Happiness, reflection, Walking, Well-being

February 2022

February has been and gone.  Here in Albufeira, there are signs of spring and of the holiday season beginning.  Most bars and restaurants will be open by the end of March and there is spring cleaning going on all around us.  I anticipate that this year will be busier than it has been for many years.  Whilst on the one hand I have enjoyed having the town to ourselves, the Algarve needs the money from tourism.  The businesses desperately want the British tourists to come and spend their money, and I know the British are equally desperate to go on holiday, so it is nice to see people arriving for their holidays and short breaks.  You can spot a British tourist a mile off.  They are the ones in shorts and flip flops whilst the rest of us are still in jeans and sweatshirts!

Anyway, back to February.  I really didn’t make that much progress on my list of 22 things for 2022 during the month.  Primarily to a raging headache, initially caused by two glasses of wine at dinner.  I spent one week getting rid of the headache, and a second week getting rid of the headache caused by the painkillers I’d taken for the first headache.  So it was the sort of month where I just laid low, did what needed to be done and accepted that was the way it was going to be.  This is a new departure for me.  In the past I would have battled on regardless, but it is a sign of progress that I actually did just stop and spend time tackling the headaches and their root cause.  This has also led to my actively avoiding alcohol and I am currently at 16 days without a drink.

There are signs of spring across Albufeira

The only area where I really did make progress was towards my target of walking 1000 miles in the year.  I am now up to 322 miles.  My current aim is to divide the year into quarterly chunks and increase the target for each quarter by a smidgette!  What I love about walking is even on the lowest of days I can still manage something, even if it’s only a gentle walk to the end of the road to look across the beach.  I am still having to remind myself to walk rather than sit at home, particularly when we are in Portugal.  When we are in Bristol I have a Nordic Walking Group that I go along to and that enables me to maintain my distances – that tends to go by the wayside a little in Portugal as I definitely need an incentive to get up and out.  This is really quite frustrating as I do feel so much better for exercising.  During the past week or so I have been very lazy and can feel my body start to seize up – it definitely wants to begin moving more frequently again.  

For one of the list of 22 – listen to a new album each month – I changed the remit slightly. In her book ‘Quit Like a Woman’ which I read in January, Holly Whitaker recommends creating a playlist of music that calms the mind.  So whilst I didn’t listen to a specific album I did spend the month listening to Spa Music, which is a definite departure from my usual choices.  My theory was if it’s good enough to have a massage to, then it must be calming and relaxing to have on in the background.  And I have to say that I have really enjoyed it.  When I’m studying, when I’m showering I have the music playing in the background and it is genuinely calming.  Even husband has commented on how much he enjoys having it playing in the background.  I’m going to go back to listening to a specific album during March, but will definitely keep playing the spa music at certain times of the day.  The album for March is ‘Aladdin Sane’ by David Bowie.  I’ve never really listened to much of Bowie’s music, and know very little about his earlier albums, but when I asked a group of friends for album recommendations they all agreed that this one was a must.

Even a short walk lifts the spirits when the sky is this blue!

I also didn’t make any progress on reading fiction.  I’m not entirely sure I read one complete book in the month.  The first fiction book I opened my kindle at the beginning of the month was ‘The Imposter’ by Damon Galgut.  I think it was an Amazon recommendation that I got for next to nothing.  It’s not really my cup of tea and I probably should have abandoned it and started something else instead.  But I am at the 80% point now, so I really don’t have any excuses not to complete it within the next few days.  I am going to set aside a few minutes each day to sit and read and get it finished.  For part of my Creative Writing module for my latest degree they recommended reading a range of genres and authors to widen my repertoire.  I have done that with this book and won’t be rushing back to read another one!  I’m hopeful that March will see a return to enjoyable reading!

March also coincides with lent and so I am going to embrace the opportunity!  When I completed Sober October, I found a ready made excuse does make giving something up far more easy.  Nobody questions your motives.  So, I am giving up cakes and chocolate for lent.  As much as anything, I’d quite like to see what difference it does make to my weight and general sense of well-being.  A few years ago I was listening to ‘Thought for the Day’ on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show and the guest speaker was saying that lent isn’t just about giving up and doing without.  It’s about making a commitment to something – so that could be a daily walk, reading for 30 minutes a day, anything really.  So as well as giving up sweet treats I am going to commit to the daily writing practice I set for a target at the beginning of the year and see if I can maintain that commitment for the period of lent.  

So there we have it.  Another month completed and I look forward to making more progress towards my 22 for 2022 throughout March.

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