whisker of hope?
  5. New 365 Instagram.  As I’ve been travelling and spent time with friends, I have actually kept this up as planned, so a resounding “phew” in terms of a resolution tick amidst the crosses.
  6. Read 12 books.  I’m doing well, though I’d hoped to over-achieve more.  In April, I read two books and started a third.  I particularly enjoyed The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen, aged 83 1/4.  It was an interesting and witty insight into old age and life in a (Dutch) nursing home.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  This is continuing to be my default setting, mobile on silent, though I fear I may be going through a phase of checking my phone a bit too frequently just in case I’ve missed anything.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  19 items of clothing were bagged and taken to charity.  Unfortunately, maybe 10 new items took their place … maybe 11 or 12.  The cull felt good.  I even managed to find some jeans, not that they resemble the pair I had in my mind.  They’ll do though.
  9. More picnics.  Somehow, this hasn’t happened, though I had an al fresco ice cream in Dubai, slightly marred and hastened by it being 40 degrees.  Surely that wasn’t the only sort-of-but-not-really-a-picnic?  I did order breakfast while sitting outside a cafe in Ajman, UAE, but I had to go inside to eat because I got too hot.  But, see, that wouldn’t have been a picnic either, more of an al fresco meal.  It’s different, isn’t it?  So, in summary: zero picnics.  Epic fail.
  10. More fish.  I peaked early, in January, with this one.  I had a delicious fried fish (fish unknown, in Bahrain), I’m sure there were some prawns at some point – yes, yes, I had some prawns in a salad, once – gah, no, that was on mother’s day with my mum.  In March.  Oh, please, how hard is it to eat fish “more”?!  Very poor.  This sets the bar at a realistic height for improvement in May.
  11. Tax in May.  Fairly disastrous lead-up to my deadline.  Weirdly, my accountant has disappeared and I don’t have a few things I need to start doing my own tax returns again.  I do have “sort receipts” on a To Do List though.  Genuinely, this is at least partly an impending failure due to some circumstances out of my control.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  By far the most ridiculous goal of the year, which obviously means this is not even a consideration.  But, as with last month, I am stocking up on a few birthday presents.


The fact I didn’t post on 1st April (it being 7th April as I write) sums up my progress on pretty much everything, sloppy and sluggish.  April needs more focus.

  1.  One new country.  Old news.  Already done, but now thinking it would be good to go for a third new country.  March was not remarkable for its progress and motivation so perhaps best not to aspire to overachievement.
  2. Website with clear purpose.  Probably best to skip this one as I’ll only end up feeling disappointed in myself if I dwell further on the sorry state of my website.
  3. Quit steno.  I have thought quite a bit about this one and have something positive to report.  As I listened to President Trump speaking from his Florida club about the US military action in Syria, I realised that if Trump can become president, I can do anything I set my mind to.  I will be setting my mind to goals far beyond those I’d dared contemplate before so a new perspective could result in April progress.
  4. Lose 14lb.  Oops,  I forgot to reprogramme my mind to “lose” not “gain”.  I have been on a snack fest and the novelty is yet to wear off.  Lessons are being learned.  Tough lessons.
  5. New 365 Instagram.  Progress has been made, with both travel and portrait photos having been posted on my Instagram account.
  6. Read 12 books.  I am so on it.  Reading has increased and I’m even wildly optimistic I’ll be able to double my 12-book target.  That might be a bit hasty, especially as March’s progress was aided by my reading a short book (84 Charing Cross Road – a gem of a book), finishing one of February’s books off and adding another to the list that I’d forgotten I’d read in February.  But, hey, positive thinking and all that.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  Mobile still almost always on silent.  Phew for a resolution it transpires I can fairly easily stick to.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  I’ve thought about this a lot.  A day may well come in April where I go on a wardrobe rampage.  If that day comes, I will be brilliant at culling.  In the meantime, I rashly got rid of a pair of jeans and have majorly failed to replace them.  Another lesson learned in March, to replace then chuck, not chuck then replace.
  9. More picnics.  Oh yeah, check me out, a picnic, a non-controversial-does-that-
    sdr

    Littlestone, near Dungeness, Kent

    count-as-a-picnic, has been had.  One in three wintery months sort of maybe possibly counts as “more picnics”.  Ish.  The photo was taken before the wind blew salad out of the tub and sand into it.  Thank you to my friend Fiona for the fab food and to my mum for the bargain post-2012-Olympics picnic blanket!

  10. More fish.  I probably ate enough fish in January and February to not feel quite as bad as I should otherwise feel for the very minimal fish in my March diet.  A week into April and I fear focus is required for a positive April update.
  11. Tax in May.  There have been issues, surprisingly well beyond my control.  I’m bracing myself for failure, though with a degree of shared blame.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  Pff, I’ve realised there are too many birthdays to address Christmas so soon.  I also don’t like shopping and, really, what was I thinking setting this as a goal?!

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Oh, check me out, writing this less than an hour before 1st March.  Unfortunately, this exemplary demonstration of organisation and timeliness is not a particularly accurate summary of February and my plans for focus and progress.

(Original list is at the bottom of this post)

  1. Already done *smug*.
  2. I eventually got into my website, having mis-remembered my password, which I argue is different to having forgotten it.  I set the bar low as the achievement of cracking my password felt so real I did nothing more on my website than rejoice in having accessed it.  Does it count that I definitely thought about what I wanted to do with it a lot more than in January?  Weak, I know.
  3. Progress report on a par with last month, ie I’ve changed my work pattern but all that will end in a mere matter of days.  This needs to be worked on with uncharacteristic displays of productivity.
  4. I am writing this from Dubai and spent virtually all of February in hotels where I have indulged in buffets for up to three meals a day.  In summary, I must have meant “gain” 14lb.  In which case, well done me, I’m making good progress.
  5. Overachieving for the second month running, with 365 days of travel and portraits going well due to the fact I’ve been travelling so much, though still a bit wimpy about asking people to take their  photo.  But all in all, one of the few definite successes.
  6. I read The Girl on the Train (the murder element seemed a bit too 1980s familiar but it was an easy read), I thought I’d read another book too but if I did I’ve somehow forgotten.   I’m now reading The  Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (enjoying it a lot but I’m slightly worried it could be disappointing by the end).  I’m optimistic I’ll finish The Miniaturist and maybe even another book.  I’m feeling quietly confident about the reading of 12 books this year, already being almost a a third of the way there.
  7. I’m starting to think I’ve cracked this one as my mobile is now almost always on silent, though I have fallen back into my bad habit of reading messages and mails while walking.  Annoying habit and I need to stop.
  8. Very surprisingly, I did get rid of the five items of clothing I’d said I should do for February.  A more thorough sort is in order for March.  A credible hint of accomplishment.
  9. Again, I’ve been in Doha and Dubai and still not had a picnic, though in Doha I got a bit stressed by all the rules written out along the Corniche (earmarked picnic area) and thought I might not be allowed to eat there anyway (seriously, not exaggerating).  How hard is it to have a picnic, especially being in hot countries?  No, wait, it rained a few days in Doha, it’s rained a few days in Dubai, London and Guernsey have been wet and/or cold so what opportunities have I had?  Does an ice cream count?  No, thought not.  I did eat the top of a lunch baguette while walking in Guernsey.  Surely that counts as a picnic?  Fail.  Again.
  10. I’ve definitely not eaten as much fish in February as January but I’ve undoubtedly had more than usual.  Another success, though not exactly a sense of victory to have eaten a few fish dishes.  I really am setting myself some unexciting challenges this year.
  11. No tax return updates and my current receipt collection is even more disorganised than usual.  Oh well, got a bit of time for this one, sort of.
  12. What was I thinking putting a Christmas shopping thing on my 2017 To Do list?  ie no, of course I haven’t done any Christmas shopping.

