I’ve spent so long living in cities that I found the silence to be almost deafening when I first arrived on Uist. I usually surround myself with noise as it seems to keep me company almost and stops me from feeling lonely when I spend long periods of time by myself. However, after a while I eventually discovered the inner peace that comes with sitting outside in complete silence; for the first time in a few years I took comfort in my own thoughts and was able to feel calm instead of feeling over crowded in my own head. For me this photo sums up that discovery of peace within the loneliness as I gazed out at the sky surrounded only by total silence.
It’s been far too long since I last posted so it’s time for me to start exploring my new home and sharing the local beauty spots I think. I found moving and settling in quite difficult this time around, but I’m finally starting to feel like myself again and I’ve refocused on my dreams of working and schooling from home and travelling the big wide world with my wee girl. For now I may have to satisfy myself by travelling the big wide world that is England ( and specifically the North West until my money box starts to refill!).
So this is my local beauty spot, Pennington Flash. Today was a surprise sun-filled day so I came here with my sister and our children and we had a gorgeous walk, play in the park and generally relaxing afternoon. I think this view helped me to rediscover a tiny bit of serenity that was very much missing from my life…..
Here’s to the future and to many more serene afternoons wandering through the beautiful places I’ve yet to experience.
The last few months have been a massive change emotionally for me. After deciding to step out on this path of travelling and working abroad I’ve really had to take stock and it’s had a big effect on my thoughts and feelings surrounding what I want for myself and my daughter. I think in a way, entering into the final year of my degree or even just coming back to university after giving birth, has been the biggest catalyst to all this emotional change.
If you’ve had kids then you may have had a similar experience to me, where during the pregnancy and straight after the birth it’s not really possible to really know what you want. I was pretty scared and a lot of things were going on that were outside of my control. I just didn’t know what I wanted pure and simple. I knew what I had wanted in the past intellectually speaking, but it was put on hold in a strange way that I’ve never experienced before. There was an unknown entity on the way and I was really conscious that the minute they came into being and ventured into the outside world things would change – I don’t mean in the obvious ways, I mean more in the sense that there would be a person who would eventually have thoughts and opinions that would change the decisions I was going to make. This mentally put me in some sort of freeze hold and I just couldn’t conceive of much beyond the birth. Even after she was born I spent the usual few weeks recovering and acting like a hormonal wreck and then I started to focus on getting back to university.
It was at this point that I really started to ask myself what I wanted, I found myself caving in to those invisible societal pressures that surround us as parents and even just as people. Those pressures that tell us to conform, take a normal path, provide for our family and not take risks. Despite having never wanted to follow a ‘normal’ path in my life I suddenly found myself looking into ‘normal’ graduate schemes and ‘normal’ jobs. I was convincing myself that having my daughter meant I needed to make the ‘responsible’ decisions and not do the outlandish things I’d always wanted to do. Whilst in the early stages of my pregnancy, Monkey’s Dad and me discussed things that we wanted and we both expressed a wish to travel. I said I wanted to finish my degree and give myself the option of further study, but I said that travel was definitely a part of my future. He seemed to need something more than this and I just couldn’t give it to him. Now, the reasons he decided to leave are way more complex than I can do justice to in a blog post. And I don’t think it would be fair to him to claim that this is all there is to it. But I think a small part of it was that I was too busy trying to control everything, whilst he was too busy trying to force me to commit to things I just wasn’t ready to commit to. We were both panicking and we didn’t know each other well enough and he didn’t give me or himself the chance to find out what we wanted, together as a family. Within weeks of finding out I was pregnant he’d gone. I often wondered what would have happened if we’d just given ourselves the time to get used to the new situation we were in; instead of trying to force each other to be the people we thought we needed the other person to be….
