Every day a new start….

The photo above was taken in February on my first ever flight. I never got round to posting any of my photos from my trip to Austria, which is a shame but this one caught my eye last night when I was thinking about something else. Dawn was just breaking over Europe and the day (while I’d not really been to bed at all) was all new and fresh and full of possibilities. It was a great trip; exhausting but packed full of new sights and experiences. I really didn’t know what the whole thing was going to entail; no real idea of what to expect. Scary.

Yesterday I had a fit of the doldrums. Not exactly depression, more a sort of dissatisfaction with life and with the fact that having worked my socks off for the last couple of weeks, I had an entire day, with the house to myself, to do with as I wanted, and could spend the whole day writing. But the writing wouldn’t happen. I spent hours at the computer, doing nothing, in real terms, and getting crosser and crosser with myself for it.

In the end, around six o’clock, I headed out to the woods with the dog and tried to stomp it away. I was just starting the return journey when my mobile phone made a noise at me to tell me I had a text. It was from my daughter, asking if she could be picked up from the station as she’d overtired herself(she has M.E). In the end, I made myself get in the car(first time in six months) and drive all of 3 miles to collect her. I don’t feel any sense of real achievement in doing this, just a residual irritation with myself that it was so hard to do.

But the point is that I did what I needed to do. Despite my annoyance that I hadn’t done any of the things I thought I wanted to do, I did do the things that needed to be done. And that, some days, is a massive achievement. When I woke that morning, I didn’t think, Hey today I will start to conquer my phobia about driving. Life doesn’t really work that way. We don’t often achieve what we thought we wanted to, but as collateral benefits, we do the things that actually need doing.

So when I got up this morning, after a restless night and poor sleep, I thought, let’s just take today one moment at a time. One minute, one hour at a time. Life happens in increments; sometimes we need to do the little things first.

So, a new day every day. I don’t do the whole motivational stuff, but that’s something I can hang onto. A mountain is never climbed in one leap, in seven league boots. It’s climbed in slow steady steps, with rests and basecamps and time to enjoy the scenery.

The other thing I really like about this photo is that you can’t see anything of the land below. We’re above the clouds and I have no idea what country I was flying over. I know where I was headed, true, but not where I was on the journey. Sometimes it’s important to stop worrying about Are we there yet?  

Remember, every day a new start…..

To do or Ta Dah?

I’m talking about lists here.

For those like me, the eternally disorganised, the to do list is a scary thing. I’ve embraced it many times, making such beautiful and well organised lists you would weep at their inate loveliness, and then failed to do more than half on the list. I made lists of the disjecta membra of old lists; I still do.

The thing with the oncoming winter for me is the lack of structure. If you have a day in which to do not very much, you often find at the end of the day, that’s exactly what you’ve done: not very much. I also find the more demoralised I get by the lack of light, the less easy it is to whip through tasks that ought to take half an hour. Things get put off, or just forgotten.

Workwise, I haven’t got a lot on now. I’m tutoring a single student for a couple of hours once a week(need to go soon) in subjects that are not my specialty. This means I am having to face certain academic demons again, like maths and physics, to be able to teach them effectively. You should have seen my brain oozing out of my ears on Sunday trying to master quadratic equations. In motivation terms, it means I need to plan out a programme of learning. Couldn’t quite manage that today, sorry. I know what we’re doing tonight and that’s it so far. Other work, well, I’m off to Germany for a few days at the end of next month, so my task is to be able to speak sufficiently fluent basic German by then. The process is made possible by the fact that I did once speak some German and by some rather nifty cds I have now uploaded onto my mp3 player. It means I need to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day on that, or better, half an hour. This is doable.

Now comes the clever bit: the ta dah! list. The ta dah! (said with an internal flourish of triumphant trumpets) is a list of what you HAVE already achieved. My advice is never make a to do list till you’ve made the ta dah list, and for  very good reasons. First is practical. If you make a list of what you have already done, you have a better awareness of what still needs doing. Second reason is psychological. If you tell yourself FIRST about your achievements, your subconscious reacts much better; it then tends not to get its knickers in a knot over what you haven’t done. Positive reinforcement.

So my ta dah! for today includes: half an hour of German(the mp3 player ran out of juice) , dog walked to the point of exhaustion(for both of us) dinner bought, new conference file bought for next trip, masses of information about my cities of destination printed out and then highlighted for ease of use, uploaded my German cds onto mp3 player, yesterday’s and today’s dishes washed.

That’s not including the things that some days there is a lot of point in including: such as getting out of bed, having a shower, making breakfast and so on.

The fact that I’ve done very little or no chores round the house is now not relevant. Housework is like painting the Forth Bridge; endless and depressing.

I’m trying to learn to be kinder to myself by not forgetting my own achivements. So, next time you start to write a to do list, how about a ta dah? list first?