Saturday, 30 November 2019

Lifestyle Goals: Monthly Review for November 2019

In May 2019 I changed the way I was monitoring my short and medium term goals, adopting Bless' approach in my search for a balanced life. This month I am changing things round again. I didn't feel that my own interpretation of this approach in terms of the actual goals I'd set and how I was rating them was correct (for me), and I have spent a good deal of November thinking about what it was I actually wanted to achieve.

The initial trigger was asking myself the question based on one of my goals - did I want to 'live life to the full' or did I want to 'live a fulfilled life', and after a lot of thinking I have answered that question. I want to 'live a fulfilled life', something which will have a different meaning for everyone but I am clear in my own mind what I am aiming for. This has prompted me to review my goals and rating, and to change the way I choose to record them.

The biggest change, and actually the most obvious now I've bothered to think it through, is that one of the previous goals I had set was actually my main goal and that the other goals were a means to achieve this main goal. So with that in mind, this is how I see things at the moment. The ratings shown are based on this different approach and aren't really comparable to previous ratings (where the goal has remained the same.

My goal is to achieve a lifestyle where I can honestly say that I LIVE A FULFILLED LIFE [7]To achieve this I want to focus on these sub-goals:
  • I am financially secure and remain completely debt free [10]
  • I take an active role in my local community, and have strong bonds with family and friends [10]
  • My home is always clean and tidy [10]
  • My garden is always tidy and presentable [8]
With the exception of the garden, I am pleased with these goals and the positive affect that achieving them has on my life. I have previously focused on the tasks needed to achieve this and feel that the correct habits are now embedded in my everyday life so I won't list the ongoing tasks which achieve this unless I feel that the rating is slipping.

I am finding it hard to maintain the garden so I am in the process of looking for a gardener to help out. The knock-on effect is that, for now, I can only afford to pay for a gardener OR a cleaner so I'm back to doing my own housework!

  • I have a positive outlook on life and am benefiting by avoiding bouts of depression and keeping my emotional well being at a healthy level [8]
  • I lead an active life, benefiting from increased fitness and improvements in my general health [6]
  • I eat sensibly and healthily and am benefiting by losing weight and experiencing increased energy levels [9.5]
  • I make best use of my time to lead a full and productive life [7]
  • I live life now, in the moment [6]
  • I strive to remove my attachment to material things [6]
These goals need more effort! I don't plan to list all the tasks for each category, partly because it tends to be repetitive every month but mostly because I am listing my monthly targets in my personal diary and some of those tasks are for things which don't belong on this blog. I've decided to just have a short list of SMART goals to hopefully improve the ratings in one or more of these categories. I feel I have been trying to do too much at once so am opting for a more relaxed approach, focusing on fewer things but doing them well. The SMART goals approach was used when I worked in an office and I know from personal experience that it works, SMART goals being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. So with that in mind, my tasks for December are:
  1. Declutter a minimum of 5 items, concentrating on the ones which are taking up a lot of space - by December 31st 2019.
  2. Complete the meal plan for December - by December 4th 2019.
  3. Focus on establishing a weekday schedule to complete all routine chores in the mornings - ongoing but review on December 31st 2019.
  4. Unsubscribe from all unwanted emails and social media - by December 31st 2019.
  5. Complete the remainder of band admin ready to hand over when band resumes in January - by December 13th 2019.
I have deliberately opted for a short list because I will be busy with Christmas music/activities but I'm confidant that I can achieve the tasks I've set and that I will benefit by completing them.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Friday

We all enjoyed our trip to the cinema to see Last Christmas. The film was good with plenty of laughs and a couple of weepy moments - I'd recommend it if you haven't already seen it. 

The only 'must do' today is an appointment at midday to have my blood pressure checked. I'll return the library books while I'm out but there's nothing urgent on the to-do list for today, so will have an easy day just pottering about and finishing off a couple of small jobs.

I'd like to finalise the list for the Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt, but it's not too late to make some changes if anyone has any suggestions. If not, I will publish the list on Sunday.

I'd also like to finish labelling the tubas and trombones so they are ready for collection next Saturday. Once they're gone it will free up plenty of space in the garage so, when the warmer weather is back next summer, I will be able to finish clearing out all the unwanted stuff in there.

It's L's birthday today but we won't be celebrating until next week. In previous years we've had a joint birthday meal with mutual friends but that hasn't worked out this year so we'll be doing something together once we can decide what that something is to be. All I know for sure is that it will involve food!!

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Thursday

Yesterday proved to be good fun with late birthday wishes, a couple of unexpected gifts, lots of texting and skyping, and meeting up with S.

Tonight I have another birthday celebration to look forward to as Julie and Lauren are taking me to see Last Christmas at the cinema. Treating me to see a film has evolved into a birthday tradition over the last few years and I am looking forward to it. 

Apart from that, I don't have much on for the rest of the day. It should be the walking group this morning but I am waiting until I have seen the doctor before joining them again so it's unlikely to happen before they break for Christmas. Never mind, it'll be something to look forward to in January.

So plans for today, such as they are, include hanging my new picture, hoovering the downstairs rooms, washing the bed linen (to leave tomorrow free), and printing out the remainder of the new music ready to take it to the printers. Nothing too demanding either in time or energy, so I should be able to cuddle up with a book this afternoon and just relax.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Wednesday

I'll start by thanking you all for the birthday wishes yesterday and to apologise for not commenting at all ... I was in my best birthday girl mode and just ran out of time! The birthday celebrations continue and today I'll be meeting S for coffee and birthday cake. Later this evening I will Skype with CB and her daughter to wish them both a happy birthday for tomorrow ... they will be out all day tomorrow for their annual 'Mum & Daughter Joint Birthday Celebration' so I won't get to speak to them if I don't do it today ... their celebration goes on for days!