Since that point I have changed and developed so much as a person I’m partly unrecognisable. I’ve gone through such a lot having my daughter on my own and coming to terms with the effect that will have on both out lives. As I said, I really ended up convincing myself that I needed to do the ‘normal’ thing for the sake of my daughter. It was only as I got further down those paths, and truly started looking at things like the NHS graduate scheme or civil service as a realistic option that I knew it was never going to make me happy – and that would make Monkey unhappy. It was this realisation that made me really start thinking about what I actually wanted – and that’s to travel. I know without a doubt that if I get to the end of my life without travelling, without living in another country and possibly without learning another language then it will be my biggest regret. So to allow that to happen whilst knowing that would be a big crime against myself.
A while ago I did a post about how big my safety net should be: http://www.backpacksandbabygrows.com/2014/07/03/how-big-should-a-safety-net-be/ . In this post I discussed giving myself a back up plan that involved completing a Masters at the same time as saving to do a RTW trip, so that if travel didn’t happen I would have other options to fall back on. Options that I actually wanted to take, such as postgrad study. Since writing that post though, I’ve realised that actually, I just want to go. I don’t want any other distraction; I just want to save up as much as I can and head off into the unknown with my wee Monkey. This trip and travelling has somehow evolved into so much more than ‘just’ a trip. I know that thought is probably echoed in the minds of countless other travellers or wannabe travellers. So much so, it’s become clichéd – but it’s clichéd because it rings so true for so many people. For me this trip is about finally starting my life. That probably sounds strange, but I’m a late starter in life – my own potential and personal development has been delayed and diverted time and time again. Mostly due to circumstances out of my control, particularly as a child and teenager. My 20s were spent coming to terms with this, and it’s only been since starting college and going back to university that I’ve become the person I always knew I could be. Having my daughter has finalised that in a way nothing else could. Making these steps to travel and jump out into the deep end, as a single parent is really the first step in what I feel is my ‘true’ life, the life I’m meant to have. So there’s a lot riding on it. It’s not that I don’t want the postgrad stuff anymore, it’s that I’m acutely aware they will be there when I get back, I can do those at any time, anywhere in the world. But it’s travelling that will help me to be who I need to be emotionally; it’s travelling that will let my daughter be the person she can be….
Another thing I’ve slowly admitted to myself is that I don’t want to put monkey into the daily grind that is the school system. I know there are some amazing teachers out there; my sister is one of them. But there’s also some terrible teachers out there and the school system is there to cater for the middle ground; it’s there to create an obedient workforce who behave themselves, turn up on time, don’t question authority and basically live life with a set of blinkers on. The world does not need any more of those people, that I do know – if it’s to survive, if we’re to survive as a species we need the mad, creative, wild and inappropriate types. I know too many people who had every last bit of creativity and individualism drained or pummelled out of them at school, to be OK with signing my child up for that. I really want to do something that probably lies in between home schooling and unschooling – (although as with most of the other unschoolers I’m not that keen on the name, as it implies no learning whatsoever which couldn’t be further from the truth). Admitting this to myself has made me realise that those are my 2 core beliefs and aspirations in my life: travel and home schooling, so the rest just needs to somehow fit around them. Or I need to make it fit around them because in the end it’s me that’s in charge of my life. No one else can do these for me. I would love to start working for myself, writing and making a living by piecing together all my skills in a way that makes me happy. Whether that’s teaching English, writing, doing photography, or a bit of all these things and maybe some other things too, I don’t know. But I’m definitely not a Monday to Friday kind of a woman. I would also love to meet someone who shares my dreams, I’d like to let go enough to fall in love again and maybe (just maybe) expand my little family, as having monkey has been the best decision I ever made. Finally realising that these are the things I truly know has given me emotional freedom that I’ve never felt before. It’s given me a purpose and something to aim at. I don’t need riches (not that I ever wanted them), I do want to have the finances to travel (obviously) and to provide my daughter and myself with a half decent standard of living but beyond that I really don’t care. I don’t want her to grow up in the consumerist mess we have in the UK, where how we view our own worth and the worth of others is somehow inextricably linked to what we own and how much money we have in the bank. I want her to know that there is so much more to life than money and possessions. Poverty is horrific but so is having all the materialistic things you ever wanted, only to realise that you’re still looking for something that can’t be bought and now you’ve not got the time to find it.
