Three years blogging… and a reflection on some accidental New Year Resolutions

For years, I didn’t start new habits at New Year – or if I did, they never stuck for very long. However, for the last four years in a row, I have chosen something to focus on every year and have stuck with it. My life is a lot better as a result, and so I’m hoping I’ll be able to stick to my main 2021 goal too.

At the start of 2017, I started going to Slimming World. The accountability of the group setting enabled me to lose the five stone that I’d been trying to lose for nearly a decade, and though I’ve not managed to stay at target during the pandemic, I only have a stone to lose again this next year (which is a lot easier than five!). Life at a healthy weight is immeasurably more physically comfortable and something that I will never take for granted. Once Christmas eating is done, I’ll be back on the light meals again – I’m following a calorie-based approach rather than SW now, but I’ll always be thankful for the motivation it gave me.

At the start of 2018, I started this blog. It was always my aim to blog every day and so sometimes, especially during the empty year of 2020, blogging has felt like a bit of a chore. However, the habit of getting my words out into the world has given me confidence to do so in other ways, such as reading at poetry nights and publishing text adventure games. I love having the blog as it just feels so much more ‘mine’ than social media pages.

At the start of 2019, I got sober. I’ve mentioned this before but I feel so, so incredibly grateful that I managed to do this (and get the first difficult year of sobriety out of the way) *before* the pandemic hit – I really believe that things would have gone nowhere good if I’d still been drinking in 2020. It’s still not easy, but life is so much more stable than it was two years ago, and that has been so important over the last few months.

And at the start of 2020, after four and a half years of more sporadic running, I started a daily run streak. The start of a new decade seemed like a good time to do it, and I just wanted to see how long I could keep it up. Again, this was incredibly well-timed in terms of the pandemic, as I discussed yesterday. Whatever life throws at me, and however long it takes for races to come back, I’ll always have my run streak to keep me motivated.

On to 2021, then, and this year the main focus will be to get my house in order (literally). I already made a good start by spending a few weeks in November/December sorting out all the junk that I’d been hoarding upstairs since we moved in, but there’s a lot more to do, and a lot of daily habits that I need to instil. One of the major negative factors for my mental health is that I constantly feel that my house is dirty and untidy, and so I can never fully relax. Making time for my house projects this year, and keeping on top of the upkeep, will hopefully allow me to feel a lot better.

On a personal level, I’m feeling quite hopeful today. Not for 2021 as a whole, but for one day at a time, which is how I’ve managed all my other big life changes over the last few years.

I’m excited about tomorrow.

Lancashire hotpot
Another day, another New Year recipe I made myself for the first time. Lancashire hotpot is all about the crust, and it came out just right.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Deacon Blue – ‘Queen Of The New Year’
Tears For Fears – ‘Shout’
Abba – ‘Happy New Year’
Traditional – ‘The Blaydon Races’
Beach Boys – ‘Sloop John B’

There must be some cross-training going on here!

With NaNo done and a couple of days to go before I plan to start working on my Adventuron jam game in earnest, I’ve been working hard all day on de-hoarding my upstairs rooms. De-hoarding is a really difficult process for me because I’m so over-attached to stuff. Nevertheless, a lot of the stuff upstairs has been doing nothing but hanging around making me depressed, so it needs to go (or at least go into a box and sit in the garage for a year or two in order to convince me that I really don’t need it).

I’m really looking forward to having some floor space upstairs. A few more days of blitzing and hopefully it should all be done.

De-hoarding is a bit more physical than sitting on the sofa writing so I’m finding I’m quite tired in the evenings. It’s certainly a more strenuous form of secondary exercise than a yoga video!

Same again tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll feel like I’ve made a bit more progress.

Christmas star
I’ve used these star lights on the shelves downstairs for a few years now. I love sparkly lights at Christmas.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Duran Duran – ‘The Edge Of America’

A grey Monday

A tiring mile in the strong breeze today…

…which I’m going to take as a sign I worked hard on my running over the weekend. Hopefully I’ll have recovered a bit of energy by tomorrow’s interval session!

