Why I love to hate the gym

gym

I never wanted to be a gym bunny. I have invested a lot of time into slagging the gym culture, in fact. And now here I am – a willing and paying member of the gym (non) reality.

I have always preferred the idea of exercising out of doors. Go for a run, a walk (a hike).

Or get what I call ‘incidental’ exercise while doing something that you love like dancing, Capoeira, canoeing, whatever.

The idea of going into an indoor area filled with sweaty bodies who are there with the sole purpose of working specific muscle groups always struck me as unhealthy and unnatural.

Which is why I have been so surprised to find that the gym rocks.

For one thing it’s open all kinds of insane hours when it might not be convenient to be on the road. In fact there are quite a few great things about the gym:

  • It’s open in the dark
  • It’s open when it’s raining and has cooling facilities when it’s hot
  • There are some mean looking dudes (instructors on duty) who will give you evil eye balls if you try to be lazy and downscale your work out
  • The same guys also show you how to use all the equipment – safely
  • The instructors at my gym work out a program just for you and your specific wibbly bits, no extra charge
  • You actually work out – because you are there. Whereas at home it’s easy to get distracted and think of other more pressing things to do.
  • No one is looking at you – 80 % of the other people there are feeling just as pathetic as you are – and they don’t actually give a crap about you
  • Contrary to what I always believed – you can wear anything that’s comfortable. No-one notices.
  • The equipment I always laughed at actually helps you sculpt exactly the areas you want to
  • Unlike a class – you can fit it in whenever you have time. you don’t have to be punctual or specific
  • No politics – unlike many group activities
  • The crappy music actually vibes you up
  • There is free filtered water on tap
  • Free hot showers, and hair drier!
  • You don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to. This is a huge plus for me. I work with people all day, and come home to two kids every evening. I really enjoy that I can nod at someone once and not have to be sociable AT ALL while I am sweating.

As with all exercise the gym calms me down and gives me an endorphin buzz that lasts a couple of hours. Just 45 minutes at the gym takes away my desire to shove someone’s head through a wall and helps me restore my sense of humour.

My gym survival tips:

  • Don’t waste money on fancy gym clothes, no-one is interested in anything but themselves and they won’t notice
  • Wear something funny if it picks you up – I like to go with an eighties theme.
  • Bring tunes. If you get bored bring your own mix and head phones – works a charm
  • Always remember your water bottle and towel! Sounds obvious – I have forgotten both – more than once!
  • Go easy on yourself. Even if you cut your reps in half and slow that treadmill down to a walk – you are still doing 100% better than every person sitting at home in front of the TV. Rather have a slow day at gym than not go at all.

So sure, it’s soulless and without scenery. You are not learning a skill, practicing an art form or breathing fresh sea air – but you are doing something that is good for both your body and your mental health in a safe, convenient and professionally monitored environment.

And the beach (or forest) will still be there for you on Sunday.

The universe gave me chocolate!

Today a wondrous thing happened.

It was a dark and stormy day. It was cold and grey and wet and I had to go out to the shops for work because the office had entirely run out of milk and coffee.
So I braved the weather to make sure that my beloved colleagues would get their caffeine fix.

And then there it was. Just under the cover of the parking lot – lying in the middle of my path – a perfect, unopened slab of dark chocolate with hazelnuts.

I looked about me to see who may have lost this treasure, but there was no one about.

Whoever the sad soul may have been to lose a chocolate from their shopping bag, they were gone.

I picked it up.

Perfect, it must have just fallen out of someone’s shopping.

And I LOVE chocolate. I am not one of those pretend chocoholics who says they love chocolate and then go out and order vanilla. I am a true chocolate fanatic. I dream about it. I obsess about it. I spend the greater part of my life not buying and eating it, because I am constantly aware of it when it is not in my mouth. Chocolate is not nice when you have it, eating it is when everything is as it should be. I wake up at night and scour the kitchen for anything with cocoa in it. I need it.

Chocolate is my solace, my friend, my reward and my consolation.

When the universe hands me chocolate, I don’t ask questions. I say thank you.

