A Grown Up Day of Inspiration

Yesterday the husband took charge of the school run, and of looking after our 3 year old, and I headed off to London for the day. I booked a ticket for the “Achieve the Impossible Breakfast Club” a couple of months back, which was basically a talk by Greg Whyte (former Olympian and incredible sports coach to the stars), to promote his new book Achieve the Impossible.

The book is great, but seeing the man talking about the “brain of success” in person was amazing. He is super fit (at 48 – I just looked up his age!). He’s full of energy, happy, enthusiastic, but also deadly serious about hard work. He’s the kind of man that, if you had him as your personal trainer, would help you achieve incredible things.

I got my book signed at the end, and you can just see me at the edge of the twit pic below!

https://twitter.com/chhplondon/status/621600797411966976/photo/1

After the talk, I walked up to Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road. Total heaven. A MASSIVE book store and all the time in the world for me to browse in it. And I started thinking… why am I waiting until the baby is born to start running again? I have all this passion for it that I can feel overflowing – I’ve tried to look up 5k races for next year, but it’s too early for them. I’ve put running on hold for 3 years in case I got pregnant and because I was too depressed to run. Why should I wait any longer when I can’t wait to get out there?

So I bought a couple of running books and resolved to do some research on pregnancy running on the train home. More on that below.

After Foyles I wandered down Oxford Street for old time’s sake (I worked in London for a decade before moving to the coast), and enjoyed the sound of a band playing Sweet Home Alabama in the morning sunshine.

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Next I headed over to the British Museum, primarily to have a look at the mummies in the Egyptian gallery – I’ve always been fascinated by them. There was a very interesting section on Egyptian nutrition and health – I didn’t know it, but the Egyptians were a really unhealthy bunch. Prone to arthritis, osteoporosis, abscesses, lung problems (from indoor cooking fires), tooth problems and scalp problems, they existed primarily on wheat grain (hah! no wonder) and vegetables, with some meat.

Eye-opening stuff.

Then it was time for me to eat, so after reading about all those ailments (and seeing the bone and tissue evidence), I headed over to Covent Garden where there is a raw (+vegan+gluten free) restaurant called the Wild Food Cafe:

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I’ve never dined out raw before, so it was great to tick this off my ‘to-do’ list. I had a green juice, a raw pizza and a raw chocolate tart. It was all AMAZING!IMG_7947IMG_7950

Finally, I was feeling pretty tired after all the walking, so I ambled back to Waterloo, looking in the odd shop here and there before taking the train home.

Running in Pregnancy

This was my primary research goal on the return journey – could I start running now? Was it safe in pregnancy? Does anyone run when they are pregnant?

Well, it turns out that as long as you have run before, feel well, and don’t push too hard, it’s no problem. I found blogs of women running races in their third trimester and lots of other info about keeping comfortable with increasing bump and boobs.

Wow. And I am just bursting with enthusiasm for it at the moment, so I thought why the hell not and set my alarm for 5:30am this morning to get out of bed.

I just had the most wonderful, soul-nourishing day yesterday. A day away from home where I was able to focus on enjoying my time, doing all the things I wanted to do, and thinking about how I spend my time and how I want to spend my time. And about the person I am continually striving to be.

And did I run this morning?

I did 🙂

I was out the door at 5:43am. It was peaceful, warm, still, and just… perfect.

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I’ll be honest here – I walked 90% of the way. And the bits I did run were at a slow pace. I thought that my bump might be the issue, but in fact, I could run and hardly notice it at all – bumps don’t bounce, it turns out.

My giant boobs on the other hand…. even in the strongest sports bra I’ve got they were still all over the place. WAY too much movement for my liking. We’re going shopping at the weekend for a better one. Or failing that an iron chest plate.

I “ran” 5k in 44:58, which I’ll use as my baseline. I’ve decided to aim for three times a week, Monday will be a short hill trip, Wednesday a short, faster run on the flat, and Friday my long amble.

