To Accept the Things I Cannot Change

IMG_6101

To Accept The Things I Cannot Change, The Courage to Change the Things I Can

And The Wisdom to Know the Difference

Ah. A platitude. Add in this text over an instagram filtered sunset and (hey presto!) you have a mantra all ready to be uploaded and liked and favourited and reblogged, retweeted and shared. . Eugh. Bored already.

This here control freak finds this accepting things ‘that cannot be changed’ particularly hard. Being this way has its advantages. I am organised, and tenacious. I can be ruthlessly efficient and its certainly helped me out in many areas of my life. My project management can be militant and this extends from work life (huge positive) to home life (problematic).  I am manageable, I open my post immediately, I pay my bills on time without fail, I return missed calls, I clear emails. I am dependable, loyal and consistent. I aim to do my best. At all times. Why I do all of this is material for another post, but for now let’s just say I’m comfortable with clear structure and order. The alternative didn’t work out so well.

But if I fall short of these rather exacting expectations I can be unrealistically hard on myself, and I also expect similar behaviour from others. So this leaves me… well, disappointed, guilt-ridden and exhausted. Really really exhausted.

In my really (really) tightly ordered fantasy world, all things are measurable and therefore controllable. You can predict an outcome given certain behaviour and circumstances. Basic if x then y. So when faced with something that defies my master calculations (or manipulations), this is not acceptable. It comes up a lot (funny that). But, bear with me. I’m not completely nuts. I am learning to make like Elsa and let it go. I am trying to be more flexible, spontaneous, forgiving. But sometimes I find myself raging against the sheer injustice of reality not playing ball with my grand plans. I mean, I CHECKED EVERYTHING THREE TIMES (and the numbers work!)

Today the thing I cannot change is my health. GP has me signed off and I am PISSED. I have been exercising regularly, in fact I’ve been really diligent, with the running in particular. Plus eating (mostly) well. Making sure I get a decent dose of vitamin D and ‘fresh air’. I have avoided the office lurgy. I have had plenty of sleep.

But instead of holding up it’s end of the bargain having been given everything it needed, my immune systems fails spectacularly and pole jumps the standard cold/flu combo and delivers me an all singing all dancing, requires-bed-rest-and- proper-medication-illness. FFS. This was not supposed to happen.

IMG_6745
Stella showing me how bed rest is done. The Master at Work

I am also a drama queen. This added to my controlling tendencies and I am having one hell of a diva strop about this.I had some pretty awesome plans for my 10 days off work. Including but not limited to; running to clear the cobwebs, general mooching around town picking up sales bargains, seeing mates, and eating cake. Then maybe some cycling and yoga and general getting in a good, clear frame of mind for 2015. Sure, loads of sleeping was in the carefully planned schedule. But now that its pretty much been prescribed, I’m already adding cabin fever to my list of ailments. I say again, GAH.

Plus there is still too much panettone in the house. This is too much temptation.

But as I write this from my sofa I’m forced to admit, while I may be great at organising everything (and everyone) else, I am not very good at looking after myself. Sure I get loads of exercise, and while my diet has been ok most of the time, I pretty much dropped the ball for most of November and December. And yes I get a lot of sleep at the weekend, but not during the week. So its all a bit patchy. So here is my flaw. When it comes to looking after myself I am not consistent. I let myself down.

As a result I’ll be seeing in the New Year binge watching Die Hard and a few other festive classics, and eating the leftover panettone. In bed. While I reboot the immune system, and resolve to add berocca to my daily routine I am reminding myself it could be worse, I could use the time out and NYE is rubbish anyway

The rest of you have no such excuses, go out and celebrate the year that was in the best way you know how, clock those miles, spend that dosh and dance your freaking socks off into 2015.

As John McClane would say Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*ckers

Now pass that panettone and the ibprofen

Happy 2015!

IMG_2883

Silly Season Shenanigans

IMG_0192

Christmas is here and we’re all winding down, clearing out desks, or at home cleaning the house and doing a few last minute bits and bobs in preparation for the Day Of Good Eating. I have avoided mass panic so far and am trying to keep it that way. I am Zen. It’s just a day after all. The presents are bought and there is food in the fridge. Done.

I have a complex relationship with Christmas. I like the build up to it, the catch up with friends, the small gifts bought and cards written. I love the decorations and the trees and the fact that generally we all take stock and acknowledge each other, we get a break and we get a chance to recharge.

Growing up in South Africa Christmas also meant the big summer holidays so it was a month of festivities rather than a week. And it varied greatly depending on which part of the family we were spending it with. The huge extended Mills Clan in the Cape or our smaller immediate family in Jo’burg with a host of family friends. As a small child, Christmas in the Cape meant throwing ourselves head first into the sea, followed by the lake, followed by tea, followed by more sea and then dinner with endless cousins to hide in dunes, run up mountains, throw off canoes. We had competitions to see whose feet got the toughest walking down the gravel paths to the sea. Who could leave their flip-flops behind first and run across the stones without yelping. Who could swim across the lake the fastest. Christmas was very simple then. We turned up. There were presents/ the food arrived. We ate it and then went for a swim.

As we hurtled into our teen years, the attraction of the canoes in the lake or sea-shell hunting was replaced by late night beach excursions, smuggling illicit booze, talking about music, meeting boys (that had no connection to the family) and plotting ways to get into town. The traditions and rituals of our childhood were no longer exciting, nativity plays and carol singing holding little sway for a B&H smoking, eye-liner touting city girl who just wanted to go dancing late at night, with new people. Preferably who were DJs and had their own cars. Christmas was about avoiding family at all costs.

Christmas has also always been a season of firsts and milestones. The first time I got drunk was on Christmas night when I was 12. I was trying to impress my older second cousin with my sophistication, all dressed up in early 90s mono-chrome and being allowed ‘a small glass of wine’ which I topped up. Frequently. Like a grown up and out of the eye line of my parents. It was the first time I got busted smoking too. Having managed to skive a fag off the very same older cousin, I had forgotten to lock the bathroom door when my grandmother barged in. Thankfully slightly squiffy herself, she promised not to tell if I quit right there and then. I promptly vomited as soon as she closed the door. Turns out Baileys, wine and sheer terror don’t mix.

My first kiss was at Christmas, playing pool in a hotel with friends and a few local kids. My friend refused to speak to me for the rest of the holiday, kissing boys who didn’t really know was bad form (apparently). All these rules that no-one tells you about until you’re already in hot water. I did not learn this lesson and spent most Christmas holidays from then on kissing inappropriate boys. As most teen girls should.

Moving into adulthood, my first Christmas abroad without my family coincided with a long term relationship break up. A very last minute, cold, west and grey Christmas where a friend very kindly bundled me and my visiting sister off to their family outside of London. Followed quickly by a trip up to Scotland where I sobbed at my aunts’s kitchen table for 3 days, fuelled by Malboroughs, tea and an endless supply of biscuits.

The past few years have been fairly incident free. I’ve written cards signed ‘The Conquests’ and survived the insanity of the season by dressing the dog up as a reindeer. The complex relationship continues, I love the get togethers and the family time, but I find the competitive gifting, and garish over consumption leaves me as queasy. The binge and purge cycle of Christmas followed by the almost mandatory January detox seems so self inflicted and pointless. We’re encouraged to (over) eat, (over) drink, and be (very) merry and within 6 days sent the opposite message that the ‘excess holiday weight’ is hideous and needs to be shifted immediately. We’re bombarded with solutions to help us to clear out, detox, lose weight, quit drink, set goals, and start a New Year as a New You. Because the Old You Is Just Not Good Enough. And it’s so entrenched in our psyche we seem to just blindly walk into it. Its exhausting.

That’s not to say I disagree with over indulging, or that I think goal setting is naff. I love a goal. I also love cheese, on everything pretty much all year round. I have made peace with the fact I’ll put on a few pounds between November and December. But I resent the January onslaught from every corporate company on this planet making us all feel inferior for buying into the over indulgence they sold us just a week prior. Its a trap. And I am opting out.

So this New Year I am proposing not making any major changes at all. Looking back on this year, although its been tough in parts, we’ve managed just fine. We moved house. We saved some money. We travelled. I don’t need a brand new me just yet. I think we’re doing just fine, thank you very much. It is a season of firsts after all.

And I refuse to cut out carbs or cheese.

Happy Holidays all!

1497697_10152118988625309_2116229660_nIMG_0263

Let Go & Make Space

 

IMG_8071

I started yoga about 6 weeks ago. This is my third attempt at getting into yoga. I really want to like it, I know it will be good for me and god dammit I like all the sexy yoga kit. But I have yet to ‘get’  it. Feeling irritable and bored rather than inspired. I’m not really into the woo woo ‘ohming’ and the third eye banter. I have been in classes where we have had to ‘become the tortoise on which the earth is balanced’ and I had to break out into a coughing fit to hide my scoffing. I am a cynical, sarcastic fitness fanatic and I need a whole heap of endorphins before I can start picturing tortoises. Or terrapins even.

But I think I’ve found The One in Vinyasa Flow Yoga. I love the movement and the breathing and they way I feel… light. Both mentally and physically. And no turtles in sight.

It was in one of my classes over the past few weeks that I heard a phrase which keeps ringing true for me. In the context of the class this was about relaxing into the pose and breathing through it. Let Go and Make Space. Breathe in and exhale, allow the muscles to relax and open, make more space.

But it got me thinking about all the stuff that we hang onto. All the stuff that takes up room. The physical stuff and more importantly the excess emotional baggage. And we complain we don’t have time, ‘no space in the diary’, no breaks in the week, no time to ‘catch our breath’.

Our time is not renewable. It is scarce. So how do we make precious space in the limited time we have? Simple. We let go..

So I get that. But of what? And when? And how much? And once I have let go how do I make sure I don’t grab back on?

I am having to get really honest to answer those questions, as ultimately its about sacrifice. I came across this article via the amazing Bangs and a Bun (if you’re not already following her, do it now) . This sums it up:

If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the six pack, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten’

So if you want the space, you can’t have it all. If you get your head around letting go, you’ll have to get used to FOMO every now and again or risk getting stuck back in. It helps if you avoid the rabbit hole that is social media too.

This is where I am right now. Saying no. Not over-committing (to every race, every invite, every challenge etc…). The people-pleasing, overly needful behaviour of trying to be everywhere seeing everyone, all of the time while trying to over-achieve at work and maintain a beautiful marriage just ends up pissing people off and leaving me resentful.  When I am knackered and frazzled  inevitably I end up letting people or more importantly, myself down. And the GUILT. Yeah well fuck that. Let. It. Go. Embrace the Boundaries

IMG_8033
Embracing Boundaries – street art stylee

 

 

So what sacrifices  am I comfortable with? What costs am I happy to pay?

On a small scale, it turns out I am not happy to sacrifice my sleep on week days (funny that). I have been setting my alarm for 6am every day for MONTHS and then practically throwing my phone across the room EVERY SINGLE DAY.  So for now I am giving up on pre-dawn training and saying goodbye to berating myself for snoozing through the 6am alarm. So this is not the kind of pain I want.But I much prefer evening sessions., and that means I sacrifice a fair few social engagements. Or I combine them and get creative. See where this is going?  I had a joke with a mate who cancelled on me twice that she’s on strike two. Now of course I’m not randomly cutting people out of my life (yet), but you get the sentiment. Playing diary ping pong is exhausting.

On a larger scale, I am re-examining my goals for how I am investing my time in the same way I have looked at managing my money. What needs more investment, what gives the most return on investment  and what needs to be cut back or paid off and then budgeted out?

Definitely upping the fitness, but with more of a focus on enjoyment than obsessing with gadgets. If I can feel like THIS (see below) at least once a month a may have discovered the path the enlightenment. Put that in your Namaste and smoke it.

 

IMG_8046
Photo Credit: Ash Narod http://www.ashnarod.co.uk/