Weeknotes 12 (Mar ’20): Doom

  • What. A. Week.
  • On Monday, at about 5pm, the Prime Minister told people to avoid unnecessary social activity, including not going to bars, restaurants etc. We immediately had to cancel all our taekwondo classes, including a session we were due to train in that evening. It turned out later that not everyone had taken it so seriously and not everyone cancelled their group activities. My gym, for example, kept its group sessions going.
  • On Tuesday I went to the gym for a run but wondered whether I should have. The place was deserted. And then we had our first evening without training. Probably my first Tuesday in London without training (when healthy) in over a decade.
  • We’re trying to keep regular web work going and S had a few projects pop up as businesses tried to react to the new environment. So quite a lot of thinking alongside stress.
  • I couldn’t bear to join the tai chi group’s Zoom experiment. I’ve been in enough Zoom experiments in my life, but I might join the actual classes when they get up and running.
  • I had a study session with a friend in the US. It was nicely normal to be going through some coding.
  • Went out to get lunch on Friday and was quite alarmed to see how many people were in restaurants. Not at all surprised when the government forced them to close that evening. Hearing people coming back drunk from pubs late that night was probably one of the low points of the week.
  • Finally got our acts together on Friday to try to get our classes online. Ran two taekwondo classes from our living room, over Zoom, on Saturday morning, and it was the absolute highlight of the week. We’re going to keep doing them while there’s interest, but are having to adapt for small space and quiet activities. Challenging!
  • Sarah’s sorted out the bikes so we can travel about a bit if we need to. I went to get a replacement inner tube and found the bike shop is doing a good trade.
  • Went out on the bikes today, but had a row with each other on our doorstep about whether that was responsible or not.
  • Discovered that someone very close to me, who has almost certainly had Covid-19, is experiencing breathing difficulties. They think they are getting better. Very upsetting, none-the-less.
  • And a friend is stressing about her childcare arrangements and trying to get me to help. Over Zoom.

Weeknotes 11 (Mar ’20): Impending doom?

  • Missed last week’s notes due to spending the day skiing badly. The morning was scary and alarming but I regrouped at lunch time, remembered to attack the mountain, and had fun again.
  • The following day snowboarding was short but fantastic. Our warm up run was off piste and challenging, along a run we know well, and a nice reminder that I do know how to do that, at least.
  • Successfully got rid of the unreliable French tutor. Now the challenge is to stay on track and find a new one.
  • All of which is feeling a little overtaken by pandemic events. Morzine, where we were skiing and boarding, is now closed as part of France’s shutdown. Apparently the touring skis and split boards sold out yesterday, so people can keep skiing and riding without the lifts. I’m glad to be back in the UK, I guess.
  • Taekwondo classes have been buoyant, and I hope they stay that way for as long as possible. It’s hard to overstate the importance of these activities for mental health. The yoga and qi gong classes I attend were both depleted this week, but I really felt the benefit of them both.
  • Booked tickets for a US comic for next week, in response to a marketing email, and was emailed later the same day to say the event is cancelled.
  • My optician and dental hygeinist were both noticing a reduction in patients. My approach was to get it done while the going is good, so to speak. Other people may have stockpiled toilet paper, but I have sparkly teeth and a new contact lens prescription. And I’m following advice and not stockpiling, while hoping this won’t be a horribly bad judgement call.
  • And partly writing all this down because these point in time are so useful to look at later. Is this an overly cautious point in time, or the relative calm before something truly horrendous? Let’s hope the former.

Weeknotes 10 (Feb-Mar ’20): Club grading

  • We had a club grading on Sunday, which is why this is two days late. Gradings are always very full on days, which we now run over two sessions, splitting junior and senior students. Around the gradings we instructors get about 30 mins for lunch in the middle, and head to the pub for debrief afterwards. The gradings themselves are always fascinating and it’s good to see students tackle the challenges thrown at them. Of course, there are also always areas where I realise we’ve failed to properly cover an important element with the students, and it pops out in the grading context. Useful, but also incredibly challenging to work out what the priorities for next time need to be.
  • Admin ahead of the gradings is quite a challenge, too. I collate the list for the London clubs, which is fine if the info comes through clean and on time, but this week was particularly frustrating.
  • My French tutor cancelled my class yet again. I am going to find a new teacher.
  • Sarah and I went to a pilates class. It’s a new session, so it was just us and one other woman. It’s being run in the local youth centre where we teach some of our classes, and had a nice community feel about it. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if I can see myself doing it weekly. It’s just a bit static for my tastes.
  • I’ve stopped doing my tai chi classes, but am sticking with qi gong. The tai chi was getting a bit frustrating and felt like it was fighting for attention with too many other things that are important to me.
  • I tried to get an appointment to see a GP, and was told the next appointment was over a month away. Then they offered to have the GP phone me that day. So, I spoke to the GP, talked through my symptoms, and was given a prescription to pick up. When I went in to pick it up, I queued behind a woman who was being offered doctor’s appointments two weeks from now. I have no idea how that system works.
  • An acquaintance at Launch School (the coding school) coded up a project and shared it on Github. I forked it, made some changes, and created a pull request. First time doing that!

