Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Will Power or the lack thereof!

Recently I listened to a programme on Radio 4 about 'will power' and the the brain. It was interesting to discover that will power is something that you must exercise and develop, otherwise it will be weak.

And I just thought it was my lack of 'will power'!

Apparently, it is very difficult to maintain will power when your body is stressed in some way. Your brain works to break down your resistance so that you give up. For example, the reason people find it hard to diet when they are under stress in some aspect of their lives is that the brain can't cope with both going on so it fools you into quitting.

What a good excuse! I'm going to use that! My brain made me do it!

Though the programme explored the research into will power and the brain, I didn't take it all that seriously until I was swimming the other day. I am quite used to swimming a kilometer at a time but every once in a while I have to really talk myself into completing it. I suddenly find myself having an internal conversation in which I discuss the reasons why only doing 3/4 of a kilometer would be perfectly alright that day. At other times I find myself loosing track of the lengths I have done despite the various ways I use to count them (see previous post). My mind tells me that I have done more than I probably have. I have come to realize that my brain is trying to mislead me so that I will finish swimming sooner.

At the moment I am on a new method of keeping track. It came from my previous method, in which I counted each two laps as A and B. So, I do 1a and b and then 2a and b. I started to say to myself when I did 2b, the line from Hamlet, "To be or not to be..." Then I started to think of them as the Hamlet lenghts. Next, in an attempt to find a new way of keeping track, I named them all. First there were Claudius a and b, then Hamlet a and b, Ophelia a and b, Rosencrantz a and b and finally Guildenstern a and b. As I touch the side of the pool at the end of those 10 lengths, I finish off with "are dead"!

Does this all sound a little odd? I suppose it is really. However, it is all part of the game I have developed in order to stop my brain from tricking me. Alas, it doesn't always work. What a tricky brain I have but at least I don't have to blame my lack of will power!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Best laid plans

I need to get back into the swim as far as my exercise regime goes. I have had to reduce the number of times I swim over the last month because of a continuing ankle injury and a very bad cold through Christmas. I swam a kilometer on Saturday and again on Sunday and had intended going again this morning (Tuesday) before I went to school. However, I didn't sleep well after 4 and Cliff was so sound asleep that I couldn't bring myself to wake him up. I must admit that Cliff sleeping so soundly allowed me to do what I really wanted to...take it easy and swim tomorrow. My goal is 5 days a week minimum so if I swim tomorrow, Thursday and Friday I will have done that. I must admit that it does worry me a little that I am allowing myself to give in but then I remind myself that sometimes you have to listen to your body.

Does that sound like another excuse? It does, doesn't it!

For me swimming isn't just a form of exercise but also a way of meditating. I think that I have written about it before. So, if I don't swim it affects not only my physical but also my emotional health. When I used to swim in the evenings, it was a way of destressing at the end of the day. I could clear my mind of everything that had happened at work. In the mornings, I don't think of work at all if I can help it.

Instead, I sometimes count the laps. Now, that is a much more difficult task than you would imagine! I swim two lengths and call them A and B, for example 1A and 1B. First I swim 2 A/Bs on a flutter board (=4 laps) and then 5 A/Bs (=10 laps) of back stroke. That makes 14 lengths or 1/4 kilometer. If I do this 4 times, I have swum a kilometer. The problem is that once you start swimming you can easily loose track of how many lengths you have done. Mostly, I think, my body tries to convince me that I have done more than I really have. To overcome this, I have taken to saying A and B to myself over the course of the two lengths, and sometimes I have to say the number as well. I repeat it several times as I go down the pool. However as much as I try to concentrate on the number of lengths, my mind drifts off! Often, I have to add extra lengths just in case I really haven't swum as much as I thought I had.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Third Snow Day

It is truly amazing that in Southern England we had 3 snow days! Not everyone has been unable to go to work but our campus is inaccessible and the bus company decided that it was too dangerous to transport the students so here we are putting work on the school website for our students to do from the comfort and warmth of our houses and flats!

