Monthly Archives: May 2012

The road runs on...

The road runs on… (Photo credit: Derek Lyons)

It’s Friday, not Wednesday and I seem to have missed my weekly slot to write about these 12 challenges. Nobody set this rule but myself and I only did this a couple of months ago to keep myself on track. However, this project was not to avoid real life and life got busy this week.

I used to be much more OCD about sticking to made-up rules, my own that is: I’ve always had a bit of an issue with people telling me what to do. This is probably because no one pushes me harder than I can, and no one is more disappointed in my failings than I can be.

Recently I’ve tried to let got of the concept of ‘failure’ a little, after all failing only happens in context and comparison to others who can’t control.”It is not a race” pretty much sums it up I guess.

Which is ironically why I’ve taken a shine to running: I can only concentrate on myself. I started running two years ago when I agreed to run a half marathon with my then-colleagues. What I learned in the process (well documented in last blog here), was that running has not that much to do with physical capability: it’s much more a mind game.

I still  hate running for the first 10min of each run I start. That’s ok once I’m running for an hour or so but now when I’m only out for 30min the ratio is less appealing. Every start is a mental block that needs to be over come.  During the run it’s key you pace yourself, challenge yourself appropriately or otherwise risk injury.

Recently, when I’ve been running I’ve not taken any music so running is between me and my mind: my biggest motivator and biggest enemy. Training my body to run, is training my mind to balance ‘motivation and control’ with ‘patience and determination’. More importantly, I concentrate on my own race not on what others do. Actually no, maybe I look differently to others: no longer in jealousy but in inspiration.

This week I had lunch with a friend  (told you life got busy ;)) and she told me she signed up to do the Race for Life. This is a 5K and she’ll be walking as she is nearly 8 months pregnant. However, if she can cover that distance with with her baby’s head on her bladder – by Jove, I can get through my runs!


Today I met up with a friend, who recently lost a friend in an accident. Or a friend, yes it was I guess: it was someone she knew well enough for it to make an impact. It triggered memories of five years ago, when I found myself in a similar situation, twice in two weeks unfortunately. I can remember the phone calls, my reaction in slow-motion. The first time I screamed, the second time I just crumbled. The impact their deaths had on my life was huge: at 22 I had found myself paralyzed in existential angst and this shook me into moving. Life is short, get on with it.

It was by no means an overnight change, there was a period of working through it the only way I knew how: I wrote. I wrote songs, I wrote theatrical anecdotes, I wrote articles, I wrote blog posts. Some pieces were published and performed, others were not. None were masterpieces but writing became what I did and it’s still what I do.

Five years have passed and still every now and then, whenever I see colourful painted toes in flip flops under leggings or see blue and yellow field flowers waving in green grass,  it jolts a memory. Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me a little sad but every time it reminds me not to rush the days or wish my life away.

When I’m planning these 12 challenges, it sometimes feels like the year will pass too quickly (“Man, I can’t plan that retreat until October.”) while at the same time the day-to-day dealings with trying to carve my life and writing career seem to go frustratingly slow. Two minuses don’t make a plus.

So today I once again got reminded to live more in the moment: accept the day-to-day dealings for they build the path towards my goal and enjoy planning a challenge because while walking towards something you might as well admire the scenery.


Right, so here’s a confession: I’m not sure whether I want to do this any more. It seems I just cannot get myself motivated enough even to write a blogpost. I seriously considered cleaning the kitchen and brushing my teeth, pottering around, hoping too much time would have frittered away to still write something.

When I read through my challenges I don’t understand why I feel this way. All my challenges are achievable. Really, they are in some kind of way: whether the problem is sourcing money (Ipanema) or time (training for a race) or just logistics ( arrange to spend time with friend and with cousin.) Still I find all kinds of reasons why not to push through with this. If I don’t achieve all challenges, I think I’d just shrug. Who cares right? Does it matter I never made my own croissants? It is easier and cheaper to buy them, what is the plus side to this challenge?

flickr by josullivan.59

As I’m writing this, I realise I’m turning into one of those people who always finds an excuse not to do something. ” If I had money/time/nice friends/ loving relatives/a home/ a dog/a cat/ a goldfish, then I would do go on a worldtrip/ read a book/ bake a cake/ learn a language.” Or a variation on this ” I could go surfing in Hawaii/ do a pottery class/grown my own potatoes but that’s not important right now is it when I have to pay the rent/am gunning for a promotion in the office I hate/ try to make things work with my partner.”

The 12 challenges shouldn’t be a burden, they should be enjoyed: when else am I going to make croissants ever ( it is cheaper and easier to buy them – forget trying to get to Brazil or shooting a gun, the making of croissants is the one that no one seems to understand. “WHY?!”) or when else will I make time to spend a day with my cousin?(She is currently a lovely 13year old, puberty and subsequently hate of the world will reach her soon and she will not want to hang out with her boring ancient and uncool cousin. Gah! Race against the clock!)  No, it doesn’t matter if a challenge isn’t completed before the end of the year but I think I should have fun trying.

Guess my 12 challenges are a little bit like the normal challenges in life, usually not unachievable to conquer but you do just have to do it.

For all the planning that most of my challenges need, sometimes things happen spontaneously… Just as you are going about your own business … BAM! There is your challenge.

Maria Moline, instructor, coaches her Zumba cl...

One of the reasons I was unable to tell you about the tackled challenge, was because it was A Secret. You see last weekend one of my closest friends from uni got married. She got proposed to in July and planned the wedding for April. Not a lot of time then to sort out hen-weekends, dresses, hair/make-up and all that jazz.

Now, it has to be said after all the stories of Bridezillas, my friend stayed calm cool and collected throughout this whole ordeal. There was only one thing. One. Thing. That she would really like us to do. Like REALLY like us to do. What that was? Flash dance.

That is “flash dance” as in “flash mob”, nothing to do with flashing bodyparts or the film. That would take friendship to a whole new level. Nope, a dance with a group and take the groom by surprise.

So one evening in preparation, we went through several YouTube clips trying to find a suitable example for our own level of dance skills.  Suddenly I realised I was about to face one of my fears: I can’t dance in a group. (or in a pair.) I can just about freestyle in my own little corner but to be in a group brought back memories of ballet classes.  You know the deal: you’re eight, a bit chubby and incredibly unco-ordinated you try to follow the tall blonde girls in front of you but seem to be a beat behind everyone else. All the time. It put me off dance classes or any group classes for life: Zumba is not for me kids.

Now, in the name of friendship, I was about to learn dance moves from a video and not only was I to dance in a group: I would be part of the frontline. G’dang, who’d have thunk.

We decided on a snippet of a dance on a Grease classic, which had clear moves and instructions. Still getting the moves down took two hours of blood sweat and swearing ( yes patience is also not my forte) then learning and repeating the moves took another two. The dance lasted 90 sec.  During the hen weekend, alcohol was used to limber up and moves were broken down.  There might even be a top secret video that was used for home rehearsal.

On The Big Day itself, forget the dress, the signing of the papers, presenting the newlyweds or the speech: the bridesmaid job didn’t feel over until the flash dance was performed… 9pm the cue track was played. 3 minutes later we were on and in 90 seconds it was over.  Time for a drink and with the relief came the realisation: Learning how to dance – TICK!

PS: No pics (yet) of said event, but I had a whole room of witnesses who can testify this happened!