Monthly Archives: June 2017

Window Dressing

When I moved into my new home I had thought out the way I wanted each room to look in quite a lot of detail. I know what colors I wanted the walls to be, what I wanted the floors to look like and where I wanted to place my furniture.

There were a few rooms though where I had no idea what kind of curtains I wanted to put up. One of these rooms was the bedroom. For several weeks, I slept with bin bags covering the windows to keep the excess light out in the morning.
The came up with a solution after a visit to the Van Gogh museum. I really like art and paintings, especially impressionists and one of my favorite paintings is “The Sea at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer”.
I could have bought a poster, or a replica, but I decided to get the painting printed on a roller blind.
As my bedroom has three windows I also needed something to cover the other two windows and I decided to go with “Cliff walk at Pourville” from Monet and “Girl at a Window” from Dali.

In the kitchen and the guest room I decided to go with photo’s instead of paintings. I really like the result as the images come to live with the light behind them. I chose to use blinds that do not black out the light completely. Of course, that is an acquired taste, especially for the bedroom, but it would also look good on blackout blinds.

I ordered mine on a Dutch website The roller blinds are a lot cheaper than a regular curtain, so if I ever get tired of them I can always order new ones with different images on them.

I want (to do) it all

I have a problem. I want to do too much.
I like to play a lot of sports, want to do my job very well, like to have dinner with friends, visit my parents once a week and, also very important, spend some time sitting on the sofa, reading a book or a magazine, or watching TV. And these are just the things that come to mind immediately. I’m sure I’m forgetting things.

Needless to say, this doesn’t all fit in the life of one person. Especially not if that person has irritable bowel syndrome. As I work on weekdays all “other fun stuff” needs to happen in the evenings and during the weekend. It means I should look at my calendar and make smart choices and it means I must continue to listen to my body very well to keep a healthy balance.

For instance, I go rollerblading on Monday and play tennis on Thursday. That means that I can have one other activity on either Tuesday or Wednesday, but not both. On Friday, I’m usually tired from the week, so I prefer to spend my Friday evenings pottering about in my house and garden. This doesn’t leave a lot of flexibility, but it’s important that I don’t overdo it. It means I have to say “no” to both social and work events quite a lot. Or that I need to cancel/miss out on tennis or rollerblading. It’s not just about having enough time, but also about having enough energy.

I used to feel very guilty about saying “no” to anyone or anything, but that meant that I was generating additional stress because I was trying to take care of myself. That makes no sense and thankfully I find it easier these days.
Occasionally I’m still too optimistic about what my mind and body will tolerate from me, especially if I feel good, but I continue to try and learn from my mistakes.


Even when I have a quiet night at home I still have a bit of a wish list of things that I want to do.
1. Sit on the sofa
2. Read a magazine
3. Make myself a “proper” dinner
4. Have two teas after dinner (yes, I lead an exciting life ;-))
5. Do ab exercises

The first four things on that list are relatively easy to accomplish. The last one however requires a lot of self-discipline. I keep postponing it until the very last moment. The very last moment is the moment I should really go to bed. But at that moment I then start doing ab exercises.
If I’m completely honest it’s not just the exercises that this happens with. For some reason bedtime is often the perfect time to find the motivation to start doing something that I have been postponing for hours or even days.
I do like sleeping. And I have absolutely no problem falling asleep or staying asleep. I do sometimes have some trouble to get out of bed in the morning. That is probably related to the activities that happen at bedtime.

Using my self-discipline to go to bed on time is still something I need to practice and improve. I’m not very hopeful, but I keep trying. Perhaps…one day…

Too Much Information

We live in a time where it’s very easy to get a lot of detailed information. This is true for things that are happening in the world, but also for our body.

Many people wear smartwatches and activity trackers. These watches and trackers provide information about how much you walk or move and in some cases additional information like your heart rate and the number of stairs you climb per day.
I personally wear a Fitbit Charge 2 and I love it. Knowing how much or how little I moved on a particular day motivates me to go for a walk around lunchtime, or to go out after work when I would have otherwise crashed on the sofa.

Smartwatches get smarter all the time though and activity trackers continuously add new features and more detailed analysis.
For example, my Fitbit recently added detailed analysis of “sleep stages”. If you wear your Fitbit at night it will tell you how much time you spend awake, in REM sleep, in deep sleep and in light sleep. You can track your own statistics (progress is probably not the right word in this context) and you can see a bench mark of averages for people of your gender and age group.


It was useful to see that over a period of a couple of weeks my sleep statistics were around what’s average for women in my age group in terms over percentages per sleep stage. I don’t sleep enough hours per night on week days, that is clear, I don’t even have to wear my Fitbit for that insight.
What having all of this information available to me did do is that it almost made sleeping a match. Something that could be won. “Are my statistics today “better” than yesterday?”, “Are my statistics at least on par with the bench mark, or better, whatever that may be in this case?”. When I woke up at night for whatever reason, I tried not to move, to not alert my Fitbit to the fact that I woke up and “mess up the statistics”.

I realize that this is at least partially caused by my silly competitive nature, but after few weeks I realized that knowing my detailed sleep statistics doesn’t add any value for me. Having all this information available to me didn’t change my behavior (a lot of it can’t be directly influenced). But more importantly it made me less happy. Luckily the solution was easy; I no longer sleep with my Fitbit on.

This experience made me realize that sometimes gathering more and more data about all the details of our lives and our bodies might not be helpful or beneficial. If the data that’s gathered can make me aware of a bad habit, or if it can motivate me to develop better habits, or even if it just makes me happy then by all means, keep feeding me the information.
However, if the overload of information cramps my style, I don’t want to know and I choose to be blissfully ignorant.