I had a lovely time yesterday. The celebrations will continue all week so by Saturday night I will have spent time with all of the important and special people in my life. Christmas starts on Sunday!

As well as meeting up with S today I also need to find time to do some shopping for gifts. My own family is easy as I only buy for the under 18s who all prefer a gift of money, so that's no problem. I need to look for ideas for Julie and her four daughters though, who are most definitely not so easy to buy for. I need to put my thinking cap on!

Tonight will be spent at home, probably watching something on Netflix, and in between times I am plodding on with the meal planning for December. I'm making hard work of it this time and I'm not sure why as I'm trying to make as much use of the meals in the freezer as possible.  It should be a simple task but it's taking ages ... I can see it will be abandoned quite soon and I'll just do a lucky dip to choose the next day's meals. As long as a lot of the freezer stock is eaten and I am able to reorganise and refill in January I will be happy!

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Tuesday

... singing along to that well known tune, 'Happy birthday to' ... us ... we're 64 years old today! My twin sister says she isn't ready to be 64 so my suggestion that this is the year she can really connect with the words of The Beatles' song went down like a lead balloon!!

I have a vivid recollection of our fifth birthday. In the reception classroom we sat at the 'twins table' with Jill and Janet (our friends since birth), and Dennis and Denise who we met when we started school and who shared the same birthday with us. On that day, in a school where we didn't have to wear uniforms, we all turned up wearing blue and white striped dresses (the girls) and a blue and white striped shirt (Dennis). I think it was all a bit much for the class teacher because the birthday child wore a special crown and was her helper for the day so she'd had to make extra crowns and then spend the day racking her brain to find enough special jobs for all her birthday helpers. The birthday 'show and tell' took much longer that day as well!

Another memory of childhood birthdays is that until we were about eleven years old we were always given exactly the same gifts so we used to sit back to back to open them. That way we still had a surprise if the other one was faster at opening presents. The same applied to opening cards and also at Christmas.

When my sister's children were very young they knew we are twins but couldn't quite grasp that it meant that we celebrated our birthday on the same day. I have memories of quite a few birthdays, opening my gifts surrounded by their scowling faces and cries of 'but it's Mummy's birthday, not yours'! 

The aim, now we are mature sensible adults, is to be the first one to wish the other a happy birthday. Apparently sending a text at 1 minute after midnight is cheating but I put that attitude down to sour grapes because she didn't think of doing it herself. That spectacular win was some years ago and since then the 'rule' is that you can send the text as soon as you wake after a night's sleep ... of course, rules are made to be broken and creative cheating is to be expected. This year I typed the text message the night before and set my alarm. I pressed 'send' at 5am!!



This is the painting I bought yesterday ... my birthday present to myself! It's titled 'Colours' and is by a local artist, Maria Van-Tintelen.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Monday

I feel wonderfully relaxed and pain free after my lazy weekend, which is just as well as I have quite a lot to fit in today.

Late afternoon the kids will be here for their lessons and tonight it is choir so the early part of the day is set aside to get various jobs done and out of the way. To start with I need to load up the car with stuff to take to the recycling yard or to the charity shop. I'll drop off at the charity shop first (clothes and household linen), then to the recycling yard when it opens at 10 o'clock (garden waste and things that can't go in the kerbside collection), and then at 11 o'clock I am looking at the work of a local artist with a view to buying one of her pieces ... an abstract painting I saw advertised on her website. My only reservation is that it may be too small for where I'd want to display it.

I'm not sure how long I'll be with the artist but I have to get to the bank to deposit some money without fail and if there is time I need to shop for fresh fruit and veg. If not I will pop into one of the supermarkets after choir is finished. 

I also need to place a couple of online orders - ring binders to replace the existing black folders for the band music, and theatre tickets for a couple of shows I'd like to see next year.

If I can get all of this done today it leaves the rest of the week, apart from one lesson tomorrow) for birthday celebrations ... there are six of us celebrating our birthdays this week, starting with LL today.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Sunday

C delivered the music folders yesterday as agreed and I was delighted to see that she'd made a start and has already checked 19 of them. I just have to check the remaining 10, add the new pieces to all of the folders and then it's job done! It won't take long to do and then they can go in the garage until they are needed in January. It's a job for next week though.

Today it's supposed to be sunny with the rain returning late afternoon so I am hoping to spend some time in the garden. I have a few more bulbs to plant in pots so I'd love to get that done and out of the way if possible. These are bulbs a friend was going to throw away but I thought I'd plant them and see if they grow.

The only other thing that must be done today is to place the eBay adverts. They're all ready in draft so I just need to publish them and then sit back and wait until next Sunday to see if it all sells. Fingers crossed!

Apart from that I'll be reading, watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1, playing the piano or the flute, and generally taking it easy.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Saturday

The weekend is with us and I don't have any plans. This is probably for the best as it's been raining heavily through the night and the forecast is that it will continue through today.

So, what to do with myself? I'm typing this on my phone, still in bed, and at the moment my knee isn't hurting. Hopefully whatever was causing the pain has sorted itself out, but I'll soon find out when I get up. I'm enjoying the book I'm reading (Fractured by Karin Slaughter) so this may be the perfect day for curling up on the sofa and losing myself in the story.

