Way back in March 2020, when it was becoming clear that we were entering a strange, antisocial period of staying in during a growing global pandemic,…Locking Down with Georgette Heyer
I see two young fledgling sparrows on the horizontal palm branch next to our veranda. Cheeping away. Fluffy feathers ruffled by the slight breeze. Perhaps they are trying to join in with a tree full of other youngsters in the other trees nearby. The sighing and rushing of the evening tide provides a lazy background music to the higher notes of the birds.
“Coark, coark, coark…”. A nesting pair of birds, size of something between a crow and a blackbird play a discordant note.
If I listen carefully, I can make out the quiet percussion of large leaves of spiky stiff palm leaves sliding up against each other. I can see a gardener hosing the cultivated gardens of our hotel grounds but he is too far to make out the sound.
Later, we will walk up the sandy incline to the dining room and bar and listen to the music provided and hear the waiters and other staff conversing with each other and guests.
I haven’t been quiet enough in myself to hear the orchestra of nature in this way for a long time.
Arriving here is so familiar. The bustle of the airport, the porters asking for contributions for their efforts helping you with baggage (didnt need help – so sorry)… the colours of robes, hijabis, T-shirts, then… the roads.
I remembered the sensation of being jostled around in the taxi van, the open windows for AC, the sensation of being a very white person in an African country. I don’t tan very quickly or very much at all. Mzungu is a correct termm for me! (white person). Not so much Brian. He does tan quickly but looks very English!
Down to the beach. Grandson is a little fish! He plays football on the beach with the ‘big boys’ – at six years old. our daughter’s partner was more exhausted than the little chap ;).
We saw the sun go down on the sea. Dhows drifting across the sunset invite you to take photographs. We had champagne as we watched the ‘sea swallow the sun’…
As we drove back the smells of woodsmoke drifted into the car, then the Kerosene lamps blew their special aroma our way as well as their warm light…
Back to our delightful hotel for a Mojito and dinner… a warm breeze drifts across my ipad.
“Can we go and have dinner now”. he whined. No, it wasn’t the grandson… it was my husband.
Okay.. see you all tomorrow.
Packing…errands…sorting… exercise… healthy eating choices…
communications… personal development… professional work…
Aarrgghhhh! Back under the duvet…
I began to think, “I can’t stay here all day!” So I Googled how I felt (as you do)… Came up with this blog by Becky Kane:
The Science of Analysis Paralysis: How Overthinking Kills Your Productivity & What You Can Do About It
A good read, well placed resarch to back up the article, great visuals, and…
Practical suggestions of how to overcome the problem. Excellent!
One that really helps me is this tip:
“The next time you catch yourself thinking over a particularly issue again and again, schedule a meeting with a coworker, supervisor, mentor, or friend.”
Sometime if I am on my own, and paralysed by ‘all this to do’ I will write to myself. Writing to God is even more helpful. Did you know He likes conversations as well as prayers? Well, He does.
My husband, Brian, is a master of thinking simply – no he’s not ‘simple’! He is able to clarify what needs to be done and then does it. I am the more creative thinker and communicator but can be stymied by overthinking. If he is around, then I can present my ‘all this to do’ frantic thinking and obtain his simplicity of thought.
Blog writing is good for people like me. So much going on in my brain how to start an article, that book, that project… Never get round to it. But a blog? I can take the Nike approach: just do it!
Another of Kate’s tips:
Structure your day for the things that matter most.
Hmm… Ah! Get up and get going!
Just about to get out from under the duvet…
Have a good day everyone!
It is true – it IS a psychological syndrome! who knew! I shouldn’t be cynical – I am still a psychologist.
The story of how the poor amphibian was enjoying its tepid bath and stayed so long it didn’t notice the water getting hotter and hotter until it was boiling alive, is also termed a ‘parable’ by Wiki wonderland. If the frog was thrown into the boiling water it would jump out.
This syndrome or parable came to my mind when I realised that I was having health and well-being issues again. I didn’t see how bad it had become till I was struggling enough to call a halt and shout help so I could ‘rehab’ my self and my life.