Weeknotes 9 (Feb ’20): Recovery

  • I had what I think was a migraine for a chunk of the week, so was pleased with what I was able to achieve around that.
  • We have a taekwondo grading next weekend, so a lot of student assessment happening at the moment to establish who’s ready to grade. It’s very rewarding to see people reach their goals, especially when it has required a lot of work and perseverance.
  • I taught an extra training session today with a focus on fitness, sparring and flexibility. So much fun!
  • My weekly yoga class is always a joy. This week was no exception.
  • I need new clothes for the gym. When did the gym uniform became black skin tight leggings? I didn’t notice it occur, but the lack of variety is a little disturbing.
  • Icebreaker t-shirts are great, but the range is totally perplexing. I would buy a lot more if the choice were clearer.

Weeknotes 8 (Feb ’20): Thrown off

  • The week started well with a busy day of training and work but a late, slightly stressful evening, which subsequently threw off some of my Tuesday. Since one of the key goals for me at the moment is to maintain my health, I’ve decided to not get stressed by that reality, and embrace the fact that I did manage to meet my key priorities for the day.
  • Wednesday’s trip to the GP turned into an afternoon at St Thomas’s for a scan and a blood test. I nearly fainted during the blood test, which I find intensely annoying and frustrating.
  • First proper French lesson this week, and we went in a bit ambitious, so I’m hoping the next lesson will be a bit easier. I don’t mind a challenge, but I did feel I was busking it, which is not the point at all.
  • Finished off a work project that’s been hanging over me for a few months. Closure is good.
  • And lost a client this week, but in a good way.
  • Saw Parasite at the NFT. I enjoyed it, but couldn’t watch one of the key scenes because too much blood. And the sound system in NFT3 is fantastic.
  • It’s Sunday. I have no plans and there is no taekwondo lesson or event! This very rarely happens and I am basking in it.

Weeknotes 7 (Feb ’20): Goal setting

  • Trying to resurrect learning French this week, so I have booked some lessons, listened to a few podcasts, and dug out my notes. Bof!
  • Goal setting is important, of course, and I realised my goals are to manage conversation with French people in shops, and to understand French tv. These are the sorts of goals I like – easy to know when you’ve hit them, but also possible to feel yourself edging towards them as you gradually improve. And, of course, will require quite a good level of French in order to feel ‘achieved’.
  • Trying to pick up my personal taekwondo training a bit, and very much trying to ensure good emotional and physical balance, and no injuries. How’s that for goal setting? I spent the first day with a focus on basics, then a day working on just one taekwondo pattern and some flexibility. The rest of the week lacked such focus, so this coming week will need a bit of a plan.
  • Google ‘Best headphones for working out’ and you’ll get a rich seam of reviews and opinions. I bought some wireless ones which are well reviewed, but I think I will return them. They are gorgeous to look at, and very slick in how they work, but I found them not nearly as comfortable as online reviewers said they were.
  • In the same headphone order I bought a tortilla press (what does Amazon not sell?) and S made us a delicious lunch today. Well worth the investment.

Weeknotes 6 (Feb ’20): Back to training

  • A nicely energetic week. Two days of skiing, one day off, two days of snowboarding, travel, two days of taekwondo.
  • Our first taekwondo instructors course of the year, with a focus on basics, and teaching basics. Even (or especially?!) as a 3rd dan, I found an awful lot to work on with my basic techniques.
  • There is an ego problem with seniority and if you can overcome it you can reach greater heights. If you can’t overcome it, I think you become smaller, and insecure. I’m trying very hard to overcome it.
  • Also with seniority is the need to own your ability and allow yourself to be a role model, and not diminish your own expertise or path. If you believe in the journey, you need to believe in your place in the journey as well.
  • I managed to land a couple of 180 snowboarding jumps off natural hits this week. That’s been a goal for a few years now, so I’m very pleased indeed. And the pain in my left glutes will pass.
  • I’ve been using the Less app to track my drinking. It’s helped. I’ve set a weekly limit of 7 drinks, which is about the UK advised limit of 14 units, given the sorts of drinks I normally drink. I have enjoyed ending the week under my limit for a few weeks in a row. Whatever makes you tick, yeah?