I really noticed that the strength training I’ve been doing for the last two weeks helped. It just felt so great to be out there again – this time with a fire in my belly that has been absent since I stopped true regular running in 2010 before getting pregnant with my youngest.

I got home riding high on a massive endorphin rush, just as the sun made an appearance from behind grey skies:

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And if you need help on getting out of bed early in the morning (I certainly do), I can’t recommend this book highly enough, which is one of those I picked up in Foyles yesterday:

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It talks about using mindfulness to overcome the “It’s cold, it’s dark and I’m tired” thoughts that sabotage our best intentions. It’s buddhist thought applied to running. It’s full of practical suggestions on how to be more aware of your attachments to what you do and don’t like (rain, cold weather, running at 5am, etc), and to just accept things as they are.

So, one more thing before I go, and that is something that my yoga hero Kino McGregor said on her latest video blog that I watched this morning. It’s in the last few minutes, so if you don’t want to watch it, I’ll just quote her directly below:

Clean yourself from the inside, and the inner world will be a reflection of the outer world. Clean up your outer world, and it will be a reflection of the purity of your inner world.

And on that note, I’m off to clean up my outer world, and get some more things listed on eBay 😉

Emotional Peace Takes Practice

I’ve been working on my “issues” of late.

My issues/baggage/neuroses/problems/mental clutter/obsessions/afflictions have been constant companions throughout my adult life. I am so comfortable with most of them, that I’m not even sure who I would be if they went away (and isn’t that the problem we all have?).

Despite the fact that they caused me upset, grief, resentment and anger I carried on, persisting with these emotional patterns, over and over.

Crazy eh?

Something has happened though. Well, a combination of things.

My recent miscarriage, of all things, seems to have grounded me. And in the tender, impressionable days following my loss I read two books: Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin and Sacred Fire by Kino MacGregor.

This seemingly innocent trio has started an avalanche. First came the realisation of how negative and bitter my thoughts had become. Then the revelation that my thoughts (and consequent high levels of stress) could be affecting my health. Then the slow belief that we can change our thoughts because they are just thoughts.

The morning I woke up in the hospital, I started keeping a list of gratitudes. The first thing I wrote was:

That I am alive.

I’ve added many, many things to that list since then.

Being grateful really does make me more inclined to notice the good. It helps me see the things that I should be appreciating.

But not only that.

I’ve been working, practicing seeing old hurts in a different light. In the light of forgiveness.

At first it felt wrong, and strange, like something terrible might actually happen if I let go and accepted things for how they were.

But as the days have drawn on and I’ve kept up that openness inside me, things have stared to shift. I have been meditating, just quietly being in my own body, almost every night. I have started practicing yoga – something I had always dismissed, but which seems to have opened up a new path for me. I have even held a small private ceremony where I burnt pieces of paper that contained old hurtful thoughts (yes, even for me that’s a little weird, but hell, you should have seen those papers burn).

I always thought that getting over emotional issues was something that just happened one day, when you were ready, or when life was right, or when cosmic justice dished out an appropriate punishment for the offender.

It doesn’t. You get over an emotional issue when you are ready to let it go.

No one else can help you, or do it for you.

Letting go is not easy. Sometimes I have a moment of fear or doubt, that somehow I am weak or gullible for not having that hurt inside me to remind me of the pain of trusting the wrong person. But then I realise that releasing old hurts and moving on doesn’t have to erase the lessons I have learnt from them.

I can still be me, but without the pain.

So each day, I step a little further into the light.

It is terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. Who am I if I am not who I think I am?

I know I could, at the drop of a hat, run back into the darkness. If I stop being mindful of my emotional state, it will slip back into old habits. Ingrained patterns of thinking do not disappear overnight.

So I will keep writing my gratitudes each day, and I will keep giving myself the gift of mental quietness, and I will keep my heart open, because with practice, emotional peace will eventually settle. It will become a habit. A habit that will change everything on the inside.

And for that, and the realisation that change is directly within my reach and under my control, I am also grateful.

Kino MacGregor posted this on Instagram today:

Practice Santosha, contentment, and learn to be at peace with yourself and the world around you. After many years of practice you will get saumanasya, the cheerful, joyful yogi’s mind. Cultivating love for all aspects of your life is the essence of yoga and when it is perfected you will have a happiness that shines forth regardless of what lies out on the horizon. I didn’t invent this, it’s straight out of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Book II 😊

Emotional peace really does take practice.

Handstand for The Weekend

OK, I promise this is the last inspirational Kino yoga clip I’ll post.

Next time it’ll be the edited highlights of my first attempt at sun salutation, haha! (Now, would I subject you to that? Would I??)

Enjoy your weekend lovely people 😉

X

View this post on Instagram

Straight leg handstand press is one of the hardest–do you agree? More than just leaning forward you have to maintain the strength of your shoulders and your core. The movement has to initiate from the center line of your body. Squeeze your legs together as you press up with the shoulders and draw the abs inwards. This took me a really long time to do and I still work getting the movement more controlled, stable and smooth every day. I remember being so frustrated seeing people float effortlessly up. It was only when I stopped fighting with myself and relaxed enough to let go of my attachment to the result that suddenly it started happening. Of course, I needed to build the strength in my shoulders, core and more importantly my mind. I was so weak when I started the practice! I was never a dancer, never a gymnast, never anything physical before yoga. It’s all through Ashtanga Yoga that I’ve gained whatever strength and flexibility I have in my body and mind 😊 Music 🎶 is Wake Me Up by Avicii.

A post shared by Kino MacGregor (@kinoyoga) on

Handstand for The Weekend

OK, I promise this is the last inspirational Kino yoga clip I’ll post.

Next time it’ll be the edited highlights of my first attempt at sun salutation, haha! (Now, would I subject you to that? Would I??)

Enjoy your weekend lovely people 😉

X

View this post on Instagram

Straight leg handstand press is one of the hardest–do you agree? More than just leaning forward you have to maintain the strength of your shoulders and your core. The movement has to initiate from the center line of your body. Squeeze your legs together as you press up with the shoulders and draw the abs inwards. This took me a really long time to do and I still work getting the movement more controlled, stable and smooth every day. I remember being so frustrated seeing people float effortlessly up. It was only when I stopped fighting with myself and relaxed enough to let go of my attachment to the result that suddenly it started happening. Of course, I needed to build the strength in my shoulders, core and more importantly my mind. I was so weak when I started the practice! I was never a dancer, never a gymnast, never anything physical before yoga. It’s all through Ashtanga Yoga that I’ve gained whatever strength and flexibility I have in my body and mind 😊 Music 🎶 is Wake Me Up by Avicii.

A post shared by Kino MacGregor (@kinoyoga) on

Sacred Fire

sacred fire

I finished Kino MacGregor’s book today.

I’ve read it in every available spare minute since it arrived yesterday.

It’s an account of her journey into yoga, from her first ever yoga class, to running her own yoga centre, and her certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

What a wonderful, wonderful book. There is so much wisdom within, and so many profound thoughts about yoga and your own personal journey to peace.

I am going to re-read it and highlight as I go, because there is just too much in this book to take away in one sitting.

I’ve always dismissed yoga, and even after trying a couple of classes (I’ve sat through two over the last 5 years or so), I just didn’t get it. This book, I think, really explains what yoga is all about. It’s not just an Eastern form of exercise (which is what I have always assumed). It is way to know your own body and be at one with yourself.

Something I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced.

I have a yoga DVD on the way (no classes for me just yet, still feeling my way along), and I’m going to try it again, with no judgement this time. I always thought yoga was too slow, too boring, too gentle to do anything for you. I was wrong.

And I simply can’t ignore the profound wisdom and inner peace that Kino emanates in her writing – she is a young, highly disciplined, and incredible woman.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the closing pages.

I was reminded that in order to be truly beautiful we sometimes have to see just how ugly we’ve been along the way.

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