New year more blog

Yikes! Where did January go? Just one day left to meet my new target of at least one post a month this year.

Obvious January entry: self-improvement round-up of the silent last 6 months. The main items were various job applications and interviews over the summer, followed by starting a new job in September. The bad news: no running since July, after I lost my momentum, no pun intended, due to a few weeks’ unwellness. But still cycling, even all through this month in spite of fearing a repeat of last January’s tumbles.

July: ‘Character Strengths’ workshop by Lightbox – the Happiness Project. Extremely valuable. My main character strengths are (in that order):

  1. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
  2. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  3. Fairness, equity, and justice
  4. Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
  5. Humour and playfulness

Take the test

August: Made a few extra pennies proofreading and teaching people to use WordPress.  Took a maths test at my local college to determine where I should start in order to become a well-oiled statistics-churning machine. I had decided this would be a good idea thanks to the character strengths reflection, my previous MBTI dabblings and the fact I enjoy working with data at work but feel stunted by my limited mathematical skills/knowledge.

September: Attended a work conference in Cork and took a few nice photos there. Started my new job – another part-time one on top of my existing one, bringing me back up to 33.5 hours. Exhibited as part of the St Werburghs Arts Trail. Started a maths course at my local college. Wrote an article for a local magazine.

October: Watched some wonderful Photoshop webinars, which were free at the time of broadcast from the US East coast, meaning 5pm to midnight my time. They not only taught me tons of things about Photoshop but also opened my eyes to the value of learning and using keyboard shortcuts beyond Ctrl+a/x/c/p and customised tool layouts in whatever application I use. Also worked out, thanks to my challenging new job, how crucial it is to me to feel competent and useful.

November: Kept giving my all to the new job’s raised-game requirements, including super-strict lifestyle discipline to keep my energy levels and alertness up – no gluten, no potatoes, no refined sugar, plenty of sleep etc. Fixed a puncture all by myself for the first time.

December: ‘Goals’ workshop by Lightbox – the Happiness Project. More reinforcement than new material, but did re-focus my mind on the importance of having goals in the first place, separating them out from aimless daydreams, breaking things down into smaller achievable components, and committing, even through something as simple as putting goals in writing. Started using Habits RPG as a result of this, tidying up bookmarks and recalling the success of a similar approach to dieting. Took test to get into fast-track maths GCSE class starting in January; only one in my class to pass. Became an official Twitterer as part of paid work for the first time. Finally got round to reading my book on speed-reading and Cordelia Fine’s ‘Delusions of Gender‘.

So that was the second half of 2014 – pretty busy. 2015 is starting out no different, not least as there are now not one but two evening  maths class a week, art group meetings once a fortnight and various new items on Habits RPG to keep up with!


30 days of biking #22 – Hairwin

Not exactly vitamin D weather yesterday, but I was out of raw sauerkraut (my tummy’s best friend along with fizzy water), and a trip to the better Food Company in St Werburgh meant some practice with those devilish downhill hairpins. Nailed both of them, even the one on my “bad” side with panniers full of shopping 🙂 Priming myself by mentally repeating “I can do it”, bringing up images of all the people I see do this apparently effortlessly and, at the time of turning, listing the essential steps (easy gears, slow, wide, look, pedal) may have helped.

April is fulfilling its objectives as cycling + grit month by changing my thinking from avoiding things I find difficult to seeing them as opportunities to progress and feel good about it. Even running has got easier, which at week 8 of the Couch to 5k plan I thought would never happen. This is good.

30 days of biking #6 – This piggy drove to market

Shopping baskets full of fruit and veg

I added a couple of parsnips and two large leeks after taking the pic (but forgot carrots). £22 all told.

Toyed with the idea of doing my customary Sunday morning shop by bike, but couldn’t work out satisfactory logistics. Aside from the weight considerations (including >70 portions of fruit and veg), what to do with my market haul while getting bits and bobs from other places on the way back? Including any essential produce that may have been missing from the market that day, hence the order of business. Today it was blueberries. A couple of months into my Weight Loss and Fitness Drive of 2013, I realised that a. I could not afford to stay organic given the quantities of fruit and veg I now needed and b. I was wasting too much time fragmenting my days with frequent food shopping. Hence switching to comprehensive once-weekly, bargain-centred excursions (often the only driving I do all week), fitting in specialist requirements whenever most convenient (e.g. popping into the Better Food Company yesterday while in its vicinity for the raw sauerkraut that keeps my delicate tummy happy – top tip for anyone with digestive issues). I’ll study shopping habits of no-car hardcore cyclists and see if there’s room for manoeuvre in future, but for today, having nowhere else to cycle to, I resorted to the bike-to-run stratagem again for pledge purposes. Don’t think I’ll stick with that in the future though as I’m finding it quite time-inefficient.

Today’s smoothie: mango, pear, dates, more dates (cold sore threatening so it’s all about the lysine to arginine ratio right now), filtered water, chia seeds, Primrose’s Kitchen Brain mix.

[edit: after further research I have found that dates are in fact on the naughty list for lysine to arginine ratio. D’oh.]

[other edit: after even further research, I’ll also be skipping the chia seeds (like all seeds) and the brain powder (barley grass and hemp are on the naughty list) for a while.]