The only apparatus required for happiness is your pain and fucking going outside

Song of the day: Give yourself a try – The 1975

It’s all just the same pattern really isn’t it? I make big claims about starting writing in this blog again, make introduction posts and give long updates about what’s been going on in my life recently, and then there’s radio silence for months until I post yet another introduction post saying this time I really mean it.

I think there have been multiple problems with this previously. I don’t think I was always in the right frame of mind – while I wanted to write in abstract, I wasn’t mentally committed to it in practice. The second, and main, thing is that I have previously backed myself into a bit of a corner by trying to focus this blog too specifically at times when I probably wasn’t ready for it. As a result I felt too limited before I even began and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything. Case in point, initially I started this to document my journey towards health and happiness. However after posting a couple of food/recipe posts, I started to feel like I could only post health and fitness related items or recipes, and that anything else wouldn’t fit with the ‘theme’ of the blog. So there were no opportunities for some of the posts I’ve written on previous blogs that I’m still proud of, such as book reviews or musings on things I’d come across in the news recently.

My dad calls me a Polymoth – I’m flighty and I have a lot of interests that I like to flit between, some may say too many. I find it hard to settle on one thing because the world is vast and wonderful and there are just so. many. things.Case in point, even just this week here are the things I’d like to work on/improve:

  • Learn to play the guitar
  • Get better at singing (particularly pop/rock singing rather than the classical/choral practice I’ve had for the past 15 years)
  • Resume playing piano
  • Daily yoga
  • Become a runner
  • Paint/draw/do art
  • Read more novels
  • Watch more films
  • Resume learning Italian
  • Learn how to make music using FL Studio 20
  • Redecorate my bedroom
  • Learn more about film/tv/radio production
  • Travel more
  • Go out and try new things more often
  • Eat consistently more healthy

So many things, not an awful lot of time. These are all items that have cropped up time and time again over the past 8 years. In true polymoth fashion, I flit back and forth between things and never give any of them a proper go. I think there’s part of me that feels like too much time spent on one will be to the detriment of the others. But I’m getting older and I’ll be the same age if I spend the time doing the things as I will be if I don’t do the things. Only, in one of these scenarios I’ve developed skills that I wouldn’t have in the other. Time is passing, I might as well use it.

Something needs to change.

The other thing that keeps cropping up is recognising that I need to let myself be bad at things in order to get good at things. Think an underlying issue is a fear of failure like many people who have previously sailed through things early on in life (e.g. GCSEs, A-levels etc.) – if I have to put in some effort, what if I try really hard and am still no good at it? At least if I don’t try it’s an available defense mechanism to blame something other than my own ability (i.e. my lack of effort/’Oh I didn’t really try’). But there’s that famous quote that I can’t quite bring myself to google right now about your taste being better than your abilities and how you need to produce a lot of bad work in order to get to the good work.

I want to use this blog to let myself explore things again, and I’ll combine this with working through The Artist’s Way. Because why not? I need to use the blog to just do, not just think about what I should do. Therefore it’s not a ‘lifestyle’ or ‘fitness’ blog, it’s whatever I need it to be at the time. I need to develop some discipline in just getting stuff done whether I’m motivated or not. I can’t create good things if I don’t put in the time.

This is day one. I can either spend the next 365 days being productive and working on things, or I can spend the next year wishing I was doing more. It may be uncomfortable, it may mean facing some harsh truths about my motivations or discipline or inability to commit, but I’d rather be able to look back in the future at all the things I’ve done rather than at all the things I didn’t do. Let’s see how this goes.

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On Time and Progress

I’ve fallen into that trap again of not writing anything because I’m concerned that I need to be perfect, having a consistent theme and something of great importance to say before opening my mouth. And I don’t think my writing is good enough, or that the things I want to talk about are worthwhile enough, and I was without a camera for a good majority of the last year so my photography progress has stalled. It’s a common occurrence, one I’ve actually had before during the life cycle of this blog. But as I said back then, and I think bears repeating now,

You don’t know who your audience are – you don’t know their inner thoughts or feelings, you don’t know what makes them tick, you don’t know what they’ll jump on out of interest or shun in distaste. Don’t have the arrogance to presume that you are uninteresting to them, because you can not speak for them.

I had a lovely day out yesterday with a friend who said she enjoyed hearing about my life and my journey to where I am now as she found it inspiring. I was, and still am, extremely flattered by this and she made me feel interesting for once, so I’m just going to get straight back into it.

Recently a theme that’s been cropping up a lot is the passing of time and the lack of consistency in various aspects of my life. For example, yesterday I started a knitting project that I originally thought of doing about two years ago. My parents bought me the yarn the Christmas before last, and I kept planning on doing it ‘soon’. I picked it up this week on a whim – having fortunately received some Amazon vouchers from work, I decided to buy the required knitting needles on next day delivery. Thank you prime trial membership that I forgot to cancel several years ago, you’ve more than paid for yourself by now. And then made a start because… well, just because!

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Liking Food and Being Obnoxious

Recently I’ve been referring to myself as an obnoxious human being quite a lot. The reasons for this assertion are as follows: I’ve started liking One Direction, I kind of want to try a 3-day juice cleanse despite not believing any of the claims of the “science” behind them, and the other week I actually said the phrase “I’m not a hipster, I liked kale before it was cool”. I was partly joking around, but also telling the truth – my parents introduced my sister and I to kale years ago as just another variation of cabbage/greens that cropped up in Sunday roast dinners. And just earlier today I had the following exchange:

Me: I had an obnoxious lunch today. The main was a salad of tuna, red kidney beans, chickpeas, sweetcorn, red onion and parsley…

Friend: That sound nice. What’s obnoxious about that?

