Monday, 20 February 2017

Live in Balance: Slowing down, because I had to

The fist in the stomach

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017, art
Pencil drawing in process
Do you feel overwhelmed sometimes? To be honest, it doesn't actually happen to me. I know where I am going with my life, and I have faith that there is Someone in control of everything, including my life.
But sometimes the odd feeling of everything being too much pops into my head. It isn't something that I am comfortable with, and neither do I like it. But it is there, brooding in the subconsciousness of my thoughts. The difficulty of this subconscious awareness is how to deal with it.
It cannot be reasoned away. Or can it? I am not sure. Neither do I know what sparked this problem in the first place. Was it just the coming together of all the things in my life, or did something happen (even something I am unaware of) that started this downhill trend?
But my bigger issue is to deal with it because it could become too much or too big, or too something.

Retreat and reassess

It has taken me a while, becoming aware of this. You know how you talk to people and they ask you how you are? My answer usually depends on how well I know someone or how likely they are at gossiping. It would hardly be a good idea to confide in someone only to have one's personal issues traveling through the grapevine the next day.
Even this simple question 'how are you?' posed by a friend, didn't raise this matter in my mind. The niggling was there, and it wasn't until this past Friday that the niggle became an awareness at a higher conscious level.
I haven't been writing much, not even in my journal and I began to wonder if that was the reason for it? My writing, including my fiction projects, have been such a part of my life becoming so ingrained into the way I define myself as a human being.
Was the lack of words to be blamed for this feeling of too much? Did I put too much pressure on myself with my Live in Balance goals, that my creativity had dried up? Just the thought that it might be the case, makes my hair turn grey despite the exotic colour job.

Distract to conquer

I don't believe in writer's block, but something had to be done, and fast. I have a novel that I need to finish editing, and since I had to make a major change at the start of the story, there is some rewriting required as a result of this. Not writing is simply not on!
So I fell back into my comfort zone, my plan B if you like: I read. I read three full-length novels in two and a half days.
I really pulled my security blanket close on this one, foregoing several hours of sleep, to read three books by my favourite author, Maya Banks. Now, you have to understand, I stopped binge reading a long time ago, but this was an emergency to distract my brain and hopefully conquer this feeling of being overwhelmed.
I don't need a lot of sleep so I cannot forego even half an hour of that, because of the way it disrupts my life. But I did. And I am going to pay the price for that in the coming days.
But did it solve the problem? 

The glass may be half-empty, but there's space for vodka

I wouldn't lie and say to you that I am madly writing words in my journal or my novel, but there is a light in the distance. Reason for celebration? That's why the vodka. Or maybe I should have thought of another analogy, I rarely drink alcohol. It's early days yet.
What I do know is that my creative juices did not dry up. I started drawing and spent most of the weekend doing that. Pencil drawings require a lot of time and patience, but those hours of drawing brought a smile to my face and a lightness to my mind.
Art may be on my Live in Balance goals for this year, but I deliberately forewent the need to attach a target to it. And that was my saving grace, I think. Something I can do, spend time with and yet, just enjoy the process without adding more stress to myself.

I learned another lesson this week: I love writing, but I should stop putting so much pressure on myself to perform. I may not have had a block, but it would be good to remember that to Live in Balance requires more than the completion of a novel in record time.

Until next week!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Live in Balance: A matter of choice

I finally figured it out

As I got onto the scale Sunday, yesterday, morning, I had been less apprehensive than all the previous times this year. Not because I knew I lost another kilogram, I didn't, but I realised that I got this weight-loss thing sorted. I knew exactly where I went wrong during the week, and why my weight was exactly the same as last week.
Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017, online journal
So the week ahead is already planned out, and the goal for the week - dropping 1 kg - is in the bag. I just have to do the things I planned, including finishing reading a book I promised to review. More about that later.
What is interesting, though, is when you tell someone you are busy working on losing weight everyone and his friend has the world's advice to give to you. Do this diet or do more squats, or fast.
I ignored all their advice since I know what my medical and physical issues are and no matter how well intended, people just don't know what will or won't work for me. But the fasting thing threw me for a loop.

Fasting - really?

I am familiar with the concept but in a religious or spiritual environment. I know of friends that have fasted to gain clarity or to seek answers for a problem they struggle with, but fasting to me has never even entered the realm of losing weight.
On a personal note: no matter what my religious beliefs are, I cannot fast. The risk is too high that I can pass out, due to blood sugar issues. Since I drive where I want to be, safety cannot be ignored.
Now, I did read about fasting diets, purely to understand why someone would do such a thing and how it would work. Some of the article writers mentioned that they entered a once-a-week fasting regime - no food for 24 hours - to help them gain focus and to be more creative. This to me made sense - while it might not be for a spiritual reason, the fasting process helped them to address an issue in their lives. Only they could say if it really made a difference or not.

