“Presenting your Presence into the Present space”

That is just one of the many odd phrases I heard tonight at the most yoga-y yoga class I’ve ever taken.

Let me explain.

Heather has gone back to Northern Ireland for summer holidays, meaning I have all of my evenings without my built-company. (She is my housemate, and my friend, and I am already missing watching Homeland with her on Netflix, she’s only been gone 2 days)

Since there are a lot of evenings to fill (actually, 10) until I fly fly fly away to my friends in the States, I decided to make the most of my gym membership. I try and swim at least twice per week and then fit in one extra thing, either another swim or a class, but as I have more free evenings I figured why not use what I’m already paying for! I like to try different classes, but I rarely do the same one two weeks running.

Tonight I did a double whammy – a very intense Step class in which I sweated more than I have ever sweated in my life, but did NOT pass out (always a bonus) and followed it up with the aforementioned most yoga-y of yoga classes, in which we mostly laid on the floor and focused on sending out love and kindness and compassion and breathing in a very non-natural rhythym.

It started off with facing the back of the room, instead of the front, which threw me completely since I am a hide at the back type person, and suddenly I was completely exposed at the front (complete with sweaty workout top, hair pinned back in a highly glamorous fashion, and a purple face) Then, I had some incredibly judgy thoughts about the super-toned, perky, athletic person setting up her own pink yoga mat and (very Zen) little lamp.

Turns out she was the teacher. [And she was actually quite good, so it was naughty of me to be judgy]

She invited us to “begin the practise” by lying on our backs. There followed the most relaxing but giggle-worthy yoga “practise” I have ever done. Lots of talk of “floating our arms” to the ceiling, doing something called “releasing prana” which I definitely heard as “releasing piranha” and almost had the giggles (turns out ‘prana’ is energy – who knew), and all kinds of other fun and weird stuff….

But for all that it was weird, now I feel super chilled, and I think I may actually go back to this class ūüôā

-x-

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Priorities

pri·or·i·ty
[prahy-awr-i-tee, -or-]

1. the state or quality of being earlier in time, occurrence, etc.

2. the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc.; precedence.

3. the right to take precedence in obtaining certain supplies, services, facilities, etc., especially during a shortage.

4. something given special attention.

adjective
5. highest or higher in importance, rank, privilege, etc.: a priority task.

Lately, I have been questioning my priorities and what I give my time to. The things we prioritise say a lot about us, don’t they?

Over the last fortnight I have been really challenged by a situation at work. It has been so difficult and actually quite distressing. We have been dealing with foster carers who are prioritising their own wish to go on a holiday over the needs of the little boy they look after – they’ve only had him for a few weeks and want to go off and leave him with other carers when he’s barely settled with them. It has become clear that their priority is not the child they are caring for.

It was so clear to me that this is not ok, but then since being confronted with this whole thing I have thought about my own priorities. My mind has strange connections – I think about one thing, which prompts something else, and then another thing which seems unconnected but actually makes sense in my mind.

(Example: this evening I drove past a town-house that I liked and thought “I’d like to live in a town-house”. Then I wondered, why are they called town-houses. Then I wondered why the New York versions are called “brown-stones”. Then I wondered how much houses cost in Manhattan. And then I had the song “Manhattan” by Ella Fitzgerald in my head!)

But anyway, let’s not get too off track.

Back in June I came close to quitting my gym membership, since I figured that ¬£30 a month is expensive when I only went once or twice a week – and that worked out at around ¬£5 a session which itself seemed like a lot of money. But I like going to the gym and getting fit, and I think it’s healthy for me – so I decided to prioritise going to the gym regularly and actually making the most of my membership – somehow it’s crept up to 5 times a week, but it feels so good to be active. I do classes and I have a weights routine with an instructor and everything.

I also prioritised eating healthier – I have such an addiction to chocolate and sweet things! Give me a pudding over a savoury any day of the week. I challenged myself to not eat biscuits at work for an entire month – and I did it. I felt so much better during my work day; less energy crashes in the middle of the afternoon.

It seems that if I put my mind to something, and make it a priority, it is not that hard. As my first discipler once said: “you make time for what you care about”

So why then, is it so hard for me to prioritise God in my life? I love God and I want my life to honour him and bring him glory, but I forget him SO often.

Yesterday we had a worship evening at Small Group and it was a great, peaceful, praising time.

But in my own life, when it relies on my own motivation, I really struggle to seek God. I am completely involved in my Church, but when I am serving and don’t get to listen to the service, I very rarely listen to the preach online – although I always say I will … but then I can find time to watch Emmerdale or Coronation Street on itvplayer (hey, you already knew I was middle-aged inside)

Yes, I listen to worship music – but only when I’m cooking dinner… Yes, I read my Bible – whilst I’m eating breakfast. Sometimes I pray at times other than when I just want something – but usually in the car when I get sick of what’s playing on the radio.

When did my time with God become something I tried to multi-task?

I have always struggled in prayer, because talking to a Holy, Infinite, Ever-Loving Father is just not a concept I could understand – to trust that what you ask for will be given, and that he is always there. Actually it was a pretty alien concept.

