What I can do again

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Before we left for vacation, my chest and shoulders were very tight. I did do daily stretches but the repetitive movements with the mouse and being hunched over my desk reading and writing, did a number on my body.

During our vacation, I stayed away from the desktop and the mouse. I did not bring a laptop. Just books, journals, and my mobile phone. We walked a lot, were outside every day, and I didn’t do any fitness classes.

We are back home now so after a few days of unpacking and settling in, I picked up my fitness routine again. Honestly, I feared the worst because I had not done any traditional exercises. We just walked.

However, if you have even been in the Old Town in Prague you know that all the streets go up and down. Guess what, staying away from the desktop has done wonders for my shoulders. The photograph at the top of this post? That was an exercise I absolutely could NOT do before we left for Europe. This morning, I did it. The tightness across my clavicles and shoulders is gone too.

And now I am going to try and keep it this way!

Journaling changed my voice

Sakura Moleskine, fountain pen case, in front of homemade cork tray/Photography AdS

I have been journaling daily now for exactly one full month. In the picture above is the journal I am currently using. It is from the Moleskine ‘Sakura’ line. I had left that brand years ago for Leuchtturm1917 as the width of their journals suits me better however, I could not resist the Sakura line.

Writing daily has changed my voice.

I am calmer.

There is a difference between saying F^&* my life, thinking it, and writing it. It is in the tone of the voice.

When you say it, it comes out with a level of anger. This anger level can even be harsher when you think it because nobody hears it. It is all in your head, right? When I write it down and then read back to myself, something interesting happens, and it happens when I directly read it back to myself or, if there is a time delay. It is the split-second or moment to regroup.

When I put down the pen and read back even the most mean words, there is a slit-second delay. In that moment, my brain has changed tones. I calmed down a smidgen, and that makes the difference in my tone. How you speak to yourself, what your heart and soul hear coming out of your mouth, how you internalize that, matters.

What I angrily say or think out loud about a situation or myself, gets internalized in that angry tone. What I write, it is first seen and at that moment, my eyes make the spit-second decision to tell my brain to adjust my tone.

I read back what I wrote about various things that have upset me in the news these past few weeks. No need to rehash that here, you can all think of a thing or two. Every time I reread it, another voice pops up and counters the angry one: this happened, yes, now how are you going to respond to it?

Writing is a phenomenal way of venting frustrations and helps to sort out all possible reactions and actions you can take. Even if you cannot change a situation, you can decide to keep following it in the news to educate yourself. You can decide which news channels or shows to block, you can decide if there is one person or group to blame, and how you can reduce your interactions with them.

In other words, writing daily for a month has strengthened the other voice inside of me and has calmed the angry one. I still vent on paper but I say less out loud, and when I think it, I try to immediately write it down. If I don’t have my journal with me, I email myself a few words with my mobile phone or I use scrap paper. I then try to write down my full thoughts in my journal that same day.

Have you experienced this too when journaling?

Monday Morning

Photography AdS

It feels good to do things the old-fashion way again. I don’t mean like in the 1950s but just pre-pandemic. You know, B.C. before covid.

I had a wonderful routine: starting the Monday (and thus the week) with one of my girlfriends. We’d meet somewhere in town or near campus, walk in a fast pace for at least an hour, and then go somewhere for lunch. In bad weather, we walk inside a mall.

We get 10’000 steps in easily, talking the whole time. We catch up on the weekend, reviewing the coming week, find the trouble spots, and either find a solution or acknowledge that we just have to get through this. It sets the right tone for the day and the week. After that, we usually do a grocery run and then back home.

Since a few weeks, we are back in our old routine. In our town, we have an old cinema. They play just one movie per week. On Mondays, there is a 10am sitting. It is usually quiet so it is an excellent form of entertainment that you can do covid-safe. So, if there is something playing that caught our eye, that would start the day. Movie, move, munch, and market!

Enjoy your Monday!

