Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Letting go of past relationships (updated version 4th August 2015)

I'd previously written here in some detail about how a past relationship had affected me negatively. It was an important time for me to accept the truth of the situation and an equally important step in recovering from the experience. I am not bitter and have long forgiven the person in question. After all, it has helped make me the person I am today and has helped me find opportunities that I am deeply grateful for.

However, I've recently come to the conclusion that I don't need that post on my blog and it is time to let it go. I initially considered deleting it, but still wanted to acknowledge its importance and I didn't want to lose the wonderful comments left by people. It's nearly been a year since I wrote the original post and I feel I have learnt so many wonderful things since then.

Time to let go.
It felt right to me to somehow say goodbye, but I wanted something more symbolic than deleting the text. And then it came to me the other day in our garden, when I saw a small metal bucket just lying unused in the corner. Tonight, I printed the post out, read it for one final time and then set fire to the pages and said goodbye. I feel good, lighter and like a final something has been released. It's a bit of a windy night, so I struggled to get the paper to catch, but it's surprising what a satisfying and little fierce fire can be made from such a small amount.

Thank you for the good times and I release all the rest. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Yin and Yang of well being: meditation and exercise

I think that sometimes it's a balancing act to find out what works well for us personally. As I get older, I'm getting better at becoming more aware of what I need and listening to any timely suggestions from my environment or loved ones, my mood or my health.

It just occurred to me that currently I'm doing two things which are just perfect for me - regular meditation and exercise. I am like one of those breeds of dog that need exercise and kinda go a bit nuts without it. I enjoy the movement, how it makes me feel during and afterwards, and it definitely helps my mood and overall mental health. I purchased the 30 Day Shred workout DVD and some dumbbells, but unfortunately needed to take a break after picking up an injury at aikido. The idea is to do the daily workout for 30 days (hence the name), but I want to use it with other stuff to generally help me get fitter. My current plan is to use the DVD first thing in the morning five days a week, go for a run on another day and then one rest day. I may exchange one of the workouts for circuits instead at the weekend. I've just restarted doing the workouts (today was day two) and I am absolutely loving it.

As mentioned previously, I've been meditating on and off for quite a few years now and would recommend it to anyone. It's helped me so much, especially at difficult times in my life, and just seems to wonderfully benefit my general well being. I signed up to the 21-day meditation experience, Expanding Your Happiness, with Deepak Chopra and Oprah and today is day four of the free course. I've done it previously and really enjoyed it. Each day you receive an email with details and a link to login to that day's meditation. Each recording is about 20 minutes long, with an introduction by Oprah, followed by some further explanation and insights by Deepak and then a short meditation. I'm already noticing the benefits after just four days and will be carrying on with a daily meditation once the experience finishes.

On the face of it, I think that meditation and exercise can seem worlds apart. However, sometimes when I run or am working out hard, I experience a similar feeling to when I meditate as my mind isn't running to and fro on everyday trivia or worries. My muscles may be shouting at me or I may feel I just can't do another jumping jack, but I'm right here focused on what I'm doing, sweaty and mindful at the same time. I've gone for an early morning run with the sun shining on my face, a breeze on my back and felt like I could run forever. Turning into a movement with my partner in aikido, I accept the moment and wait for their balance to change, rather than trying to rush. Both meditation and exercise bring me into the present to help my mind and body, and I feel very grateful for the gifts and benefits that they continue to give me.  

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Sunday, 3 August 2014

I survived our 12 hour fitness charity event (and loved it)

On the 26th July I took part in a 12 hour charity event to raise funds for a local special school for young people with severe learning difficulties. I agreed to take part when it was first mentioned and it was only later that I started to wonder exactly what I was letting myself in for!

As part of my preparation, I purchased the 30 Day Shred DVD and some dumbbells, but sadly only managed to do a week of it as I managed to injure my leg whilst rolling in aikido. I was a bit concerned at one point that I might not be able to take part in the event, but lots of rest, stretching and a fantastic session with a sport therapist meant that I was raring to go (if a bit nervous).

I packed my bag the night before with deodorant, Lucozade Sport drinks, bananas, protein shake, water, towel, change of kit, boxing gloves, wallet, phone and cereal bars.

I then did some positive visualisation of seeing myself on the following day feeling strong in the sessions and enjoying it. I also decided to work on pacing myself through the day and gave myself permission to sit out if my leg was too sore or I felt sick.

I arrived at the venue at 5:50 a.m. (a 5:00 a.m. alarm was a bit of a shock) to give us time to sign paperwork and to split into two teams of thirty people in each. Our team started our first half hour session at 6:00 a.m. and in total we all worked out for 6 hours of the event alternating a session with a break and then back on again. As the day progressed those breaks definitely felt shorter! One thing that I did start to struggle with was the heat. It was cooler first thing, but as the day warmed up I found that I wasn't cooling down very much in a break and I just started to feel like I was cooking. Luckily the venue has a couple of showers, so a cold rinse was very much appreciated at the halfway stage.

After about four sessions I started to feel a bit tired, but some protein shake helped me perk back up. I'd started off at a good pace, but went a bit crazy in the middle, so needed to remind myself that I still had quite a few more hours to go. It was an absolutely amazing day and I'm so proud of how well we all did. In a normal Dawn Breakers session we do 15 rounds of exercise, but I am told that we each did 180 rounds during the event! I'm pretty impressed with how I did and everyone's energy helped me keep going. In hindsight, I could've drunk more as I only had 4 litres of Lucozade Sport and water in total. However, I made sure that I kept drinking lots of water later that day and for several days afterwards. Overall, my energy levels were pretty good during the 12 hours, I was able to push myself in our final session and I felt pretty emotional at the end.

I'm glad that I took the following Monday off work as I was a bit sore and tired still. Our goal was to raise £5k for the school to purchase a lift to help the children in wheelchairs get in and out of the playground. Thanks to lovely generous people, I personally raised £150 and at the last count we have all raised over £11k in total! Donations can still be made to the main fundraising page. I am very grateful for being involved in such an awesome day and we all worked very hard for the sponsorship raised.