The Power Of Walking

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So what to do now that Beginners is finished and having decided that I am not really quite ready to graduate to Gentle Joggers ? The answer for me is Power Walking! Oh my stars and whiskers! My first walk with the delightful Joan was awesome! Make no mistake this is no soft option and naturally, as per usual, I was at the back of the pack! Joan looked after me like a gem and the girls in the group were, as ever, supportive, friendly and welcoming. It was cold, wet and windy and I LOVED it!!

Interestingly I ached more all over the next day than I ever did from jogging. I think this is going to be an excellent way of improving my fitness level!

I enjoyed the route so much that I decided to retrace our footsteps on a solo session a couple of days later….this time without the rain and the wind as companions!

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I didn’t maintain the same pace because I was so distracted by the scenery around me. I think that walking may well be my jam as opposed to running as there was no anxiety only deep, pure enjoyment of my surroundings.

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I could feel depression and bleakness withering away like the old leaves upon the ground and a feeling of gratitude twinkled through my veins.

Unfortunately my phone failed to capture the beauty of the carpet of wood anemones which is a shame as they were really quite special.

The path wound through the woods and then came out to a small country lane, so I strode onward and upwards towards the Kissing Gate into the Park.

Once through the Kissing Gate I was back into woodland again and the sound of the silence was quite amazing, there was a mystic quality to the air and all I could hear was my own breath as even the birds were quiet here. I could feel peace spreading down through me, centering me, grounding me here in this moment, my tense shoulders dropped from up around my ears to exactly my favourite place for shoulders to be! Deep breath in, feel the diaphragm lift and embrace the sensation of relaxation as the breath flows from the body. My senses become heightened and my awareness blossoms as I walk mindfully and appreciate the detail nature provides.

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The sun was breaking through gently, the trees sheltering me from the somewhat chilly wind: it was idyllic.

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As I was coming to the edge of the woods I came across this group of young deer- they didn’t seem to mind me interrupting their afternoon, and were only mildly curious as I walked passed. The golf course opened out before me as I came to the edge of the trees and the sun was chasing the clouds away.wp-image-1398665927jpg.jpg

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Indeed by the time I was on the homeward stretch the temperature was delightful as the wind dropped and blue skies encouraged me forwards.

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Choices And Changes

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I missed a Fitball class this week. My body and mind felt like lead, moving my limbs was like trying to wade through cold, claggy custard and the deep stresses from the last few days caught up with me to overwhelm and devour my energy. Depression tried to claw its way back into my mind  and erode away my sense of achievement and desire to continue this journey towards a healthy, happy me. I stayed in bed and the day disappeared- this has happened before…but this time there was a difference. Thank goodness.

I was able to practise kindness to self, to allow myself the time I clearly needed to recharge and replenish my inner resources instead of castigating myself in ever increasing circles of recrimination. I nurtured self and took the time I needed as opposed to sinking black despair at having missed a class. I chose to take a positive view rather than falling into bleak negativity. This is real change! This is me being the change I want to see. This change in attitude is as meaningful to my mental health as my exercising is to my physical health. This is holistic progress

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I used the time in the comfort and warmth of my safe and beautiful bed to reflect on the changes and choices I have made since last September. The decision, the positive and deeply personal choice to change my shape, my physical health, my space, my well-being, my happiness has been huge. It has not been a smooth journey, nor has it been easy yet overall the momentum is all forward and like a pebble thrown into a pond the ripple  effect has translated into so much more than an increase in physical health through exercise.

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I have started taking better care of me more often, I have decluttered and taken books, clothes and shoes to charity shops, I have tidied and cleaned, I have gardened… not perfectly, not every day, sometimes not as much as I would have wished for but consistently just that bit more than before. I am proof that one change leads to another and the ripple effect is real

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A Few More Snowdrops 

Today’s jaunt revealed a few more snowdrops. There are dramatically fewer than this time last year which is a shame as I love them so. It was a struggle to leave the house this afternoon but I am glad I managed it as discovering these little brave lovelies lifted my mood. The grey skies reflect the gloomy bleakness of depression that is trying to reclaim me so finding beauty along my walk helps to keep the blackness at bay.

A further boost to mood occurred when I spotted my first crocus and a couple of iris blooms- beautiful! Unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough to take my own photo as it was in someone’s garden so I found one as similar as possible on the good old internet

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I Am The Change That Carpe Diemed

 

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Due to a crippling combination of mental, physical and menopausal I had been excluding myself from life, hiding behind a wall of good intentions, losing myself in beautiful books, drifting day to day, leading an increasingly housebound existence for months that slowly dripped and slipped into years. There was an absence of me in my own life, self esteem and confidence were barely even distant memories. “The Change” was in charge and that needed to change!! I needed to BE the change!! (I do so love a word play)

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The first step was acknowledgement mixed together lightly with self awareness and seasoned with humour… after all there are a crazy number of posts and affirmations on Pinterest  about “Be the Change”

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Fast forward a bit, half-hearted skip and a jump over an ineffectual tangle of “I will start on Monday” and various other forms of procrastination and avoidance and I spotted an advert for Sevenoaks Ladies Joggers, SLJ, as I sat waiting in traffic at a red light and a flicker of excitement stirred my soul… “Could I? Would I?” closely followed by a “Dare I?”

It’s not often one can say, “Thank goodness for Facebook” is it? Yet when I spotted a post about #SLJ in my newsfeed and followed up with a click I began a journey that has found me saying exactly that!!

Wow!… a journey of discovery that encompassed fun, warmth, understanding and support- but even more importantly one that facilitated a rediscovery of self: the self that got lost somewhere between the arrogance of youth, amid the confusion of early adulthood; the demands of motherhood, submerging and compensating in single parenthood; the foggy sweats of menopause that saw an unprecedented gain in weight and loss of joie de vivre. The self who could take a risk, laugh because life is good, sing because the sky is blue, enjoy the moment and feel life fizzing though my veins… Depression started to dissolve just a little as hope returned to entice my soul out of hibernation.

I took a risk and signed up. Damn straight…. I actually did, done do it!

I signed up for the free taster session for the Beginners Course with SLJ. Heavens to Betsy! I voluntarily signed up to walk/jog/run/stumble in public whilst wearing leggings n a t-shirt!! Well, thank my lucky stars I did- as it has seen the start of an epic life-changing event! That Saturday was the  day the girl who was ALWAYS told she couldn’t at school by her PE teacher changed into the woman who DID and CAN! The warm welcome by the inspirational Sam, her Coaches and the lovely ladies attending the session embraced me immediately. I forgot self consciousness and became a part of something special, something empowering…yes I was way out at the back, but at no point was I not part of the group, the fun, the laughter. The sheer power of achieving a walk/jog/run of 3k (2 miles) was euphoric, it was an awesome moment! I realised I was the only stumbling block to change and with that my perspective moved from disbelief and doubt to hope and determination.

The rest of the weekend was a high of achievement- the endorphins were simply delicious and more of the same went straight to the top of my “To Do” list!

This was the moment where I carpe diemed and became the change I wanted to be.It turned out that the biggest stumbling block had been my own attitude!

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Please note the photos are not my own and I have linked my source.