When visiting Stephanie last month in Switzerland, she and I reminisced about when we met and how we met. We actually met through our blogs! I was quite active on blogger at that time, having discovered blogs around 2002. I found some correspondence between us dating back to 2004, but we might have connected even before that time frame.
Stephanie and I, enjoying a day out in her mountain chalet
We were both prolific blog writers—Stephanie wrote a lot about her experiences in India and that’s what got me interested (why would someone leave paradise, a.k.a. Switzerland, and spend a year in India?!). I used to write a lot of ‘diary’ like posts about life in general, my travels and experiences. Over the years, I’ve lost that habit (of writing on my blog regularly, not writing for work, which is my bread and butter!) and I still remember it feeling so good to just write. It didn’t matter what the topic was—and I didn’t have reservations about writing about what I ate for breakfast or what I did for lunch. It was my blog and I felt I could pretty much vent and express myself through it.
Over the years, a lot of self analysis and critical thinking set in. For example, ‘maybe this is too frivolous’ or ‘should I really write about this?’—were some of the thoughts in my mind when on the verge of writing. More often than not, I would then convince myself that no one would be interested in what I had to say.
In a way, I probably killed off my own creative spirit. The act of writing has always been a bit like ‘purging’ for me, though not in the negative sense. Just offloading these thoughts and feelings coursing through my veins, which in the normal course of life doesn’t have an outlet, is rather cathartic.
Back to 2018 and as I look back, I’ve been blogging (intermittently through the last few years) since around 2002, via blogger, LiveJournal and then WordPress set up on my own domain. I’m ready to start writing again—and this time I’m going to worry less about what other people think. In a sense, I’m going to treat this as what it was primarily meant to be—my playground!
So Steph and I made a pact. That she would write a post and then challenge me to write one. And back and forth. To get my creative juices flowing and get back into the habit of writing again.
Setting a new goal: 100 day countdown
So my routine, or the challenge I’ve set for myself, has a few aspects to it. It’s a 100 day challenge (why 100?—I just felt this was a feasible number) and these are the 4 things I’ve set as my focus tracks (disclosure: I began on July 23 so I’m on day 88 counting down now).
NO 1: FITNESS
One workout a day for 100 days, no excuses. The only exception is falling sick or injury in which case, I have to make up by compensating on other days.
After getting back from my adventures in Europe (more posts coming on that topic), I decided I had to work harder on getting my fitness back. While I had prepared (somewhat) for the big adventure (a 2 week hike around Mont Blanc), I felt I could have been in better shape.
The last year and a half, I’ve struggled with my fitness. A lot of other things took priority and I found myself letting go with what I really enjoy—keeping fit.
On July 23rd, I embarked on a plan to get back some of my fitness. Traveling in Europe put my eating habits way off track. At the ceramics workshop I attended in the south of France, it was easy to settle into a glass of wine (or two) everyday after a long day at the studio. Especially, since everyone gathered around the table sipping wine and exchanging stories. It was an easy habit to fall into, given my penchant for wine.
And then, during our hike, I pretty much ate whatever was available.
Tour du Mont Blanc: a two week hike covering 3 countries
To cut the long story short, I came back home and decided to get my act together.
My aim for the next 100 days to get in one workout everyday, and if more, one of them should be a run/walk of at least 5 kms. I feel better with a goal in sight and something to work towards. I’m trying to create a stronger mental frame of mind by keeping a target in front of me.
I also want to set a regular yoga practice in place; something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I’m hoping to do that in the next few weeks. I found a really nice yoga studio in Lausanne where I practiced for nearly 3 weeks and really enjoyed my time there. My goal is to find something similar here and establish a good practice. Apart from that, I am hoping to get in bike rides whenever I can and some hikes as well; and go back to swimming, which is one activity I miss.
There’s nothing quite like the freedom of being on a bike!
