Taking arms against the nonsense inside my head…

Sigh.

The day may come when I am not an over-the-top, self-sabotaging eejit, but it is not, apparently, this day.

Here’s what happened:

This January, as part of a positive approach to the new year, focused on more, not less, I decided that I would eat more fruit and veg and exercise more.

I already probably eat more veges than a lot of people, but I thought I’d go all out and try to get my two fruit and five veg, every day.  And I can always do with upping my exercise.

So I pulled out all the stops.  I bought more fruit and reminded myself to eat it.  I brushed up on what constituted a serve of veges and even set up a spread sheet to keep track of progress.

Are we getting an inkling that trouble might be around the corner?  Are we feeling the shadow of overdoing it?  Are we?

Well I wasn’t.  Not yet.  I was just keen and keeping myself accountable!  These are good things, right?

And it went well, I thought.  I ate MORE than two pieces of fruit, some days!  I kept track of the veges.  I loaded our dinner plates with salad to the point that the other members of my salad-loving family couldn’t eat it all – but I stoically ploughed through.

But then…

I noticed that my weight, which has been stable or slightly reducing for several years now (which is a good thing, after a lifetime, on and off, of disordered eating) was increasing!

Quelle Horreur!

It couldn’t be the veges, surely?  They’re healthy!  So I must not be doing enough exercise!  I had dropped off a bit over the summer holidays.  No problem.  I was going to the pool anyway.  I’d just up the duration.  I’d go for an hour every day, instead of half an hour and I would prioritise the endurance movement over the stop-start strength work.

But then my knee, which is still recovering from an old injury, recently aggravated, started hurting and I admit, I got a little panicky.  The soundtrack in my head went something like this…

I’m doing all the right things!  I’m eating so many veges I think I’ll master photosynthesis any day now!  I’m exercising for an hour several days a week and pushing for more!  But I’m still gaining weight!  Why does the world hate me?  What can I dooooo?

Can you hear the hyperventilating though the computer?

Every perfectionist, diet-scarred, self-flagellating trigger I had was being stomped on and I was at serious risk of succumbing to The Fear – and that way, madness, bingeing and depression lie.

(‘The Fear’ btw, is my shorthand for the irrational reaction that comes from having your buttons pushed and leads you to freeze up, stop thinking clearly and do things that send you in the opposite direction from your goal.  I am regrettably prone to it)

BUT…

I took a deep breath.  Oh, let’s not kid ourselves.  It was quite a few deep breaths over a couple of weeks.  But they let me think.  Really think, instead of letting the perfectionist panic take over the brain space.

And I realised a few things.

  1. In my enthusiasm to hit my fruit and vege targets, I had been ignoring the mindful eating that I have worked so hard on in recent years and which is largely responsible for the stable weight. After years of dieting, learning to get back in touch with my body’s cues about when I’ve had enough is an ongoing effort and apparently, easily forgotten, when I have another goal.  And guess what?  Even veges can put on weight if you eat your own body-weight in them on a daily basis!
  2. There was a reason why I was doing all that strength work at the pool. It’s because that’s what my POOR KNEE, STILL RECOVING FROM AN INJURY, needs.  HOURS OF REPETITIVE STRAIN IS NOT HELPFUL YOU GIANT NUMPTY.
  3. General health advice is not applicable to every person in every situation, SOMETHING I HAVE KNOWN SINCE I WAS A TEENAGER, but apparently can forget at a moment’s notice.
  4. Knee-jerk (ha!) reactions and my perfectionist tendency to overdo things can still come and bite me in the bottom if I am not vigilant.

So…

I have chilled out on the fruit and veges.  I am still trying to increase the vege content of my meals and still buying more of the fruit I like.  But I have stopped recording it in the spread sheet, since that seems to be setting off my extremist tendencies.

I have reminded myself about the mindful eating and have restarted the hypnosis app I use to support it subliminally.  And guess what?  The weight is going down again.

I gave my poor knee several days of complete rest and have started using my walking pole again. (It’s not the sort of stick you rest on, more of a bush-walking aid.  It helps me stay balanced and it keeps me from favouring the knee and causing more trouble.)

