During the festive season there’s a lot of asking of what people want and sometimes that can feel pressured to want something more than what you have. I do it myself to other people. The main thing that I think could be rephrased at this time of year though would be to also to take a moment and be grateful for what we do have.
Often times we find ourselves so awed by advertisements and the sparkly marketing that makes you think you need that new great big shiny TV, or a new dress for each time you want to go out out, or that my life would be more fulfilling if I have this, then that then something else because the last thing didn’t live up to the promise of transforming my life into the perfect fulfilled smiley one that I had hoped for from buying that product.
Realistically I know this isn’t the case at all however, I think there is a lot of power and well-being to be had from taking a moment to be grateful and reframing how we think about what we have. So I thought that for day 2 of the Blogmas challenge I would focus on a list of festive themed gratitude.
1. I have a decent shelter over the cold months and beyond.
2. I can afford to buy enough food.
3. I can cook food in a real oven.
4. I have family to catch up with.
5. I have friends to share some festivities with.
6. I will get some down time from uni deadlines over the holidays.
7. I really enjoy a hot gingerbread latte in a warm coffee shop when it’s cold outside.
8. I’m not going to have to deal with the “it’s-too-hot-and-I-need-to-take-off-more-layers-and-I’m-already-naked” situation that comes with summer.
9. I really love all the festive puddings: bring me all the spiced raisin filled sweets!
10. Mulled wine on a long evening is delicious, and even more delicious shared with friends.
11. The festive seasons theme of good cheer always give me a kick in the right direction of catching up with old friends: and I always really enjoy that part of Christmas season.
12. I love a good sing and dance along to Christmas songs.
13. There’s nothing better than having a big nest of bedding, alone or with your closest, and hot water bottles and watching TV.
14. The sparkles of the Christmas lights really cheer up a dark and dreary night.
15. I have enough funds to give the odd donated present to charity organisations, and some food and blankets to homeless people.
16. Cheese boards and wine!
17. It’s far easier to stay inside and study when it’s cold and dark outside.
18. That I no longer have an eating disorder so I can take part and enjoy the festive foods I like.
19. I have had a good year this year and feel content with myself for the end of the year. This hasn’t happened for a long time.
20. The future is looking positive and bright for me, and I’m really excited for what is to come rather than dreading and fearing the future.
This year I’m giving blooms a go. That means a festive blog post each day up to and including christmas day. Just because I feel like signing myself up to more and more challenges, and a kick up the arse is sometimes helpful. So I signed up to the Run Up To Christmas virtual running challenge to get myself and keep myself running through December. The London Marathon isn’t far away and I need a jolly great carrot to keep me running through December and hopefully increasing my mileage too. It’s a win win situation that I’ve thrusted upon myself in a desperate attempt to convince myself to challenge pushing my distance.
I first saw Run Up To Christmas mentioned on Instagram. There are milestone distances to achieve; 50, 100, 150, 200, and a whopping 250 Km. By uploading the running data from Strava, Fitbit, Garmin etc it will tally up your total distance over the period of time and whichever was the last milestone distance.
Here’s the lowdown for how far each milestone of what it equates to on a daily distance:
50 Km = 2 Km daily
100 Km = 4 Km daily
150 Km = 6 Km daily
200 Km = 8 Km daily
250 Km = 10 Km daily
I’m hoping to crack the 150 mark and I’m going to aim to use this challenge to push myself out of my comfort zone – trudging the longer distances in the dark evenings, sneaking in a quick run early in the morning before I start my day and cracking on with some training.
I always feel much better when I train. Even if a run is hard I feel better afterwards about myself. I feel more able, calm and confident within myself, what’s not to love? Except for when I build it up in my mind and overthink running: I overthink the cold, the dark and the potential for my body to not cope or manage despite my body having proved me countless times this year that I can do more than I often initially think with much more ease than I think. I keep proving myself wrong time and time again, and it’s about time I proved myself wrong on a grander scale than I have done yet this year to hopefully seal the deal for believing I can push myself further and actually doing it.
Quite a few people on Insta and Facebook seem to be signing up to this challenge to beat the temptation to spend December eating and drinking copious amounts only to try and fad diet the consequences away in January. I’m hoping that this year is different for myself. They’ve sold out
So here’s to blooms and running 150+ Km between now and christmas.
Ready. Set. GO!