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The original list:

  1. One new country
  2. Website with clear purpose
  3. Quit steno
  4. Lose 14lb
  5. New 365 Instagram
  6. Read 12 books
  7. Mobile on silent more
  8. Reduce amount of clothes
  9. More picnics
  10. More fish
  11. Tax in May
  12. Christmas shopping by November


mde

Battered cod, curly fries and lemon pepper dip at Reykjavik Fish Restaurant

It’s 2nd February and I’ve just read my optimistic January post.  I thought that with monthly updates I’d be able to keep in mind what it is that I hoped to do over a month.  I clearly don’t know myself well enough, I need daily reminders!  Hoping for more focus in February, here follows what I was supposed to do and did do in January and what I WILL do for February.

  1. What a start, I stayed in Qatar last month, which was a new country.  Check me out, one month in and one resolution ticked off.  Maybe it’s not going so badly after all?!
  2. Turns out I thought a small amount of progress was likely on my website. Zilch, absolutely nothing, in fact I don’t even think I looked at it.  Big fail.  I will set the same ludicrously achievable aim for February.
  3. Quitting steno wasn’t looking likely for January, likewise February. But for January and February I have taken time off and completely changed my working pattern, so actually I take that back and feel I have done something to alter my working life.  Next month onwards will be the big test for this one.
  4. Losing weight in January, just no. Also, I had one holiday and two work trips so have been away most of January and very much in dangerous buffet breakfast territory.  I have also eaten out far more than I’ve cooked at home.  To which end, I haven’t even dared set foot on scales.  For February, I am currently away from home and will be again later in the month too.  I will go easy on the buffet breakfasts and abstain from desserts (most days).  I do not hold out much hope for even maintaining last year’s weight let alone losing anything.
  5. Totally overachieving on this one! My 365 Instagram projects are for 365 portraits and 365 days of travel.  As I have been away most of 2017, the travel days have exceeded days of the month and I’ve taken a few portraits, though I am far from embracing the idea of approaching people to take their photo, having only done it a few times and otherwise just taken two photos of people I know.  I am confident a habit is forming and these two Instagram projects will continue as planned, though I need to take more portraits.
  6. I read an Icelandic crime fiction novel, Strange Shores, by Arnaldur Indridason, which I should get bonus points for reading while I was in Reykjavik! I am also almost at the end of The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany.  I have enjoyed/am enjoying both.  I should aim high and try for another two novels over February.
  7. Total success. My phone is now almost always on silent and as a result I check it much less and feel less mobile-dependent.
  8. Does it count that I’ve got rid of a pair of jeans that had worn thin in an inappropriate place? No, probably not.  Didn’t expect to start reducing clothes and didn’t.  Oh dear, I did buy some new clothes though.  Right, that’s it, I will get rid of at least five items of clothing in February.
  9. More picnics. I’ve missed some good opportunities for this as I was in Qatar and UAE with temperatures in the mid to high 20s.  I’d be pushing credibility to say that I did at least eat at a few restaurants and cafes sitting outdoors.  I did though!  I did have a breakfast pastry standing outside in light snow in Reykjavik.  That semi counts.  No, I can see I’m scraping the barrel.    At least one February picnic is in order.
  10. To eat more fish, overachieved. I ate way more fish in January than I usually eat in about six months, though aided enormously by a week in Reykjavik, almost two weeks in Gulf states and being in Guernsey for the end of January, so four seaside locations.  I’ve had hammour, cod, haddock, lobster, prawns, squid, wolffish, scallops, mussels, seatrout, salmon, crab.  “More fish” is a bit loose so I’ll aim for at least once a week for February, which sounds a bit pathetic but is more than I’d usually eat.
  11. I repeat my “pff” for having completed my tax return by May. At the very least, I’m sure I could manage to update my receipts up until now.
  12. Christmas shopping by November, I haven’t yet started, unsurprisingly. But, that said, being abroad is a good opportunity to buy a few presents so maybe in February I could stockpile anything if something looks suitable for someone in particular.  But it feels far too early for stockpiling so I won’t let myself feel bad if I make no progress on this.

The original list:

  1. One new country
  2. Website with clear purpose
  3. Quit steno
  4. Lose 14lb
  5. New 365 Instagram
  6. Read 12 books
  7. Mobile on silent more
  8. Reduce amount of clothes
  9. More picnics
  10. More fish
  11. Tax in May
  12. Christmas shopping by November


mde2017 has started well.  I made my To Do list ahead of 1st January on a pin board of a type I’d wanted for years and years (the joy of Christmas gift suggestion lists – yes, I know there’s a touch of smugness and pretension about it!).  I know myself well enough to know that a list on a scrap of paper or within a notepad will be forgotten about/ignored within days of 1st January enthusiasm for a year of brilliance.  So here is my list of things I want to do in 2017.

They are in no order, I am sharing them at least in part because I need every possible assistance in getting them done (I hope a monthly update might be good motivation) and they are all things that I really want to do and many I’ve “thought about doing” for years, mainly 3, 4, 11 and 12.

Unfortunately, I ran out of Ss and Es so I had to alter a few things and use some full stops as a ditto symbol and a $ for S.

For January, I wildly hope to do the following, the numbers corresponding to the board in the photo:

  1. Possible, surprisingly.
  2. A small amount of progress likely.
  3. Not going to happen yet, this being something I’ve planned to do for years.  I fear this could be as likely as 4 below.
  4. No, I need to get back to pre-Christmas-excess levels before I can even contemplate the diet/exercise horror.  I fear this is the item I am least likely to adhere to.
  5. Posted Day 1 of a portrait challenge (but 365 days over however many years it could take) and Day 1 of a 365 days of travel challenge to follow (to last however many years it takes to have 365 days abroad or not in the immediate vicinity of London and the south east!), so both will have started this month.
  6. I’m aiming for two – yes, overachiever potential!
  7. Already embracing this and feeling good about it, particularly since turning notifications off.
  8. Unlikely to start in January.
  9. Brr, winter, but I’m hoping for at least one outdoor meal.
  10. I’m going to Iceland this month so there will definitely be more fish in my diet, including the best lobster soup ever.
  11. Pff, I’m still recovering from not long having completed the last tax return.
  12. Unlikely.  Very unlikely.


cof

One, if not the, best lunch of December (sadly not one of my work lunches but no other lunch was worthy of a photo and I used the one photo of a December work lunch, bao, for my November post.  How lunch should be in my world – fish meze at Wheeler’s Oyster Bar, Whitstable)

Wow, it’s 1st January 2017.  “Wow” because it’s surprising that I’m actually writing on the date I intended to and that somehow 2016 and my 12 months of challenges and treats is now behind me.  I have never, ever kept up anything that resembles new year’s resolutions, yet by setting myself challenges I have managed to do it and I am ludicrously pleased with myself.

For December, being the last month, I thought a month of treats would be in order so I decided that instead of taking my own lunch to work every day I would have lunch out, no sandwiches, somewhere different every day of work in December.  I had 13 days of lunches over December and by lunch number three the novelty had worn off.  By about day seven I spent most of the morning distracted by thoughts of where I could possibly eat next that would be more exciting than the last lunch.  It ended up being more of a chore than a joy.

I did manage to eat somewhere different every day, all in London, though I doubt I will remember all 13.  In the order they come to mind:

1. Pret a Manger, Fetter Lane (an unexpectedly memorable ham hock macaroni cheese, my number four best lunch of the month)

2. Gino D’Acamopo- My Pasta Bar, Fleet Street (an uninspiring pasta dish that served solely to puff me up and make me sluggish all afternoon)

3. Tsuru, Broadgate (an ok sushi box)

4. Koshari Street, St Martin’s Lane (very tasty, hearty Egyptian street food, koshari/kushari, number three favourite but only just pipped to two by Banh Mi Bay’s pho)

