progress report november 2017

I’m setting my goals for November about halfway through the month on the 13th. Not really sure why I’m even bothering though as it was pretty much ignored in October. So far this month I’ve been binge watching a TV series called The Walking Dead and playing a video game called Fallout: New Vegas. Both of these can take up a great deal of time, often the majority of the day. It’s a follow on from the days I took off around the time of my birthday at the end of October. I don’t have a lot of work on currently, which should ideally be a time to catch up on to do items that have been lingering on the list but entertainment seems to be rather more important.

Even though my goals right now may not be what I had in mind at the start of the year, I still think about things that I’d like to do and get done, which can be defined as goals. Even a cursory glance at the plan for the year shows that I do still want most of those things that I set out to achieve at the start of the year and in fact now I’m even in a better position to achieve them because I know what works and what doesn’t. This is to make my life easier, not harder and to that extent it should not be seen as a chore or an imposition but as an aid or guide.

I’ve added this list of goals to my Evernote shortcuts and from there I can look at them more regularly than only looking at them when I have a terminal open on my main computer. Now that I have made my goals a bit more specific, I think it would be good if I could keep an eye on them.

I had a think about adding meditation as a goal mainly because I’ve been talking about lately as it has been coming up in conversation. During the 90’s I was a full time Buddhist and practised meditation for around 3 hours a day as well as going on various retreats during the year. I can’t commit myself to that extent because I have so many other pursuits but would be disappointed unless I did so. When I thought about this I couldn’t really think of a reason for setting meditation as a goal and didn’t even like the idea of committing myself to 20 minutes twice a week. This aversion to the idea even in principle decided it for me and showed me that it was perhaps something that I ought to do as a way to re-establish my identity when talking on the subject and add weight to my statements by showing that I do indeed practice. But that for me isn’t a good enough reason.

The next day, having decided not to add meditation as a goal, I wanted to meditate. Why? In order to get in more in touch with how I really am. I do morning pages every morning for half an hour and because I do it every day I’m sort of used to it and in some ways I can hide what is really going on. Since becoming a Samaritan and asking callers to focus on their feelings and emotions, I am also asking myself to do the same. Of course the Morning Pages should be free, totally free and asking myself to focus on feelings is an antithesis to the idea and puts pressure on myself to write a certain way. But perhaps I can do this when I meditate. Perhaps I can look beneath the surface and just allow myself to feel what is actually going on. This made sense. Here was a clear reason to meditate. I’ve just had to move house, I don’t know what I’m doing work wise and of my goals I wonder why I continue. To help me connect with myself I write, I talk to friends but I can also meditate: not to develop concentration, not to contemplate the ultimate truth or develop universal loving kindness but just to sit with whatever is there. But for how long? How many times a week? That all depends on how I feel.

I have also been considering walking 10,000 steps every day as a goal. I have an app on my phone called Pedometer and it shows how many steps I walked that day and makes a nice graph of them for the week. It gives me a real buzz when I exceed the 10,000 goal and shows a little animation and turns the bar for that day green. Some days I’m only just under the 10,000 but as it’s not a goal I don’t go out to gather more steps to reach the goal. As I’m not cycling very much at the moment I thought it might be a good way to maintain my fitness level even in a mild way. As a daily goal it may be a bit too much. I walk on Fridays and always seem to exceed the goal so perhaps as a realistic goal I could go for a second day but to jump from one to seven is a big leap. Certainly food for thought for 2018.

It’s the last day of November 2018 and I seem to have written more for the final two weeks of this month than I have in the total of other months. But enthusiasm comes and goes doesn’t it.

  • Samaritans

    Goals: Finish with current mentee and consider new rota.

    The rota lead for my main branch Croydon has given me a proposal for some new days and time slots and it seems to fit my timetable allows me to free up my Tuesdays so that I can work at the shop or work elsewhere as required. I might start this new rota from early December.

    On the 23rd of this month I had my final session with my current mentee. I was wondering after the previous session whether they were indeed ready but I listened in on a couple of calls that they took and found that in the intervening time they had improved a great, so much so that I had no hesitation in giving them the thumbs up. Our branch has a lot of new volunteers now that need mentors but I’m now going to take a break from mentoring until some time next year.