So this is where I am today, embarking on this adventure is a strange thing for me at this point in time. I’ve still got a year of my degree to complete. This will undoubtedly be one of the most intense years I ever experience but it’ll be worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears that I shed and have shed over the last 7 years. The RTW trip still feels completely imaginary – because it is. It probably won’t feel in the slightest bit real until I actually book us those tickets, and maybe it won’t feel real until we step off the plane and head into our first country on the list (hopefully China). To keep myself focused on the long-term future I keep looking at this big map online and planning where we’ll go and when, I’m reading all these travel blogs and talking to my closest friends about my plans. But on the flip side, I also have to keep my feet firmly on the ground and focus on the here and now. I HAVE to get this degree; I’ve worked too hard to fall at the last hurdle. Not only that, I know I’m capable of getting a 1st. It’s where my grade point average is lying at the moment and I’d be fibbing if I didn’t say a 1st is what I want. Although saying that, I do now know that it’s not the be all and end all, any degree will be a massive achievement for anyone let alone someone in my position.
So this is my bit of emotional landscaping – making that decision to travel has just brought on an avalanche of life choices and realisations that I could never have expected. I’d love to hear if any of you have had a similar experience in the comments section! I suspect that travel and making those massive decisions takes on this huge role in nearly everyone’s life – especially if it’s something you end up turning into a lifestyle choice rather than just a holiday. I’m so excited already at the thought of the adventures to come and the experiences me and my daughter will have together – I’ll have to increase my vocabulary and powers of articulation just to put into words how I feel when we actually go!!
Just 40 minutes from my house by train and car is the stunning area of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, with Balloch Castle sitting overlooking the loch. It costs just £5 return and if you take a picnic is a very enjoyable and cheap day out. Whenever I have people to stay who haven’t been to Glasgow much, and if the weather is nice, I always suggest a trip to the loch. It generally takes them by surprise that somewhere so beautiful and perceivably remote is so close by. Trains run regularly from glasgow central, even on Sundays.
You can take a short 10 minute walk from Balloch station, go up the road and turn to walk up by the side of the loch to find a nice picnic spot. Kids can paddle in certain areas and there’s even
some sandy patches. Alternatively you can get a boat around the loch or do some water-sports, or take a more adventurous walk and bike ride around this picturesque area. Ben Lomond is nearby if you fancy climbing a mull. I just took the 1st option as it was so hot and I had my little monkey with me. After the picnic and some excitement of feeding the birds (monkey has never seen gulls so close before), we climbed a small embankment to arrive at the stunning green space that surrounds Balloch Castle. The Castle itself is generally closed as they seem to be refurbishing it but the grounds are so beautiful you probably won’t mind (the castle is pretty small too to be fair).
I love this place, it really holds a special place in my heart. If I had lots of money I would buy a holiday home or even a permanent home here in a second. It just encompasses it all for me – 40 minutes from a large bustling city but right in the middle of gorgeous countryside, by a body of water. Some spots are really isolated too, if you head up
towards Rowardennan hostel and camping area it starts where the road finishes. The hostel incidentally, is a really lovely place to stay in and the camping area looks great too. There’s some fabulous walks to do around that area including an old archaeology walk. You’ll walk past amazing family houses up that way with tree houses and outdoor spaces any young child would adore….
The Castle and the loch itself is good enough though if you fancy an easy trip close to public transport links and civilised society. I always find the spot overlooking the loch incredibly peaceful and whenever I go I kick myself for not going more. So my pledge this time is that I will go on a weekend more and I will go at least once in the week alone when my monkey is at nursery to just sit and meditate for an afternoon when the weather is nice.
If you fancy a more luxurious trip there’s some very nice restaurants and pubs and also some
cabins that sit on the west side of the loch that you can rent as part of a hotel. You can find these at http://www.loch-lomond-waterfront.co.uk but there are also many more that you will find with a simple google search.
There’s a fabulous tree here that has been struck by lightening and half of the tree died whilst the other half lived on apparently undamaged; despite the fact the entirety of the roots and the inner trunk appear to be completely destroyed. I love looking at this tree, for me it sums up the fighting spirit all living things are capable of showing – surviving against all odds and remaining a thing of beauty even in its gnarled and war torn state.
So Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and Balloch Castle is my next suggestion of what to do when it’s sunny in Glasgow! For adventure, relaxation, meditation and yoga or just a nice picnic, paddle and feeding the birds – Loch Lomond can see to your every whim in my opinion
Continuing my theme of writing about past places I have visited, I thought I’d talk about Amsterdam. I’ve now been 3 times and it’s one of the places I would happily move to tomorrow if given the opportunity. I think it’s a mixture of the memories I have of going (I went for my 21st birthday and had an amazing time with 2 fantastic friends) which create a nostalgic feel, the fact that everyone speaks English which as a woman (or anyone in fact) makes me feel quite safe and secure. Add to that the beauty and friendliness of the city itself and you have a surefire winner with me. Of course if you love those special cigarettes it might well be high on your list (and possibly not the only thing that’s high either) but… I’m assuming everyone knows about that great tourist trap so this post is about those slightly more unknown treats in Amsterdam that are a wee bit further off the beaten track
As always my photos from a few years ago aren’t great due to being taken on a camera phone, but hopefully you get the idea anyway. Having been 3 times I’ve had the opportunity to explore Amsterdam off the beaten track a little. I’ve done all the usual things on my 1st visit (spending far too long in all the cafes, visiting the sex museum etc), so the next 2 times I went I tried to do something different.
Being a hippie at heart and always having had a n affinity with buddhism although I’d never describe myself as practising; it was great to find a fully functioning Chinese Buddhist Temple ‘Fo Guang Shan’, right in the centre of Amsterdam. Not many people I’ve met know about it and it offered a really peaceful break from the bustle and ‘greenery’ of the city.
Located in Amsterdam’s Chinatown at, Zeedijk 106-118, 1012 BB AMSTERDAM. I really recommend going if you can. It is a centre for meditation but also offers tours. According to tourist information, “the animals on the roof represent the Chinese Zodiac. The dragon is thought to protect the entire temple grounds. The buildings flanking the temple house the Buddhist nuns and a library. The characteristic architecture of these buildings makes for an unusual juxtaposition with the typical Dutch buildings surrounding the temple.”
Wandering further afield on my 3rd visit took me to the real life fairy tale castle that is Muiderslot. It was a bit of an adventure to get there – it took 2 trains, a bus and a bit of a walk but it was well worth the visit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more perfect representation of a fairytale castle up to date. It’s included in the UNESCO world heritage sites and dates back to the 13th Century. It was built by Count Floris V but 300 years later was inhabited by ‘the Dutch Shakespeare’ Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft. The castle is huge, with it’s own moat which comes with picturesque lilly pads. It’s a real family day out with plenty to do and see – there’s a fanatic armoury, and an interactive quest for children and adults alike. I happened to go on a gorgeous hot day and the actual town of Muiden is also very beautiful too. According to tourist information you get there by the following instructions:
Your Connexxion 1 day or 3 days ticket for the Amsterdam Region is also valid on bus 320, 322, 327 and 328 from Amsterdam Amstel Station to Muiden/Muiderslot. Take the train to Weesp and a bus to Muiden or cycle along the river Vecht in 15 minutes to Muiden.
From March 30st 2013 you van take the ferry from Amsterdam IJburg, tram 26 from the Central Station, to the castle. A great trip away from the city. For information and bookings: http://www.veerdienstmuiderslot.nl
As you can see the Castle also boasts some lovely gardens where they hold battles and a falconry. It’s all set in the midst of some peaceful countryside too by the river so it made for a nice walk back to the station.