I handed over the first stages of the band finances yesterday and now just have to do a handover to the new Treasurer, hopefully next week. It's all balanced and I'm not responsible for any transactions from today's date so that is a big responsibility off my shoulders. The music folders I agreed to sort out will be here today but that's a job for next week ... something I actually enjoy doing and although it is very time consuming it's one of those jobs which gives a feeling of satisfaction once it's done.

I can't think of anything else so I hope you all have a good day and I will be back tomorrow!

Friday, 22 November 2019

Friday

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can get to see a doctor today as my knee is so painful. I abandoned the walk yesterday and rested as much as possible, although living alone means it's inevitable that I have to move more that I'd like if I don't want to starve. Even an appointment for next week will be counted as a win!

I'm hoping to hand over the majority of the band stuff today. It feels good to have reached this point and to be moving on to the next stage of my life. As I've said before I feel extremely positive about 2020 and have been busy with lots of planning, none of which includes any involvement with the band. Never say never, but I don't see them being in my future.

I'll spend some time today sorting through some books I want to sell on eBay and taking the photos etc, ready to place the ads on Sunday. If they all sell it will clear another shelf in one of the cupboards in the playroom which will be just the right amount of space to store the fabrics I'll buy in the January sales ... all ready for some dressmaking next year. I'm also considering trying knitting or crochet again ... still at the thinking about it stage though. I can sew anything and have no problems but knitting/crochet, well that's another thing entirely and has never  gone well. Still, I'm a glutton for punishment so will probably try again. I'm sure I have at least one cardigan in me!

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Thursday

I'm trying another walk with the Westbury group but will have to miss the coffee and cake afterwards because I am meeting up with J for the afternoon. I'm not sure how the walk will go as my left knee is still playing up and I am aware of a new pain every time I move which, if it doesn't settle down, will mean yet another visit to the doctor.

Once I'm back at home I want to sort out the books to make room for the latest pile from my sister. There were 15 books, so 15 books will need to be passed on to make room for them. I didn't get round to doing this yesterday so it must be done today and then I can add them to my 64 items decluttering challenge for November.

I'll also spend a bit of time in the kitchen. I bought some yellow sticker soup packs yesterday, two bags of chopped root veg and two bags of chopped sweet potato and red onion, enough to make 32 portions of soup reduced to £1 for the lot. According to the packaging I just need to add stock but I will add a selection of veg from the bottom of the fridge as well so will end up with at least an additional 12 portions. I haven't bought these soup packs before as paying the full price means it's cheaper to just buy the veg and do the chopping myself, but this was a bargain and too good to miss. I'm not going to run out of soup any time soon!

The only other thing I need to get done is to label all the tubas and trombones currently stored in my garage. The band are moving all of their instruments and sheet music to their new storage and will be taking the stuff from my garage as well. This will be by the first week of December at the latest but if I get them labelled now (these are the instruments to be sold) I won't have to worry about it. I do know it'll be lovely to have the space back.

I've been neglecting my piano practice so that will definitely be fitted in today as well!

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Wednesday

It's one of those bits & bobs days today ... quite a lot to fit in, but nothing requiring too much effort on my part.

My sister will call round with some more books for me this morning. I also need to pop out to deliver some band related stuff to C without fail (it needs to be dealt with asap), so although my sister should know to check that I'm at home, she'll probably forget ... whether we get to see each other is very much down to chance. It would be so much easier to arrange a time but she doesn't work that way, so I just go with the flow!! She'll leave the books over the side gate if I'm not in so one way or the other I will need to sort through all the books again. 

This afternoon I'm meeting S for coffee and then will shop for the few bits of food I need. I've agreed to take part in the choir's Christmas concert which means that I need to find something red to wear, so will also look for that if I have time.

I wasn't planning to sing in this concert as they have been learning the concert songs since September and I still haven't had a go at most of them yet. However, the people I sat with on Monday persuaded me to change my mind. I'll be able to sight-read the pieces I haven't tried yet and, as they said, it will be fun! I'll miss the final sing through of all the songs on Dec 2 as I have a ticket to see Les Miserables (bought before I joined the choir).

This evening I may have visitors. It all depends on the traffic and how much time they have to spare but it'll be lovely to see them, either tonight or in a couple of weeks when they're heading home. 'They' are friends from teacher training days when we were at college together.

In amongst all of that I need to fit in a couple of loads of washing, cook the chicken thighs I defrosted by mistake, text my nephew about repairing/replacing the kitchen tap, and search the music room cupboards for the one music book I need but typically can't find. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Tuesday

I have a bit of teaching later this afternoon but the rest of the day is my own.

I want to spend some time re-evaluating some of my lifestyle goals so it all depends on how I get on with that. I'm not sure whether it's a case of redefining the goal statement or what but I'm not entirely clear on what I mean by 'living life to the full'. Do I mean live life to the full or do I mean live a fulfilled life ... there's a subtle difference so that's the goal I'm starting on!

I got rather sidetracked yesterday. I was supposed to be looking for local events and ended up spending most of my time looking for online photo challenges/courses/holidays. I miss taking photographs so it's one aspect of my life I want to focus on. I found plenty of photography courses and holidays but, for now, have decided that I just need to get out and use the skills I have and take some decent photos so to give me the push I need I have decided to set myself some monthly challenges. This is in addition to the Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt and anyone is welcome to join me if they want to. I have to work out the finer details so probably won't be starting until next month, or maybe January.

However, before I can do any of that thinking and planning I need to do something in the way of exercise ... time for my walk!

Monday, 18 November 2019

Monday

I was tired all day yesterday which I'm putting down to a long day in London with lots of walking when I was still wasn't back to 100% after whatever laid me low on Thursday. I filled Sunday with a combination of eating, sleeping, reading, and watching TV.

Today I feel fine, thank goodness. I'll be teaching later this afternoon and then it's the weekly choir practice, but those are my only definites for today. I could do with getting some shopping but will put it off until Wednesday when I'm heading in to town anyway, rather than making a special trip. So apart from that ... I don't know!

I have finished adjusting my budget for 2020 so now know how much I can spend on short breaks, day trips, and theatre tickets without dipping into my savings. I've already booked a couple of things and will be looking for more over the next few weeks. I always think that half the fun is the planning and choosing, so will be enjoying myself no doubt. These are all things I plan to do alone though some will involve organised trips. 

I'm also looking online to make note of all the local events throughout the year and will set reminders to check nearer the dates for the ones I'd like to go to. These will probably be the things I arrange to go to with friends.

I've already decided that 2020 is going to be a great year ... this planning is just the start!

Sunday, 17 November 2019

A Day In Photos

Saturday November 16th 2019


6:30 am, and a disgustingly early start to a Saturday. There isn't a photo to record this hour because I may have forgotten to take one!


7:40 am, I've driven across to the far side of town and the coach has arrived. The adventure has begun!





8 am, and I'm on the coach. We're still driving round picking up the other passengers.





9 am, and just passing Stonehenge





10 am, and we are making good time so there is a 20 minute comfort break at Fleet Services





11 am, We've arrived in London and are close to our destination. The good news is that we will arrive just before our designated entry time slot.



12 noon, outside the Saatchi Gallery and just about to queue to go inside. I booked this trip back in March and I may be more than a little excited!




1 pm, and enjoying the Tutankhamun exhibition. As usual at these sort of events the low lighting combined with the glass of the display cabinets doesn't help the photography side of things so I have only taken a few, all of them using my phone.




2 pm, still in the exhibition and loving every minute of it!




3 pm, and still in the Saatchi Gallery but now sitting in the café enjoying some coffee and cake. The café is crowded so this is some of the art on display.




4 pm, and am now passing the time in the foyer with some fellow passengers until the pickup at 5 pm. I'm tired and just want to sit down but we've all had a brilliant time and everyone loved the exhibition.





5 pm, and waiting for the coach to pick us up.




6 pm -  8 pm, just the one photo ... hot chocolate on the coach. It's dark so there's nothing to photograph.





9 pm, home sweet home and a mug of coffee to warm up. The temperature has dropped drastically and the gritting lorries are out on the main roads.




This is the final photo of the day. Once the coffee was ready I turned the heating up, snuggled under a blanket and watched some TV to finish the day. I've had a fantastic time and the Tutankhamun exhibition was all I hoped it would be and more even though the iconic golden mask wasn't there (it's too fragile to transport). I've chatted with lots of people, all complete strangers sharing our enjoyment of the exhibition, and now I can tick another thing off my bucket list.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Friday

Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday ... Thursday just didn't happen in this house!

I spent the entire day in bed. I felt dreadful, was shivering and couldn't get warm, and just wanted to sleep. I feel fine today, a bit tired maybe, but no sign of whatever hit me for six yesterday. It means that I missed my walk with the Walking for Health group and also the fortnightly quiz, but on the plus side it seems that I will be able to go to London for tomorrow's outing.

As for today, I'm in the middle of sorting out my budget for next year so will continue with that and get everything in place. All I have left to do is set up a couple of new standing orders, move existing direct debits between accounts and create a 'pocket money' account. It won't take long, so once that's done I'll make a packed lunch for tomorrow, get my clothes ready and pack my day bag, all ready to leave the house at 7:15 am. Then the rest of the day is my own.

I have no thoughts of doing anything too strenuous so will be staying in the warm to finish my book and maybe watch a film, and generally take it easy with an early night at the end if it all. 

I doubt there will be a post tomorrow but will update you on Sunday.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Wednesday

Wednesdays are turning out to be my day for meeting friends. This afternoon I will hopefully be meeting S for coffee and a chat, that's assuming he is well enough. I was supposed to be seeing G this morning but she has been called in to work on her day off so has had to cancel.

This morning I need to whizz round the shops for a few bits and pieces - birthday cards, fruit, shampoo, deodorant, and some Christmas wrapping paper and fabrics.

The wrapping paper, if I can find some good quality thicker paper, is to experiment with making some origami Christmas decorations. I spent some time yesterday searching for ideas and found instructions for making a variety of stars, trees, and angels. I have some Christmas crafting paper but I think it's too small and the end result will be minute, hence the test with wrapping paper. If it doesn't work, then it's back to the drawing board!

The Christmas fabrics are to make a rag wreath. There are only a couple of places to buy fabric in town, both probably too expensive, so there may be a shopping expedition to Bristol or Bath in the near future! I will also look for a skirt pattern while I'm in the sewing shop as some form of dressmaking is on my winter to-do list.

The walk out with my camera on Sunday has reawakened my interest in photography. The Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt starts on December 1st so I was checking through the list yesterday. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for prompts and I will do my best to include them.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Tuesday


Again, I don't have much planned for today. I only have one lesson to do at 4:45 pm, as the other child has cancelled due to sickness, and that is the total of my commitment for the day!