    I’ve been considering my proposed new rota and one of those shifts out of my six every 8 weeks will be at the Waltham Forest branch. This is to tie in with my two days at the shop every week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

    I did my first shift at the Waltham Forest branch of Samaritans yesterday. It was nice to get a feel for a different branch. They were very welcoming and as Samaritans training is very much the same at all of our branches it was very easy to fit right in. I think I’ll like it there and my plan is only to do one shift there a month and I can just look at the rota and see when I can fit in. I’ve firmed up my new rota at my main branch, Croydon, so all is good in the world as far as Samaritans is concerned.

  • Typing

    Goals: Continue with a minimum of 2-3 sessions a week.

    This week’s two sessions already done.

    I was getting frustrated again with the fact that I’m not really improving that much. I’ve been at around the 55 wpm mark for a good long while, perhaps 18 months and it feels very discouraging. Is the amount that I’m doing not enough? Should I do more? Should I practice in a different way? I usually start with Typetris for 1 minute at 50 cps and do this until I can complete one minute. But I tried it 60 cps and found that my speed did indeed increase, so it seems that I need to push myself a little bit.

  • Programming

    Goals: Complete chapters 3, 4 and 5 of Rails Tutorial.

    I’ve made a start on chapter 3.

    It’s now week five of the month and realistically I can do no more than complete chapter 3 but unless I drop everything else that I’m doing, there is no way that I’m going to complete chapters 4 and 5. Aside from time, I don’t have the required level of motivation.

    Well, I didn’t manage to complete chapter 3. Hey ho.

  • Reading

    Goals: Continue with and complete David Copperfield.

    Since setting this goal I have made good progress and have only 2 chapters left to read. Still have more than 10 days to achieve this so I’m starting to wonder about the next book: should it be another Dickens or should it be by a different author?

    On Monday of week 4 I’ve completed the book and have bought the next book that he wrote on to my Kindle. I’ve seen a dramatised version of Bleak House so I’m familiar with the characters and the story so I’m looking forward to reading it.

    At the start of week 5 of the month I’m already a few chapters into Bleak House and now that I’m very familiar with the style of Dickens I find that it’s easy reading.

    I finish the month on Chapter 7 of Bleak House which I think has 67 chapters, so I think that this one will keep me going for a while at the rate that I read. I was talking to a friend who suggested that I read A Christmas Carol, which is a novella and one that I can complete in a day. I have seen dramatisations of that book many times but my friend said that he used to read the book every Christmas as it can be easily read in a day and gets one fully immersed into the spirit of Christmas. As I’m very much into it this year I think I will. I’ve already bought it!

  • Diet

    Goals: One portion of fruit or veg every day.

    Had some pomegranate yesterday.

    Right now even one portion is difficult. I seem to be indulging in whatever really that is comforting and tasty but at the same time worrying about the effect that it is having on my health; perhaps the reason I’ve been getting ill repeatedly this year. I’ve been considering doing an extra day of fasting every month to try to curb the over-eating but perhaps combining the 5:2 with the 16:8 (eating all your calories within an 8 hour window in a 24-hour period). Today (Sunday) I skipped breakfast and didn’t have my first meal until 2.30pm. I need a way of allowing myself to indulge and also limit the over-eating (oh and reduce my percentage bodyfat). Is there a way to do both?

    I have a plan of combining 16:8 with my regular 5:2 diet this week. I’ll try it on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Essentially you just skip breakfast, have an earlier lunch and dinner. I think it’s feasible.

    I did indeed practice the 16:8 during week 4. It’s not as difficult as I thought especially as I fast two days of the week already. Delaying the starting time for consumption wasn’t too difficult but having a cut off time I did find difficult as I do enjoy eating right up until it is time for bed. It’s not something that I want to put into practice every day of the week but in addition to the 5:2 when I feel that I need an extra day of fasting, rather than making that week a 4:3, I can choose another or even two and use the 16:8 protocol instead.

    In addition to learning about the eating and non-eating hours inside of a 24-hour period, I learned about how the body reaches the fasted state. One has to eliminate any form of ingestion that could trigger a metabolic response, therefore adding milk to cups of tea would not be permitted. To reach the fasted state can take anywhere between 8 and 12 hours. I drink milky tea during my fasting days, but now that I have read and researched the 16:8 protocol I see that the 5:2 isn’t strictly speaking a fasting diet but a low calorie one. The methodology allows one to graze throughout the day provided that one remains inside of the maximum number of allowed calories. I generally have only one meal towards the end of the day and in order to make it more of a real fasting day I’ve decided to cut out any form of ingestion that could trigger a metabolic response in the body and take me out of the fasted state.

  • Strength

    Goals: Maintain current routine and handstands on weekends.

    I’ve been taking it easy this week 13-19 because I’ve had a cold and one of the main symptoms was a great lack of energy. I did a very short workout but didn’t skip it altogether. It felt good just to keep it going. This weekend, the 18/19th I didn’t do any handstands even though I did think about it during my yoga session and then found that I had skipped it by the time I had finished. But then on Sunday I did add it to my yoga session.

    During week for I improved my strength a little but my motivation to work out was quite low, so I opted for combining sets which would make the workout a bit shorter. I was planning to have a session on the Wednesday but having returned from dinner with a friend I did a couple of sets of pull-ups and left it at that. At the weekend I did one set of handstands but at least it was there on my mind.

    On the Monday at the start of week 5 I found that my strength had increased. I speculated that it might be due to being better rested over the weekend and perhaps something to do with the 16:8 experiment as I saw in one video a doctor said that studied showed that it increased muscle mass.

  • Cycling

    Goals: Cycle twice each week.

    Not going to happen this week as I’ve got a cold and not feeling well enough.

    At the start of week 5 it’s raining and I do feel bad about this having missed it in week 4 but there it is. My motivation to cycle is very low indeed, which is very different to last year.

    It’s cold. I used that as an excuse not to ride my bike.

  • Clutter

    Goals: Sell at least one item on eBay.

    I’ve added a t-shirt that I got as a gift which is still brand new with tag so I should be able to sell it.

    I took a handful of books to the charity shop. It’s not part of my monthly goal but part of my overall goal for the year.

    This morning I posted an item that I sold on eBay so I can tick this one as done.

  • Yoga

    Goals: Do yoga every day with splits and backbends.

    Missed Tuesday and Wednesday already this week: excuse; cold.

    Did a short session even with Maya here and then of course on Saturday as mentioned above. Sunday was a somewhat distracted session i.e. while watching an episode of a TV series but when the episode finished I continued to practice, doing handstands, splits and backbends. By the end of the session I felt that I had something that I could set up as a regular routine to work on either in a focused or unfocused way, at least for the next couple of weeks.

    At the start of week 4 I didn’t have my usual Monday evening client so I did practice at home but having slipped and fallen during the day I felt a little sore and essentially needed postures to address that injury (nothing too serious) so wasn’t able to fully pursue my goal. I did work on the splits but not so much on the backbends.

  • Sleep

    Goals: Lights out by 00:30.

    Due to the game I’ve been playing this one hasn’t been easy. I take a look at the clock and see that it’s around midnight and should start thinking about going to bed but then I look again and see that it’s 01:30.

    As the month has progressed gaming (Fallout: New Vegas) has kept me awake and I’ve rarely managed to be in bed my 00:30.

  • One-off goals

    Goals: Visit a friend out of town on the 28th.

    Visit has been arranged so far so good.

    As well as this goal of visiting a friend out of town I have been looking at my other one-off goals for the year. I have bought a couple of items of clothing this month, one being a birthday present to myself; a winter jacket. I got it from Superdry in Croydon and it was recommended by friends and certainly is very warm. I’ve also bought a pair of new jeans on eBay. I’ve eaten out at a restaurant and am planning another one next week. I made a quiche this week, something that I had planned to do at the end of July but it didn’t happen until November. I have been thinking a great deal about making more money and to that end have been in discussion with some potential yoga students as well as a venue where they would be interested in attending a class. In the end we couldn’t find a mutual time slot.

    At the weekend at the end of week 4 I made red cabbage in clementines. Leading up to xmas I’m trying out recipe ideas that I am considering for day itself.

    I did indeed go and visit my friend in Brighton on the 28th. I realised how long it had been since I had seen them. It was only a few months but much had changed in both our lives in that short time, so it was great to catch up. Only a couple of hours away door to door even though at times it can seem much further, so I’m planning the next one already.

    On the evening of my return I had dinner with another friend. We had Vietamese food which I have not had before, so this killed two birds with one stone. We both did many long rides together last year and felt the remorse of riding so little this year and made a plan to start it all again next year. He was the one who exhorted me to read A Christmas Carol rather than watch it.

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