I choose the sensual pleasures every time

Source: www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/category/healthy
The people who were fasting for weight-loss baffled me. If you could be disciplined enough to forego all food for 24 hours, once or some even twice a week, why can't you be disciplined enough to follow a healthy, calorie-restricted diet every day of the week?
There are many studies, and websites, that tell you that you can learn a new behaviour (or fix an old one) in a matter of 20 to 30 days. So why deny yourself the sensual pleasure of food, for the sake of losing weight? You have to eat, there is, unfortunately, no getting away from that if you want to be alive and healthy.
No matter what they tell you about not over compensating the next day, or binging on chocolate after denying yourself, does a more balanced approach not sound more attainable? And more rewarding over the long term?
I don't know. While some of the medically based studies say there is no health risk to fasting one or even two days a week, to me the denial of such a basic need seems contrary to the human experience of life. But that's just me.

Adapt or die trying?

To honest, I haven't changed my mind on my weight-loss regime, and nor am I likely to. I had a good hard look at my behaviour around and attitude towards food. I found what was wrong, and I am working on correcting that. Will it happen overnight? It hasn't so far, but 6 weeks into my Live in Balance goals, and I know that I am doing better than any previous attempt to do the same.
It is not up to me to tell you what you should do if you want to follow a weight-loss plan, or getting into shape plan, or writing a book for that matter.
What I do suggest is that you:
  • decide first on what you want to achieve,
  • figure out what of your own behaviour is standing in your way,
  • and how you are going to hold yourself accountable in working to achieve that goal.

The hard choices will come

Make no mistake, nothing worth striving for will come without sacrifice. But if you want it bad enough, no sacrifice can be too great to achieve it. And you don't have to do it on your own. Whatever you want to do this year, there at least ten other people who want to do the same. Find them in your area, on Facebook, or at work, and join forces to help and support each other. Achievement of a goal is so much sweeter when you can share them with people who have been with you on that journey every step of the way.

I wish you only success with your journey!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Live in Balance: Week 6 - taking stock

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017, online journal

Stuck in a rut

We often step back to take stock of our lives: work, time spent with family, the future, retirement, and so on. But this past week I wondered if we do that often enough, or do we wait too long to consider where we stand? Do we wait until it is too late to make a course correction, or even a complete change in direction?
Even if you are happy with yourself and your achievements, shouldn't you too just take a moment or two to take stock?
Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017, online journalLinzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017, online journalCreative people are more prone to awareness of stagnating, or procrastinating in their art or craft. They get frustrated, or blocked or give up when that seemingly insurmountable obstacle is preventing them from moving forward. We are constantly being bombarded with media and psychological imperatives that if you are not moving forward, you are digging yourself deeper into a rut. But should you be moving forward at that point in time? And how do you know when is the right time?



Stop - right now!

It is the start of a new month and I think a good time to spend a few minutes considering where I am on my Live in Balance goals. Am I on track? Where do I need to have a relook at a specific goal, or adjust the target?
Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017, online journalI spent that time today, Sunday, and assessed my progress on my five primary goals. And surprisingly two of them are exactly on track (weight-loss and word count), while I could definitely spend more time looking at how I spend my time on my art projects.
The step counter and Tai Chi activities suffered a setback when I injured a ligament in my left hip. I can walk okay, but many other physical activities are pushing my pain boundary just a touch too much. It is already feeling better, but I will need to be careful for a while still.
The last, the number of books read, was a surprise too. Then again, I have always read a lot, although I have not kept track of the number of books read in a month as I am doing now.
While most of my goals seem to be on track, my efforts to keep them there need to be reinforced. When it comes to weight-loss, it is much easier said than done - and the graphs show that.

For February there will be baby steps

Having a weight-loss graph going up and down is not a good thing, so I need to focus on a slow by steady loss approach. With the month ahead having four weeks (four Sundays) my target will be another 2 kilograms.
Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017, online journal
Francois and I attended the opening night of an art exhibition at ArtBox on Saturday. We spoke to the artist and while doing so I realised that I have been spreading myself too thin. I want to try every technique and play around with all mediums, and that could be part of the problem that I am not spending my time on my art projects productively. That will change.
This month I will focus primarily on urban sketching. I already have the materials I need and have taken a few more photographs to help with the ideas I have.
My writing targets are split into two: editing Waiting for Adrian, and writing a story that has no title at present. In numbers that translate to roughly 50 hours of editing and 20 000 words of writing.
Baby steps this month.

Looking further ahead

When the artist we chatted to mentioned that she had made a change in direction in her art, it got me thinking about taking stock in one's life. Maybe going forward is not always the answer. Sometimes it requires a complete change in direction to get going again.
Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017, online journal
And that is where I think my art is at this point. I need to do the urban sketching and then decide if that is my way forward. Or do I need to change direction before I get stuck in that rut of digging myself deeper instead of recognising that change is required before the rut sets in?

Time will tell, but now I am on the lookout for those signs of frustration and procrastination that will warn me that change might be imminent.