A while ago when I was sign-up-to-all-the-races mad I signed up to a bunch of races. So excited was I about signing up to races until I had no money left I didn’t check my dates very well. I didn’t double book myself, although it was a close call. I did book myself two races in one week though: a midweek race Run in the Dark and the Tough 10k on Saturday.
In the day of Run in the Dark I was feeling very all over the place. I felt frustrated and threw myself in bed in a bid to reset myself. When my alarm went off I didn’t want to go. I lay there, my body still and my mind ticking over a million miles per hour. Despite the stillness in my muscles I was really throwing myself around in a distracted debate about going. This is nothing new to me. The final push was that my partner in crime and number one supporter was coming to watch me and she’d already left and I couldn’t let my number one cheer leader turn up and not turn up myself. That wasn’t sitting well with me and *snap* I got up and dressed despite my lagging mojo.
We arrived in good time for me to fath about with my safety pins and drinks and generally – because fathing about is a prerequisite for any race day. I went up to the start line, which I’m never particularly close to because I’m not a super speedy Susan and waited for the klaxon to ring. Initially I got very excited. I raced past loads of people and got a bit giddy in my tummy about being amongst the faster flow of people and how that felt. It was like I was a part of a heard of gazelle – albeit less elegant. My calves started to cramp at roughly 1 Km in because I’d been relatively dehydrated for days. Eventually I subsided into a plodding pace – I lost my excitement of being a part of the gazelle pack as everyone I over took in my initial excitement began to overtake me.
Alas, when I got into my stride I became one with my real running pack : the backpackers. I enjoyed the excitement of being a gazelle but I really belong with the backpackers and I like that. You feel like you’re trying really hard, you’re all trying really hard and these guys are much friendlier whilst they’re running because they’re not the hunted trying to become the hunter, by that I mean gazelles trying to be cheetahs. I am a pug among the labradors and there’s nothing wrong with that – at least pugs are cute.
After a while I settled into the run and get used to the feeling of moving again- which was a really great bonus for me because I’ve been slightly less active over the last few weeks thanks my beautiful mind. I felt like I could have run 10k but decided to save it for Saturday, especially as at the start Of the 5k I thought I could sprint it with the gazelles and well, no I couldn’t. Maybe in a few years, who knows but not today.
I finished in 36:38 which I’m quite pleased with considering I decided to plod. I’m also pleased with my bright yellow tech top and this will be definitely be getting a lot of use over the colder and darker months. I also learned from my photo that I have jazzy laces that glow in the dark. This also made me very happy.
One buzz word amongst health and wellness circles that I can really get on board with is “mindfulness” and “meditation”. I think there is a lot to be harboured from the power of breath, stillness and taking time to really observe how you feel. I often use apps, however sometimes it is nice to go somewhere and immerse yourself in an environment designed for calm – that is what happened on the Meditation Bus by Lululemon in Regent Street, London this evening.
Tonight the christmas lights got switched on along Regent street and Oxford street. Lululemon had their meditation bus set up outside their Regent street store with guided meditations from one of their ambassadors Michael Townsend Williams. Michael is the founder of Breathe Sync – an app for connecting you breath and heart beat together in a meditation.
When we went on the bus we sat down and received some headphones. Michael guided a meditation in belly breathing, nasal breathing and becoming aware of how we were feeling in that moment. I noticed a lot about my current state – and that I struggled to belly breathe. This is unusual for me as I have practiced and practiced over the years of practicing mindfulness that it is unusual for me to find myself struggling to not engage my chest in my breath. I also felt consistently short of breath which is also unusual for me, and I thin this was connected to my difficulty with breathing with my belly rather than my chest. I didn’t realise how tight I was until I settled into the meditation and noticed the discomfort that I felt in my body.
If you can attend a class by Michael Townsend Williams at all I would recommend it. I have had yoga with him before at the Lululemon Regent street store before. Both times I have come across his classes he has been very good – he has mastered the calming and relaxing vocal tone. He has mastered the pace at which to speak and intonate. He has a very calming energy about him that is very inspiring and makes you want more peace in your life and realise the power you hold in achieving this for yourself.
Here is a video by Lululemon if you feel like finding a little bit of calm right now:
I’m working on a group project at uni at the moment. If you’ve been to uni I’m very sure you understand the pain of trying to pull people together to work on one thing who have different ideas about studying, about how to study, how close to the deadline we leave our work, if we do the work at all or try to coast through and learn from failure. We are 9 different people.
Another group member and I were talking about the woes of our group. They expressed their frustration at people not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, about how we shouldn’t be having to nag so much and how they couldn’t bear not being able to make people do what they’re supposed to do. Donald Trump shouldn’t be president and we shouldn’t be entering an age of global nuclear threat – and we are.
However, this situation got me thinking about control. Personally, I have a very complicated relationship with control that I have had to work on over the years. I have had to take the journey from a very unhealthy relationship with control to a more balanced one. That relationship has ultimately wound up with me where I am today, in this place right here and now. I have struggled to accept that I am not 100% in control of my life. I have more autonomy now than I once did – and that boils down to having control over the only thing I have control over: myself.
I don’t even have full control over that. I can’t decide what I want to weigh and make sure that happens because my body will metabolise and respond to my diet, exercise and medications however it will. I can control my diet, but control and diet is somewhat of a complex relationship; I don’t think diet is something to “be controlled” per se so I don’t try to control it anymore. There is liberation in letting go of unnecessary grasps at control because ultimately you can’t programme your reactions or metabolism or biological processes. You can influence them, but control? Nope. Not happening. Of the things we have control of in our lives it is not entirely of ourselves and it is certainly not of others, and even more unfortunately and definitely, not of what happens to us either. What, if anything, are we in control of then?
We are in control of how we choose to respond, behave and frame our perceptions when we think and act. I say this loosely, by thinking I mean choosing acceptance, non judgmental ness and being mindful. We can choose how to respond to what happens to us and what we are confronted with in our lifetimes. Let me highlight a recent example.
At the start of this group project I was getting stressed about people not pulling their weight – I spoke to a few of my homies and they all said “take a step back, it’s not worth it”. So I did and you know what I realised? I had the power to control how much I responded to that situation, which in turn affected how much I let it affect me. I could choose to get het up and make it of high importance or I could choose to frame the situation in relation to the bigger picture – it is a first year module that only requires a pass and I am working with some people who may not even return in January. There is great power in choosing my battles when it comes to not losing my shit. Although I did need the help of my homies to help me figure this out, I still figured it out.
We do have the choice in how we respond to whatever may come our way and for as frustrating as life can be, for as frustrating as other people can be, as we can all be, we can control very little in our lives except how we choose to relate and respond to what happens to us and around us. It’s important to take ownership of that small piece of control we all have over ourselves and our lives.
So if you see someone with a pram struggling with stairs you can take the choice to walk on or stop for a moment to help. If someone is mean to you, you can take the choice to be mean back or to ignore them. If someone smiles at you in the street, you can ignore them or just smile back and let the world be working with you instead of against you. It really is a very simple idea, but admittedly sometimes very hard to implement into our mindset. It is a journey that we are all on – and we make the decision about how we respond to the lumps and bumps in the road of our journeys that defines us to the world.
When motivation and mental illness become intertwined and this makes it difficult to stick to any form of plan. Getting dressed can be difficult to organise in my head when I’m like this, so balancing study, running, fitness, friends, groups I like to go to and volunteering is just a dream again. I know I can, and that I will again but right now this can’t be my currently reality. I need to learn to navigate these times as best as I can, and I think that’s a long journey ahead of me.
The past few weeks have been quite scatty. I’m not sure quite what is going on, or why things have gone so awry again. They have, and that’s something I need to take in my stride as best as I can. That doesn’t mean I will always keep my strides even and steady during these times – in fact, far from it. I may jolt forward and fast in my moments of being able to organise in my head and utilise my motivation to meet my goals, then trudge slowly in an aching manner as everything I intended to do to make me feel better slips away. Time doesn’t stop for anyone and right now I could do with time stopping for me to, I don’t know, figure out what’s sending me stray and to get myself back on track.
I’m swaying quite quickly right now between able and unable, motivated and unmotivated, being able to hear my thoughts and it being just a chaos of mish-mashed noises, being able to organise myself and feeling at a loose end, thinking ahead and being stuck in trying to think at all. I’ll be honest, I fucking hate this.
It does add more fuel to my fire in that when I am able to get myself out running and climbing, or going to the gym – it propels my need to do this stuff to feel good and maintain feeling well about myself.
I don’t even know what else to say; my head is mush.