One of the reasons I love Amsterdam is it’s architecture. It manages to merge the quaint with the modern, culture and history with liberal laws on marijuana consumption and it also appears to do it with comparatively few social problems. Now I know the sex district and the drug culture worries some but it’s not something you even notice unless you purposefully venture to those areas – or at least that’s what I found anyway.
My favourite cafe in Amsterdam is called the dolphins – it has trippy underwater murals downstairs and sells some of the best greenery in the city (in my opinion) – if you like that kind of thing then I fully recommend a trip there (if it’s still open of course)!
Even writing this post has just made me want to go back – Amsterdam most definitely stole my heart!
I loved this little house near to Muiden … although I think it would be the city in one of the higgledy piggledy town houses that I’d ultimately choose to live, overlooking the canal right in the middle of the city hubbub.
So there you have it … my 1st love but hopefully the 1st of many to come. One day I really hope I get the opportunity to live in this city even if only for a few months. Barge life does also appeal in many ways although maybe not in the winter months!
It has been 3 weeks since I really made an effort to change my diet and exercise habits for good. The aim has been to generally better my holistic health – yes I want to lose the last bit of baby belly I have, yes I’d like to lose that final half stone I gained during pregnancy and yes I’d love to fit back into some old jeans. But this is more than that, it’s also about feeling better in myself, focusing on the whole of me – a mind, body and soul enterprise. I’ve also been trying to do this in a really cost effective way. The plan has been to build up to doing an hours decent exercise a day, start meditating and to improve my diet.
I’ve started slowly by joining a local and free badminton group on a Tuesday at a community centre and I’ve been doing a target exercise/weights video in the evenings too. I mentioned in my last fitness related post that I already walk for about an hour a day minimum so obviously I’ve been continuing to do this. I’ve slowly built up to doing 2 hours with the badminton group and I’ve joined a boxercise class on a Friday at the same community centre too. I was already a member of the uni gym but I’m not a fan of solo training I eventually lose my motivation and just stop going but I’m investigating more classes there that are included in the price. For now I’m going to start doing an hours swimming on a Thursday. I also emailed a local yoga group who offered a decent student discount for their early morning class – the centre is called ‘Yoga, meditation, healing, Glasgow’ and looks very professional but after a week I’ve heard nothing back and they provide no number to call so I’ve looked elsewhere. Today I found another place which is actually a dance studio closer to my house who do an hours yoga on a Monday and the student price is even cheaper so for £3 I’m off to my 1st ‘yoga flow’ class on Monday.
Today I went to my 1st half hour meditation class at the local Buddhist centre – it’s also £3 and they unfortunately don’t do a concession price but I really found it to be incredibly beneficial. I actually didn’t expect to, I was dubious I’ll admit but even without being able to do it that well on the 1st go (to be expected really); I left the centre feeling incredibly relaxed and positive. It did help that the sun has been shining all week but I’m pretty sure most of that was to do with the meditation so I’ll be going back every Wednesday i think. It worked out quite well, as I have a driving lesson every Wednesday morning and these are so intense in terms of concentration and adrenalin response that when I got home and just left straight away to go the the meditation class it sort of put me back on an even keel but also leaving me refreshed and light.
Now I’ve always been a bit sceptical (and in truth a teeny bit irritated) of people who are super fit and healthy and go on about how good they feel. But I can honestly say that after 3 weeks of putting the effort in I feel like a different person. I’ve not seen any particular change physically and I probably shouldn’t expect to after 3 weeks but I have never felt better. I’m sleeping better, I feel happier, more relaxed and just more energised. So I’m having to swallow my pride and admit that you healthy, smug irritating fitness types were genuinely right all along (I always knew that – I just wanted an excuse for my own laziness I guess)! So I think I’m going to join the smug club and I’m loving it. I should realistically not expect to see any major physical changes for about 6 months but I’m happy with just the change in how I feel. It makes me feel genuinely positive that I will be able to use these methods as a tool for managing stress and anxiety in my final year at uni and that I can start implementing these things as permanent lifestyle changes.
I’ve been eating healthily too – I’ve been taking proper vitamins to try and address a mouth ulcer problem. I’ve started cleansing each morning with water and aloe vera concentrated liquid and I’m going to introduce coconut water into my diet too (thanks to the following post for nudging me to do it – I’ve always known the benefits but I feel motivated to really make the change after reading this and also after seeing the positive change the last 3 weeks has had on me http://belikewaterproduction.com/2014/06/18/the-many-benefits-of-drinking-coconut-water/ )
So from now on my weeks should look like this I hope:
Monday: Yoga Flow and evening weight training DVD
Tuesday: 2hrs badminton
Wednesday: Meditation and evening cardio and weights DVD
Thursday: 1 hr swimming
Friday: 45 mins Boxercise
Saturday: day off
Sunday: Cardio and weights DVD
Add to this that I do at least an hours walking Monday – Friday too. Next week will be my 1st full week of this regime so I’ll let you know how I get on – I think part of my success is I’ve built up to this slowly for the best part of a month so I can see a progression. I think if you try and do too much it feels like an impossible task so you get demotivated and give up so I’ve started slow.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed with this is that I’m now just enjoying it, I’m watching less TV (between the blog, and the TEFL course and fitness stuff and bringing up my little monkey time is pretty tight) – don’t get me wrong I will always make time for Game Of Thrones but I’m watching less crap that’s for sure. Because I’m tired I’m sleeping much better and naturally waking up earlier whilst feeling refreshed which is a novelty in itself. I’m now waking up an hour before my daughter so I get a chance to chill out and have a coffee and get her food ready for nursery before she’s even awake which means my mornings feel so much more relaxed and this also makes a huge difference. I think all these little things have just created a domino effect which is what has made this massive overall holistic change to my life – so I can safely say it works. It’s an effort, nothing comes easy but really worth the hard work!!
I wanted to add to my slightly bonkers previous post and say why I’m trying to transform myself into a carefree ‘hippie’; over the last couple of years since having a baby I’ve really had the chance to assess my life from every angle. I’ve always known the conclusions that I’ve come to; it’s just not an easy thing to implement necessarily (for anyone!).
Nearly every news site or ‘health and diet’ site on the internet will always have these so called ’10 easy steps to a happier healthier you’ – but the crucial thing is, is it’s never actually that easy. As an anxious type of person I’ve always known doing things like yoga and meditation would help me significantly to get a handle on this, but I’ve never quite had the motivation to do it. Or I’ve had the motivation but after 1 or 2 classes I’ve felt so self-conscious I’ve not gone back. I’ve never really been a gym bunny, but I did play a huge amount of sports in primary and high school. The problem when you leave school is that you really have to go and search out these clubs and sports as an adult. I think if I’d gone to university straight after school I probably would have joined the university teams in the same sports I did at school. However, this wasn’t the case so it all just fell to the wayside.
Before I knew it, my 20s had gone by and I was suddenly a ‘proper’ adult who used to be fit and healthy who was getting used to the idea that I no longer was. Having a baby really changed things – I had a home birth booked so I suddenly had an added incentive to really get into all the mindfulness and meditation and relaxation stuff. Even though the home birth never happened all that practice did stick with me. And now of course I have another incentive to be fit and healthy and have a good decent diet. Longevity suddenly becomes of the upmost importance; I mean it always was important – don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying without a child people don’t care how long they live. It just really rams it home in an indescribable way, that you want to be there for as much of their lives as possible. I gave up smoking as soon as I found out I was pregnant and I’m lucky enough that I’ve just never had the urge to start again …
So this brings me to now – I think deciding to travel and really assess what I want out of my life has made me decide that this dream and my path to achieving it should really be a holistic approach I take. I should take this opportunity to really take stock of my life and change it in the ways I want to – if I’m fit and healthy and fuelling myself with good decent food, I’m more likely to be happy a and healthy and therefore positive. I think the yoga and meditation speaks for itself in terms of the benefits. I really want the little monkey to be able to just follow by example – I don’t want to be that annoying parent who constantly says ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Had two of those and it’s supremely irritating! I want her right from the start to just be naturally living a healthy and active life – without it being a big ‘thing’ – it’s just how we live.
Of course building my fitness and stamina will help no end in achieving all the things I want to achieve over the next couple of years; the final year of my degree will be one of the most highly pressured things I’ve done so far for starters. And travelling and trying to work abroad too, being fit and healthy will hopefully keep any medical care we need to a minimum – always a bonus when abroad.
So – there’s some slightly more rational reasons for my ‘dress like a hippie, become a hippie’ plan of action!
Just as an afterthought to – I’ve been really looking into nice and cheap or even free ways to do all this, so I thought I’d share what I’ve managed to do and for how much money. One of the things I’ve discovered that I didn’t really know is that local community centres actually have a lot of stuff on for people within the community (obviously) for little or no cost. So it’s my local centre that has got funding to buy the badminton equipment and pay for someone to come in and teach once a week for 12 weeks. Anyone can go along for free, but because it’s a morning class it’s pretty quiet so I’m getting lots of one on one training which is great. Once the course is over I think the centre is hoping people will just keep going in and using the equipment and space for free. The same centre has a boxercise class on a Friday for £3 – I’m there anyway on a Friday doing voluntary work and the class starts when I finish so it seems a poor effort if I can’t stay and do that – it’s pretty intensive though so will see how I get on. I’m going to the 1st one next week.
I’ve always had a gym membership through uni – when you’re a student I can’t recommend it enough as it’s a fraction of the cost. Now I said earlier I’m really not a fan of the solo workout stuff; but my gym has a pool so I’m going to try and go swimming once or twice a week. They also do drop in classes – a lot are off in June due to renovation work taking place but they start up again in July so I will look at what I can go to there. My aim is to do 1 class a day Monday – Friday and then I’ve been doing 15 minute weights workouts to a DVD at home in the evening just to target certain muscle groups. My choice has been Davina McCalls 15 minute workout DVD – I love the little bitesize target workouts, as my attention span isn’t great for that stuff. But this way I can shove the DVD in and it’s done before I realise.
I’ve also managed to find a cheap yoga class I can do – all the ones at the gym are on in the evening but as a single parent I can never get the regular weekly babysitting needed to keep up constant attendance so I end up getting demotivated as I tend to only make 50% of the classes. I’ve found a local one that gives a discount to students but if you go to the early morning class at 8.30am it’s even bigger and the class only costs £4 so I’m thinking of trying that out next week.
I walk around a lot as a non driver (for now) so whenever I walk I make sure I’m doing it at a good speed. Monkey’s nursery is a 15 minute walk away so when she goes I do an hours total walking (30 minute round trip to take her and again to pick her up). This never seems like much but it does count – and all free!
These are just the things I’ve found since I started looking – there’s a drop in meditation class on at the Buddhist centre too (I think it’s just a small donation to attend (£1.50 or similar) so I may go along and see if I can join them. So that adds up to £8.50 a week for a really good range of exercise – If I compare it to things I used to buy, that’s only just over the cost of one pack of cigarettes or a coffee each day in the university canteen Monday – Friday. So I feel like this is an OK cost as long as I try and keep other costs down (so I don’t buy coffee when I’m out ever for example) – also it probably has immeasurable value in terms of what I’m getting out of it!
I realised I’ve had such a busy week I’ve not had much chance to post for a few days; so I wanted to say a wee hello!
I feel like I’ve had an incredibly productive week. I’ve had another driving lesson (everyone is alive and well), Ive written my dissertation proposal and handed it in (I now have an enormous self-inflicted reading list to get through this summer), I’ve joined a badminton class and a boxercise class (get rid of baby belly and get fitter and healthier, phase 1), I’ve done an enormous amount of housework (not in the name of procrastination, just for its own sake), I’ve joined various new social media platforms including google+ and Facebook (check out my new pages if you have a chance although they are both huge works in progress so please cast a forgiving eye!).