NO 2: FOOD & NUTRITION
Clean, healthy food; eat just what the body needs
I’ve always been a big foodie and anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that I can do anything for good food. I also eat WAY more than I actually need. To begin with, I’m eliminating some foods which I know don’t really help me much. And it’s mainly bread, sugar and meat. I cut down on my meat consumption last year and occasionally eat chicken. But I largely try and eat vegetables, fruits and grains when I have an option. I love fish and do also indulge in it around once a week.
I remember growing up, mum would have the hardest time to get us to eat our vegetables. I wasn’t too fussy, but my sister was an absolute terror. I still remember her tantrums at the dining table when it came to food! Now, both of us are vegetable junkies and my mom is horrified when we say we don’t want meat ;-/ How the tables have turned!
I’ve definitely become more mindful of what I eat. While I’ve never had a sweet tooth, I did notice that my sweet consumption has increased over the last few years. I’m eliminating (processed) sugar/sweet though I still consume fruits which contain sugar. Apart from following these guidelines, my main challenge is to eat what my body needs, and not carelessly eat for the sake of it.
Filling my plate with colors!
After 10 days, I’ve realized that I’m already feeling better and I look forward to my meals—I’m experimenting with various veggies and trying to look for simple but yummy recipes. My goal is to eat good food, but I also don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen!
NO 3: DECLUTTER
Get rid of things that don’t serve a purpose or that I haven’t used in the last 6 months to a year
‘Things’ tend to accumulate over the years. I remember coming to the US with a couple of suitcases, two cats and some furniture (and yes, I did get all my curtains and kitchen stuff along). But ‘collecting’ runs in my veins. In my family, my dad is notorious about hoarding. He has documents ranging back to the 1960s and files from his bank days, which he still clings on to. He cannot throw away ANYTHING—what if we need this little screw thingabobby sometime in the future?
I seem to have caught a bit of his strain, though in my case, I recognize the problem and constantly try to do something about it. My goal in the next few months is to tackle one problem at a time. Since we live in a pretty small space, I need have to be creative too.
I’ve basically divided the areas into:
1) kitchen—organize it better and get rid of a lot of cutlery/plates etc. I no longer use. I also use more of handmade plates/cups and bowls now, and I need to get rid of everything else that I don’t have any use for anymore.
2) clothes—it’s amazing how many t-shirts one tends to collect! I’ve never been a big spender on clothes or shoes, but my goal is to give away everything I haven’t worn and don’t fit into anymore.
3) art/crafts – I tend to do a lot of my work at home and over a period of time I’ve collected a huge range of things like beads, tools, glazes, books, accessories, files etc. I’m hoping to give away everything I know I’ll never use again!
5) patio: this is one area where I have a succulent garden—and also a lot of my clay tools, the wheel and other random stuff I tend to accumulate.
NO 4: WRITE
Get into the daily habit of writing
Marissa Meyer in this post has some interesting tips about how to write more. Some of the tips include, doing it first thing in the morning, turning of distractions (like the Internet!) and don’t multi-task during that time (very important: I get distracted by all those interesting videos online!). Also, have someone who’s going to make sure you’re accountable and that’s where I’m counting on Steph!
While I am maintaining a diary of the 100 day challenge, that is private. But I am recording it on Instagram, so feel free to follow my journey, send me inspiration or just laugh at me!
I’m also on Strava, where you can keep track of what I’m upto:
While on this topic, I also learnt a new word from Steph’s blog post—acedia— which is mental sloth. And it sounds quite familiar. I do procrastinate on low impact tasks I really don’t want to spend my time doing. There’s no real deadline or need in this case, and I’ve been known to push it out to another time and another day. For example, I absolutely do need to organize my work desk, but I haven’t really gotten around to it as yet. And paper work, argghh… Don’t even get me started.
So there you go. I’ll try and take pictures of the projects I’m taking on and have updates on progress.
I’m on day 89 now and my next challenge is to identify which area to declutter first. And meal prep for week 3!
Wish me luck 🙂