Warning – this is a long-winded, self-indulgent post about me me me, rather than about life in Portugal. You have my blessing to ignore it!
I’ve blathered on here many times about how, despite loving my life in Portugal, I still feel like something is missing – like I need a project or challenge or something community-based to feel like I have a purpose in life. Time seems to be slipping away from me and I’m just filling in the days until I die … okay, that sounds very melodramatic, and I’m certainly not planning on going anywhere for a long, long time, but I hope you get what I mean! It’s all very well spending my days sunning myself in a hammock with a book, or walking the dogs through the beautiful landscape, but there has to be more to life, hasn’t there?
Actually, the weather here in my little part of central Portugal has been pretty rubbish over the last five weeks – the Portuguese have a saying “en abril, aguas mil” which translates literally as “in April, a thousand waters” – and it’s certainly been the case! I’ve been most jealous seeing video of my family back in the UK enjoying the sunshine while I’ve been indoors listening to the rain hammer down on the cabin roof.
And yes, okay, I did build a website in a day as a ‘project’, and I have had a few people contribute articles, but, just as I thought, it was yet another “right, done that, what’s next?” kind of thing really, and hasn’t really filled my time in the way I need it filled.
When the pandemic began and lockdown started, I approached it fairly philosophically. My life here is very simple anyway, so really, I wasn’t affected by it at all. But as time went on, I began to miss my family more and more – I was due to fly back to the UK at the end of April to see my daughter’s new (first-owned) house, celebrate her birthday and see the rest of the family, and it really hit home that I wasn’t likely to see them in the flesh for a long time. Add to that a lot of emotional stuff floating to the surface – it seems I’ve not properly dealt with feelings arising from my ‘annus horriblis’ – and a need to put my fledgling romance on hold until after the lockdown (I just didn’t have the emotional capacity to commit to it properly) and I was left feeling very low. I think almost all of us are experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions right now and I’m not alone in feeling fragile, but having only just recovered from depression it scares me senseless that I might be heading back that way, which of course makes me feel even worse!
Time to take action. I had a couple of sessions with a wonderful coach (hello, Duncan of Mind Affinity!) who has helped me put things in perspective and given me a few tools to get me through the tough times. And I decided to stop beating myself up about not doing this or that and just do whatever the hell I wanted for a while.
So I did. But after a week of being so kind to myself that I didn’t bother getting out of bed before 10am, didn’t do any exercise, spent too much time on Facebook and ate all the biscuits, I realised this wasn’t the way forwards either. I need to get a balance between self-care, productivity, leisure and relaxation, and I know the only way I’m going to do that is through some sort of routine. I know I’ve been mentioned needing a routine before, but for various reasons (or no reason at all) I’ve still not really fallen into a properly effective schedule, but this time I had a plan. And this time the plan was going to work!
The plan was to wake up at my usual time, make tea and read until 8am. Then I’d write three morning pages to get stuff out of my head (this is something I’ve always meant to do but never got round to), then get up and do 30-45 minutes of DDP Yoga while the hot water warms up. Shower, breakfast, and at my desk for 10am. Then there’ll be four hours of “work” – preferably paid client work, but if that runs out, then tasks to move forwards my own business, or online networking, or writing for myself (I have two books on the go that will never be finished at this rate!), or online learning. Stop at 2pm, have a healthy lunch, take the dogs for a long walk (which benefits all of us) and then the rest of the day is mine to do with as I wish.
For some reason I was really fired up by the plan, by the idea of having a routine to stick to and some free time, and on Monday morning I had a cuppa and then bounced out of bed, switched the water heater on and did my yoga (okay, I forgot the morning pages … but no one’s perfect!). And then I received a message about a health crisis in the family that upset me, threw me off track and all thoughts of the routine went out of my head for the rest of the day, and that became two days, and then the week was gone. (Fortunately, everyone is well and everything turned out okay!)
So tomorrow is Monday again (where does the time go??!) and while I’m feeling slightly less enthusiastic about the whole thing, I do know I need to do something and I want to give it a go. Allegedly it takes 21 days for new habits to stick so I’m going to give it my best shot for three weeks and see how it goes. Wish me luck…!