5. On the Bab, Ludgate Broadway (exceptional South Korean bao.  I’d ordered a beef bulgogi “in the bun” but actually ended up with fried chicken “in the bun” – SOOOOOO good, definitely the best lunch, and also the messiest)

6. Eat, Fetter lane (tastier than expected truffle macaroni cheese, but a bit samey even by macaroni cheese standards)

7. Banh Mi Bay, Cannon Street (excellent, warming bowl of beef pho, a very close second to On the Bab)

8. Coco di Mama, Fleet Street (a very bland carbonara that made me feel desperately sorry for myself)

9.  Tuckers, Fetter Lane (A bit of a find on Fetter Lane, a cheap and cheerful caff.  I had a jacket potato with beans and cheese for just over £3, which was far too generous and filling (I obviously devoured it all enthusiastically) and made me spectacularly yawny for the rest of the day, about which I’m not complaining because it hit the spot perfectly)

10 -13.  So lacking in excitement I can’t think where I ate, but one of those was definitely a snack-based lunch due to a very short lunch break and no non-repetitious or appealing lunch places around.

All in all, I now have renewed enthusiasm for my own random and varied packed lunches (also far less stressful than having to find something interesting to eat over short lunch breaks), a sense of disappointment and shock over how much bland and overpriced food there is on offer and a realisation of just how many food chains there are duplicated over a small area in central London compared to independent eateries.

This is the end of my year of challenges and treats and, as I now have a conviction that I can do new year resolutions with my new-found discipline, I have written a 2017 To Do List of 12 things … but as I pause having written that, I fear I need to set myself monthly deadlines to achieve anything.

In many respects, 2016 was a year of learning about my potential self-discipline.  I am a few days off completing 365 days of posting a photo a day on Instagram, all of which have been taken and posted on the same day, so no sneaky stock pile of photos.  I never thought I’d manage it every single day, let alone to get to 365 days (three days to go).  Likewise, I didn’t think I would set myself AND complete 12 challenges for the year.  I have surprised myself with some I have enjoyed/found more difficult than expected.  For example, I really enjoyed learning the capital cities (I’m horrified to report that I need to refresh my memory as a lot I have forgotten already), I found it difficult to read for 30 minutes a day and had to do a lot of catch up days and I didn’t enjoy the treat of lunches out.  I knew sorting my photos and recipes would be a bit tedious, but I did it.

Alongside all that, I also vowed to do something to pamper myself at least once a month.  I have never had so many pedicures, I had a few massages, my eyebrows were more frequently shaped than ever before … but I never had a spa weekend, disappointingly, which I thought would be an obvious pampering treat.

I have also not watched any television all year, not even catch-up.  I’ve missed it a few times and have seen write-ups about a few things I wished I could have seen but, otherwise, I haven’t found it difficult.  I don’t even know when I’ll reinstate a TV in our home.

Finally, I had wanted to read at least one book per month.  Epic fail.  I have written down seven books I’ve read this year but I think I’ve forgotten one.  Very lame not to have managed to read 12.

I wanted to visit at least one new country, I did: United Arab Emirates (in fact I went there twice, unexpectedly, first for a holiday then for work).

Oh well, I’ll see how I get on with my 2017 list and maybe if I write about that at the end of each month, I can chart my progress and hope that encourages me to not only get through a year of doing things I want to do despite their being challenging, but also further ensure ongoing self-discipline, something I had always felt I wasn’t at all good at demonstrating.

 

 

 

 



It would appear that most of my SMS messages are sent and read while I’m walking and that trying not to do so means a massive extension to my journey time due to stops “needed” to read or write.  For the first three weeks of my month of “no texts while walking”, I was stopping regularly and annoying myself in the process.  Then it came to me to turn my phone to silent.  Genius is sometimes very simple.

There shouldn’t be anything challenging about refraining from attending to my mobile phone, but for me there was.  When I eventually twigged that my phone on silent prevents a sense of urgency to instantly read and respond to messages, I also reduced my walk times and realised I was testing my redundant, dimmed memory by not sending messages the second I thought of something.

This was a straightforward challenge that I set myself because I really was fed up of using my phone while walking.  It has not been life-changing and indeed I seem to just stop walking now rather than carrying on, which is only a minor improvement, but I have been rather enjoying not being distracted by my phone when it’s on silent.  I also oddly enjoy testing my memory a bit by postponing the writing of things I’ve just thought to share or ask.

All in all, a mildly interesting challenge that has served to emphasise what I already knew, that I am far too dependent on and obsessed with my mobile phone.

cofDecember being the last of my 12 challenges or treats for 2016, it’s definitely treat time.  As I usually bring my own lunch to work, for the month of December I’m not only going to eat out for every lunch I have on work days but I’m going to eat somewhere different every time, with emphasis on non-sandwich lunches.

 



october-recipe-book[Smug/saddo alert]  I am now the embarrassingly proud creator and owner of an A4 plastic-sleeve-folder (many of the plastic sleeves being original Woolworths, I’ll have you know) of recipes I most often use and like.  I even typed them out, over 40 of them.  And I found packets of unused index tabs so I’ve placed them in alphabetical order.  In fact, it’s been a gift that keeps on giving on more levels than expected.

I started this “sort my recipes out” project thinking it would largely entail literal cutting and pasting and hole punching of recipe clippings.  [I actually do feel a bit sad getting so excited and enthusiastic about this challenge]  That’s how it started and I found it tedious and, flicking through the recipes I had in the two folders I have been filling for years, I realised most recipes had never been used, I didn’t remember I had them and there was no logical way to file them that I would remember where they were.

My productivity levels dropped to non-existent by the middle of the month and I started thinking of ways to justify abandoning this challenge.  I didn’t have any enthusiasm for the files’ layout, the haphazard and inconsistent order and format, and knew I would look at the files no more than I had done previously.

Having failed to come up with more convincing reasons not to complete the challenge, I reluctantly started photocopying a couple of pages in a recipe book to reignite a semblance of progress.  However, the dark font on dark paper within a small, fat recipe book resulted in a copy, no exaggeration, that had a murky outline of part of my hand, a jaunty angle that cut off the measures required and anyway I could barely read the dark-on-dark page.  In an uncharacteristic bout of quick-thinking, I decided to type those particular recipes out.  I then thought about frequently used recipes from my vast cookery book collection and had a sudden epiphany that I could type out all my favourites.

It took me most of a Saturday on an unexpected roll and probably another day’s worth of “work” over a few days to choose them and type them out, but I now have my favourite recipes in that file, have used about five of them that I hadn’t used in a while and have put them in an order that makes sense to me, like “Fish” recipes together under “F” as opposed to being under “C” for cod or “S” for sea bass”, for example [inwardly I cringe at my smug OCDness here].  I have even started writing notes on them as I use them, eg my recent spaghetti carbonara prompted an advisory not to bother making it if there isn’t enough Parmesan and/or pancetta (bland, it transpires).  It turns out I have an inner organised self, though I can appreciate there is a fine line between being a bit anal and being organised.

As for November, I struggled to think what to do as I felt it was time for a month of treats and I seem to favour challenges.  I thought about making plans to meet up with friends I haven’t seen recently, but that didn’t feel appropriate for a challenge; I’ll do that anyway.  I thought about not shopping in supermarkets, but on 1st November, while still pondering what to do for the month, I bought some ingredients from a supermarket.  I then thought about the many things I do that annoy me …

I spend too much time walking while texting and emailing or looking at social media.  I hate that I do that, so I will refrain from reading or “typing” on my mobile while walking.  I will answer the phone if it rings but I will not make any calls unless I’m standing or sitting.  I will look at Google Maps if I need it but otherwise, beyond taking photos and looking at the time, I will not use my mobile phone while walking for the month of November.

 



et cetera