It was just easier for me to just keep going enough to manage the stresses and strains of impending relocation, possible retirement, spouse’s health issues, adult children needing support, poorly grandchildren. I had already stepped down from one on one counselling or coaching so at least in that I had identified I wasn’t functioning at the level I had been.
Changing seasons in the UK mean changing the type of clothes you wear. The cottons and linens get put away or kept somewhere on hand in case of a winter sun getaway. Sandals make way for boots and heavy shoes. It was the fitted winter clothes that were far too tight around the middle that alerted me to exactly how much my girth had increased.
Most of us know these days that a real ‘baddie’ is fat round your middle. Even when I was thinner I didn’t have much of a waist but when even jeggings get hard work to put on… well….
I know the theory of healthy living. I watch documentaries, have studied the biological basis of psychology, human physiology. I have been a returner to a certain weight watching program, counting whatever points they say I should. The latter has changed over the years as updated research on weight loss suggests different balances for proteins, fats and sugars can assist in losing the pounds.
It is the stress and pressure that sends me into the mindset of ‘survival at all costs mode never mind the flippin’ points and I havent got time to go to the loo let alone exercise’. Just bring on the tea and cake – now! I need to keep going…
It is generally agreed that some stress is good. I have known someone get ill from a kind of boredom sickness. No motivation and not enough to interest them in life. I know that we get good input from being active and gaining achievements. I am also aware that that needs to be balanced with feeling connected, being a part of something and giving yourself comfort and care.
This balance is very well described by Paul Gilbert, who wrote The Compassionate Mind and Compassion Focussed Therapy. Likewise, ‘moderation in all things’ is one of those quotes where “I hear what you are saying” but struggle to implement the concept in my life.
I am just not designed that way. I have a neurodiverse profile, a quick mind, I see things in insights, am better at leaping forwards towards a perceived outcome than following a process. I take it up with God on a regular basis: “You made me this way!” He smiles back and almost winks, “Yes, but I didn’t design the lifestyle you have apparently chosen.”
Did I choose the way I have been living, or, like my poor friend the frog, did I just let it get hotter and hotter till it was scalding me?
In moving house, as well as all my books and papers, I can see that I have brought my “stressed lifestyle” choices with me.
I have more things to sort out post move, but not things or stuff. Rather, what choices and habits do I keep and what do I dump? What needs a fresh approach, a change of mindset?
These questions are all part of the ‘rehab’ process… and I need to remember it is a PROCESS. I cannot leap to the end but will walk the path step by step, seeking to enjoy each one.
Enjoy your path and journey! See you later …
Okay don’t panic folks – life rehab not drugs. Although many things that seem innocuously themselves, I may use as crutches during difficult times: decaf coffee, red bush tea, low cal breakfast bars, quaffing grapes (raw and a glass of the fermented type with dinner), reading improving books, educational TV documentaries, going to church, listening to spiritual development teaching…
It is all about balance and I have gotten out of balance.
Rehabilitation has many connotations – mostly negative. Sadly Amy Winehouse, writer of the song of my title, didn’t manage life balance or rehabilitation. Tragic waste of talent in her life cut short. I spent two weeks on an arthritis and joint problem rehab course January two years ago. Life got so busy and intense after that I didn’t really get the benefit I should have. My outcome wasn’t as final as Amy’s but I did end up much where I started.
Since then many loose ends have been tidied up: best beloved has two new hips and a resorted eye lens, we have sold up and moved house, I have retired and come out of retirement into consultancy and writing again. Another grandchild arrived to bring the total to 16 – 8 of each sort now. We are delighted with our new home (a separate office for him and me – most important), its location on the coast, the ease of living in a house designed for modern living. Yes, we loved the Old Toll House and using it as a retreat facility. However the older grandchildren were getting larger and the smaller ones more mobile and I needed to keep an eye and ear out for them. A more open plan downstairs became essential. A larger kitchen helped with the irritation of, ‘you’re in my space again!’
However the time of transition and changes have left me with dodgy joints, an overweight unfit body and the old anxiety and stress levels have risen…
I recognise it is time to mentally’roll my sleeves up’: get back to the remedial exercises, start swimming and Pilates again, remember to take vitamin D supplements (there seems to be a genetic tendency to get low on this baby) and then address the dreaded Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I researched the nutritional issues which may be upsetting the gut causing the dreaded bloating and mid section weight gain of stress and hormone related IBS.
