January – it’s just about getting through

Mon 3 – Sun 9 Jan 2021

I get it when people say they got worn down and bored with all the bank holidays for the Christmas-New Year period just gone. But it’s a classic example of be careful what you wish for. We are now into ‘normal’ January and I just want to go back to the bank holidays.

Every year January and February come round and I remember why I hate this time of year. Indeed, I dread its arrival. To be honest I could hibernate this time of year. Just pack up and sleep from 2 January until Easter arrives. But, as with so many shit things in life, it’s just about putting your head down and getting through it.

So I have begun the journey through January and February onto the lighter, warmer days that come from April onwards. It is about taking it all day by day. That builds into week by week and month by month.

‘We suffer more in imagination than in reality’

Seneca

I knew it would be like this which is why I laid out in my previous blog that I would deal with things by being honest and not being over ambitious – read about it here.

Health and Efficiency

Mental Health

I have felt a bit down last week. It felt quite usual to wake up with a headache. Obviously not helped by going back to work and I promised that I would be kind to myself by taking it easy. I like my job because it is linked to Tech for Good which I find fascinating and I am learning so much. However, going back to any job in January after a nice holiday break is bloody hard.

It is interesting that I am increasingly wondering if my current role might be my last proper job. That after this comes some sort of early retirement with various ways of making money to provide a top-up. It’s that thing about getting older and taking a risk with life.

This was reinforced by the news last week that a friend’s husband has died. Part of getting older is dealing with people around you dying and you working out what you should take away from this. For me, I feel like time is ticking away. And I constantly need to ask myself what I want to do with perhaps just 20 more years? And how am I going to deal with close people around me dying?

‘A life lived in fear is a life half lived.’

Old Spanish proverb

Weight and exercise

Same old story, no real change in my weight. Which is good in itself. Funny how so many people commit to lose weight in January when it is cold, dark, and depressing. Me thinks it’s always easier to lose weight in summer with warmth, light, and good spirits.

Meanwhile found out that my old gym is doing its usual January sale. For a limited period, annual membership is £500 compared to the norm of £750. Looks like we won’t be going into another lockdown. But is a gym and sauna a good place to go to at the moment with the pandemic? However, this won’t last forever and should I take action now to have it to use more and more as the year progresses?

dumbells in the gym

Personal Development

No Code

One of the big successes for last week (and for January full-stop) is that I have started and kept so far to the No Code 100 day challenge. Not always easy to keep up with the exercises especially on work days. But I have done that even if I haven’t gone into depth with some of the exercises.

One of our tasks was to build an Airtable gallery to record daily development – mine can be can be found here.

Our day 7 exercise was to look at the 3 questions below and put them into the public domain. Being open and stating publicly commitments is believed to be one of the key ways to ensure people stick to them.

  1. What were your key takeaways from this first week?

Being introduced to key No Code software and understanding what you can do with them: Airtable, Carrd, Zapier, mmm, Tally, Softr, Glide, Voiceflow.

2. What did you enjoy most from this first week?

Video tutorials – very informative but quick and easy to consume

3. What do you want to dive deeper into or learn more about in the coming days and weeks?

Be guided through more software, deepen my understanding of the ones I have already been introduced to, and think about how I might use this knowledge practically.

Surprise on the phone

Duolingo

Also delighted that during dreary January I have managed to keep my promise to do a Duolingo exercise in Spanish each day. I try to do it in the morning once I get up and before I have my shower. And I am trying to work through each step of a theme day by day until that theme is completed. I normally like to jump around themes for variety but there is something about trying to achieve depth in one area at a time.

Books and Reading

‘The Vanishing Man’ by Laura Cumming

Wrote about this in my previous blog and I finished it last week. An excellent piece of art history reviewing the life of the great artist Velazquez. And analysing his paintings that survive.

But also intertwined with the story of John Snare. He was a man in the mid-nineteenth century who claimed to have discovered the lost Velazquez portrait of Charles I when he visited Spain as the Prince of Wales. It’s a story of perseverance that turns into obsession.

And the sad fact is that ultimately it could never be proven to be genuine or fake. Thus the public lost faith in it. Then, when Snare died, the picture vanished. And we still do not know if it was a real Velazquez or a painting by a more minor artist. Sadly not even an engraving survives and obviously it was pre-photography. An amazing and tragic story.

Waiting for answers

‘Deliverance’ by Jason Bray

This is my current reading book and it’s another one where the sub-title gives the game away: Everyday investigations into poltergeists, ghosts and other supernatural phenomena by an Anglican priest.

Perhaps a strange book to read in gloomy January. But there is something about the dark new year period as a time to indulge in a ghost story. And also to have some thoughts around spiritual matters.

I do have a spiritual side. I’m not sure how anyone can live life without considering if there is more to it than just existence. And everyone chooses some moral framework to live by.

However, I increasingly wonder if God is simply beyond our comprehension? In the same way that human beings are beyond the comprehension of ants. And I also wonder about the division between good and evil – is this ever clear cut? Like people of faith who kill for their faith or people who treat other human beings with cruelty but animals with extreme kindness.

Spirit

Meanwhile, my other reading books

I love having at least two books on the go and it is often the more the merrier. Still reading the non-factual study of Paris post-liberation after WWII. And also the historical fiction novel by SJ Parris. Reading the latter on my kindle as I am walking. It’s a good thriller.

Family…

Spent the bank holiday with mum. Nice and relaxing – I made sure I enjoyed the last bank holiday of the Christmas/New Year period. Don’t forget next one is Easter, about 14 weeks away! Thank God I have my Gran Canaria holiday booked for the end of Feb though me and Dave are not 100% confident it will happen. My mum and Dave’s are both OK, no Covid (yet) thankfully.

…and Friends

In my previous blog I identified the friends I need to meet up with starting in January and going into February and March. And did I organise to meet any last week? No – LOL. Must start setting up these meets.

But what did happen is that me and Dave met with our friend who has recently lost his partner. Great to meet for lunch on Thurs though the restaurant and Covent Garden in general were very quiet.

Our friend is doing OK and building his life without his partner. Though he says it is not easy. Me and Dave realise one of us is going to be in his place in the future so we want to be there to support him.

The importance of a will

Indeed, Dave is going with our friend to sort out legal stuff next week. Amazing the work that needs to be done once someone dies. Looks like it’s not as straight forward as I thought even if you are married or related. Some definite learning for me and Dave. The key thing seems to be sure you have an up-to-date will done by a solicitor – expensive but does make sorting out your affairs easier for your partner or family.

Sustainability

Warm minimalism

This continues to be the theme of what I am trying to achieve in my life: rejecting consumerism, trying to buy as little as possible, and buy secondhand when I need to. Great that my favourite charity shops are now open in January to browse; though I have to stop myself buying stuff I don’t need. Also nice to take down some things sorted out over the holidays in the hope the charity can make money on them and the stuff can have a second life.

Close up of nature

Art and Culture

My love of archaeology programmes

Pretty disastrous week in terms of me indulging my love of art and culture. No visits to any galleries or museums nor concerts or shows. But one of the fun features to this awful early January period was the new series of ‘Digging for Britain’. I love archaeology programmes (and miss Time Team immensely). It’s great to see stuff that people used to use and that tells us something about their lives which were so similar to ours.

3 episodes last week and 3 more next. One last week included an amazing mosaic depicting the Trojan Wars found in the East Midlands. Unfortunately, I did have to miss one episode completely and watch it on i-player as I was round Dave’s and he wanted to watch one of his retard property programmes instead – grrr.

The Week Ahead

  • Carry on getting through January. Back to the 3 normal days at work and problem solving which is basically what all jobs are about.
  • Meeting with my old mate Dom on Tues evening for a catch-up dinner
  • Back to health appointments. INR on Tues to check my blood clotting levels. And then gym physio session on Thurs to deal with my knee problem plus phone review on Fri.
  • Try to get lots of walking in. Thinking about whether to get my new 12 month gym/sauna membership on Thurs; we will see.
  • Should finish the ‘Deliverance’ book. Plus may also finish the Paris and Parris books. Then the excitement of starting new reading books. 🙂
  • Stick with the daily No Code and Duolingo exercises
  • 3 more episodes of Digging for Britain 🙂

And Finally…

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