I’m struggling quite a lot with anxiety today. I think I’m just getting a bit worn down by all the small stresses of the last few weeks and months. I need to find some forms of escapism, possibly via getting back to my writing and videogaming again. Geth is playing a tabletop RPG online with friends this evening so doing some of my own gaming might be a good idea.

I’m waiting for work to come in at the moment so I think my non-running activities this week will mainly be admin, house sorting, and trying not to worry about stuff.

Hallowe'en tealight holder
Now that it’s dark by 6pm, the tealight holders are seeing a lot of use.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Ultra Naté – ‘Free’
Cast of The Greatest Showman – ‘The Greatest Show’

The other side

I’ve done a long video about yesterday’s running challenge…

(though you’ll have to wait till tomorrow for the video, as it’s soooo long it’s taking forever to upload to YouTube!)

(UPDATE: here it is!)

…and I honestly didn’t expect to feel quite so flat today. The whole thing was incredibly intense and I think it’s going to take me a good few days to recover both physically and mentally. I’ll blog about it once I’ve had some time to reflect, in about a week or so.

I expected I’d sleep all day today but I was awake at 7:45am – probably for the best as some urgent day job work had come in, and I was able to get it done nice and quickly. I didn’t intend to do my daily run until the evening as I thought my legs would be too sore, but by mid-afternoon I was climbing the walls and just wanted to get out there. My legs complained a lot, but surprisingly I managed my usual pace, pretty much. I had to find a new mile-ish route as I couldn’t face the usual one after doing it 24 times yesterday!

Tomorrow I’m heading to Timpsons first thing, as a slight bit of misadventure during the 24-hour challenge meant that my phone screen got smashed and I need to get it fixed. Other than that, I think I’m just going to try and enjoy some free time, as it looks like I might actually have some this week!

Pre-marathon
A picture from just before the challenge started, when I was still marginally sane.

Today’s earworm playlist:

U2 – ‘Elevation’
Idina Menzel – ‘Into The Unknown’

One step at a time

Some very wet laps today…

…but the runs themselves were fine – legs seem to be behaving themselves at the moment.

Pretty much everything is just one foot in front of the other at the moment, just like running. There are a lot of difficult things going on at the moment, and 2020 is not improving, and it’s a bit tough to think long-term right now because it’s all a bit too overwhelming. I’m used to dreaming about the future a lot, but that’s not really possible in the current circumstances. Just one day at a time, and sometimes one hour.

Tomorrow will be tomorrow. I’m not thinking about it just yet.

First jumper of the season
It was properly cold today for the first time this autumn, so I have officially declared it jumper season.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Neil Diamond – ‘Sweet Caroline’
Dusty Springfield – ‘I Only Wanna Be With You’
Sigala, Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana – ‘Just Got Paid’
Carole King – ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September’
Gunship – ‘Black Blood Red Kiss’
Midnight Oil – ‘Beds Are Burning’

Grey days

Another late-start just-a-mile run today…

…and I’m feeling a bit demotivated and really looking forward to having some certainty about my autumn running plans. Just a few more days.

I’m currently finishing off some admin and then I’ll be spending a few hours coding again. I’m really enjoying keeping my current game projects short and simple, as my games usually get very unwieldy.

Probably some Paper Mario again this evening. It’s a very samey week, but it’s the good kind of samey.

Just me
This is the face of someone who has completely run out of ideas for pictures to post on her blog. I’m okay. It’s a good four months into lockdown and I’m still generally appreciating this unplanned opportunity for a quiet year spent creating things.

Today’s earworm playlist:

ACE+ – ‘Central Factory’
Nina – ‘Automatic Call’
Rod Stewart – ‘Baby Jane’
Heaven 17 – ‘Let Me Go’

The midweek slump

Not the usual midweek run…

…because I’m still not feeling that well. As such, I’ve decided to take it really easy with the running this week and just do short runs, then I’ll see how I feel at the weekend.

I’m still trying not to do too much brain-wise as well, as I’m a bit burnt out after the end of the game jam. However, I find that the creative part of my brain never stops whirring, so I’m constantly scribbling down notes for future games and novels and poems and blog posts, and lying awake thinking about them at night. Playing jam entries and other videogames does help, because it gives me something to concentrate on, so I’m trying to get my daily chores done ASAP at the moment so as to have a bit more gaming time.

I need to do a bit of housework tomorrow as the house badly needs it (lockdown has been bad for this as I find that when we don’t have visitors coming, I don’t prioritise cleaning) and we are going to have an ACTUAL OTHER PERSON IN OUR HOUSE ON FRIDAY OMG. It’s just the boiler technician, but I still won’t let people in the house when it’s not clean, which is why tomorrow is now a cleaning day.

Other than that, I will be trying (and hopefully succeeding) to relax again…

Sonic slippers
Back home in Edinburgh, Mum and Dad are sorting out my brother Malcolm’s old room at the moment, and have managed to unearth his Sonic the Hedgehog slippers from the ’90s. They’re still in fairly good nick and it sounds like Mum has adopted them.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)’
Duran Duran – ‘First Impression’

A quiet Monday

A faster mile today…

…and since then I’ve spent the rest of the day quietly getting on with my to-do list. Geth and I didn’t have the greatest weekend health-wise – the awful, awful world situation is taking a bit of a toll, and we’ve both been struggling to get as much exercise in as planned and to eat healthily. Today feels a bit more manageable in those respects.

There’s quite a lot on my list this week, but at the moment it’s just taking one day at a time.

Fence rainbow
I like this painted half-rainbow that I run past most days.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘The Edge Of America’
Wham! – ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’
Wham! – ‘Club Tropicana’
Rihanna and Jay-Z – ‘Umbrella’
Culture Beat – ‘Mr Vain’

Suddenly summer

Back to the intervals today…

…because Geth wants to start doing intervals, so he came running with me this morning to observe how they work. I only did half the number of sets I was doing a few weeks ago though!

It’s not been a great day. I had an absolutely terrible night’s sleep last night – partly due to the muggy heat and partly due to ongoing stress – and then we had some bad news this afternoon. I had hoped to get some work done on my next adventure game today, but there have just been too many distractions. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to lose myself in it a bit.

On the plus side, we did go for a walk in the glorious warm sunshine, largely because we needed to get out of the house. Spring has felt a bit sudden this year due to the lockdown; the world has been on hold, but obviously the seasons haven’t. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of walking over the summer, even if we can’t do much else.

Ukulele collection
My ukulele family has expanded this week, thanks to a generous gift from Dad! Looking forward to having a good strum over the weekend.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Ollie Wride – ‘Back To Life’
Daniel Bedingfield – ‘If You’re Not The One’

Blue skies, but still inside

Just a short run this morning…

…and then the same kind of cross-training that I did yesterday. It’s nice to be getting some non-running exercise in this week.

Speaking of non-running exercise, I still haven’t been for any of the walks that I planned to do when the exercise restrictions were relaxed last week. It’s really nice weather out there, and I know it’d be an enjoyable thing to do, but I’ve just been too busy. Things are taking longer than they should during the day because I feel sluggish and distracted by various situational stresses, and then in the evening I’m burnt out and just want to play videogames (and to be honest I’ve not even had the energy for that the last couple of nights).

In short, it’d be nice to get a walk in, but I’m not sure when I’ll manage it, because other things take priority.

A different kind of run tomorrow, and hopefully also some writing.

RingFit Adventure
I’ve been enjoying RingFit Adventure the last couple of days as a quick bit of cross-training after my shorter runs.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Michael Land – ‘Edward van Helgen’
September 87 – ‘Bad Dream Baby’
Ollie Wride – ‘Back To Life’