We only have a certain amount of energy

(The front of the Monastère Royal De Brou)

We ran out of electric power last night. The clouds were grey and the sun didn’t come out and during the day our solar panels didn’t generate much electricity. By 3pm we were using more energy than they were generating.

(Exhibition of old techniques for painting)

We use up energy when we turn on the lights, so we turned them off. We use energy when we charge our laptops, so we took turns charging. First one of us charged until their laptop was over 50% then plugged out and the other one could plug in.

(Reproduction of roof tiles)

We use energy when we charge our phones but we had an extra battery for that so we took turns charging our phones. We use energy when we turn on the heating – just to turn it on, gas heats the water. Fortunately, it wasn’t cold. We use energy when we shower – again only to turn it on. Fortunately, we don’t get too close to people who might notice. Dogs do seem friendlier, though, which might be a sign.

(Stairs to Apartments of Princess Margaret) We make energy when we drive and we have been driving for 90 minutes today. We also make energy when the sun shines and although it is much colder today (7 degrees Celsius this morning) the dark clouds are gone and the sun is shining on our solar panels.

(Ceiling over her tomb)

Each time we run low on one of our resources I am reminded of my resources. My energy. We tend to be careful of our water usage in the van because we have a finite amount. Of course we can get more. We also keep gas usage to a minimum by putting the water heater on for only ten minutes at a time. Of course we can also get more gas.

(Her motto… Both fortune and misfortune make a woman stronger)

I have a finite amount energy. Every day I generate more, through the food I eat, the exercise or rest I take and the mental health I nurture. Some days I waste some of my finite energy on worry or drama. Some days I restrict the amount of energy I can generate by eating zero energy generating foods, like processed sugar or by my sleeping habits.

Human energy conservation. Mairead.

(There we are between Dijon and Lyon in Bourg-en-Bresse)

Walking in baby steps.

(Which path?)

I’m navigating my surroundings today by walking. There are lots of pathways through the forest and I’ve been walking along them. Sometimes I come to a side junction and although it’s tempting to take it I’ve been sticking to the main paths. It seems I need to get the basic pattern of the forest into my system before I branch out. The other thing I’ve been doing is looking down. The path surface is quite rutted and uneven so I’ve been taking care not to miss my footing. I’ve been taking baby steps.

(Grassy path)

That got me thinking….. about creating new behaviours – like taking up healthy eating or even healthy thinking or getting more exercise. When I start something new, I always expect to get it right first time or else I’m really annoyed with myself. I always expect to be as proficient at doing the new thing as I am about thinking about doing it. It might be more useful to take baby steps.

(Uneven path)

So, for example, a possible new behaviour like get more exercise. Before I start I would have to get specific. So, what is the desired new behaviour? I want to walk. How much do you want to walk? Well, I’ve heard that twenty-minute walks are a good start so I want to walk twenty minutes, twice a day. Okay then I begin. The first day always goes well, I’m highly motivated. By day three I’m increasing the time to forty minutes and possibly the frequency to twice as often…. By day twelve I have a list of excuses why I’m not good at exercise and I haven’t been out in days. This is the time for the baby steps.


(Path ahead?)

Baby steps are kind and gentle. When the baby toddler stumbles while teetering from chair to chair and falls flat on his face, do you say, You big slob! You’ve been doing this toddler thing for days and you’re still falling! No, but you say it to yourself. You big slob, you haven’t been out for a walk for days, you’ll never get healthy! Baby steps are different. Baby steps say, Ah sweetie, did you find it hard to keep up the walking? Up you get now, go out the door and start again. Baby steps encourage you to do what you can when you can, no more no less and without the mean attitude!

Be nice to yourself, Mairead.