Loving my bike more and more

I’ve been bike commuting  (7.7 km each way) at least a few times a week for about the past year. I’d still say I’m pretty unfit, and can only manage small hills but I DO see a slight improvement. I got proper bike gloves for Christmas so that I can keep riding through the winter. Winter mornings here are often 0°C or lower even up until 9 or 10 am. This is very cold for Australia!! I have free parking at my workplace but I’m determined to stay on the bike for my own health and that of the environment and also my wallet.

Riding this week was extra enjoyable because someone had written inspirational mottos on the bike path with chalk! Stopping to take a photo of this was also a good excuse to sit at the nearby pond and eat my walnut and date muffin. A nice halfway break!

Other short interruptions to riding involved roadworks but that’s ok as these particular ones are to install better road crossings  for where the bike path goes over local streets*. I’m glad I live in bike friendly Canberra! I’m also glad that I’m a little more fit these days. It means that I am inspired to take a longer ride on the weekend, and enjoy some of the deciduous trees that are showing glorious autumn leaves here right now.

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*http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-budget-to-boost-bike-paths-and-cycle-infrastructure-20150527-ghata4.html

 

Recycling flexible plastics, and other new habits

Today I remembered to verify something I heard a while ago, something that could reduce the amount of waste I send to landfill even more. I know that a lot of supermarkets in Australia have recycling schemes for the plastic bags they hand out. I don’t think it’s widely known however, that it’s not just supermarket bags that you can return. All sorts of flexible plastic packaging can be recycled at the same time. All of the relevant information can be found here, in an article by Rachel Clemons, published on the Choice website (the highly regarded consumer advocate group here in Australia). Apologies to any international readers as this information is only relevant to Australia, but hopefully similar schemes exist wherever you are!

I’ve read a few blog posts and articles about ‘plastic free’ lifestyles or experiments and I love the idea and am a little bit in awe of those who can make it work. For myself (and hubby, who I convince to join me in my new eco-habits!), I’m not quite there yet. Even though I only work part time I’m still too lazy to make my own pasta for instance. So bags of pasta or corn chips, dried fruit, and plastic around boxes of tea bags, and yes even plastic wrapped herbs or vegetables (as much as I’d like to avoid those) are the types of things that contribute the most to the ‘sent to landfill’ waste that we generate. We’ll continue to try and find alternatives to buying these plastic-packaged items but I’m expecting it to be a slow transition and that’s OK.

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Plastic from dates and tea

In my last post I mentioned that I’ve been a little unmotivated in general. It’s times like that when any new habits tend to fly out the window. Because I don’t like being a hypocrite, this creates problems. For example, this weekend we took the car out twice, once to a social event and then again to run an errand. This is not something that I’m proud of. It probably seems like such a little thing, but I could have ridden my bike on both of those outings. I’m a believer of ‘little things make a difference’ and that’s why I’m happy to recycle a plastic wrapper here and there. But sometimes the little measures get forgotten, and you take the car instead of the bike. While I’d like the habit of bike riding to be more ingrained, I’m not going to beat myself up that it’s not. Because while I’m feeling negative about using the car unnecessarily, I probably wouldn’t remember to look up the information on recycling my pasta wrappers.

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I’ll save up all the packaging in this perfect receptacle, the plastic ‘bag’ that came around a head of celery (from when I didn’t make it to the farmers market)

Changing lifestyles is often harder than we give credit for. So I’m happy to grab hold of those moments of inspiration and to remember that it will all slowly sink in and will feel natural and commonsense in the end. Stashing a few bits of flexible plastic in a new storage destination, I recalled that I had similarly set aside a few other pieces when I had first heard of the idea. So I’m already further ahead than I thought I was! And I’m sure that sometime in the near future, when another inspired moments hits, I’ll take a nice big collection of flexible plastics to the collection point, and I’ll take them on my bike 🙂

And because pictures of my trash are a little boring, here are some pelicans:
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Emotional resilience for the win.

Yikes, I haven’t blogged in weeks. Yesterday I was finally in the mood to blog and sat at the computer all prepared to write about how I’ve been a bit down, and how that has sapped my motivation. Instead of blogging I’ve done a fair bit of thinking about how I can be very ambitious and enthusiastic but then also somewhat fragile, with life crap putting me ‘in a funk’. To be fair, it HAS been a tough few weeks, with some deep-seated issues that have had to be contemplated (family stuff) but my resilience has not been as high as I would like. Perhaps that sounds a little cold-hearted. But when I say ‘emotional resilience’ I don’t mean that I don’t want to feel things, or that I don’t want upsetting situations to affect me.