It’s different now, though…I truly know God as my Father…but how come I can’t prioritise Him. I struggle so much.

I know that everyone struggles, really I do – but I forget him so often.

How can I remedy this issue?

I don’t want some “5-steps to a closer relationship with your Saviour” type spiel. I want a deeper, more honest, more reliant relationship with God.

But how?!

At work I split my tasks into groups: 1) URGENT AND IMPORTANT, 2) NOT URGENT BUT IMPORTAND, 3) NOT IMPORTANT OR URGENT. This really helps me figure out what I need to first, and what can wait until later. (Some of my “not important and not urgent” tasks have been sitting in that pile since April though…should fix that)

God should be URGENT AND IMPORTANT, shouldn’t he?

More thoughts to come on this, I’m sure.

-x-

Domesticated ‘goddess’ / weight-lifter in training

Saturday. A day for lie-ins and laundry, brunch and baking, reading and relaxing, cleaning and more cleaning. On this particular Saturday I have even rearranged furniture. Yes – my living room has a new look.

(I decided my TV does not need, nor deserve, to be ‘pride of place’ since I don’t have a TV license and actually rarely even watch DVDs on it anymore. So it’s been relegated to another corner and I now have a nice reading “nook” next to my fireplace)

I have been very grown-up and domesticated today. I took things to the launderette (not my things, of course, but tablecloths from Matt and Laura’s wedding) and called up Window Cleaners to get quotes, and did lots of little grown-up type chores such as reviewing my finances and cleaning the fireplace.

Seriously. I’m like totally grown up, don’t you know.

The best thing about this Saturday is that it means last week is over, and I can look forward to starting again on Monday. I don’t know what was so particularly nasty but the days dragged, everything felt like a challenge, and it was just exhausting. I had a headache every day and I feel like I haven’t slept well the whole week. Unsurprisingly, last night I slept like a baby.

That might be, however, because yesterday I had a session with a personal trainer at the Gym (who happens to be an ex-Marine, ex-weightlifter, with a degree in sports science or physical science or something like that from what’s meant to be the best University for that kind of thing. Go figure.)

Where was I?

Oh yes. It seems I am now in training. Actual, set routine, “overload” / “pyramid” training with weights and everything.

I wanted to meet with the yogalates (yoga/pilates – of course) instructor, to find out if there was anything she could suggest to sort out my shoulders, since I have a condition called Winged Scapula (don’t Google it, it’s gross) but she was off sick, so Tony (I don’t know if that’s his name. He looks like a Tony) went through things with me. He’s never heard of Winged Scapula but could see right off that my upper back muscles, underneath my shoulder blades, are severely underdeveloped. In particular my left side. I’ve always said that I am incredibly right-handed, and my whole right side is stronger than the left, but no-one’s believed me until now!

Long story short, “Tony” has set me up with a weight lifting routine designed to build up and tone the muscles underneath my shoulder blades so that they can’t wing out as much. I have to do: bent over fly lifts with dumbbells, dumbbell rowing, and upright rowing, and lateral pull downs. (You can Google those, they’re not scary or gross)

I am really quite excited about this new regime. I feel like I have a goal and I will be able to see the results of my hard work. I have to do the routine 2 times a week, at least, which works out great because currently I’m there 5 times a week anyway. (Mon/Wed/Thurs evenings and Tue/Fri mornings, generally)

I know, it’s a little intense. But I’m making the most of my money, right?!

So I figured that if do my weights on Monday and Wednesday evenings I have the evenings off to recover – my arms felt like jelly afterwards but Tony promised that is normal.. On Thursdays I go to yogalates from 6.15 – 7pm, and on Tuesdays and Fridays I can do Cardio.

Perfect. Not bad for £30 per month.

Right then. I have to end it there, since my peasant bread should be done rising soon. Yes, you read right. I am in a little bit of a bread-making phase. Last week I tried a spelt loaf which turned out so heavy you could have throw it at someone and killed them dead.=”2013-08-10T15:34:50+00:00″>peasant bread which is supposed to be lovely. And you don’t have to knead it. Score. I’ll let you know how it turns out – if I like it!!

Fit Brain vs Lazy Brain

This morning when I was getting ready for work, I packed my gym back and chucked it in the car – because my Fit Brain said that I spend ¬£30/month on membership and haven’t been in the past¬†3 weeks because of my holiday. Whilst doing this I ignored Lazy Brain who said “You’re jetlagged! Come straight home after work and slob about”

Throughout the day, Fit Brain and Lazy Brain had a somewhat interesting debate about my evening plans. It went something like this:

FB – you need to work out…it’s been almost 3 weeks!

LB – seriously, you don’t! Jammies and a movie, that’s what you need

FB – you want to work out

LB – you’re stupid

FB – I win!

LB – but…you left your work¬†phone at home and you’re on call tonight

FB – you can go and get it on the way home

LB – it’s not on the way home…why not just go home and do the gym tomorrow?

FB – no, pick up the phone and go to the gym afterwards

LB – I’ll say it again, you’re jetlagged!

FB – but doing some exercise will be helpful, it will tire you out for the night so you sleep better.

LB – drat science. But! You didn’t shave your legs!

FB – shoot

LB – victory!

FB – Wait! When you go home to collect your phone, pick up your footless tights and wear those. No-one will know that you’re hairier than a yeti in mid-winter

LB – please don’t make me go to the gym

FB – just go to the gym you lazy bum

 

Which brain do you think won?!

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What I did today…

First off, I have to point out that it’s taken me near enough 8 hours to get my laptop to let me online. My security software crashed and I’ve been restarting/resetting/reinstalling for what feels like an age. Which has been irritating on a number of levels.

It’s sorted now though (so it seems) (so I hope)

Today was a good day. I feel like I accomplished a lot, which always makes me feel good. I spent the morning reading (and finished my final library book, so taking them back is a task for tomorrow) and took my time waking up. Today was technically my last ‘holiday’ day – seeing as it’s the weekend tomorrow and I may have to work Monday since I have to prepare reports for meetings next week. I wanted to enjoy being a lady of leisure for a few hours more.

Once I’d finished my book I got ready and headed to the gym, and really impressed myself! Not to brag (well, to brag a bit) I beat my own personal best on the treadmill AND on the bike, and when I did my weights (yes, I do weights) I was able to go more reps than I have before. I was so pleased with myself. I feel very healthy right now.

After that I went to four different homeware stores, in search of storage for my bathroom. I’m sick of it looking like this:
SAM_2728

SAM_2729

I knew exactly what I wanted to get…but could I find it? Of course not. FOUR DIFFERENT STORES. Some of them had something that was along the lines of what I wanted, but at ridiculous prices. In the end, I surrendered my ideal and went with a different but equally pretty option:

SAM_2731

SAM_2732

SAM_2733

[I can’t get the pictures to rotate :(]

Of course, having bought new storage I then had to actually do some organising. Which also meant properly cleaning the bathroom. I like this kind of blitz-attack cleaning – getting everything out of the space, cleaning it and the putting things back (or chucking them out, as the case may be)

I like that (for now, at least) all my products have their own designated home and it all looks pristine.

Once I’d done bathroom, it seemed to naturally lead on to attacking my bedroom. It needed less work than the bathroom but I did lots of flitting around from place to place, putting things back where they belong and straightening it all up. I also did lots of the cleaning jobs I would usually pass over, like cleaning the skirting boards and dusting the tops of the bookcase/door frames. All boring, but necessary. I don’t like the idea of living in a cluttered/dirty/dusty/disorganised home. Not that my home (or any of the places I’ve lived) have really been like that, but disorganisation and clutter is so NOT me.

I would like lots of congratulations and praise for my spectacularly wonderful accomplishments today, please. Form an orderly queue to admire my cleaning prowess…

-x-

On the quest for physical fitness…!

I have been in actual physical pain since my first induction at the gym on Monday. I really think my trainer nearly killed me!

It was quite fun whilst I was there, but stupidly I didn’t do a cool-down as I had to leave to get on the motorway before lunchtime. I’ve paid for that error MANY times over…I feel like I’ve¬†had a hot water bottle permanently attached to me for the past few days to ease my muscle aches.

Today isn’t too bad though, I can actually lift my cup of tea without aching.

My trainer did my measurements and fitness tests, and I managed 10 press-ups in 2 minutes (impressive considering I have zero upper arm strength) and 15 sit-ups in 2 minutes. My target for my first review (4-6 weeks time) is 15 press-ups and 20 sit-ups.

I was pretty chuffed though as my lung capacity is 99%.¬†I was pretty wheezy that day so that’s quite impressive. My lung ‘age’ is 24, which my trainer was pleased about.

She gave me a routine to follow each time I go to the gym, which hopefully will be twice a week – once on Mondays and one evening. None of the classes are ‘grabbing me’ yet, but we’ll see.

I was quite surprised that I¬†really enjoyed my workout on Monday, it was fun to push myself¬†and have a little challenge. I don’t remember enjoying it as much when I was younger, though I must have because I went regularly.

I even like the staff, because they don’t seem like the stereotypical, primped and perfect,¬†super-enthusiastic gym bunnies. The three I’ve met so far are all pretty ordinary! Of course, they are probably super-fit and could run circles round me, but that’s ok.

My workout consists of:

1500m on the rower, working on beating my own timings (8m5s on Monday),

10 minutes on the X-trainer,

5 minutes on the stepper (I’ve done steppers before, but this one is the weirdest contraption I’ve ever seen!)

5 minutes on another weird contraption whose name I don’t know (you kind of sit like you’re on a bike, and pump your legs to keep the weights between certain markers?!)

then 10 minutes on the treadmill, alternating between walking and jogging as my “cool-down”.

My trainer put down time on the treadmill and the rower, even though I hate them, because they are good for cardio and all-round fitness…but she did leave off the main¬†weights for me, since¬†she don’t think someone whose upper arms measure 23cm would cope. Maybe when I’m a little stronger…

Not quite like this, though!

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