I take it as a sign that everything is okay with the world.

And to every person who has ever lost their slab of chocolate, who has come home to find there is only one slab in the packet instead of two, I’m sorry for your loss. But I would like to say thank you.

And I hope that you have some comfort in knowing that somewhere there is someone who you have made very happy.

Because some deserving soul has picked it up and taken it as a fairy favour.

You may not have meant to, but you have made someone’s day.

RIP Capoeira Knysna

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Letting go of something I am passionate about is painful and difficult for me.

I am a loyal human being, and although I don’t often or easily commit to something, when I do it is whole heartedly in every sense.

I will give my all, everything I have at my disposal and more.

And so to let something that I have labored at with passion, hope and enthusiasm pass out of my life is not easily done.

Four years ago (next month) I discovered an activity that fit into my life like a missing gear.

I would say a missing puzzle piece, but a gear is more truthful – because it actually mobilized me and made me functional.

I will never forget my first Capoeira class.

I had never even heard of it before I walked into that class. What an amazing thing to discover a vibrant group of people moving in this rhythmical, beautiful and lethal looking activity. I was filled with the same kind of awe that I had as a child watching Olympic gymnasts and figure skaters – only for the first time in my life – the beautiful thing I was seeing was within my grasp to achieve.

I was welcomed into this family-like group of people with warmth and capaencouragement. And as I was just a few months out of the end of a scary marriage and making friends for myself and doing things for myself for the first time in eleven years, it was huge.

The passion flamed up in me and didn’t go out. The bug bit. And I know that even when I am a grey-haired granny I will still consider myself a capoeirista.

I am not going to go into detail now – but Capoeira infiltrated every aspect of my life. the people became my friends, my family, and we went through a lot together.

That is why the slow, inevitable death of my local capoeira group has been a huge loss for me.

But we live in a small town. People moved to the city for work, students finished school and went off to live their lives, and slowly the group got smaller and smaller until there were only a handful of us left.

If I can say one thing for myself it’s that I was the last student standing. No one can fault me on my perseverance. But you can’t flog a dead horse and in the end my mestre called it a day.

A few months later there was a brief flare, with typical capoeira-type politics surrounding it. We trained again, a few of us, for a few more months. But with new teachers, serious fee hikes and a sense of betrayal that could never be shaken after the last ending, it proved to be more of a “death-throws” than a new start.

In the end I had to admit the dirty truth. Nobody wanted to play anymore. My favourite game had become both too expensive and too emotionally exhausting to carry on with.

And so Cassa da Capoeira Knysna died for me.

The flame still burns for many of us. I am still a member of Barravento. I still sing IMG_7430the songs, and jogo in my dreams. I still long to hear that chi chi ting tong calling me into the roda. I can probably hang up my hopes of ever landing a back flip or flying kick again. But I will always be a capoeira girl.

I will always be game.

Now I turn to the soulless machine that is the gym to keep my body strong instead of getting strong as a bi-product of doing what I love. It’s different. Although I try to tell myself I am getting strong now so that I can play a better game than ever, soon.

The funny thing is I never realised just how committed I was to it until it was gone. I knew I was passionate. But not just about the sport. I was passionate about my capoeira family. I couldn’t have imagined life without them.cappi me

Now for the first time since the divorce I find myself thinking of new places. I would have to move my mother with me if I went off to the city, of course. But It never had any appeal for me until now.

I guess families come in many forms.

I feel the time may soon be coming for me to go in search of mine again. my soul family. I know there are more of us out there, somewhere.

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This Gratitude sh*t is not for sissies

I know, I know

Gratitude is the single most important thing when it comes to bettering your situation and improving your life.

But

It’s not always so easy.

Even when you have a list of things to be grateful for, that you really are grateful for, as long as your arm. Sometimes to really feel grateful can be a bitch.

When you are angry (oh and I have a list of things to be angry for – don’t you worry) it can be almost impossible to feel the happy feelings that you  know you should feel.