Me: Drink was ‘charcoal nut milk’ – water, almonds, black sesame paste, dates, vanilla, activated charcoal, himalayan pink salt. Snack was ‘crispy baobab & onion kale chips’.

Friend: Never mind.

I then went on to defend the choice of kale chips by explaining that I thought they were bacon & onion flavoured rather than baobab, and stating that the nutmilk was basically just a date and vanilla milkshake. Which it was, and a very tasty one at that. I enjoyed all my lunch immensely, but it brings me nicely to what I wanted to focus on in this post.

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30 Days of Yoga Day 18: A Moving Meditation

A few weeks ago my mother and I decided to start a 30 day yoga challenge, specifically Yoga With Adriene – 30 Days of Yoga. This was a course I had done a couple of times before, although never in the supposed 30 days, but it had been several months since I’d done yoga at all regularly and I was trying to find a way to ease my mum into it. I kept extolling the benefits of yoga and she kept claiming she had no time. A mother-daughter 30 day challenge seemed to be the perfect fit, especially since I found that suggesting we do it first thing in the morning was the best way to stop my mum using the time excuse – I have to both get up earlier than she does for my job, and also leave the house about an hour earlier. If I could do it, she could easily do it.

So we began. And for the first week or so, I was very good at getting up at 6:30 to do my yoga before going down for the hotel breakfast, and I received a daily text from my mother claiming that she too had done hers for the day. It felt challenging, but I was enjoying it. My body clearly wasn’t used to doing half these poses anymore and I was glad we’d chosen a more gentle introduction than we could have done.

Of course, after several days I couldn’t manage to maintain my ‘every morning’ routine, and I decided to sleep in a little one Thursday instead. It was supposed to be a longer session, and Thursday mornings are always tighter for me as I have to pack and leave slightly earlier than usual so that I can check out of the hotel. Disappointed in myself, I wasn’t looking forward to telling my mum the next day that I’d fallen off track, and so I decided when I got back home that evening – back in London – that I would catch up and do it before bed.

Since then I’ve more often done my yoga just before bed than not, and I don’t mind that. Particularly since I have started doing more consistent workouts this last week as well, I’ve found that doing some stretching just before bed is a great way to unwind for the night, step away from my phone or laptop and stretch out my muscles from whatever I’ve put them through earlier in the day. It has also made me miss less days – and by that I mean I have only missed one so far and I’m on day 19 – because it’s a lot easier to find the time just before I go to bed than convince myself to get up in the morning. I think I still want to try getting up early and possibly doing a few stretches, but so long as I get my yoga done at some point during the day I’m not going to beat myself up about the time. It’s better than not doing it.

As for how I feel after doing yoga consistently for 18 days, I am definitely noticing a difference, though I wasn’t aware of this until last night. Yesterday was a great day, but it was a little exhausting. It was a very hot day and I’d started off fairly relaxed, lazing around my bedroom, but as the day went on I did a pretty intense 25 minute workout, followed by a 5 mile walk up and down a hill, and then going out for dinner with a friend in the evening and following that up with a 30+ minute walk. By the time I got home close to 10pm, I had done 25 minutes of intense exercise and 20,000 steps, it was still warm, and I was exhausted. I sat on my bed and thought that I would leave my yoga until today, because I was just too tired and my muscles were a little achy.

But after a few minutes I decided that I wanted to get it done. It was 20 minutes, and I could go to bed straight after. I realised that I’m starting to rely on doing yoga as an essential part of my daily routine, which is newly cultivated. It made me feel good to have got it done. But more than that, I noticed that it was coming easier to me. As I went through the session, I was tired and achy but I found myself getting more into my head than my body, if that makes sense. For the first time, I understood why people say that yoga can be a moving meditation.

Because I’ve done this for about three weeks now, I’m developing some strength and finding the moves a lot easier than I was in the first few days of practice. So I found myself spending less time paying attention to what my body was doing and whether I felt uncomfortable or not, and more time focussing on how my mind was feeling, and slowly quietening it and settling down for the night. It was only when I caught myself not really paying attention to doing a vinyasa, and yet managing to do it better than I ever have before (not collapsing to the ground for one thing) that I had this realisation. It was a calm, relaxing session, and I really felt like I could let go and just trust my body in what it was doing, rather than getting frustrated and trying to force myself into doing various things.

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of frustrations in my yoga practice in the future, but I felt that last night turned out to be a good way of showing myself what benefits having a daily practice can bring – and hopefully this will encourage me to keep it up once the 30 days have ended. I already have a plan of what I would like to move onto next. Having made this a daily part of my life, and knowing how I felt last night – like I really wanted to get it done despite being tired etc.. – I really feel better for it, and I hope that the benefits only continue to increase in future.

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Rebirth and Renewal

rainbow fountain cow

There’s really no correlation between this picture and this post

Surprise! I’m still alive!

So, that went well.

Despite the fact that several of the last couple of posts published on this blog discuss re-starts and a need for increased consistency in posting, you may have noticed that I’ve failed spectacularly in doing just that. Whilst I did indeed have several very good weeks following on from my last post in regards to improving my diet, exercise, sleep schedule etc… I quickly fell into the same problem that so many people have with the end of the year, when I let December and the Christmas holidays completely derail my progress.

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