The nutritionalist lady I spoke to asked,
“When were you first diagnosed?” Can you believe over 30 years ago!
“Have I tried …. ” Yes I have – everything! Don’t get me started…
This well qualified and very sensible lady said she didn’t want me to tackle gut and diet problems if it was going to make me more stressed. Not turning down a client but making sure the time was right. I was impressed. She was right. I am having dental work done, getting used to exercising again, we are travelling to Africa shortly, then it is Christmas with the family visits round the country… Put something else into that mix and the result may not be pretty.
Rehab of any sort is a process. It can be tiring. It takes energy, focus and commitment. You can’t wish it away to be at the end. It is the process that makes the change not looking forever and wistfully at the longed for outcome. I am always nagging my clients to ‘focus on the process NOT the outcome’.
I am on the way to rehabilitating my mind, body, gut and spirit… I am on a new journey. One step at a time.
I will let you know how it goes!
From Nick read sensitive gut blog: (symptoms of IBS and candidiatis) fatigue, irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety, unexpected weight gain, muscle and joint pain, cravings for sugar or alcoholic beverages, dizziness, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal bloating, difficulty in concentrating,
I tick all the above except diarrhoea, oh yes, and the weight gain is probably not unexpected given the cravings for sugary food and alcoholic beverages…
Everything aches. Thinking about changing bed linen for guests ( which I have been doing) can fatigue me, let alone actually doing it.
However, getting back to a physical fitness and healthy eating regime will help. It has before. There was a focus on only one aspect of my life not all the ideas and part planned projects roaring around in my brain. This involved hiring a personal trainer.
Getting back to focus on writing projects I think will be the same: I will hire a personal writing coach. I achieved my best writing at the Arvon Foundation Writing for Life course and achieved my academic writing successes with a supervisor.
It seems independence of mind does not always achieve success in practice…
Happy Interdependence Day!
Some years ago, a prophet type person spoke about us being ‘repotted’ when we relocated. I have a camellia in a pot that needs to be repotted and I feel sorry for he poor thing as I have left it too long. The roots are hugging the pot so tight it is going to really hurt when they are separated. Will it be like that for me?
I took this photo below over a year ago when I was walking in the lanes near to Beauty From Ashes, a Christian Retreat run by a delightful lady called Jennifer Rees Larcombe. I hadn’t walked this way before, it was unfamiliar – a new path. I had a sense of adventure looking at flowers, hedges, trees, hearing birdsong and, on this day, feeling the sun warming me up.
I haven’t yet translated that sense of adventure to getting to our new home. It has been hassles for me – organisation, planning what to do and when, waiting on other people … I admit I am not at my best in the time before a large enterprise. I am fine when the thing is upon me and I can roll my sleeves up and do the stuff!
The to-ing and fro-ing of solicitors letters and searches and documents to be signed and witnessed has frozen my brain today. I have a list of thing I need to do but am taking time out from what seems like ‘moving the deckchairs on the Titanic’ – I do stuff but nothing much seems to make any difference!
Sitting on my bed, writing this, the sun streaming through the window, I get that sense of excitement despite ‘all this to do’ going on in my brain. New memories to make, a house to be creatively designed and mounded into OUR home, more people to welcome, new paths to walk – this time close to the sea.
There may be some shifting of my roots as we relocate and the furniture and bits and pieces that make up our lives are removed and transported. At least I don’t have to worry about how everything will fit into the new place which is quite spatio us.
As our son cheekily said,
“Well you know, Mum, you don’t need to worry: you aren’t downsizing so you can take all your crap with you!”
I trust he means chattels and furnishings rather than my anxieties and holdings on to things… Thanks dear Son for lightening the mood 😉
Following on from my article “Price of Perfection” posted recently.. A friend of mine, a past client, mentioned that a tendency towards perfectionism can come from shame. She and I both know that one! She recommended this TED talk from Brene Brown. I had seen it before and found it really helpful. Always worth another look when you have had problems in the past – they can try and sneak up on you again!
Have a look: