Lists, pastry making, ignoring Christmas shopping – and celebrating a cold water swim

This time of year can be a bit overwhelming, can’t it. Please don’t shake your head, I know I’m not the only one. There are lists galore in my head, lists half way out of my head being forgotten, lists in my work book, lists on the cupboards. I am fortunate not to work on Fridays so I get to use the last day of the week for playing catch up, swimming and doing household stuff.

Here is today’s typical Friday list. Things have to be achieved before the kids get home. Quick quick!!

lido list

Pastry – what’s that all about? I’m Making an Effort as we’ve an extra child staying tonight so I thought it’d be nice to have proper jam tarts made with our jam. Am I mad? Can nip down the road and just buy some pastry? Would I be letting anyone down if I did? No. But I do love baking and I’m not finding much time to do it right now.

I am all about lists, but I think after 12 or so items they risk becoming a bit overwhelming in themselves. I did read about having priority to do lists with just five items on, as you tick one you add a new one. Surely better than just turning a page in your notebook and rewriting a long task list neatly at the beginning of a new week….

I am not nearly there with my Christmas shopping. Well done to those who are, but please could you keep quiet about it. I’m struggling with the ideas. Christmas hasn’t quite started waking me up in the night, as other things are busy doing that. We will be hosting Christmas, which will be magical. There’s nothing like watching the kids open their stockings in our bed and going downstairs to turn the lights on the tree. The lovely very well meaning in-laws we’re hosting keep emailing to ask how they can help, or what they can bring. This is so generous, and I should be celebrating that, rather than panicking that I just don’t know as I haven’t got to thinking about cooking and eating yet and whether it’s ok to ask for something you might not eat when they’re with you.

So with all this going on, how about celebrating the little things we’ve done. Everyone’s achieved something today, be it clearing up the breakfast stuff, emptying the washing machine, making an overdue phone call or being nice to someone else. My personal pat on the back comes from dashing off to the lido to fit in a swim under a cloudless blue sky. Clad in swimming costume, funny bootees and gloves (which feel like you’re wearing buoyant rubber gloves) I clocked up an 11 length swim in 9’C. Never dreamed I’d manage that!

lido temp

Conquering colder water swimming. No, I am not mad, I’ve just decided to make a success of this cold water business.

So I’m four full weeks into the challenge to keep on swimming outside as long as I’m enjoying it. I’ve I have swum under the London sky 14 times since 23 September. The experience has changed massively. When I started the water temperature at the lido was 14’C and now it’s hovering around 11-12’C. In wetsuit wearing days I thought there was a big gap between 15′ and 16’C, now I know there’s a chasm between 14′ and 11’C. But hey, it’s fine, and I’m now almost feeling like a bit of a pro.

I’ve come across some words of wisdom from the team at H2Open Magazine who say ‘plunging into cold water can give you an endorphin rush that can set you up nicely for the day’. Couldn’t agree more.

Approaching the water I know it’s all about thinking positive. I don’t have the words ‘ooooh it’s going to be freezing’ anywhere near my head, instead I firmly plant ‘I CAN do this, I LOVE doing this’ in there instead. For some reason one Friday I had Shirley Hughes’s words from her picture book about opposites ‘bathwater’s hot, seawater’s cold’ in my mind, I think the temperature gauge must have set me off, so I added another phrase ‘lido water’s not’.

bath temperature

I wade around in the shallow end, put my hat and goggles on, take my goggles off again and unsteam them, and then park all issues and problems and thoughts poolside and just get going. I pick a mantra to chant, perhaps ‘This Is Amazing’ or count stroke sets ‘1, 2, 3, 4’, until I reach the end of the first length. It’s all about getting through that transition phase from poolside to underwater at the end of the first length. By then it’s not remotely uncomfortable. I know if I stick at it, chipping away stroke by stroke, I’ll be fine. I stay in til I’ve done 1.32k = 22 lengths and completed my mission of the moment. It’s not a long way but this isn’t about distance, more mind over matter and gritty determination.

I think success so far has been all about choosing the right attitude. I once watched an amazing motivational video called Fish Philosophy about fishmongers in an American market, who could track their sales down to the experience they gave all of their customers. They knew if they chose to smile, crack a joke, juggle with a fish, and entertain their customers and possible customers they’d succeed in selling more fish to more people. It all boils down to you and the choice you make. So if I want this challenge of mine to work I’ve got to borrow their can do attitude and choose to make it work.

I can’t give up. I’ve embarked on this challenge and I’m not quitting!

#THISGIRLCAN … even if she might perhaps soon need to add boots, gloves and rash vest into the mix

Finally thought I’d share this infographic which the guys at H2Open Magazine have produced which is full of sensible advice  – NB note the mention of tea and cake

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