Nicky's Blog

Best Week Off Ever

I've had all this week off work, my second week off this year. After the preceding two months, it was desperately needed. Burn out is very real.

We've still got the weekend to go before I have to load up the work laptop, but Friday's always the day it really hits me that we're nearly over. You can have an action packed or fun planned weekend, but that's still 'normal'. This is the last day off I should be working, and I always have to fight the pressure or doing more.

Whenever I have a week off, I like to believe I'm going to get tons done. Revamp my productivity system. FInish off two of the books I've been reading. Get a good solid amount of time in on Madden or Stardew Valley. Play with the dog every day, learn something new on guitar, watch a few movies, see people, and on and on.

Then I get super disappointed right about now when I haven't done even half of those things.

But that's the old me. This time I thought I'd try something new. A middle ground. Some plans, no pressure, and above all relax.

After a perfectly ordinary weekend, Monday was Catch Up Day. As I wrote then, it was a much need catch up on chores and admin stuff around the house. I'd normally be disheartened at unchecked items on the list, and that was threatening to appear, but I realised just how few there were and how much I had done. That was enough.

(Although I still haven't emailed CEX. I should probably do that today.)

Tuesday, my wife went out with the neighbour, so after spending the morning at the gym I sleepily wrote the days post and tried to read. I also figured out how to change the lightbulbs in the downstairs areas, which sounds a bit dim (pun intended) but they're recessed spot lights and I've literally never lived in a house with them in, or even been around them.

Every guide and video I'd see for them had told me to twist them off, but turns out they're just held in by a spring clip on either side. I am incredibly distrustful of my own strength, so I very slowly and very gently squeezed them in and lowed the fitting. Then it's just pulling the lightbulb out of it's clip and rotating counterclockwise to get it out.

That had been on the list of things to do since we moved in and noticed that the bulb over the fridge was dying. I'm not too ashamed to say getting that done filled me with a bit of pride.

Wednesday was the jewel in the crown. We haven't had a proper date day in months, and have been wanting to see John Wick Chapter 4 in the cinema since it was announced. Got the neighbour to look after the dog, got tickets all booked, actually made an effort to look nice for each other, and had a blast. We had to cut it short unfortunately; we were going to get dinner after, but our neighbour text to say the dog was getting desperate to go home, so we got back for him. Still, a lovely day capped with a chill evening with pizza allowed because I'd eaten next to nothing through the day) and Ted Lasso (which is a little predictable this season, and yet still with enough to keep us watching).

Oh, and John Wick Chapter 4 is everything they say and more. Less attempts at a detailed story than Chapter 3, much more action packed, and just had the unashamedly basic action movie feel like the original. Didn't stop smiling through the entire last hour. There were a few scenes that went on a shade too long, but the action itself was so good it negated it. And yes, there's a dog, and also a small post credit scene. It's after all of the the credits though, so you can either sit through the long list of ADR, stunts, and graphics crews for the 30 second clip, or just catch it on YouTube.

Thursday was super chill. We were planning on doing very little, as the wife was meant to be seeing a relative today, and we've got bowling and dinner with friends planned for Saturday. That much activity can set off her face pain, so a day of little activity was needed.

However, my wife really enjoys quilling but never really gives herself the time to do it (sounds familliar...). My mission yesterday then was to try and gently nudge her in that direction, then give her the space to just crack at it, supplying her with tea and cake at strategic intervals. It worked, and she's making good headway on a mini-project for her neighbour. I think that's the longest that she's made her self sit down and actually get into it. I think it helps that she's had to have her fake nail taken off after ripping off one and taking her actual nail with it...

Then we capped off the day with bolognase and as her relative bailed, cracked open the Christmas Prosecco, worked our way through another spare Easter egg, and caught up on Hell's Kitchen.

And that brings us to today. I took the dog out for an hour again this morning, which is fortunate because it's rained all afternoon and likely to go on through the evening, so he won't be going out again. Also means I wasn't going to get anything done in the garden, so the original plan was the go pharmacy, refill my prescription, head to the gym, then get back to finish this post and read all afternoon.

I got as far as the pharmacy before I bumped into an old friend. I've been umming and ahhing about reaching out since I moved back into the area, having not spoken in years. The old familiar barrier of not wanting to intrude. As always though, I needn't have worried. We caught up briefly, went over some old times, and spent some time over his catching up and meeting his now much older son I haven't seen since he was a baby Ended up playing Yu-Gi-Oh in the conservatory, just another wave of nostalgia to add to the rest.