I must admit to being somewhat bored now. One snow day is wonderful, two is an added bonus, three is perhaps one too far! Yesterday, I was driven to considering painting the dining room due to this boredom. Today I dragged Cliff into Homebase and used my Nectar points to by brushes, paint, a roller and tray. My aim is to obliterate an orange wall a the end of the room, and leading into the kitchen. I will probably go on to paint the rest of the room because now that I have started, the rest of the room seems a little shabby too. Sorry Cliff!

Monday, 4 January 2010

First Day Back to Work and a New Book to Read!

Yes, it is my first day back after the holidays and it was somewhat of a relief! I had been sick for so long and completely inactive that I had become quite bored. School was just what I needed. There was a real buzz from the students and staff, along with lots of work to do! First of all, I had to tidy up the library which I had obviously deserted on the last day of school at 3:30. Looking back, I remember how anxious I was to leave and that when two students came in at 3:15 expecting to do some work on the computers I laughed! They were a little put out, I think. Nonetheless, I sent them packing, and locked up!

I managed to get a great many little jobs done...the minutia of my working life! As some may know, I am constantly complaining about my life being taken over by the minutia of the library. Today, however, I really enjoyed doing the little jobs. I managed to tick off so many and so quickly that it felt very satisfying!

Bed calls and I must go but on a final note, I have just started Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell, a Swedish detective fiction writer and creator of the character Wallander. His books are a great read if anyone is looking for something new!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Christmas presents and resolutions

We've never been a family who have spent large amounts on presents for Christmas so our decision this year to scale back even further was not difficult. We decided in the middle of the year to only make presents or buy them in a charity shop or on sale. On the whole I think that I stayed with that. My daughter Naomi made many of the presents she gave and I'm fairly certain that Emma bought hers on sale, except for her one indulgence, a car garage from Early Learning Centre for Noah.

I don't think that the choices I made of presents have changed all that much...books, DVDs, CDs and clothes. I did find it much more difficult to buy though. In the month leading up to Christmas, I read an article in the Guardian in which the writer questioned the whole notion of buying presents. Sometimes I am easily succeptible to that sort of thing and it did slow me down a bit. I began to question every likely purchase. Was I buying a certain book, DVD or CD in order to influence the tastes of the person it was meant for? Or might it even be a criticism of what I percieved their tastes to be? I think that this introspection must have happened in the lead up to my illness. I was tired and susceptible to both ideas and viruses! I almost returned the winter coat I had bought for Naomi, questioning both my choice of style and my decision that she needed a coat in the first place. See what I mean? I must have been very tired when I went through that line of thinking.

What I really wanted to do for Christmas this year was to finish the photo albums I had started for Naomi and Emma the Christmas I had cancer. I also wanted to finish off the book I had started to make of this blog and a family cook book. Out of my disappointment of not doing any of this comes my determination, one might even say, my resolution for the new year, to complete one or more of those activities. I suppose that it is a bit vain of me to think that they would like a copy of the blog but I'm certain they would like the photographs from their childhood. I had thought of scanning those but it really is nice to have a physical books and to sit some wintery Sunday afternoon and look at pictures from days gone by. Ah, there I go again making assumptions about what others would like and then imposing them! Cliff's mother (Naomi and Emma's grandmother) did that and we are now swamped with volumes of family history. Perhaps I will scan those one day!

And other resolutions, you may ask? On Facebook I said that I wanted to spend more times with friends. I will have to come up with some definite plan for that otherwise it will go the way of most resolutions. I shall start by inviting various people to Saturday or Sunday lunch or to dinner. I have other more obvious resolutions.
1. To sort out things at work so that I don't become as tired as I obviously was just before Christmas.
2. To finish one of my writing projects.
3. To write 500 to 1000 words per day.

Well those should do for a start!