So out of this big list of things I’ve managed to do there’s one glaring black hole (oxymoron? Can a black hole glare? I digress sorry…) I’ve not managed any TEFL since my last post. I’m learning another lesson; I keep thinking that if I don’t have 2 hours to sit and do a full section of the course then I can’t do it. Whereas a much better plan of action would be to just grab bite size half hour sessions whenever I can but just make sure I’ve got a block of time available when I need to actually sit down and do the tests. A handy little tip I have discovered though is that if you’re like me and a bit of a proud pedantic type of personality; the minute I blogged about not doing any TEFL the last time, I was immediately galvanised into action and spent an hour reading up on verbs. Almost as soon as I’d hit the ‘publish post’ button. So I may just try that in future if I’m not getting much done, I’ll just publicly blog about my uselessness.
I have also started what will sound like a very strange social experiment – just for my own personal gain. I’ve always wondered whether the fact that hippies (by hippies I mean floaty, smily types who seem endlessly calm, wear floaty clothes, practice meditation and yoga, eat hippie food, and carry their babies in great swathes of material until there about 3 – I know I’m generalising here but we all know one or a few; in the west end of Glasgow they’re practically an institution!). Anyway I’ve always wondered whether they are very relaxed, chilled out positive people who therefore become hippies who are identifiable by sight, or if when they’re young they kind of get into the fashion and the rest just sort of follows like a self fulfilling prophecy. As someone who is a bit uptight and pedantic and often suffers with anxiety but prescribes to a lot of the hippy ideals without ever jumping in 100% (probably because I met a bunch of heavy metallers at a key impressionable age and went a completely different route), I’ve often pondered over this chicken and the egg question. Do calm, anxiety free floaty people become hippies or do hippies evolve into calm floaty people?
This all no doubt sounds like a bit of an odd generalistic line of thought and reasoning; sorry if I offend any hippies with my shamelessly narrow description – it’s truly in jest and admiration, I really do just want to be in the club! So I’ve decided to give myself a complete hippie makeover. Whenever I feel stressed or anxious I’m forcing myself to smile and think happy thoughts. I’m off to find a meditation and yoga class next week and I’ve hunted out all my floaty comfy clothes and shoes and vacuum packed everything else. I did actually already own an awful lot of floaty, brightly patterned comfy stuff so it’s just been a wardrobe exchange if I’m honest. The bonkers plan is to see if I can make myself into one of those carefree non-pedantic types who irritates the life out of anyone even remotely uptight. I have a feeling that if I’d met different people and been influenced by those more inclined towards Buddhism (or something similar) from an early age then I would be a different person today and would have taken the paths I’m taking now at an earlier point. This is not about regret, please don’t think that – but it is about trying to take control over my life and my thoughts and my anxieties – albeit in a slightly mad way. I guess the idea is ‘dress like hippie, become a hippie’ and float around the world on a sea of positivity, taking each day one step at a time. But most importantly I want to pass some of that philosophy to my daughter. I was raised by highly anxious people and I inherited those idiosyncrasies, so more than anything I want my little monkey to inherit slightly more positive ones. I’d also like her to truly master and gain a love for yoga and meditation as the benefits of these two things are now firmly set in the social stone that is ‘science’. Brain scans of monks who regularly practice transcendental mediation have been publicised a lot recently; they’ve known this stuff for thousands of years of course but now we have brain scans as proof it’s become ‘common knowledge’. I’d really love monkey to be a calm, happy, positive floaty hippy to start with, rather than have to struggle and claw her way to the same place as I have over the course of 20 odd years.
So I’ll keep you all updated – can I reinvent myself as an anxiety free, carefree, happy, positive hippie? I really hope so although I suspect it’ll take a bit more than that such as a true commitment to serious ideals of buddhism and some serious practice of mediation and yoga. Which will serve me right for such blatant and insulting stereotyping won’t it?