Streaks, making things whole and letting things go

In recent years – and certainly since I got sober at the start of 2019 – I’ve been in the habit of daily streaks. I started a 4thewords (writing RPG) streak in December 2018, a daily run streak in January 2020 and a Duolingo streak in June 2022. Longest of all, though, has been my daily streak on this blog. I’ve published at least one blog post every day since I started the blog on 1st January 2018.

Streaks are a really good motivational tool for keeping up a habit, and are usually rewarded on systems such as 4thewords and Duolingo (both of which do have mechanisms for repairing a streak if you forget or need a break). Part of the reason I’m attracted to them is because I’ve started so many hobbies and projects over the years that have just petered out because I don’t prioritise them. If you have a streak going with something, you have to prioritise it, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.

Recently, though, I’ve had so many of these things ongoing that they’ve started to become a bit overwhelming and I’ve felt like they’ve been taking up a significant chunk of my time. However, I’ve been really loath to let any of them go, and I’ve recognised in the last couple of months that this is connected to my hoarding and addiction issues. I’ve made really good progress with the hoarding this year, and so I’ve been trying to apply that experience to help me let go of a few of my streaks.

I gave up the 4thewords streak a few weeks ago. It was getting to the point where I was so obsessed with logging every word I wrote that it was sometimes taking an hour or more, and since I stopped doing it I’ve realised how subconsciously entangled it was with my day (because I couldn’t write anything at all without noting it down to add to my 4tw files later on). I’ve also largely moved away from the reason I started doing it – my prose fiction writing – as most of my creative efforts go into my text adventure games now. As such, I’ve not missed it at all and my life has become a little bit easier.

I’m going to keep going with my run streak (which is huge for my mental health) and my Duolingo streak, which can take less than ten minutes on days when I’m busy. But I need to avoid adding any more daily habits to the to-do list, as they mount up so easily.

One thing I have been finding positive is the Codecademy weekly streak. You only have to do a short lesson once a week to keep the streak going, and that feels so much more manageable and less stressful (and also keeps it fun, which is important). I also don’t feel upset when I break my weekly streak by having a few weeks away from it, as it doesn’t feel addictive in the way that daily streaks do.

All of this means that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my blog going forward. Keeping the daily streak has meant that most of my posts are short filler entries, especially recently, and it takes me a long time to compose them as there’s often nothing I can think of to say.

As such, a few weeks ago, I decided that from the start of 2023, I would only blog when I needed and wanted to blog. I will keep going with my parkrunday and Phone Box Thursday posts, as I enjoy those, but all other posts will be spontaneous rather than an obligation. I think I will enjoy blogging much more as a result. I thought the start of 2023 would be a good time to make this change, as I was spending 2022 working towards the ‘blog every day in a calendar year’ badge over on FetchEveryone by syndicating all my blog posts from here, and so I wanted to get that finished first…

…and then this last Thursday, I forgot to syndicate my phone box post to Fetch (I ticked it off my to-do list by mistake as I was so tired) and just like that, blew all the daily progress I’d made towards the badge over the last nearly eleven months. Sigh.

So there’s no reason not to give up my blog streak now. I feel a bit uncomfortable not ‘making the streak whole’ by rounding it out to five years, but that’s an issue in itself, and I think it would be braver and better to let it go now. So tomorrow, I won’t blog. Which is absolutely terrifying, but it will make my life happier from this point on. Of that I am certain.

(There are a few more bits and pieces of streaks here and there that I could also do with letting go, largely involving daily visits to various web forums and things like that. I’ll try and work on those next year.)

parkrunday: Leazes #88

Been struggling a little with my spondylitis this weekend, so it was a touch and go decision on parkrun, but I felt I’d be all right if I took it easy. Bit slow and disappointing as a result, but I needed to take care of myself. I’m glad I went though.

No picture today as I forgot to take one of my own – there is a Facebook one of me hanging around at the start, but I don’t look very happy in it!

Phone Box Thursday: A149, Cley-next-the-Sea

The next very narrow stretch of the A149 runs through Cley-next-the-Sea, which, like all good villages, has a phone box (and in this case a surprisingly detailed Wikipedia page).

Red phone box
Red phone box, A149, Cley-next-the-Sea, 19th September 2022.

(Coordinates 52°95’28.9″N, 1°04’29.3″E.)

I had to double-take a bit on Street View as the surroundings have changed so much (the Google cars haven’t been back to visit since 2009). This box is a bit faded, but still has a phone inside (and also a traffic cone for some reason).

More from this pretty part of the world next week.

Thoughts on our 10th wedding anniversary

I often imagine what future dates will be like.  But I’m not sure I would have accurately predicted, ten years ago today when Geth and I got married, what our lives would be like a decade on.

I would have been semi-surprised to see myself living in Newcastle.  We already knew that Southampton (where we were living at the time) wasn’t quite right for us in terms of distance from family and various other things, but at that point we were hoping either to move back to Scotland or to somewhere like Manchester or Leeds.  Newcastle wasn’t really on our radar, and in fact the first time I ever visited was when we were househunting after Geth got the job here, but I’m really happy here and with the life we have in north-east England now.  I feel settled.

While I had vaguely thought about running after enjoying the indoor version on Wii Fit circa 2009-2010, I don’t think I would have imagined that I’d have got into the habit of doing it every day – or that the first thing I’d do on our 10th anniversary would be to go for a run in the pouring November rain!  I also couldn’t have imagined that I’d have got Geth (who at that point was resolute about ‘walking to work being enough exercise’) into running too…

I would have been surprised (and a little disappointed) to see myself mostly still spending my work days proofreading.  Ten years ago, I still viewed my proofreading business as a bit of a stopgap, and hoped that my creative work would support me eventually.  That hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve taken a lot of positive steps in the intervening time, have branched out a bit and am now very happy with my portfolio career and its future possibilities, even if it’s still the proofreading that’s the bread and butter.  I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see Geth taking on senior academic roles and winning teaching awards, though I might have been a little indignant on his behalf (as I am now to some extent) that it hadn’t happened sooner!

For our anniversary celebration itself, I blithely assumed that we’d be off in the tropics somewhere!  But we’re so busy with work that it’s actually quite impressive we’ve made the effort to go out for a meal tonight, rather than collapsing on the sofa with a takeaway like we usually do these days.

So much has changed.  But while I can’t speak for myself, I’m happy that Geth is exactly the same as he always has been.  He is my constant in life and I couldn’t love him more.  I’m so excited to see what the next decade brings us.

10th wedding anniversary

Some finishing touches

Following yesterday’s house exertions, I was out and about with Mum and Dad today, visiting my cousin Jen and her family (including a highly adorable recent arrival). Bit of work to squeeze in too as it’s going to be a busy one this week! Hoping to get the rest of the living room tidied up and looking nice in the next day or so though – there are just a few more things to sort out.

More house stuff

I’ve been decluttering again today. Three large storage boxes of empty punch boards from boardgames (i.e. the cardboard sheets you punch the tokens out of). I’ve been keeping them for years because I’ve not been ready to let anything like that go. I’m getting better, slowly.

Doing a bit of a living room revamp this weekend – changing the TV setup and adapting some furniture. We’ll see how it works out but I’m looking forward to the results.