Pondering technology, and returning to the run commute.

I had a graphic reminder of how over reliant I am on technology today, as I sat in the bus on the way to work and realised I’d forgotten my phone! I’d already been pondering how rapidly technology moves on, having caused my poor son massive confusion by referring to a “Walkman” instead of an iPod. I still think of Walkmen as quite new, but of course my son had no idea what it meant.

Son “Wait. A what?”

Me “I meant my iPod. A Walkman is what I had when I was your age. Like an iPod but it played cassettes.”

Son “You mean like Starlord has in Guardians of the Galaxy?”

Me “Exactly what Starlord has.”

Starlord and his Walkman. (C) Guardians of the Galaxy.

Strange that he knows about a now obsolete piece of tech from a sci-fi movie.

Anyway, there I was on the bus without my phone. How was I to spend my journey? I couldn’t read the headlines or check my emails, catch up on Facebook or see who was already out running on Strava, I couldn’t even play a game.

Also today was my much anticipated first run commute since November, snowed off last week, and without my phone I couldn’t record it using GPS. The horror!

Talk about first world problems. It’s not as if I was going to have to rely on pen and paper or anything that archaic, I still had my Fitbit. But it would be estimating the distance by the number of steps I took, not accurately measuring it with the help of satellites.

I’m not yet so obsessed with running that this was my first thought. I did initially worry in case either of the kids had an accident or emergency at school in the time it took me to get to work and notify people that I was without phone. Then I worried what would happen if I was in an accident and couldn’t let people know. As a child I knew, by heart, a great many phone numbers. Now I know my mums, my work and my own. I have no need to remember any others, the phone does it for me.

Then I worried I was worrying too much, which was when I switched to thinking about the run home.

When I do my run commute I only run home from work, not to work. The main reason for this is that my workplace doesn’t have showers, and I wouldn’t want my poor colleagues sat in a warm office with me all day after I’d done a run. I suppose I could set off really early, run to the gym, shower and change there, then get to bus to work. But I’ve never been a morning person and the idea of waking even earlier horrifies me!

Image from Pinterest.

What with the worrying and the pondering I’d finished my bus journey before I knew it. So also a reminder that I can cope without my phone!

The run home went well. I took it slow and steady, and when I felt I had to walk for a bit I slowly counted to 30 and then started running again. That only happened three times, although there were other pauses at traffic lights. I’m hoping imposing a time limit on the walking breaks will help quell the urge to just keep walking a bit more before I speed up, then a little further, then maybe I’ll start running again at that lamppost… and hopefully also I’ll soon be back to not needing walking breaks.

But how can I trust that distance?

So, a perfectly acceptable run, despite being untracked. It’s almost as if running is possible without all the fancy gizmos and gubbins we surround ourselves with now ūüėČ

That said I did log in and manually add it to Strava almost as soon as I got in. I admit it, I’m totally over reliant on technology!

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Kneading to stop thinking.

I am an anxious person. My brain rarely stops churning, anything and everything can turn into a worry, and I pick over the worries like a child with a scab. It’s a hidden thing, this churning in my head, only occasionally spilling out into a full blown anxiety attack such as those around me would notice. Yet a large part of getting myself healthy, mentally and physically, since my spell of mental ill-health last year has been trying to quell my busy brain.

Sometimes those closest to me will try and persuade me to stop worrying, on the occasions I try to confide what’s bothering me. It’s not that easy. It’s not that I don’t see that there’s no logical point in keeping myself awake til 2am going over and over everything¬† from minor upsets to possible catastrophes – It’s that I can’t stop it.

In part it’s why I called this blog Pondermonium. All the pondering causes pandemonium to my mental state! And the mental affects the physical, and before long I’m a wreck.

I have tried everything. And the thing that works best for me, completely unexpectedly, is making bread.

I like baking, but it’s one of those things that regularly gets shunted out of my busy days. Then last year I read Swallow This: Serving Up The Food Industry‚Äôs Darkest Secrets, by Joanna Blythman, about the food industry including the things they do to processed food which we don’t need to be told about as it’s a ‘process’ not an ingredient. (you can read an extract from the book here.) And it scared me. And caused me to worry a lot about what I’d been feeding my family thinking it was healthy. And out of that worry grew the intention to try and use fewer processed foods, and make more things myself. I figured limit the number of ingredients and you limit the number of additives/dodgy process those ingredients have been exposed to.

This led me to start baking bread. And I realised that when I knead the dough, I don’t worry. There’s something about that physical repetitive action of kneading, of concentrating on feeling the dough change, that switches my busy brain off. I have no idea how, or why, and I don’t want to over-analyse it in case it stops working. But I’m very grateful for it.

You have to take your time baking bread, you can’t rush it. It needs to be done slowly and calmly. It doesn’t always turn out the same –¬† sometimes it’s fabulous, sometimes it’s just OK, but with enough butter and jam even the worst loaf is a treat. (I sense a metaphor for life coming on!). I have always felt much better after baking a loaf than I did when I started. I look forward to baking as the rare time when my mind is still, and I’m learning to carry that stillness beyond baking, although it’s a long slow journey.

My current favourite bread recipe is Nutty Seedy Half-n-half Bread by Jack Monroe. It’s quick enough to make in the evening after work, my whole family will eat it (despite an initial reluctance due to it having ‘bits’ in), it tastes gorgeous and I’m convinced it’s a damn sight better for us than the shop bought alternatives, as well as working out cheaper. The recipe calls for a food processor, but if like me you don’t have one (there was an incident with a dog, a hob and an almost fire – don’t ask) bashing the nuts with a rolling pin works just as well and is a damn sight more therapeutic after a stressful day.

I’m getting braver with my bread making. I’m trying new recipes and ingredients. When my mental health isn’t good it’s near impossible for me to do anything new or different, so this is a good sign. But things go up and down and I need to keep aware of that. Yesterday I had a real wobble. So today I’m baking. I feel calmer, and there’ll be tasty fresh bread to eat soon.

Here's one I prepared earlier!