I haven't managed any exercise either. For some reason my left knee is really painful so I am resting it as much as possible to see if that helps. I will look on YouTube later for some (easy!) upper body exercises and will have a go at something like that instead of the walk I was hoping to do. 


One thing I'm sure of is that there will be a lot of reading today. I have nearly finished 'The Key' by Simon Toyne, the second book in his Sancti trilogy, and am loving it. I have the final book in the series, The Tower, and will start on that as soon as I finish The Key. 

The only other thing I have in mind is to look for some ideas/patterns to make some Christmas wall hangings, either with snowmen, Santa, or Christmas trees. I'm also dithering about whether to make some Christmas cushion covers but the jury is still out on that. Whatever I decide on, it won't all get done this year but I can make a start. This is the first year I have really felt like decorating since I've been on my own and I want to completely change the decorating theme; I love all the decorations we bought together but there are too many memories attached to them and at the moment I still can't put them out, so a new approach is needed.

Oh, the photos were taken in Bradford on Avon on Sunday ... they have nothing to do with anything I have written!

Monday, 11 November 2019

Monday

Before I start, I'm wishing Bless a very Happy Birthday. I hope you have a lovely day, Bless.

Of course, my photo session in Bradford on Avon didn't happen as planned. I delayed going until after lunch because I remembered what day it was and didn't want to get caught up with the Remembrance Day parades. There were still a lot of people about but once I'd found a parking space I started my walk by wandering around the town bridge area. This is where the heron and kingfisher can usually be found but there was no sign of them today so that'll have to be a return visit. The river is high and running fast, and the components which form the flood barrier for the Bullring (the area behind the white railing in the the first photo) are there ready to be assembled, presumably over the next few days.


I walked through the public gardens and on to the town bridge, ending up in the area on the right of the photo above, by the pink posters hanging on the railings. It's the place where you can sometimes see ducks or swans, but today I saw this instead ...


There was a small group of Thai women holding these flower offerings and they explained that they were celebrating Loi Krathong, a Bhuddhist festival to offer thanks to the water spirits. They were extremely welcoming and invited myself and another woman to join them, which we did. They provided the krathong (the flower offering) and we followed them to another part of the river and took it in turns to light the candles and incense sticks, then descend the steps to the river and set the krathong on its way, making a wish as we did so. 

They were all very excited and were running alongside the river to watch their krathongs floating along. That excitement was infectious and it was a delight to share their enjoyment. I didn't take any more photos after their invite to join them as I thought it would be rude and I didn't want to offend anyone.


Afterwards, I was invited back to share the celebration meal which was a huge buffet of all different sorts of Thai food. The women I'd met helped me choose what to eat and I was also given some to bring home with me.

I had a long chat with a couple of them. Apparently I'd missed the blessing by the monks as that happened first thing - I didn't quite understand the explanation but I think I'm correct in saying that the monks aren't based at their tiny temple but always attend to support them when necessary. We had a long chat about living in the present (I mentioned your blog post Bless) and they started explaining a lot about Buddhism, too much to take in but interesting nonetheless. They invited me to attend one of their meditation classes but they are on a Monday and would clash with my teaching and with the choir so at the moment is not an option. It's something to consider for the future though.

It was a fantastic day, all the more so because it was unexpected. They said that they usually wait until dark before floating the krathongs which must be an amazing sight and I'll look out for it next year.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Sunday

Well, yesterday was a bit of an odd day, being busy doing nothing. Taking up Aril's suggestion I went to the library to see about the board games sessions but they don't do them anymore, so I spent the rest of the day at home. Apart from reading and watching a Sherlock Holmes film I couldn't actually tell you what I did but I ended the day feeling contented, so all was good.

Today will be a little better organised! I've already had a visitor and can now add 10 books to the list of decluttered items this month - taken away by D who called in early this morning when she needed a comfort break during her walk. It's alright, I didn't make her carry the books on the rest of her walk - she'd parked outside my house! I didn't join her, although that's a possibility for another Sunday, as I am going out for the day. 

It's taking me an age to get ready but the camera battery is recharging as I type this and as soon as it is charged I'm going out to take some photographs.  I don't plan to go far, just to Bradford-on-Avon (about 3 miles away), which is a pretty little town with plenty of scope for photo possibilities. I'll take something to eat with me and my plan is to stay out until the light goes, dividing my time between photographing the town, a walk along the river or the canal, some window shopping, and to try to photograph the heron and/or the kingfishers that can always be seen by the town bridge. If it does rain I can always drive on to Bath and wander round the Art Gallery or one of the museums. I'm sure to find something to interest me.

So if it all goes according to plan I will spend the evening editing photos. I used to do this all the time but have got out of the habit, so am really looking forward to seeing how I get on. I'll share some of the photos tomorrow.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Saturday

The start of the weekend! I have to decide what I want to do at the weekends now that I don't have the commitment of the Saturday morning band practices.

To start with I didn't set the alarm for my usual 6:30 am, allowing myself a relaxing start to the day by waking naturally. I actually woke at 6:32 am, so had the luxury of a two minute lie in! Then downstairs for some exercise ... 30 minutes of 'dance like nobody's watching' to a YouTube 'cheesy pop songs' compilation. I definitely felt wide awake after that!

I didn't feel hungry at all so skipped breakfast and instead I drank some water and forced a piece of toast down so I could take my daily meds. I'll have brunch later.