And then I still managed the gym after checking in at home to make sure all was ok. I shortened it to a 25 minute workout, getting the key movements in, and picked up some stuff to make the wife smile. Her face pain has been rough today, so she's now having a quick 'resting her eyes', or napping to you and me. Just a few more hours left in the day, before it's back to normality. Trying to make the most of the peace and stillness.

My last week off was the February after the Super Bowl, and it was nice but unfulfilling, like it was almost a sick leave situation where you feel good about resting, but it's been a few days and you just want to do stuff. That's why I'm pretty grateful for the sneaky achievements, the ones I did almost unintentionally by tricking myself day by day.

Firstly, I've played with my dog down the park pretty much every day. Our morning walks during the work week are usually only 15 to 20 minutes long, so not a lot of run around time. In the evening, either my wife takes him and doesn't get too far, or I take him but forget the ball or his long training lead and just walk him. This week, though, I've had no pressures, not issues to work through in the morning, nothing dragging me down about my day, and a very happy dog who's excited that mum and dad aren't rushing to stare at their laptops all day.

So every morning, and some evenings (weather dependant), I've had the time and space to give him a proper run around. He's loved it. I just got back this morning before writing this post, and he's spark out on the sofa blanket, a very satisfied and tired out pupper. Plus this means he's less needy through the day, and more cuddly, a fact I will be taking full advantage of later on.

Secondly, I have this. The 50,000 words challenge. It's been a bit difficult to think of words and topics at times, but it has forced to sit at my laptop or iPad and just write, which has led to a lot less unintentional phone browsing time and cemented a super helpful habit. I'm finding more and more that I actually do love writing, as opposed to it just being an idea in my head I like more than the 9 to 5 grind. But that's not the real achievement this week.

The real sneaky achievement for this week is actually managing to get to the gym, every day, Monday to (unless I'm jinxing myself) today, and hopefully tomorrow quickly too. At the beginning of every holiday, I always say I'm going to hit the gym every day. I've got the time, I've got the motivation, I'll have the energy not having to be stuck in arguments and drudgery all day. I'm ready. I can do this. I will do this.

And then I don't do it, and I'm crushed. Life gets in the way, or I'm too tired, or too ill. Whatever it is, I fail and I feel it.

Not so this week. It's deload week, so the weight days are easier, and I've been doing extra cardio shifts in between weight days. Today was deadlifts, managing the core lifts and skipping the accessories to save time,, and tomorrow is cardio first thing before bowling. If I can, and that's the difference between this week and all the rest. Zero pressure. If I manage it, great. If I don't, that's okay. It just means something more important has cropped up, and that's okay. That's life.

This shift from a weekly 'I must do' attitude to a daily 'what's the art of the possible today?' view has been massively beneficial. There's no overarching plan that must be met, but just enough drive to question what I can get in if at all. It meant that I might just get in for a quick 20 minute bike session and some stretching, or cut short a weight session. But I went every day so far, and hopefully after I've woken up the wife and tidied up a bit downstairs again tomorrow, I'll squeeze in a quick cardio session before having to get ready for bowling.

But if not, that's ok. I'll have my reasons, and those reasons will have been more important. Like bumping into an old friend who could use a chat, or sticking around the house to chill the dog out for my wife to go have a rest . I'll have met my aim anyway, which would be to do whatever I can do that day, whatever it may be.

It's why I'm not annoyed I haven't finished a book, or written a poem. I'm not annoyed I haven't finished my Reorganising Everything series, or set up my new system in Obsidian. It's not that I haven't had goals to hit: we really wanted a date day, we desperately needed a catch up day, and I needed to up my cardio.

But they didn't rule me. I took the approach that they were important, but not the be all and end all of life. I wanted them to happen, but if they didn't it meant something more important came along and that's ok. Try again tomorrow.

Every day this week, I have done everything I could that needed doing that day, and just that day. It just so happens that that led to me doing what i needed to do, and (again, assuming I haven't jinxed it) have met all the goals I could have wanted.

Maybe there's a lesson there.

Words - 2,008
Running total - 24,520 (49%, 1,182 words ahead of target)

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post and want to follow along, you can subscribe via email or RSS. I’ll be posting every day through April, aiming to hit 50,000 words written by the end. Wish me luck!