And today, I am going to the pool to do my strength exercises, in the warm hydro pool, which is why I started going to the pool in the first place and which, clearly, I still need!

It’s chastening, at my age, to realise that I am still prone to the same loony-ness I’ve been battling my entire life.  (If I was talking morals, I guess I could describe perfectionism as my besetting sin. 😉 )

But at the same time, it’s encouraging to discover that at least I can recognise it now, have a laugh at myself and reset, rather than hopping straight on the shame spiral that leads to self-destruction and self-hatred.

So, despite starting this with a sigh, I’m going to count this as a win.  Onward and upward!  Gently!  And I’m going to have some gratuitous Aragorn, to remind myself that, while the day has not yet come that I am over my own craziness, nor have I given up – and that is, after all, what the quote is about.

Do you have any unhelpful behaviours that stalk you, ready to pounce if you let your guard down?  Any that you’ll admit to, to help me feel less of an eejit? 😉

 

Feel Good February

Further to my post on Thursday, here’s a primer for how to do some good in your community.

feel-good-feb-2

This graphic came from my new friends at Feel Good February.  A friend put me on to them the other day I thought it was a fabulous idea.  The graphic below explains the concept, but you might want also to visit their website or Facebook page. Continue reading

I love this project

I came across this project today on Facebook, thanks to a writer friend and I had to share it here.

It combines several of my favourite things: helping kids at risk, using business for social justice, helping people to help themselves and gorgeous handbags!  I have been thinking lately that I need a new bag (I’m kind of hard on them) and for the last few years I have made a point of only buying fair-trade or otherwise helpful handbags.  (Which, by the way, is so going to be my band name: Imelda and the helpful handbags.)  So this project came along at just the right time.  I have signed myself up for a ‘loop’ bag and am looking forward to it being in my Christmas stocking!  So if you are in the market for a handbag, or a little social justice action with your Christmas, hop over and pledge.  The project is here: http://www.pozible.com/project/186203.

FYI – In case you haven’t seen a Pozible project before, it is another version of crowdfunding, a la Kickstarter.  In other words, it’s an opportunity for people to raise start-up funds for a business or project by offering rewards to people who pledge certain amounts.  As the amounts go up, so do the rewards.  There are some wacky crowd-funding ideas out there, but this looks like one of the good ones to me.  Because the project will produce products, the rewards are simple and easy to understand.  The woman running the project (apart from being a cousin of a woman whose integrity I respect) has done this kind of thing before, so you can be reasonably confident that it will go ahead as planned.  And, as with all such projects, the payment is only processed if they reach their target.  I wouldn’t recommend all crowd-funded projects, but for all those reasons (as well as its intentions) this looks like one of the good ones to me.  See for yourself!

Cheers, Imelda

 

PS – just dropped back in to say something else about Kickstarter and Pozible and other such crowdfunding options.  One of the best reasons to crowdfund something is to maintain independence.  That doesn’t so much apply to the project above, but it does to two others I have contributed to, namely, The Illusionists documentary and the Wonky Health blog about medical policy.  The latter also supports my commitment to paying people for quality content.  I’m a writer.  Writers need to be paid, especially if we want informed, qualified content, which Wonky Health is.  I think I have supported a couple of other kickstarters as well, but those are book-related and I buy so many books, I have forgotten the details.  But I just wanted to make the point that the reason for the crowdfund is one of the things to take into account when assessing whether supporting the project is for you.

Things I learned in 2013: Part One

I long ago gave up on the idea of New Year’s resolutions made on January 1 – mostly because I discovered that, with remarkably little effort, I was capable of breaking them even before the day was out.  What I like to do now instead is use January to take stock, clean house (literally and metaphorically) and work out what I would like to achieve this year (apart from a clean house).

This year, I’m going to get the ball rolling by reflecting on what 2013 taught me.  I think, when I come to write it down, I will find it’s quite a lot and, if that’s the case, I think it behooves me to write down the lessons, so as not to forget them.  (I try never to make the same mistake twice – I much prefer to find new ones.  Sadly, I seem quite good at that.  However.  Moving on…)

So without further ado, working backwards, because that’s what’s freshest in my mind, let’s start with the lessons of this festive season:

1. If you over-cater Christmas with sufficient enthusiasm, you can avoid having to go to the shops until the 2nd of January.  Given that over-catering is my MO at all times, this is not a complete surprise, but this may be a record from a single event.

2. The above will involve you eating cocktail snacks for lunch and/or dinner at least once.  If your family objects to this, they are welcome to go to the shops themselves.  Mine is sufficiently well-trained to limit their comments to Continue reading

Beating carpets: or, why I don’t write historical novels

Yesterday, I beat my back door mat.

Those of you who read my previous post about my aversion to housewifery of the cleaning variety may find this odd.

Those of you who are aware of the existence of vacuum cleaners may also find it odd.

To the former, I say, even I get fed up with the crud eventually (and there is no end to the things a writer will do when the words are not co-operating).

To the latter, I say that, a mat walked over my by dog many times a day from our muddy back yard would challenge any vacuum cleaner (and there is a limit to what I am willing to ask of my nice, gently nurtured vacuum cleaner).

220px-Carpet_beater

A carpet beater, courtesy of Wikipedia. Not the human kind, you understand, but what the human kind would do the job with…

Now, as is often the case while my hands are involved in such tasks, my mind was busy doing other things – namely, wondering about the days when vacuum cleaners were not available and beating mats and carpets was the only option.

Inevitably, my mind wandered to the people likely to be doing such tasks, who were probably maids, at least in the times I was thinking of.  What would they be thinking of while they were so engaged?  Would they be happy to be outside in the sun (since you would be unlikely to beat the carpets in the rain, methinks)?   Would they be learning the right way to do it from an older woman?  Would they have the chance to chat while doing it, or would the billowing dust mean they were better off with a hankie tied over the mouth and nose?  What sort of household were they in?  Was it well run and adequately staffed, so that they could do these jobs with any level of enjoyment, or would they be so overworked that they could only think of how they would never get this done in time to finish their other chores in time and how their back ached and their feet hurt and they’d give the world to just sit down for a minute?

One of the lesser-known facts about me is that in my Arts degree, I studied history.  It wasn’t my major – that was English – but it was pretty much everything I studied other than English and I loved it.  But I stopped pursuing it as an academic subject when I realised that the history I was most interested in was not what is usually covered in history books.  I was interested in how people lived.  When I read of the movements of the court from one great house to another, I wanted to know who had to organise the provisioning.  I wanted to know if the cooks had nervous breakdowns before, during or after such an event and if the scullery maid got any sleep at all.  And I wanted to know, when they swept the rushes out, what they swept them with.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that these things aren’t studied in academe – they are.  But it’s the hardest area of history to study.  Piecing together people’s day-to-day lives is the work of lifetimes and involves many complimentary disciplines to do well – or at all, really.  It’s absolutely fascinating, but it takes forever.

And herein lies the rub, for me.

If I started in to write historical fiction, I would spend so much time tracking down what kind of button, say, that the hero had on his shirt that I would never get the story done.  In the joy of digging through the vast library of material on the internet, I might end up with a Masters in history, but the novels would lie sadly neglected.

So, for now, at least, I will stick to contemporary stories and enjoy other people’s historical stories – and the freedom to wonder about previous carpet-beaters, without having to know for sure!

~

Speaking of contemporary stories, I’m pleased to say that the print version of Rules are for Breaking is still available at Australia Post outlets for a limited time and that the companion story, Playing by the Rules should be available digitally later this year!

My toilet smells right again

Toilet pictured not blogger's own.  Because that would be weird.  Apparently I can write about my loo, but not photograph it.  (This pic came from freedigitalphotos.net, as usual.) The baby is just because toilets with babies are much cuter than toilets without.

Toilet pictured not blogger’s own. Because that would be weird. (Apparently I can write about my loo, but not photograph it. This is why I am a writer, presumably!)
This pic came from freedigitalphotos.net, as usual.
The baby is there because toilets with babies are much cuter than toilets without. Natch.

I must begin with a warning.  If you are delicate of stomach, or sensitive about matters scatological, look away now.

Likewise, if you are the kind of housekeeper who can be dropped in on at any time and never found wanting, you will probably not find much to identify with in this post.

If on the other hand, you, like me, think that dust is God’s way of marking the passage of time, stick with me, for I have a tale to unfold.