I'd like my weekends to be a more leisurely affair. I have plenty of time during the week for decluttering, chores, and running errands etc., so the weekend is to be 'me time'. However, I am at a complete loss to know what to do with myself today so I can see that some careful planning will be needed to make this work for me. Don't get me wrong, I have so many things I can do in the way of hobbies but ... I can't settle on anything at the moment. I'm missing band, that's the trouble. However, I'm sure an idea will come to me and it'll end up being a good day ... I'll report back tomorrow.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Friday

The 'Walking for Health' walk yesterday was interesting! I'd opted for the starter level but I thought I'd probably made a poor choice when the starter group set off - me, V (using a rollator walking aid), R (with walking stick), B (registered blind) and T, the leader who'd had a major heart attack some years ago. T also suggested that it might be too slow for me but I decided to stick with them and see how it went. It was slow! Very slow, the 30 minute walk took just under an hour to complete by which time my knee was hurting and I was relieved to see the car. However, although it was slow we laughed most of the time ... very funny men with lots of stories to tell. They were quite put out that I wasn't joining them for cake (no mention of the coffee!) afterwards but I have promised faithfully to join them next time. The next ability group, the strollers, caught up with us on their way back and disappeared into the distance. R informed me that I'd know when the top group, the striders, were overtaking us as I'd hear the sonic boom!

I will definitely go each week and in the remaining weeks until they break for Christmas I will stay with the starters. This will allow me to build up some stamina and to be honest I'd struggle to maintain the speed of the next group for an hour of walking at present. It's something to aim for and I can always add in extra loops to allow me to walk quicker and to cover more distance. I forgot to wear my Fitbit so I have no idea how many steps I've done today, so will make sure to remember next week.

L came round for lunch and stayed for the whole afternoon. Lots of chatting and laughter ... a good time in the company of a friend. After she left I settled down to finish reading my current book (Sanctus by Simon Toyne) and then made a start on 'The Key', the second book in the trilogy.

Today, I don't have much on at all. 'A' will be here to clean through the house and afterwards I will be visiting J to loan her a book ... there will obviously be coffee and cake as well!

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Thursday

Today I am trying out my third addition to the lifestyle changes. This is one of the weekly 'Walking for Health' walks organised by the local council. There are three different levels, all free, and I'm joining in on the easiest starter level which is described as a '30 minute walk at a steady pace with frequent stops'. It's in Westbury, about three miles away, and I've been told that a lot of the walkers go to a farm café afterwards for coffee and cake. I will have to leave immediately after the walk today as L is coming for lunch but will do the coffee and cake part on future weeks. I'll let you know how it goes!

To kick start my never-ending decluttering project, which I have been ignoring for weeks, I'm joining Bless in her challenge to declutter 64 items during November. I'm not sure how Bless arrived at that figure but I am up for the challenge and made a start yesterday. Ready for my next trip to the recycling yard I have put aside a broken plastic laundry basket, 43 coat hangers (counting these as one item), and an assortment of empty rigid plastic containers that can't go in the kerbside wheelie bin collection (again, counting these as one item).

Some things never change! Instead of printing sheet music for the band, today's task is to print a set of the carols the choir will be singing at Christmas. The big difference is that I am only printing one set for myself instead of 30+ sets for the band. These aren't the Christmas songs we are learning on Mondays but are the traditional carols we will be singing at the Christmas Market in Bath in December ... the songs are for the choir's concert, also in December, but I haven't decided whether to sing in the concert or to be in the audience. 

Life feels like it on the 'up' and it's already evident that the changes I am making are pushing me in the right direction both physically and mentally. I just need to keep on keeping on, and I'll get there!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Wednesday

The good news from yesterday is that there is nothing seriously wrong so eye drops and a tiny tweak of BP medication will sort me out. Phew!

I woke before the alarm this morning so treated myself to a leisurely breakfast and took the opportunity to relax, choosing to read until it was time to go out. I'm meeting C for coffee so will park away from the town centre and walk to the café (about 15 minutes each way), hence the lack of exercises first thing.  

This afternoon is set aside for batch cooking, something I don't consider to be a chore, so will shop for the things I need before coming home. I'll be roasting some veggies for tonight's meal so will do extra, some for soups and some to cool and freeze. Also on the menu is sausage casserole and  shepherdess pie, both to cook in the oven alongside the roast veg, lamb scouse in the slow cooker, chicken portions in the Actifry, and chicken curry and veggie soup on the hob. That, together with what's already in the freezer, will keep me going for a while. 

I don't have any specific plans for this evening but I won't be going out. It'll be spent reading or watching TV with an early night on the horizon ... I'm going on my first health walk tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Tuesday

I didn't have a good night but was out of bed when the alarm went off and completed my exercise for the day - 20 minutes walking around inside the house while my breakfast cooked. I tried a SW breakfast bake - bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and baked beans - which I enjoyed but which will probably get relegated to a weekend brunch.

If I'd looked in the mirror before exercising I wouldn't have done anything as I have burst blood vessels in both eyes - there is no white visible in either eye. I don't know if it happened during the night or because of the walking but I am off to an emergency appointment with the optician and then immediately after with my GP as it feels like my blood pressure is really high as well for some reason. J is on her way to drive me to wherever I need to go. On the bright side, I am excused chores for today at least!

I'm supposed to be meeting S for coffee this afternoon so have texted him to explain the situation and will update him later.

Last night the choir practice was as enjoyable as I was hoping it would be, this time working on four different songs: James Bond medley, Carol of the Snow, Somewhere Out There, and Walking In The Air. I chatted  to a couple of fellow sopranos before the session started so didn't feel like a Billy No Mates this time!

Monday, 4 November 2019

Monday

For the first time in what seems like ages I set the alarm clock to wake me this morning. It's time to settle back into a routine, rather than drifting along. I know that I feel better in myself if I have some sort of structure to my life so for starters I am concentrating on the weekdays.

For weekdays, my aim is to wake early, complete whatever exercise I have decided on for the day, and then pootle about working on whatever chores/errands are down for that day. With plenty of breaks for drinks the aim is to be finished well before midday, leaving the rest of the day to fill with whatever I fancy doing. I'll only need to set the alarm until I get used to waking at this time again.

So today's exercise was 10 minutes of steps and 10 minutes of flexibility exercises. The chores are to dust the downstairs rooms, wipe down the front of the kitchen cupboards, meal prep, personal admin, and set up the music room for today's lessons. I now have a few hours to amuse myself before the first lesson, so will fit in some piano practice and some reading.

It's the choir practice tonight which I am looking forward to. The half term break is finished so there should be more people there this time so I will go earlier in the hope that I can get to know some of the others. Maybe there will be some other singletons like me who are keen to chat. We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Sunday

My quiet weekend continues just as planned. The weather has been atrocious so I am thankful for central heating, snuggles blankets and plenty of food and drink on hand.

Yesterday afternoon resulted in a flurry of texts and now I have something in my diary for every day next week, assuming they all pan out. I also now have access to the members only section of the singing group website so can access the practice files; I have been singing my heart out ... I'm enjoying myself but not entirely sure that the neighbours are!! Reintroducing singing to my life has made me feel happier than I have for a long time so I have no doubt that I will keep going to the group every week.

Today, all I plan to do is read, eat and drink. I'm reading 'Sanctus' by Simon Toyne and am loving it. If I need a break from reading, the fifth Harry Potter film is on the TV later this afternoon or I have plenty of choice on Netflix. I'm still in my free trial month with Netflix but can already see that it is a useful addition to my 'what shall I do' list of activities in the home for rainy or lazy days.

Hope you all enjoy your day, whatever you have planned.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Reasons To Be Cheerful in October 2019

Despite the upset of taking a break from the band there have been plenty of reasons to be cheerful in October, starting with my choice of daily joyful activities: 

  1. Evening out with friends, listening to A's Big Band
  2. Lunch with J
  3. Listening to an audio book
  4. Enjoying a mug of hot chocolate after a bout of sorting in the cold garage
  5. Band rehearsal followed by a bring and share meal
  6. Phone conversation with Lauren
  7. Reaching a decision about my involvement with the band and acting on that decision!
  8. A quiet day reading
  9. Lunch with C
  10. Lunch with L
  11. Finding that a couple of skirts, previously too tight, now fit comfortably
  12. Taking part in the band concert
  13. Watching Gemini Man at the cinema with L
  14. A quiet day, reading and listening to music
  15. Good news from the doctor
  16. Meeting S for coffee
  17. Trying out a new recipe
  18. Watching the new series of 'Would I Lie To You'
  19. Having an empty laundry basket!
  20. Discovering that the Harry Potter films are being shown again on TV
  21. Balanced the band accounts after days of looking for £10.01!!
  22. An evening with friends
  23. Lunch with J 
  24. Playing the piano
  25. A lazy day
  26. Watching films on a cold and wet October day
  27. Dog walking along the canal towpath
  28. Joining the singing group
  29. Haircut day!
  30. Reviewing extracts from a friend's new book
  31. Being in the winning team at a new quiz

*****
A lovely evening with friends from band at a concert by the Big Band 'A' plays in.

*****
Planning some 'me time' and a variety of things I want to do on my own during the next year. The planning stage is almost as enjoyable as the doing stage!

*****

Answering the phone to a very excited Lauren who was bursting with the fantastic news that she passed her driving test. So proud of her.


*****

Enjoying a bring and share meal with friends

*****

Playing in the band's autumn concert, though mixed emotions as this may have been the last time I play with them.

*****

Lunch with J and with L, and coffee with S, on separate occasions. Enjoying their company and the opportunity to chat.


*****

Spending time listening to audiobooks, watching the Friends DVDs and various films on Netflix ... much more enjoyable than the repeats I have been watching on TV!

*****

Plenty of cosy days and evenings,. The snuggle blankets are back in use, and curtains can be closed to shut out the night and the dismal weather.

*****

Trying a new way of meal planning/bulk cooking/shopping, which is a resounding success and much easier to keep going now that I have started.

*****

Rediscovering the local library. Obviously I knew it was there (!) but I have made the effort to visit and have registered for online access so I can now borrow audio books and ebooks without having to drive to the other side of town.

*****

Being on nodding terms with some of the people I see on my early morning walks. Sometimes that's all it takes to knock away the feeling of isolation that occasionally comes with living on my own.


*****

Another phone call from Lauren discussing my birthday present ... she has bought two tickets for a Harry Potter walking tour in London for me plus a friend. She was totally surprised when I said that I wanted to go with her! We have until April next year to use the tickets.


*****

Joining a local community singing group and loving every single minute of the first session. Even if I go back to the band, I will continue with the singing as well.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Lifestyle Goals: Monthly Review for October 2019

At the start of May 2019 I decided to change the way I want to monitor my short and medium term goals, choosing to adopt Bless' approach in my search for a balanced life; this is Bless' explanation:

 .... my monthly balanced life goals are similar to the spokes of a wheel, with the length of each spoke representing my satisfaction in that area of my life, from 1 to 10, with 1 being most dissatisfied and 10 being most satisfied.  Ideally, all the spokes are of equal length and the wheel will roll along smoothly.  If the spokes are of unequal lengths, then, the resulting wheel will be lop-sided and wobbly.  My current ratings for each segment are shown within the parentheses.  

Here is my update for October, stating my goals and the bullet-pointed task list that I'll tackle in during the month to help achieve the goal. Last month's ratings and tasks are shown in black and the start of the current month is shown in yellow.

HOME (9.5)(9.5)

Goal: The home is always clean and tidy.

I haven't done much on the house during the month so I still have the remainder of the decluttering to remove from the dining room to allow this category to be marked at '10'. Most of my efforts have been focused on returning band property and although this has cleared space in a couple of rooms, it's not enough to alter the mark.

Tasks for October:
  • focus on the remainder of the items to be decluttered - FAILED!!
Tasks for November:
  • declutter the dining room!


GARDEN (9.5)(9.5)

Goal: The garden is always tidy and presentable

I've done a little tidying and clearing but not enough to change the score for this category.

Tasks for October:
  • tidy front and back gardens - IN PROGRESS

Tasks for November:
  • tidy back garden
  • plant the rest of the bulbs


FINANCE (10)(10)

Goal: I am financially secure and remain completely debt free

Ongoing monthly task:
  • continue to monitor spending and reduce expenditure where possible


COMMUNITY, FRIENDS & FAMILY (9)(9)

Goal: I take an active role in my local community, and have strong bonds with family and friends

This category has taken a knock with my decision to take a break from the youth band. However I have filled that gap by joining a community singing group, so have decided not to change the score.

Tasks for October:
  • continue voluntary work with the youth band - N/A: the situation has changed and I am taking a break from the band
  • try to meet at least one adult band member socially - SUCCESSFUL, met S for coffee, C, B, & A at a concert
Tasks for November:
  • continue to attend the singing group
  • try to meet at least one adult band member socially


EMOTIONAL WELL BEING (9)(9)

Goal: I have a positive outlook on life and am benefiting by avoiding bouts of depression and keeping my emotional well being at a healthy level

Another month of struggling with my mood but the decision to take a break from the band has been beneficial, giving me something I can build on.

Tasks for October:
  • write a Reasons to be Cheerful post for my blog - ACHIEVED (to be published tomorrow)
  • actively start the day intending to be happy and enjoy life - ONGOING
  • complete a daily joyful activity - ACHIEVED
Tasks for November:
  • write a Reasons to be Cheerful post for my blog
  • actively start the day intending to be happy and enjoy life 
  • complete a daily joyful activity


HEALTH & FITNESS (7)(7)

Goal: I lead an active life, benefiting from increased fitness and improvements in my general health

I have been given the go ahead to resume daily exercise

Tasks for October:
  • keep all medical appointments in October - ACHIEVED
  • go for a short walk at least three times a week - FAILED!!!
Tasks for November:
  • keep all medical appointments in November
  • do 20 minutes of exercise at least three times a week


HEALTHY EATING (8.5)(8.5)

Goal: I eat sensibly and healthily and am benefiting by losing weight and experiencing increased energy levels

I have no idea how much weight I have lost but I have dropped a dress size so will continue to do what I've been doing.

Tasks for October:
  • use the Myfitnesspal app to monitor food - ONGOING
  • drink 4 glasses of water a day - ACHIEVED
  • complete bulk cooking to stock the freezer - ONGOING
Tasks for November:
  • drink 5 glasses of water a day
  • stock the freezer with a variety of homemade soups
  • meal plan for the month


LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL (7)(7)

Goal: I live life now, in the moment, and avoid putting things off. I decide what I want to achieve and I do it!

I haven't managed an improvement in October but have looked for things to do in the future - tickets have been purchased and arrangements made.

Tasks for October:
    • regular music practice - 70% SUCCESSFUL
    • arrange two diary dates for every week in October to meet with friends - ACHIEVED
    • arrange one day out - FAILED!
    Tasks for November:
      • regular music practice
      • arrange two diary dates for every week in October to meet with friends
      • arrange one day out 


      TIME MANAGEMENT (8)(8)

      Goal: I make best use of my time to lead a full and productive life

      I've had a good reason to be more organised with my time this month as I've focused on completing and returning band related tasks. It's proved I can do it when I need to!

      Tasks for October:
      • continue to establish a week day routine, getting chores done in the morning to leave the rest of the day free - ONGOING
      • keep all admin up to date - ONGOING
        Tasks for November:
        • focus on establishing a week day routine, getting chores done in the morning to leave the rest of the day free
        • keep all admin up to date

        ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS (8)(8)

        Goal: I educate myself about the environmental crisis and make changes to my lifestyle to reduce my own carbon footprint.

        I haven't made any real progress this month. I'm continuing to buy fruit and veg that's free from any plastic packaging but haven't yet needed to replace any of the other plastic packaged products I use in the house.

        Tasks for October:
        • identify how to buy meat and fish that is free from plastic packaging - ACHIEVED, there are plenty of places locally where you can take your own containers.
        • bulk cook and freeze a selection of meals - ACHIEVED
        Tasks for October:
        • identify a replacement for scouring pads, sponges and toothbrushes
        • bulk cook and freeze a selection of meals


        SUMMARY

        There is no change from last month in any of the categories. 

        OCTOBER 2019

        SEPTEMBER 2019