A Momentous Decision

Today (25 June 2021) I made the momentous decision NOT to buy a physical diary for 2022, totally switching to an electronic one (Google Calendar) – one that I can access on my laptop or smartphone.

For many years I’ve used both analogue and digital diaries, focussing on the strengths of each format. I especially enjoyed the tactile pleasure of touching and using a quality Moleskine diary.

But the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 meant that many people ended the year with many empty pages in their paper diaries. For me, it also coincided with my retirement, and so the connection with a physical diary loosened somewhat.

This year, much as I love my Moleskine diary, using it is not coming as naturally as before, almost becoming a chore sometimes. So I made the sad decision to switch completely, sorry Moleskine! At least my bank balance will be a little healthier, it was a small luxury I allowed myself. At least I can still use their wonderful notebooks, I can’t see myself NOT using them!

Grounding Exercise

This grounding exercise is really helpful if you’re anxious or feeling overwhelmed by life. It can be used to keep you alert, to return to the present after some fantasy or imaging, or as a way of dealing with negative experiences.

Sit upright in a supportive chair, and take a few deep breaths.

  • Become aware of the soles of your feet in contact with the floor.
  • Guide your attention to the chair, feel it touching your body.
  • Tell yourself, ‘I am safe, and no harm is happening to me’.
  • Become aware of what you hear around you, continuing to feel your feet in contact with the floor.
  • Become aware of what you see around you that is pleasant and interesting.
  • Remind yourself that you are safe, and stay aware of your feet on the ground.

Now, move your focus to what is happening in your body. Remain aware of your feet on the ground, and remind yourself that you are safe.

  • Become aware of any tension in your body.
  • Become aware of any emotions related to that tension.
  • Still feel the soles of your feet on the ground, remember you are safe.

Finally, move your awareness to the most relaxed place in your body and remain in your chair for as long as you need. You then might like to move into a more comfortable place and listen to some relaxing music.

Note: Breathing apps can also be helpful, see here.

Overdependent on technology?

As a total technophile, I’ve been reflecting recently on whether we’ve become overdependent on it in our interdependent world.

Technology seems to have taken over all aspects of our lives. Yes, it brings huge benefits, but what happens when it fails on a huge scale? Also, what about those who are left behind, unable to access or use it?

Technology in my first appointment as a Salvation Army Officer (Bideford 1980) comprised a portable typewriter (Cc meant carbon paper copy), a duplicator, a landline telephone, and snail mail. Oh, and a big black book for finance. Those were the days!

I’m not sure I want to go back to those days, but they were simpler times. I love technology, and (now retired) there were many aspects of technology I was highly delighted to say goodbye to!

Six reasons to let it go

Are you trying to decide if you should keep or get rid of something?
These are six reasons to trash, recycle, sell, or donate an object:

  1. You don’t use it, love it, need it, or want it.
  2. It’s broken, busted, damaged, or destroyed and you haven’t fixed it in six months or more.
  3. You have multiples of the same thing, and the other one is vastly superior in quality.
  4. It’s expired.
  5. You don’t have anywhere to store it.
  6. It doesn’t fit in the life you desire.

Note: I copied this a while back, but can’t find the source. If I do, I’ll link to it.

Online File Merger (Free & Secure)

Whilst looking for a simple way to merge two images for a recent blog post, I came across FilesMerge, a really useful website. You can merge image files easily in a variety of ways, along with many other formats (although I haven’t tried these yet).

There’s also an online Voice Recorder, where you can use the microphone to record your voice, cut and edit it, and save it as an MP3 file. The recorder runs directly in the browser without installing additional software.

Language Learning with Duolingo

I’ve been dabbling with other languages for many years, but retirement and modern technology makes the whole process a lot easier, and Duolingo is the perfect app.

I know and speak basic Spanish, get by in French and Italian, and want to learn some simple German. Language learning is now a piece of cake on my smartphone with Duolingo.

Learning a language on Duolingo is completely free, but you can remove ads and support free education with Plus. Source

Duolingo Plus is quite expensive, but nothing compared with the cost of actual lessons with a teacher, especially if you consider the daily cost of about 22p (UK).

Over the years I’ve basically taught myself with books and audio, now I find Duolingo is the perfect teacher. You can easily dip in and out of it in odd moments, dedicate longer sessions, or mix the two.

Es totalmente libre de aprender y muy divertirse también. ¿Por qué no lo intentas?

Simplenote: Simple Publishing

Simplenote is a cross-platform app/website that has one feature that is especially useful. You can use it to publish a page on the web with a simple click, share the link with your audience, and remove the page just as easily at any time. But it’s far more than that.

I use it to write posts for my blog before publication here. In fact, it actually comes from the company behind WordPress, so it makes sense.

Notes stay updated across all your devices, automatically and in real time. There’s no “sync” button: It just works. Add tags to find notes quickly with instant searching. Share a to-do list, post some instructions, or publish your notes online. Notes are backed up with every change, so you can see what you noted last week or last month. Write, preview, and publish your notes in Markdown format. Apps, backups, syncing, sharing – it’s all completely free. Source

If you’re not using Simplenote, you’re missing out. TechCrunch

Enjoying my posts? You might like to Buy Me a Coffee.

Windows 10 System Restore

System Restore is a lifesaver and might well get you out of a serious computer problem, as it has for me on a number of occasions. It’s a digital ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card.

System Restore is a feature in Microsoft Windows that allows the user to revert their computer’s state (including system files, installed applications, Windows Registry, and system settings) to that of a previous point in time, which can be used to recover from system malfunctions or other problems. In Windows 10, System Restore is turned off by default and must be enabled by users in order to function. This does not affect personal files such as documents, music, pictures, and videos. Source

Unfortunately, as you can read above, it’s not turned on by default. I’ve also found out that, even if you have previously switched it on, it gets switched off with a Windows 10 upgrade. So, whenever your Windows is updated, it’s worth checking. As well as switching it on, you can decide how much space to allocate to the feature, and create manual restore points. I make a point of creating one each week to be on the safe side.

One day you’ll thank me!

Enjoying my blog posts? You might like to Buy Me a Coffee.

PhotoScan (a favourite app)

Until recently I’d been using Microsoft Office Lens (part of Microsoft Office Mobile App) to scan documents on my smartphone, but I started having issues with focussing. It could be one of many reasons and nothing to do with the app itself, but I’ve gone back to using PhotoScan by Google to scan documents and photos.

I use it mainly to scan receipts and other text documents, but there’s all sorts of features to use with photos. I’d been looking at various apps to scan old family photos, but I think PhotoScan will do the job. The only cost would be if you needed extra storage on Google, and that’s relatively cheap on a monthly basis.

Enjoying my blog posts? You might like to Buy Me a Coffee.

The dominant emotion of 2021?

I guess we’ve all been finding life difficult during the ongoing pandemic; possibly feeling overwhelmed and sometimes emotional, but maybe just meh!

A friend shared this recently, and (like an article last year) it rang a bell with me, and helped me understand why I’m feeling like I am in April 2021 (over a year into the pandemic). Could the neglected middle child of mental health, one that can dull your motivation and focus, be the dominant emotion of 2021?

But enough of me! Read this article for yourself, I’m sure you’ll find it helpful.

New York Times: There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing