Comrie walk

Walking back to happiness

Comrie walk, Perthshire

My exercise mojo has been M.I.A. for about five years and I want it back.

In 2012 an orthopaedic specialist advised I cease various fun but pain-inducing activities (e.g. kickboxing and squatting) to preserve what remained of my right knee’s cartilage. While I like being pain-free now, there’s been long periods where “preservation” has translated to “doing sweet feck-all exercise”.

At other times, there’s a month or two flurry of activity, when besotted by a new app or gadget or workout or challenge. Then I get distracted or frustrated, and fizzle out.

It’s a tedious rotation through enthusiasm > obsession > rebellion > inertia, with ever-dwindling fitness.

Last weekend Gareth asked did I want to go for what I currently consider a long walk, up a hill.

My usual assortment of excuses were about to tumble out when I thought, f*ck it! Enough! I am so over my own shenanigans.

Why am I not moving, when I actually really crave it? And what do I really want to do for exercise, anyway? With the body I occupy right now, not the rose-tinted imaginary one from years ago?

So out we went.

It was annoying to find that hills are still so bloody… hilly.

They just go up and up, I whined to Gareth. It was so much harder than when we used to go walking a decade ago.

He reminded me I whined about the same thing back then.

(Old school peeps – remember how he mocked my descending style, the rotter.)

It was just like old times. Gareth strolling easily; my face Call The Ambulance Red. But it was beautiful outside. There were forest-y bits with pine needles underfoot and the wind in the trees sounding like waves. Skylarks and blackbirds and finches. Clear views at the top to faraway mountains.

I realised, as with so many things, that I’ve been overthinking exercise. I’m not motivated by the same things any more. I don’t want to sign up for a race or do a 12 Week Programme or spend ten minutes finding a satellite on Runkeeper just to stroll to the shops. I don’t want to think or make decisions or count anything. All I want, for now, is some quiet time and fresh air.

Since then I have been taking myself out for walks. Sometimes with tunes, sometimes appliance-free. It is the simplest thing but I am starting to feel awesome!

I’m going to go for a deliberate walk every day in May, then see how I feel at the end of it. I’ll report back. Mojo, you will be mine!

Ziggy with serious face

Foxy by 40 – Deadlines like the Dickens

Things I Briefly Convinced Myself I Needed, While Perusing Instagram In The Midst Of Deadline Denial:

  1. Microbladed eyebrows
  2. A gigantic, arm-knitted blanket
  3. Vitamin C serum
  4. A second cat, in a contrasting colour scheme to the first one
  5. An Instant Pot
  6. Three new haircuts
  7. Adult ballet lessons
  8. Approximately 27 new novels
  9. A turmeric latte*

In other news:

It has been four months since my last Operation Foxy By 40 update. There are now less than SIX MONTHS until the Big Four Oh. I’d say I’m feeling approximately 67% foxier than when the Project began in November 2015. I am taking better care of myself. I have finished one (1) very basic sewing project. I am eating the vegetables. I am getting out of my own way, more often.

Except… when I’m not!

One of the more delightful things that’s happened over the past few months is having some cool and interesting new work come my way. The brain has been stretched and challenged in unexpected and exciting ways. I’ve had to learn new things and crawl out of my comfort zone (it was so cosy there, with fluffy blankets and Netflix and cake crumbs everywhere).

But it also meant coming smack bang up against my doubt and old bullshit stories. I wound myself up into such a ridiculous state of panic, questioning who the heck was I to think I could do this kind of work. All the exercise and meditation and getting dressed properly went out the window. I couldn’t write here for a month, fearing if I put down some words, it would deplete the available supply for my clients.

This will pass! Feelings come and go, just like the tide! I’d remind myself as I frantically searched for “relaxing music” and “how to stop panicking” on YouTube. Fair enough. So, shitty feeling, when are you going to bugger off? Can you give me an ETA?

The night before a big deadline, I ended up plonked at the bottom of the stairs weeping to Gareth, “I AM JUST TOO STUPID FOR THIS. I’ve actually hit the limits of my brain!”.

I made it in the end, all thanks to the magic of humans. Firstly, Gareth, who managed to keep a straight face throughout, and suggested I talk to my professional writer friends. And so, Gillian and Julia gave me the best advice.

Afterwards, elated yet highly embarrassed at my batshit bonkers behaviour, I posted about the “process” on Up & Running forum and discovered that of course I’m not alone.

It gets big and messy before it gets structured and concise, said the awesome A. Even knowing this, it’s still usually pretty ugly producing something good that didn’t previously exist.  

You have just described every single goddamn writing project I have ever engaged in, said the wonderful Professor K. And, like you, I write for a living (along with teaching). Did Dickens feel this way, I wonder??!!

As I toddle towards the next deadline, I choose to believe that he did.


*That last one was made up. I am not on board with the turmeric latte. Keep it in the curry, I say!

P.S. This post actually written on 13 April despite the time stamp… arrgh!

New York City skyline from the Staten Island Ferry

Happy new year, comrades! Here’s the eighth annual instalment of Review Thingo.  Previous episodes: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009. One blazing sunny morning before school, aged about ten, I opened the front door. I was about to step outside of the house and into the world, my foot hovered above the doormat, when I noticed there was a brown […]

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