Welcome back. Sorry this is slightly later than normal, afraid I fell asleep early last night — a yin yoga session online blissfully wiped me out. I love yoga but find it harder to do it when I need it the most. So it was good to fit it in, and interesting to note I felt less flexible than usual. In fact I think the same rule applies to self-care (horrible term) as a whole for me. I am not sure in which order the feedback loop works for me. Is it the case I feel better because I have done something restorative, or is it because I feel better so I manage to get round to doing something? Its probably both of course, but suspect its more of the latter at the moment.
Self care is a rubbish term though, it feels strangely clinical and weird. There must be a better plain English term somewhere.
I have just looked this up — and this is revealing! Care is related to impediment, sweat, chagrin, burden — and I note that one of the meanings of the noun is “custody of person, usually child”. Aha.
Actually I don’t think its really about the term so much, its the underlying concept. I worry that self-care activities are just a sticking plaster really. Its about the whole 168 hours in a week and living your best life, not just a condolence prize of an hours’ massage an otherwise rotten and pressured lifestyle in the other 167. In these times I guess its about whatever gets you through, and at least its not destructive I should say, in the interests of balance. Probably far more value is my sister, the rather fabulous Sian, getting me to sign up to part of the Tokyo virtual marathon next month(don’t worry — only doing 5k which is well within my trundle limits). That will make sure I train and get some proper and regular cardio-vascular exercise at some point as I train properly for it. And get away from the desk and screen for a bit.
And of course, I can afford to pay to align my chakras* with the Universe, detoxification tea, a fish pedicure or whatever the latest fad is, at the risk of sounding grumpy and middle aged. Its probably the people who cannot afford anything who need some sort of respite the most.
In any case, its now halfway through the planned twelve sessions in this season. I thought it would be interesting to reflect on progress so far and what I have learned. As someone who finds it easier to start projects than finish them by temperament its good to see I have got to week six and intend to continue! Its really helped me navigate the strange times we are living in at the moment. I miss the unplanned informal conversations with colleagues in the office and the reflective time it offers. Most of my best ideas come that way, although I am quite happy to work on my own on stuff for extended periods of time. Its also helped me to give some shape and definition to the week, which seems to dribble into the weekend and evening time otherwise.
Much as I don’t like the carbon footprint of my previous life commute, and the stress and time pressure of the school run, at least it provided some proper full stops in my life. I find almost invariably the time gained from not hurtling across South Wales has been swept up in other work, emails, low level stuff, necessary but not really high quality value. And as we know, email breeds email — you have to watch that stuff. So overall, from a personal development or “best life” perspective, not really much of a gain there.
We’ve had some minor successes in using collaborative tools recently, which I have adopted with the eager enthusiasm as I used to have trying (and often failing) to program my Amstrad 664 back in the 80s. I’m excited by its potential, as witnessed in our first proper virtual workshop with Data Orchard this week, and one thing I shall quote my colleague the insightful Polly Thompson who is quite right to point out that collaborative tools allow quieter colleagues to gain their voice, which the stereotypical round table never did. But its about getting colleagues comfortable in trying things out, being prepared to fail, and creating a safe environment when most of us are already in profound flux. That will take a little time.
I’ve also managed a lot of reading in the last six weeks, and particularly enjoyed Polly Thompson’s recommendation “Because, Internet” by Gretchen McCulloch. I had already starting dropping full stops a bit and the odd lol here and there. I thought I was getting sloppy. But that books shows even I with my old fashioned attitudes to English have slowly been absorbing the zeitgeist. Wonder where it will go…
One thing which has helped in this season of weeknotes is developing and nurturing the authorial voice. I spend too much time in business speak — Board reports, email et al, which has its own style. Its such a helpful style to get business info around in an impartial way, and its something I do give a lot of thought to. But. as witnessed by the time my family took the mick out of me for absentmindedly signing a Whatsapp “regards”, its too easy for that style of writing to take over and its good to have this space too. Interestingly I think that business speak is a bit stronger in these weeknotes when I was particularly tired, on reading them back. Perhaps something to watch out for.
I’m also a novelist, and I found that whilst I always had my voice and my humour, as I went on writing my last book it deepened and strengthened to the extent that the final quarter of the book was much stronger than the first. It was something around practice, style and deep immersion in a project (sounds bliss doesn’t it! ) The difference is really noticeable (and a large reason why its still not finished as I am still tinkering around with the start to get it up to scratch. That I can now spot all the flaws in the plot!). I think weeknotes are similar. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be as consistent as a novel though, and the journey is, really, the point.
- = Grammarly does not recognise Chakras as a proper word. Lol!