Shifting perspective on certain things in my own mind really helped. You have to find a way to cheer on the positive side of the internal debate. I was just beginning to do this with some success and then an interesting thing happened.

I was literally sitting at the computer and about to write how life has been upsetting, but now I had processed everything that I needed to, or at least organised my life to the point that I wasn’t dwelling on something that was bothering me. And then I got a message from a friend. A pregnancy announcement. Now, I consider myself an unusual infertility blogger, I don’t write a lot about how I’m heartbroken that I can’t have kids; I definitely don’t write about ‘doing whatever it takes’ (there is plenty that I won’t do) and friends in real life have described me as pretty strong when it comes to dealing with this loss. In fact, my outward demeanour when it comes to discussing my lack of reproduction is so calm that some might be forgiven for thinking that it doesn’t upset me at all. Yet those familiar with infertility blogs or simply attuned to the difficult emotional issue of infertility (or subfertility, even) know that pregnancy announcements can hurt.

For whatever reason my friend chose to announce her pregnancy in a very casual and brief Facebook message. Along the lines of ‘by the way, I’m pregnant’. So, initially the hurt was about the delivery of the message. Anyway, because I was already thinking about emotional resilience a few thoughts occurred to me in quick succession: “pfft, whatever, even though she said she wasn’t interested in having kids I am 100% not surprised and good for her, I’m happy for her”, “hang on, am I denying my own feelings here? Surely I’m a little bit jealous?”, “yup, I am upset, a week ago I was indulging negative thoughts about how worthless I am and about how my life is going nowhere, and this doesn’t help”, “but, I was just pleased with dragging my sorry self out of that funk, and this doesn’t have to change that at all”. Well, maybe for one or two minutes.

In the end I wound up really proud of myself, and that’s why I wanted to write this while it’s still fresh, as a lesson to remember. In the end it doesn’t matter how the announcement was made because the fact that she is pregnant would have hurt a little regardless. Previously I may have dwelled on that hurt for too long and struggled with an inner conflict that I couldn’t resolve because I didn’t understand it. But I’ve done enough soul searching on this topic now that I can acknowledge the hurt, shed a few tears even, but then focus on the positive things that I still have, and then I can quickly get back to the main task of living the life that is right for me.

Is that a bit vague? In real terms it meant that although something affected me enough to shed a few tears of disappointment, I knew that no-one was to blame for that hurt, that sometimes life just hurts. So instead of losing motivation and watching garbage youtube videos while eating way too many corn chips, I was able to carry on with my pleasant afternoon. Yesterday that meant hanging out the washing, making veggie stock from scraps stored in the freezer, taking out my frustrations on the mountain with late afternoon shadows growing longer as I huffed and puffed and double-checked for pockets of denial, and then cooking a favourite soup to share with friends that evening.

Writing about the whole exercise in mental gymnastics now isn’t the easiest thing to do. Processing difficult emotions is great when you can do it quickly, and going over them for the purpose of blogging feels dangerously like old bad habits of over-analysing. But it’s fine, because I’m motivated to write this post not because it’s therapeutic for me to vent (not this time anyway), but because I genuinely hope that this could help someone else. When I first got told that I wouldn’t be making humans it was upsetting and I wasn’t sure why, there was a lot to figure out. I went looking for infertility blogs and I struggled to find one that I could really identify with. The crux of the matter was that I knew I could live a good life without raising children but then why was I still upset? The answer to that is very complex, and dependent on my particular circumstances, but one thing that should resonate with others struggling with infertility is feelings of being left out.

Yes, there was a tiny little bit of jealousy upon hearing that my friend was pregnant. And yes, the delivery of the message was very blunt and with no consideration shown towards my ‘situation’, but that wasn’t really what bothered me. The tears were for my lost friendship. Now this is really hard to write about, especially as a few of my friends might end up reading this! I talked about this with my husband last night and it was really useful. We talked about how friendships are formed and strengthened via shared experience.

Kids, especially when young, take a whole lot of focus in their parent’s lives. My focus is going to be elsewhere and I know that is going to affect my friendships. This is a really hard thing for me to admit, because I like to think of myself as a loyal friend. But I’m not going to know what it’s like to raise children, and they’re not going to know what it’s like to be me. And I have to strengthen my own focus in life rather than moping about the fact that mine is different. Speaking of which, this blog is helpful, but also not the main focus of my life! So that’s enough for now. I hope I got my point across that infertility is a bugger in that there are continual brief opportunities to be hurt but that as long as you have other good stuff going on then it’s easy enough to cope with. One of the benefits of infertility is extra time that you can devote to other passions, so I’m off to do that now!

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It’s autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, my favourite season

P.S. To any friends who are reading this, I still love you all dearly!