Uncomfortable Discomfort

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Going to the dentist never came natural to me. There was always a ding or a dang and the man just made me uncomfortable. Every procedure was my fault, I caused my parents trouble and of course, expenses. All this never made it easier for me to go to the dentist. But I do, it is routine maintenance and I care about my health.

My current dentist told me that I needed a crown. The last procedure was a long time ago so I had forgotten the discomfort that comes from getting local anesthetics injected in the back of your jaw. Despite the numbing of the injection site first with a q-tip, one look at the syringe and I was ready to leave.

But to be honest, the real discomfort came from being in the dentist chair for two hours, mouth wide open, and getting a dry throat. The rinses could not come often enough. I started to wonder whether anyone had thought about a rinsing machine with properly chilled rose or chablis. My jaws were getting tired and wanted to lock up for the day. Lucky for me, I didn’t bite anyone.

To add to this expected discomfort, my left leg decided that this was an excellent opportunity to fall asleep and my foot decided to get cramps just to add to the memorable experience. I longed for a chair where your legs would be elevated and your calves would get a massage.

So ultimately, I was in the chair thinking about cold drinks and massages, with both shoes off, legs pulled up, and doing my pranayama breathing. But I got the crown!

No, I still have not written a reply to your email.

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During the pandemic, we have seen people around us take early retirement. We have seen people quit their jobs, pack up, sell their house, and move closer to their children so they could help out with the grandchildren, either babysitting or homeschooling. We have seen people become roommates or buy a house together as going alone through a pandemic, is not ideal.

Aside from this, the job market changed. Remote working, meetings online versus crowded conference rooms, working from home, these job aspects will stay and will be key negotiating factors in job interviews. But so is mental health.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am staying away from the screen and keyboard for a while to take care of me. That was exactly a week ago today. Here’s what I noticed so far.

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1: The first two days, I checked regularly whether anyone had noticed that there was suddenly radio silence from my otherwise active SM account. I confess that I was slightly disappointed to encounter the same radio silence. But it showed me that I was right to take a break. With the humongous number of tweets it is almost impossible for an ordinary person to be seen.

Unless someone actively searches for you, your message gets snowed under. Unless you spend hours tweeting, you don’t get seen.

People often complain about the algorithm preventing small accounts from gaining any visibility. I have an account of 21K+ followers and I am in that same boat. But then I realized that I didn’t care.

So what if I slipped away for a week!

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In that week, I rediscovered some Agatha Christie books, read Pierre Bayard’s take on ‘Who killed Roger Ackroyd‘ and firmly disagree with the analyses but not necessarily with the outcome, and am now reading ‘The Harvest Man’ by Alex Grecian. I got back into daily journaling, cleaned up my playlists, listened to new music, tried out new recipes, purchased the famous stamp ‘Russian warship, go %^&* yourself‘ and now eagerly await its arrival, and I saw some of my girlfriends.

After those first two days, I didn’t check anymore. I scroll once a day while I keep a good book right next to my mobile. Scroll, done, read. And I am going to keep it like this a while longer.

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2: With being less online also came less exposure to news. Reading the new is good, crucial, but too much news drives you nuts and can aggravate anxiety. It also temps you to scroll some more, find counterarguments, and then of course, enter the discussion.

I am now less up to speed with current events as I also cut down on watching the news but it is so much quieter in my head. Before this week, I was too restless to listen to a new album in one sitting. I listened to Jon Batiste’s ‘We Are‘ and I love it. I am less anxious too with fewer dark thoughts.

The downside of this week off is of course, that work awaits me. There are cases to explore, newspaper archives to plow through, reports to compare, and let’s not forget the email inbox. Yeah, I know some people are used to a prompt reply and a quick turnaround with editing, etc. However, getting quiet in your head matters.

Mental health, strength, resilience, matters.

You will just have to wait a little longer for that new blog post, that email reply, or report.

My old friend tendinitis is back

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I am taking a break from writing online for a while to give my arm and shoulder time to heal themselves. My tendinitis is back and has made it clear it will not go quietly. So, I hope you will all still find me when I return. I will keep reading blogs in the WP reader but have to restrict screen time and scrolling.

Hope to see you soon!