Routine, Spanish, A Chair, and Misery.

I need to remind myself that not every post on here need be one of my Thirty-Nine Steps. Although I am well aware of the fact that, assuming I publish one of these every week, I am nearing the point where I am rapidly running out of time to share them whilst actually 39 years old. That said, I am planning for some of the topics to be spread over two or three posts — and there is nothing to say I cannot publish these together in a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, for example. As I’ve said before, my blog, my routine, my rules.

This post is, in some ways, simply a brief catch-up, a ramble, a sharing of my thought process, an uncluttering. Sometimes it can be useful to break free of strictures and structures, such as ongoing blog series, and just write a note. It can be liberating — and useful to push the self forward, past self-constructed walls blocking my path.

A decaying table football set we walked past most days of our Spanish routine.
It makes sense to share a couple of photos from a Spanish adventure. Here, west of Madrid, not far from Ávila, white sunlight glaring, blue blue skies and a decaying table football set left to rot and bleach. With added rocks and more sun. This set was tucked behind a barn near a bar, the blue of the paint neatly paralleling the skies. The daylight was so intense at times it actually hurt.

The last few weeks have been busy, mostly good-busy, but I have found certain parts of my routine have fallen by the wayside. I suppose this is a common occurrence in summer, when other things leap into day-to-day existence, but it has made me realise I need to fine-tune and tweak my days so I can be a little more flexible, whilst still continuing with ongoing projects.

A good example of this can be seen in my ongoing mission to learn a language — in this case, Spanish. Up until recently I had been using Duolingo, ensuring I earned twenty experience points each day or, at the very least, logged in to spend some earned credits on freezing my streak for a day. This went well, and I racked up a streak of 248 days learning (frozen days are not counted). I was pleased with this and rather excited to be about to reach 250 days. Then I got a different kind of streak — this time of migraines. Those of you who know me, know I have cluster migraines and these occur (on average) every three to four months. Sometimes I will get a single aural migraine, then nothing else, other times I will be inflicted with more.* On this occasion I had three migraines, two of them on the same day. This knocked my little brain out of kilter and, to cut an already over-long story slightly shorter, meant I forgot about Duolingo.

I lost my streak.

The following day, when I realised this, I felt an odd sense of calm — in the past I would have dwelt on the negative. The loss. But instead I let it go — there was nothing I could do about it, so why worry? Instead I decided that 248 is now my new target — a target I did not previously have. A PB I can focus on and beat. A positive, something to add to the routine.

Our routine involved walking cross-country for several kilometres, before walking all day searching the ground for archaeological sign.
Spot the archaeologists. A big landscape, full of big views, big rocks, big heat, big insects, and big smiles. This photo was taken from near the top of an Iron Age hillfort crowned summit, looking back along the path. Rugged, wild country, possessing a powerful beauty.

I sometimes look for patterns that are not really there. Ghosts, reflections of thought now long-forgotten. Recently I have been distracted from my main work by several different streams of thought — the awful prescient disintegration of the UK, the rise and clamour of shouting and cruel voices, shiny things, tarnished things, thoughts of different futures.

I wondered why I have not been as focused, why my routine has shown signs of fraying, and I discovered I could blame a chair. After all, if the news has taught me anything, it’s that I need to find something or someone else to blame.

You see, I put together one of those insanely comfortable Ikea chairs, this one belonging to my sister, but yet to be collected. To cut a slightly longer story short, I thought it was best to give it some love and use it, rather than leave it languishing in parts under the eaves — my theory being that it would be especially delightful for reading in. (It also made a handy place to stack and drape my winter blankets on and over.)

I sat in it precisely one time, for five minutes. The dog, who is not even ALLOWED up here, sat in it more than that. It became his chair — his safe place, in those fleeting moments when he escaped downstairs confines, lolling innocent and smug, happy at his great escape. If he was any more feline, he’d purr.

Instead, I had been moving the chair on to my bed, picking it up, heavy blankets and all, on six days out of seven (my four HIIT workout days, plus the two ‘rest’ days when I do mobility work/yoga/stretches). The only day it did not get moved is Monday. This is my day of complete rest, when my muscles ache and protest that I am allowing them time to reknit, to strengthen.

I have now taken the chair apart. No longer to be shifted, no longer to be used as a place to dump jackets, notebooks, novels, pens, etcetera. Instead, I am hoping that clearing this space — having a larger blank canvas of floorspace behind my desk — that this will somehow spark a better routine again. I am hopeful — I have learnt much about myself in the last year, and I know that a small change such as this can actually stimulate my brain, push it further into getting-stuff-done mode.† I have decided I am not going to let the prevailing wind of misery that is currently sweeping the UK (and other places) affect me any longer. I’ve had enough of being pulled downwards.

Watch this space. But not the literal one I’ve discussed. That would be weird, and mean you were hiding in my room.

As a part of my exercise routine I often do many push ups, here on my bedroom floor, in monochrome.
If you look to the upper left of this photo you can see the chair I am talking about, perched, swathed in blankets, on my bed. The space it occupied useful for exercises, or crafts. I was actually just testing lighting and shadow for a few photos in this shot – but it appears to be the only photo of the chair I have. So, sorry, you’re stuck with me. And, no, I’m not naked.

*Since I left behind my “proper job”, I’ve had far, far fewer incidences of migraine — not just with frequency of clusters, but the number of individual episodes. Once upon a time I was inflicted with clusters where, on one memorable occasion, I had upwards of thirty migraines within a week. The reasons were simple — poor office lighting and stress. Stress that was added to by the ridiculous back to work meetings, and warning systems — allegedly introduced by H.M. Gov. to ensure a speedy recovery, to support the worker, but in reality cause more stress. It was (and probably remains) an idiotic system, designed by imbeciles and implemented by managers who knew just how lacking it was, but who had no choice but to follow The Rules. Rant over.

†I am also beginning to realise I may need to recharge certain batteries in wilder places soon — something I was unsure was necessary. In these recent weeks-of-Brexit-misery‡ I’ve remembered how calm wilderness makes me feel. Since I am planning on leaving these shores to seek new adventures, perhaps it is only right to give Scotland one last fling? A few weeks outdoors‡ may actually reinvigorate in all the right places.

‡Brexit, and outdoors — both words I dislike. Brexit sounds like a laundry powder. Outdoors (and outside) turn nature into “the other”, something not a part of us. I don’t like that — I’m still trying to work out what words I prefer, even wilderness doesn’t exactly work. Nature is probably best — and that should be all-encompassing. On this semantic note, I really shall leave you.

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