Wednesday, 23 February 2011

On yer bike!

I've been able to cycle since I was a really small child. Growing up in Malaysia where the weather was ultra hot, and with over-protective parents kind of nixed being adventurous on a bike though, so I happily trundled my way around on a big tarmac driveway in big circles, flanked by our dogs with waving tails. We had one bike, with stabilizers, between the three of us.

Then when I was 6 or 7 we moved to a house on a hilly housing estate, which dad deemed safe enough for us to zip around by ourselves without adult supervision, and that was great. My dad bought my brother a chopper, and when he went to boarding school my sis & I got our hands on the bike. I'd cycle a route that took me past houses of people my family knew, houses that had interesting plants near their gates, one house that had millions of pots of chillies!!!, another with a huge prickly cactus like some kind of threatening monster...oh yes, and there was also a house which had attack Yorkies euuwww! Not my fave animal. But cycling was always fun, always an adventure, even if I never got the scabbed knees and spectacular falls my sis did (she was a fan of going fast)

Then I went to school in England, and we walked everywhere. In pairs. My parents moved again, to another town ripe for exploration, so when us kids were home for the holidays, I nagged my dad for a bike, since he had gotten himself one for fitness. So I got the Big Green Machine - a wonderful sit up and beg bike, with a wonderful three gears! I think it came from India. It weighed a ton! But it had massive wheels, and when I cycled anywhere in it, it was like I was flying. That was when I realised cycling was more than just fun, it was independence, the power to choose where I went, and when.

As I got older, at every stage of my life, a bike has eased my path eventually. At Uni, I had a beaten up old no gear relic with reverse pedals for stopping - peeling blue paint, and a bell - Bertha was great because I could safely leave her outside the lecture halls and on the streets and know that she'd still be there to come back to...she took me on some fun adventures with my friends, got me home safe after nights out floating in a sea of alcohol, and it was with some regret that I finally traded her in for a swanky tourer on the advice of the then boyfriend, a keen cyclist.

That was a beautiful bike. I spent an absolute fortune on her - as much as I'd spent on my hi-fi system! Yikes! She was the lady who took me on my greatest cycling adventure, the 27 miles to Oxford. I regret to say I moaned the whole way there, fitness enthusiast I wasn't! But after that baptism of fire, I settled down to 6 -15 mile journeys quite comfortably, usually involving pitstops at pubs. Inevitably, she got stolen one day, and I mourned her dreadfully. After that, I got myself another old banger to see out Uni days, a red hand painted frame that had spent 20 years so the seller told me mouldering in the shed...

The Rattletrap was an excellent bike - she looked like shite, but rode like a dream, even though she wasn't any sort of carbonfibre superdooper melange. A great, reliable 10 speed. When I started work in a town I commuted to by train, she was the bike I rode the 10 minutes to the station, heaved onto the guardsvan, and then hopped onto for the five minutes to my workplace. By this time I'd learned proper strategies to minimize bike disappearance with a couple of stout locks and always looking for an immovable object to clamp my darling to.

I moved to the town I now live in and carried on cycling everywhere. It was just second nature. Even when I eventually bought a car, I still cycled to work every day - it really was quicker! The traffic problems we had 20 years ago were dreadful, even commuting by bus was a no-no, as the buses got snarled up in the general mayhem. So cycling it was. Every day. Just under 4 miles there and back, plus any other excursions I might do lunchtimes, or extra trips on weekends or the odd evening out. The car was for visiting my boyfriend on weekends - initially still living in my old Uni town, then at his Uni town over in Wales. On one memorable occasion I plonked the bike in the back and we cycled to Castell Coch, a fairytale 19th century castle! A Disney precursor, it was the Bute family weekend cottage...!!

Finally, I started making a little extra cash doing freelance work on the side, so I bought myself my lovely Dawes Hybrid - currently languishing in my dining room. I cycled every day for 10 years. Then I went fully freelance, bought a new car, decided I needed to look 'smart' ie not be doffing cycling helmet & various cycling paraphernalia wherever I went to see clients, so cycling stopped being a regular thing, and just became something I did on weekends, then less and less.

I really do think that stopping cycling was one of the factors in my huge weight gain. I've always been a chunky girl, always been around 20-30 lbs bigger than the norm even at my smallest. But even at 17, 18, 19st I was still able to get where I needed to go on my own steam. I walked a lot. I went to dance classes. I cycled. I went to the gym. I swam. Yes, I did eat lots of unhealthy stuff - umm, doner kebabs?? greasy chips & burgers?? chow mein takeout?? and I smoked, drank beer & spirits. But I was fit for my weight, active, and most of all, adventurous. Interested in the world around me. A notable thing about this lifestyle is that I did not use my car a lot. I cycled, walked or got the bus, and then walked again.

I think it is kind of sad, that I don't cycle any more. That despite trying to eat healthier, I'm still putting on weight because I'm not regulating my portions. That I let the weather tell me that I can't get on my bike. That I allow fear of being seen as 'that fat bird on the bike' put me off getting back on my lovely Dawes Hybrid. That I'm full of excuses to not exert myself.

I've always liked living in England. I like the variable weather. I never thought that I would be complaining about the cold like I am now, and using it as an excuse for not going out on a walk, "its too cold to go swimming", "the roads are all wet and greasy - too dangerous to go cycling". Hmpf. When did I become such a whiner?

Okay - time for fairy godmother voice: "Think about how much fun it was to cycle. How good the wind felt. How fabulous it was to go fast under your own steam. How happy you were when you managed to climb up a steep slope, how victorious you felt. How strong your lungs and legs were. And all the places you got to see. You can have all that again. Yep. Really easy."

How? whispers me.

"Get on yer bike, luv!"

Now isn't she lovely? 18 gears, comfortable trailbike handlebars, and somewhere I have a gel-tech saddle cover for those loooong bum-challenging trips. Her brakes are splendid, and the carrier has accompanying panniers for any gear I want to carry around. Who could resist taking her out for a spin, hmm?

Ummm. Once this squall is over...
FG waves wand ;)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

A happy surprise

The last couple of days I've been down in the dumps because my scales showed me an unpleasant figure: 23 stone. Eek! That is 322 lbs. I have been neglecting myself in favour of work. I forgot that I come first, and have been putting all my energy into creating miracles for others. Which is allright to do, so long as I am also benefiting, something I forgot.

That number was a icy splash in the face for me. And it left me feeling morose and despondent for a few days. And I have to say, I didn't behave at all well in that time, eating chocolate, carbs and nuts like they were about to become extinct foodstuffs! Yesterday evening though, I decided enough. And today is a new day. I am living today, yesterday is old news. So, last night I drank lots of water, and went to bed, vowing to myself that every morning is a new chance, a new beginning, a chance to treat my body and myself with love and respect. I adjusted my mini goals to reflect this.

Today I am 46 years old. Today I also weigh 22 stone and 12 lbs. And that was after having breakfast! I don't know what miraculous thing occurred overnight, but I am very grateful. A two pound loss! Thank you Universe. This has given me the impetus to keep the day going well.

When I was 40, I decided to give up smoking. It took me a couple of years to stop feeling the cravings, and there were occasional sneaky puffs. However, today I am decidedly a non-smoker, and my lungs are much healthier for it. I believe I can also become a fit, healthy, active person too. She IS there, somewhere inside me.

I found this little snippet on my desktop today. It is a good list to think about as I go forward. I'm sorry I don't know where it came from, but whoever it was from I am sure they will be pleased that their words are helping another person become a happy, healthy and vibrant being. I've paraphrased her words to fit me.

"I deserve to eat food that has been prepared with love and kindness."
"I deserve the man who loves me unconditionally and joyously, and who loves that I love him unconditionally and joyously."
"I deserve to have a career that supports me emotionally, mentally, spiritually AND financially."
"I deserve to care for myself in a way that supports my well-being."

And here are a few words from Danielle La Porte:
"You are worthy of your desires. Really wanting what you want gives you the power to get it.
You were born free. The more you try to earn your freedom the more trapped you become.
You are worthy of love and respect. Lovable."

And I like this list of hers too:
"You deserve:
eye contact
smiles in the morning
food made with pure intention
clean drinking water, fresh air
Hello, Please and Thank you
time to think about it
a chance to show them what you're made of
a second chance
an education
healthcare, including dental
multiple orgasms
weekends and the summer off
8 hours of sleep
play before work
to change your mind
to say no
to say yes
to be seen
to be loved for what is seen

You deserve all this just because you showed up.
You're that monumental.

What's on your mind these days about what you deserve and what you don't?"

I've had phonecalls, texts and birthday cards from my friends and family today, so I know I am loved. And that is a wonderful thing.

How I feel like today! copyright here
It is a funny thing too, today. My cat has been extra specially loving this morning, and wanting lots of hugs and snuggles. Heh - good vibes are in the air today!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Blowhole breather


I've been so swamped with work, I have been like a whale on a looooooong dive into the depths. Just come up for a quick breather. :)

I can see the horizon though, soon it will be time again to focus on getting healthy again. Spring is here. Little bulbs are squeaking out of the earth. My Amaryllis has become a triffid from a dormant pot of dirt I acquired from the supermarket in January...

Still haven't been to get myself those running shoes. Think it is partly because I will feel embarrassed at having to contort myself to get the laces tied (blush!). Another GOOD reason to get back on the healthy eating & swimming & stuff.

I've been listening a lot to the radio while I work. And have realised that they often re-run things - so we get another chance to hear the program. I'm thinking here - I'll get to rerun my getting healthy effort too :) a second chance.

This weekend might be the first one this year I will have to myself and not have to work. A lovely long walk might be in order. Mmm, sunshine, fresh air, heh. I am Mole, coming out of hibernation!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

creative inspiration

I like seeing how people 'grow', especially in creative directions. It was a real joy to look through this artist's progression over the year of her drawings, and see how her confidence has increased, how less becomes more, how assured the quality of her linework, and also her ideas become.

It also reminds me that to become good at anything requires practice. Practice, perseverance, and picking oneself up and carrying on even when stuff isn't going the way one wants. It is about taking aboard the lessons one learns from making mistakes to create things that work. Sometimes of course perfection occurs naturally, however more often it comes about from the experience of going the 'wrong' way! And sometimes, the wrong way has its own benefits. :) Nothing in my experience, goes to waste. We are all constant learners, no matter how old, how professional, how 'mastered' we become in any endeavor. And that is the joy of living.

I am a work in progress! :D