Day by day, hurdle by hurdle – my way to approach life

Mon 26 July – Sun 1 Aug 2021

I am very future-focused. For me, the future is a big, exciting time. But I also realise you need to live life day by day. Not worrying what may happen and just dealing with every problem as it arises. Like an athlete jumping hurdles, you just take them one by one. Indeed, as I get older I feel that I worry about things less as every day is a blessing and nothing bad (or good) lasts forever.

The Olympics

Hope you like the nod to the Olympics with the reference to hurdles. I am loving the Olympics. Just to dip into whenever it is on the TV (though mum thinks it’s on too much) and to be inspired by the athletes. I said in my previous blog here that I was particularly inspired by the skateboarding and BMX also did it for me last week. I think this inspiration has made me more relaxed and focused in the week gone. Which made it a good one.

Tokyo Olympics 2020

Weight

My weight loss plan

In my last blog, I pointed out how one of the things I would most like to do is one of the hardest. That is simply to lose weight. Based on the Fung book ‘The Obesity Code’ and the brilliant Olympians, I have decided to try to lose a quarter to a half pound each week. That means watching what I eat day by day. And one of the main things I am doing on certain days it to try to not eat anything during the daytime, only eating in the evening.

It’s working!

Result is a loss last week of three-quarters of a pound! See it here. Particularly proud on Thursday when I did manage to skip eating until the evening. This particularly came on the back of me and Dave going out for dinner one evening and me over-eating as usual. I’ve realised I can’t not eat on a work day as work stresses me and that makes drives me to eat. I need to do it on one of my non-work days when I can distract myself better.

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made,

What’s a sundial in the shade?”

Benjamin Franklin

Exercise

This is going to be a key component of me losing weight for two reasons. First, it is simply about burning calories. Second, it is about distracting me and making me feel good especially on a day when I am trying not to eat. The usual long walks between Dave’s place and mine happened. I do feel so good when I am doing a long, purposeful walk. What I have not sorted is an additional form of exercise to replace my beloved gym. I am trying to incorporate some stretching and yoga into my day by day life. But I think I need something more than that.

Jog-run

Books and Reading

One of the things that keeps my going day by day is simply looking forward to doing a bit of reading.

The Manningtree Witches

And I read two great books. First, ‘The Manningtree Witches’ which I have written about before. The horrible true story of Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General. And the way women were tortured and murdered because they were believed to be witches. About 200 women were hung over 2-3 years due to him. The book portrays him as someone blinded by his faith and vanity tinged with misogyny. But a lot about the women who were executed. Including a hopeful story about an important character who, in real history, disappears from the history books after her key intervention.

The Hidden Girl

The other book I have been reading is a great collection of short stories by Ken Liu called ‘The Hidden Girl and Other Stories’. I recently read Liu’s excellent collection of short stories ‘The Paper Menagerie’. He really is a great writer combining modern themes and futurology in his writings often with an East Asian angle. He does also write fantasy but that does not really do it for me – all a bit too much Dungeons and Dragons crossed with Game of Thrones.

‘The Hidden Girl’ is quite bleak in that it does not see a happy future for humanity and raises questions on how human beings will develop. Stories influenced by climate change, societal breakdown, AI, and the singularity – the day when machines become more intelligent than humans.

Tsundoku

Delighted to come across an article on this which can be read here. Tsundoku is a Japanese word that describes the concept of buying books and never reading them. That process of accruing books you intend to read one day and dealing with the realisation that it ain’t going to happen simply because you will not live long enough. I suppose it’s one of our ways of pretending we are immortal and denying inevitable death. One of the best ways to combat this is to live day by day, hurdle by hurdle. And through the process of offloading stuff including books.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Family and Friends

Dave and mum

Me and Dave had our anniversary last week and celebrated with a couple of meals out. The full works on one of them including champagne. So good to get back to some sort of normality post-pandemic though will things ever be exactly as they were? To be honest, I doubt it – there will always be a scar. And so we need to enjoy life and live it day by day as best we can.

Going back to normal

I realise I am so lucky to have the ongoing support of my partner and family. Mum is well though not happy with the current state of the television – ‘It’s all bloody sport on every channel’. I did spend some time with her last week watching her beloved real-life murder stories from the USA on cable. TBH, they were quite engrossing.

Friends and holidays

Meanwhile, not great achievement on the Friends front though I totally appreciate the brilliant friends I have. Like Phyllis / Philip. Had our regular catch-up on Tuesday and his life in Torremolinos continues to be fun and inspirational. A day by day journey of sun, beach, gym and drinks. Looks like he can now come over to visit the UK in Sept. My Dave is lining up a visit to his beloved Germany in August. Think I will have to take some unpaid leave to do Spain by the end of the year, Germany would also be nice.

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”

Daphne du Maurier

Sustainability

Not a great week for this theme. No big events but a quiet day by day attempt to try to live in a more sustainable way. Bought a cheap lavender plant for my window ledge at home, hopefully will attract and help the bees. Also bought a Dr Who CD set in the Oxfam shop. A bit pricey but would have cost the same on the internet and money goes to a good cause. I am finding the natural world looking beautiful with the mixture of warmth, sun, and rain showers. Dave’s balconies look absolutely stunning as you can see below.

The stunning plants on Dave's balcony

Personal Development

Ongoing good news particularly with regards to my daily Duolingo exercises in German and Spanish. But a couple of days missed last week so the overall amount done was down on the previous week. I will keep at it day by day as best I can because I enjoy it, it is practical and useful, and hopefully it is helping to stave off dementia. And good news that, on a couple of days, I managed to do some Python practice on the Mimo app.

“As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two.”

Norman Wisdom

Art and Culture

Good news, I managed to finish the 1970s movie ‘Fox and his Friends’ written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder with him taking the leading role. It’s a quite clumsy portrayal of how a poor man made good is exploited by the wealthy people around him. But I suppose we are all naive at some point in our lives and let people we love exploit us. Unfortunately I know I have let that happen in the past. But it’s a film wonderfully reminiscent of the 70s and revolutionary in its portrayal of gay life in day by day normality.

Tech for Good

Social Change Lab

I am enjoying my job and working hard at it but taking it day by day. Lucky that I have got a nice group of colleagues. In a lot of ways that its the best thing you can hope for with any job. As planned, got the emails out to tell the people who had and had not got to the interview stage. Always horrible to have to do the latter. But I am determined we will offer good quality feedback to help organisations develop. To that end, we did a detailed email of the main reasons for people not getting to interview and we are arranging one-to-one sessions.

A Tech for Good initiative

Low-code no-code

This has been a theme of last week. Basically it’s the idea of using cheap or free digital tools to shape services and products as opposed to building and coding from scratch. Catalyst ran a lunchtime session on it on Wednesday. There’s a really useful article about the different types of low-code non-code tools available here. It’s definitely an option for many cash-strapped charities but there is also an argument for custom-built options especially when people need a more complex situation.

The Week Ahead

  • Continue to live life day by day and deal with things hurdle by hurdle. TBH I am not expecting a crazy week and quite looking forward to that!
  • Carry on enjoying the Olympics for its second and final week
  • Focus on my attempts to lose weight and try to get more exercise
  • Looking forward to starting some new books
  • Velvet Page on Thurs – face to face meeting and we are discussing the wonderful ‘Shuggie Bain’
  • Give feedback to unsuccessful Social Change Lab applicants and take learning from doing this
  • Must carry on with my personal development and watch a new movie
  • Might take some more stuff I don’t need to the Notting Hill Exchange
  • Time with mum while me and Dave are having another one of our hotel nights next Saturday

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