Weeknotes 5 (Jan ’20): Beetroot steak

  • We watched The Green Book, which was surprisingly good. It’s about a white man driving a black (male) musician around the Deep South on a tour in the early 1960s. There is a scene in which the musician is not allowed to eat in the restaurant of the venue he is playing at because he is black. Because of ‘tradition’. So often ‘tradition’ is used to validate a power imbalance that is more recent than people like to believe. It’s easy to create ‘traditions’, so we should be wary of following them thoughtlessly. 
  • I finished the back end portion of my coding course. It’s a very good course, from Launch School, and I’ve been enjoying it a lot. I’m not quite sure where it’s all leading, though, in my own professional terms, so quite mixed feelings about it all. 
  • I worked with a study partner to solve a coding challenge together. It was so much faster and easier than attempting it alone. 
  • I am beginning to suspect I need to have more ‘fun’. Taekwondo used to give me this, but now I teach I find it is rewarding and challenging and interesting, but not often just downright fun. 
  • Apple Stores would be nicer with a ‘quiet zone’ for people over the age of about 30 to hang out in. I spent two hours in a Store this week to help someone buy a phone and we were completely overwhelmed by the whole process. 
  • Beetroot steak from Bills is nice. 
  • Skis boots have had one day’s wear and so far so good!

Weeknotes 4 (Jan ’20): New stationery

  • We have a new rule for working at home: not allowed lunch if you’ve not had a shower. Particularly relevant to S. 
  • I bought ski boots from Decathlon. I have a bad track record with footwear, often inadvertently buying shoes or boots that turn out to be wrong in some way. And I have an odd thing on my ankle that makes my foot go numb when it’s under pressure. All in all I am not feeling wildly confident about my purchase. 
  • Ikea kitchen planning meetings are worth it because they tell you about the things that are not on display, and, to a certain extent, what to avoid. Totally different experience to the John Lewis version of the same thing, which is far more of a sales pitch. At some point we’re going to have to progress beyond the planning stage, and it is seeming increasingly likely that we’ll be without a working kitchen for at least two weeks when work does finally begin. 
  • My tai chi group is progressing to the Long Form. This is sufficiently similar, yet different, to the Short Form to be confusing and we have been advised to take good notes. The dynamics and commitment levels of my group are such that this may swiftly become very frustrating for all of us. (Some of us practice, some of us don’t. Some of us are confident, some of us aren’t. Sometimes a guy turns up from another class and takes over…) I have at least used it as an excuse to buy a lovely new notebook with blue dots. 
  • We have a cheap ‘n’ cheerful whiteboard on our work studio wall now. It’s not quite big enough, but is already making project planning better.

Weeknotes 3 (Jan ’20): Ski boot injury

  • Skiing progressed well, but then ended in minor disaster with poorly fitting boots, which turned into an attempt to buy boots that fit, and ultimately losing some feeling in my right foot (ongoing!). Not a fantastic way to get back to taekwondo training, but a good opportunity to put into action my new approach of ‘negotiating’ with my body and its injuries, rather than fighting with it. 
  • The taekwondo calendar for this year means half my weekends are entirely taken up with teaching and events. Last year we failed to get the right balance of teaching, training, work and relaxation and I ended the year mentally and physically exhausted. I also failed to manage my various injuries well enough to train as I wanted to. This year needs to be better, but exactly how to achieve that remains an open question. 
  • We returned from the mountains straight back to class, and covering a friend’s class. Three sessions in one day is quite tough, but I taught very similar things to all three groups, so it wasn’t too bad. Always interesting and challenging to go to another instructor’s class and try to get a sense of where all the students are at, and what you can add without causing confusion or problems. Super fun, to be honest. 
  • I spent this morning playing with a rice cooker and trying to season a wok (both Christmas presents). There are a mind boggling number of ways on the internet to season a wok, and my mind was duly boggled.