So I realized that I can’t always fake it til I make it. sometimes I just need to bitch and moan and be angry. Sometimes I even need to let myself wallow. and that is okay.

I realized that when I allow myself to be the cynical bitch I really am, I am actually pretty funny. Delighted with my own quick wit and unexpected (by me as much as anyone) scathing one-liners I actually managed to make myself laugh.

Laughing at my own evil sense of humor is the beginning of the healing process that lifts me out of my funk. Things are still crappy – the situation still unbelievably bad – but I feel strong again and I can handle it. Who knew?

I have been trying so long to be brave and positive while feeling progressively worse and worse, who would have imagined that all I really needed to feel better was to embrace my inner bitch?

Hoorah!

As for wallowing I think I have it nailed – You do it – and you just don’t pay any attention to yourself. I make sure I get plenty of sleep (although the angry person in me likes to wake up and be angry around 2am) but at least if you go to bed early you are not listening to yourself too  much. then I recommend watching favorite old movies. Movies that make you cry – CRY!

The important thing is to realize that this isn’t really the real you. Feel that crap – get right into it -and then let it go.

Pretending to be okay when you are not is probably as detrimental to your state as being negative. Feeling the bad feelings can actually be a positive thing. it’s all about keeping your perspective, and not letting it change who you really are.

Vent. call your best friend and warn her that you are about to let it all out – and then do. God forbid she offer solutions to your problems.  A true best friend knows better than that! Just make sure that you share the good things too when they happen, and that you are there for her too. It’s all about balance, apparently.

And if you really can’t see the light don’t panic.

Just take a few days, keep your head down and give in to some wallow time. It will pass. everything does.

The Rose that rose

Pink Rose

(above the Chaos)

The good will rise above the crap, and the exceptional, beautiful, and brave will always outshine their circumstances.

I have a physical reminder of this truth from time to time.

In my wild garden there is a wild tangle of brush.

It has in it an assortment of things growing all entwined. It is impenetrable, green, messy, doubtlessly a haven for snakes and quite outside of my ability to tame (I have a tendency to unwittingly propagate the untamable).

I don’t usually give it much thought.

It’s just there.

But every so often it provides for me a random ray of hope.

You see, long ago someone planted a rose-bush in the middle of that shrubbery. And although you would never know that it’s inside there, it has somehow survived.

It is uncared for, unfed, unwatered in the dry times, unpruned and forgotten.

It gets no sunlight under the brush, either.

Although it is a plant that comes from a species that is known for being finicky and needing a lot of TLC to thrive, it has somehow surpassed all of the rules that should kill it.

I know this because every so often I will step outside in the morning and see a great pink rose blooming above this suffocating mass of vegetation.

How it survives I don’t know. How it manages to climb higher than any non-creeping rose should is also a mystery. But somehow it does. It pushes its delicate stems through the tougher, bigger plants and it produces a glorious crown of pink.

She holds her head up high. She is not concerned where her roots and stems have been to get her there. That is not her job.

Her only purpose is to be. And she is glorious.

When she blooms it always reminds me that there is hope.Pink Rose

It reminds me that you can rise above your circumstances.

That rose reminds me that beautiful things can be found in unlikely places.

Most importantly, I think, It reminds me that even if you are delicate, fine and not built for a struggle, you can rise above the teeming masses of crap and simply shine.

A flower doesn’t care who sees it bloom and what they might think of it.

Her only purpose is to be completely and absolutely herself.

And that, and her unlikely strength, are what make her beautiful.

Hustle – The Flip side

The Flip side, to yesterday’s “giving up your day job” post, is hanging on with a bull dog grip.

For some of us we are lucky enough to be somewhere (professionally)  where there is room to grow. but only if we hustle.

If you find your self in that position you still have to burn the midnight oil. You still have to take initiative. You have to work your ass off, prove your worth on a daily basis and show them that you are capable of excelling at anything they throw at you.

You can’t expect to be handed the opportunities you want in the work place.

You have to know what you want. You have to go after it guns a-blazing, with a smile on your face. most importantly you can’t let negative people drag you down.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.

Abraham Lincoln

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