Things have changed. Mostly, but not entirely, for the better.

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It has been over half a year since I last blogged. I know, I know. You have been on the edge of your seat this whole time.

Quite a lot has happened in that time:

  • I successfully defended my PhD thesis, so I am now Dr. 42KickingHipsters.
  • My crazy family came for a visit to see the defense ceremony and I dealt with that without killing anyone.
  • I ran/jogged/walked a very asthmatic 10K race for my second worst time ever.
  • I created and used a custom 32 page Holiday cookbook for all the Xmas cooking (from brining a turkey to baking several different cakes).
  • After two years of being effectively unemployed, I got a new job at the University of Manchester, which I am scheduled to start in April.
  • I got some paperwork that I had been waiting on for AGES that allowed me to finally apply for a visa to move to the UK. That will be important before I start the new job.

All of that has been stressful. All of that has been full of uncertainty. All of that has been full of obligations, timing, expenses and organization that was beyond my control. And it is not over yet because I still do not have full confirmation that I will get the visa for the UK. More waiting, more uncertainty.

I had to give up my gym membership and do not know when I can get another one. I could not sign up for a marathon or half-marathon (a big motivator for me) and still cannot until I can be sure where I will be in a month or two months or three months time. I had a topsy-turvy schedule that made it really hard to get into a routine or to eat consistently good options. I lost my office at the university after the defense ceremony so I no longer had a reason to go for a 4K round trip walk every day. My days are now full of very little, mostly trying to clean, organize, pack, research stuff at home so my only excuse now for poor exercise and eating is ennui.

Consequently, I am out of shape. I am still wearing all my old clothes (could not afford to buy new ones anyway) but they no longer fit me the way I like them to. I know a lot of people would be quite happy to have my body as it is now, and I am not saying that anyone who looks like me needs to change they way they look. But I do not feel that I look like myself. I am just a bit softer, squishier, less athletic looking than my mental image of myself. I am not happy with the way I look.

I tried to do an online workout video yesterday. I could not finish it. But more than just not finishing it, I felt really inflexible, weak, incapable. Putting in a specific effort made me realize how often recently I have been out of breath, off-balance, and helpless. I am sure a lot of people would be happy to have problems as minor as mine, but this does not match my mental image of myself as an active, confident, energetic person. I am not happy with how I feel.

So, I am starting up a new challenge. I am not going to wait for it to be convenient for me to get healthy. I am not going to put my health and feelings and self-image on hold until the stars align and magically my lifestyle allows me to look and feel the way I used to. True, I cannot yet join a gym and do some proper strength training the way I want. But I will not let that stop me from doing the best I can with what I have.

I will take a suitably nerdy approach so I will be recording and measuring. Get ready for some information overload as I decide what my concrete goals will be, what my target time frames are, what measurements I will track, and how much information i will be sharing.

As always, feel free to tell me what works or does not work for you. You can encourage me, ask me questions, or throw metaphorical eggs at me in an attempt to troll me.

Things have been a bit horrible.

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I know I haven’t written a blog post in ages, which is a shame because I am a damn good writer and blogging actually helps me sort out the static in my head. But recently life has been giving me nothing but lemons.

Not just giving me lemons either. Hurling them at me at high speed from a moving vehicle whilst insulting me. But as my cousin once told me, “When life gives you lemons, squeeze lemon juice in some bastard’s eye.”

So that is just what I am gonna do. Metaphorically, of course.

I don’t want to go into the details of what is going so horribly wrong, but it is mostly related to my thesis, my job search, my housing situation, the legality of being in the country, and feeling coerced into making big legal decisions by ideologues. To cut a long story short, I will probably be moving to a new country soon, starting a new job of some kind, continuing work on my thesis from afar, and entering a new legal contract that I never thought I would enter.

In preparation, I will be getting rid of one thing per day for the next… oh, let’s say… 35 days. And I am not talking about taking out the trash either. I am talking about clearing out paperwork that I had been avoiding, taking things to the charity shop, throwing out things that I meant to use or do something with but have never got around to. Things that I have some kind of unhealthy emotional attachment to or some kind of psychological aversion to dealing with. Hopefully this will not only reduce the amount of stuff that I have to box up and ship but will also lift a burden off my mind.

To aid the process, I will post pictures, explain what the thing is, why it was hard to get rid of, and what I did with it.

Today, I present you with this fairly ugly and certainly old holiday decoration.
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This was a kind of candle-holder/centrepiece/monstrosity. I found it hard to get rid of because my partner is super keen on Xmas, while I am not. We have been building a holiday collection for several years now, some of which was purchased when we were really skint. This was one of those cheap things that we bought ages ago, but I never felt that I could suggest chucking it because I don’t have a good sense of what parts of our collection are really that important to my partner. Honestly, if it were up to me almost all of it would go.

However, the impending move motivated a discussion and this piece got the boot. I put it out by the garbage collection point in the morning and it was gone when I got back. I hope it brightens someone else’s holiday or at least provides some sort of ironic amusement for them.