It all started with the Excel running out.

For many years now, I have been using cleaning product made by an Australian company called Tri Nature.  I discovered them when I was working for a group that promoted environmentally-friendly technology.  This isn’t an ad for them, so I won’t go into raptures about the stuff, except to say that it ticks all of my boxes: it’s Australian, environmentally sensitive, plant-based (organic, wherever possible), safe for babies and dogs, it doesn’t make me itch or sneeze and most importantly, it works.

This last is particularly important when you understand that, as a housekeeper, I am more of your slash and burn merchant than your little engine that could.  I know that little and often is an effective way of keeping the place nice.  But… and I know this may shock the diligent among you, so I hope you have taken my advice and looked away… I don’t really care.

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Weddings, Parties, Anything – a few of my favourite things!

Today on the radio, I heard that one of my all-time favourite music groups is being honoured in a hall of fame.  The band’s name was Weddings, Parties, Anything and they’re an icon of the Melbourne music scene.  They were never huge in the charts, but they are well known and loved among Australians of a certain generation and deserve to be better known.

They have a special place in my musical history as I discovered them though this song, just after I first moved to Melbourne.  It references a heap of local landmarks and I remember being so excited when I recognised these new-to-me places in the lyrics of a song.  This video is a very cute interpretation, too! (BTW, the clocks in question are on the facade of Flinders St train station – a traditional place to meet in Melbourne.  Can’t tell you how excited I was the first time I arranged to meet someone there after hearing this song)

Under the Clocks

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Kindness in times of grief

Recently, a new friend (made on Twitter, bless it) has had a terrible shock and has been grieving.

My heart bleeds for her as hers bleeds for her friend who is fighting for life, and it made me think that it might be time to share some things I have learned in recent years about grief.

The first is that grief is almost never what you think it will be.

Before I had ever lost someone, or had to watch someone I loved suffer, I guess I thought grief was how it appeared in movies.  Not that it’s portrayed the same way all the time in movies, but the point was that I think I thought that grief was something that you could see – in tears, in white faces, in rages, in talking – and that it was something limited.  Movies end, after all.  None of that is very sensible, when you think about it, but I guess the point was that I hadn’t really thought about it.  Not much.

Before I’d experienced it, I didn’t know that grief can happen before a person dies and that death isn’t the only cause of grief.  You can grieve for loss of function, for loss of hopes, for changes that they didn’t want to make.  You can grieve for the hardship inflicted on their families by their suffering.  You can grieve for their anger, frustration and pain.  You can also grieve for your own.

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On Life as a Work in Progress

For what is I think the third week in a row (no, not looking it up, it will only depress me and waste time I don’t have) I am getting my Monday on Writing post up on Tuesday.

Sigh.

You know, all my life, I have been looking for the perfect system, the perfect plan.  I love a plan, me.  I love making a list and feeling like I know what is going on.  (Which, incidentally makes it a little weird that I started writing as a full-on pantser, but that’s a topic for another time.)

The problem is that my life resolutely refuses to co-operate with my careful plans.  On the day I plan to get five thousand words done on my WIP, my child comes down with some foul lurgy and I have to run around to the doctor and suchlike.  On the day I plan to start my brand new, healthy life plan, I wake up really not in the mood for the bircher muesli I so carefully soaked the night before.

So I have decided – not for the first time, it seems to be a lesson I need to learn over and over – Continue reading

Offline October: Are you in?

If you are reading this, then it is pretty much a given that you love, or at least like, the internet.

As a blog writer, can I say, I love you for loving it, and thanks!  Knowing that at least some people enjoy your work makes it worth doing and is a wonderful, irreplaceable encouragement.

It’s also wonderful to know that it’s not just me.  Because oh my giddy aunt, I do love the interwebs!

It’s writer heaven, the online world. Where else could I find detailed instructions on how to field-strip a pistol in the middle of the night?  (When I need it for book research, natch.  What were you thinking?)

And blogs, twitter and the faceplace keep me in touch with my tribe.  Writing is a solitary business, but thanks to the internet, it doesn’t have to be a lonely one. I have met wonderful new friends here online, both writers and non-writers and I cherish them.

But… there are only so many hours in a day.

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