Never too old …

Give me an expanse of water, and you’ll find my footsteps alongside it.  It has been this way for as long as I can remember although, ironically, a non-swimmer, I’m afraid of being immersed in water.DSCN7127
The silver sands of Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
I’m always interested in what the tides leave behind.  Sometimes, it is a landscape of trees.  DSCN7132
At other times, exquisite perfection in shells and pieces of coral.DSCN7146
Or stuff that appeals to the child in me.

With photography, I’ve been focusing on ‘inner work’ for some years now to the detriment of every day life, the small stuff, that makes my world go around.  This year I decided to turn my attention to my finances and keep track of where I spend the most.  I’m not into apps at all.  I enjoy spreadsheets.  So started 2020, spreadsheet ready.

On reflecting on my expenditure last year it was an uncomfortable truth, I spend too much on books.  I go into automatic mode at the airport.  I clear security and head to the bookshop.  With several trips a month and books costing around $40 each, it was a hidden monthly expense.  I’ve been able to overcome my habit of buying chocolate each time I buy a book (because one cannot read without chocolate, can one?!).  It was difficult but I was able to achieve it.  I now only eat chocolate from Margaret River and I go there a few times a year.  That takes care of the chocolate habit.

My first trip to the airport this year was torture.  The more I thought of ignoring the book shop, the stronger the desire.  I ‘disrupted the circuity’ by telling myself I would go to the Ladies and then to the book shop, 20 minutes before boarding and I set my alarm for this.  At that particular terminal it is a long walk to the restrooms but it is flanked by two book shops.  I had only a few minutes to spare as I browsed the shelves when I came across the book ‘Tiny Habits:  The Small Changes That Change Everything” by BJ Fogg.  I flicked through the pages and, although the theory is familiar to me, it appealed on a personal level.  I nearly bought it when the message of the book became clear.  I needed this opportunity, a tiny change, not to buy the book.  After all I reasoned, if I really wanted it, it would be on the shelf next trip (delayed gratification).  Late one night I searched for BJ Fogg’s work and found he gave a TED Talk some years ago.  Interesting, on You Tube, and worth having a look.

Since that tiny change, each day before I get out of bed I promise myself I will focus on one small thing.  Call it change.  Call it fine tuning.  I call it behavioural cobwebs that need clearing.  They seem to be there, visible, non-intrusive, and one gets used to them until one spring cleans.

So my apron is on, my reach is long, may 2020 unwrap a new me.

May you find creative ways to achieve what you would like to achieve, and here’s to a shiny, new you.

Until next time

As always,

a dawn bird

In response to VJ’s Weekly Challenge – #80 – Habit

A new year begins …

The month of January is coming to an end.  I’ll be travelling from later this week so I thought I’d pause and collect my thoughts.

Last year was a year of learning.  I discovered I’m not a 25 year old any more!  My mind is clear as but my body let me down.  Fortunately in the last couple of years I’ve come across two wonderful books that made me rethink and rework my priorities.  Quite different in their approach and content, they are the foundation on which I’m nurturing a lifestyle.

A colleague recommended Paul Kalanithi’s ‘When Breath Became Air’.  I felt overwhelmed as I read it.  I will re-read the book for sure, but next time with texta in hand.  I expect the tears will flow again.  The overall message for me was quite simple.  Live life well.

When I bought Charles Duhigg’s book ‘The Power of Habit’, the sales assistant told me the book had flown off the shelves.  After reading it, I knew why.  Duhigg integrates the art and science of habits into an accessible text.  I immediately started to set about change in a meaningful way.

I’m a big believer in the power of meditative imagery, in mindfulness, in stillness, in silence.  The image below is one I love and often used in these exercises.  I’ll explain why.

thumb_img_3601_1024

In simplest terms, habits are formed through repetition.  This lays down neural pathways.  Repeat the action (or thought), the pathway is strengthened.  Uproot/disrupt the pathway, you can start to break the habit and form new ones.  This is how I understood and ran with it despite the challenge of heavy neural cabling I knew to be there.

Depending on the terminal my habit at the airport is to check in, clear security and head for the book shop.  It is rare for me not to buy a book.  It’s one of my few indulgences.  But the habit I wanted to break was buying chocolate at the newsagents.  For me, reading and chocolate go hand in hand, so this was a harder task.  Then I remembered a strategy I used years ago when folks were allowed to sell charity boxes of chocolate in the workplace (a practice that no longer happens).  I would walk past the box and visualise each bar made of lard.  The smell of lard makes me feel ill.  It worked!  I haven’t bought a chocolate in a shop in months.

The evolution of petrol stations becoming eateries troubles me from a health perspective because once again the emphasis is on short sighted convenience.  If I’m not in an airport terminal, I’m at a petrol station and naturally, another habit I wanted to break was to limit my purchases there.  I made it a habit to purchase only petrol and if needed, water.  That worked too.  Instead of wandering around, I go in with a set purpose and don’t deviate from it.

Developing a list of tasks before I go to bed comes naturally to me.  It provides a template for my day when I wake.  It also keeps me productive.  I write at least seven lengthy reports every week.  Picking up on another team’s work practices, my colleagues and I are trying to complete our reports on the day we see someone.  It’s a work-in-progress task and we are fine tuning our practice.  I suspect we are going to nail it this year.

With injuries last year, I’ve spent a lot of my time at home catching up on old reports, so my health is a priority I cannot ignore.  Making excuses now seems an excuse.  I’m time poor is a reality not an excuse any more.  I made a list of the easiest and most enjoyable exercises I know.  Pilates and walking emerged at the top of the list.  I realised I could do this in just about every town I visit.  It’s been too hot to walk in Perth, so I go to the shopping centres for an hour long walk in air conditioned comfort.  I’ve also enjoyed a few sessions of Pilates, the studio within walking distance from home.  How did I not know that!

What I’ve learned last year was breaking habits does not have to be painful.  Understanding the art and science behind it gives hope.

Each night I visualise the beautiful gossamer lantern of the Cape Gooseberry.  I see my brain developing this delicate, lacy network of new neural pathways.  There’s a sense of excitement in this growth.

And that’s where I’m starting from this year.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird