Three Days Left!

It’s finally happened. I’ve packed up, ready to return to college for the start of another semester. I’ve been taking preliminary notes, and packing boxes of fairy lights and duvet covers up. It took nearly seven hours to sort all my clothes and bedding into vacuum bags. It took even longer to establish how many pairs of shoes I ought to take with me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that by the time comes to pack the car, there will be a conversation related to “How many bl***** pairs of shoes do you need? You’ve only got two s******* feet!”. But that is all a part of the joy of moving down.

It’s really weird, because I’ve just got used to living at home again. I got used to being told what to do again, and so now I’m going to go back and be a little bit confused, because I won’t have anyone who can tell me what to do. Freedom hits a person like a brick in the face. You know it’s there because it’s just kind of, well, scary. But I’m sure it’ll only take about ten hours to establish myself independently again. Probably even less. I managed to nearly amputate my foot earlier, by standing on a pair of nail scissors. I’m amazed people actually let me venture into the world, alone and unsupervised.

I’m actually going to have a few days completely alone in my new house. I have to be back, to help out with some student-y type things, and I have errands to run, and jobs to interview for. But this means I’m back a little early, so I’m going to end up having a few days to collect myself, and join gyms, and run, and volunteer for things. I’m doing that thing, where I plan to be a whole, rounded individual, and I really do want to stick to it this time. Because of my dalliances in the kitchen, I’m half convinced I’m kind of like an Italian mother, who’ll cook vast amounts of food for whoever feels brave enough to eat it. Our own perceptions of ourselves are quite interesting, I always think.

So, I have three days left here. There are hair appointments to attend, and last-minute washing to do. I’m going to spend some time with my family, and generally being at home. And then before I even realise it’s happened, I’m gonna be at a Pirate Party, wearing a ridiculous stripe t-shirt, and an eye-patch, with a cardboard parrot on my shoulder.

(:

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Learning to Jog

It might sound ridiculous, but I have never been able to jog on a treadmill. This is related to a past experience when I was ten, of falling off a treadmill. I fell forwards, face first, and skinned most of my legs. The carpet burn was the worst I’ve ever had. It was intolerably uncomfortable to sleep, for days on end. So now, at the ripe old age of eighteen, I thought I’d better conquer the fear, and jump back up onto the treadmill, if only to provide my gym routine with a degree of variety. Also, I’m an adult, and therefore should be able to use a simple conveyor belt, to run. A bit like a hamster in a cage, really.

So I stepped up, and firmly tied the STOP string around my wrist, to the point that it nearly cut off all circulation to my hand. I even turned the machine on. So it starts whirring, and I start walking. “This is okay,” I’m thinking. So I increase the speed, and this is when it all, inevitably, goes horribly wrong. I have to press stop, because essentially, my feet aren’t in time with the rest of me. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have no rhythm, and even less grace.

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So, a strategic rethink was required. I came to the conclusion that if I could hear an obtrusive beat in my ear, then I might be able to do it a little bit better. So I found the loudest Eminem track I could find, and turned it up deafeningly loud, and repeated the entire start-up process again. Following the beat seemed to mean my feet were almost able to jog. So I felt more comfortable, and as I realised I wasn’t in pain, and I was still  upright (much to my surprise, and the surprise of the woman who seemed to be chuckling at my poor attempt), I decided to turn up the speed. And there I was: jogging along, at a steady pace, for a whole forty minutes. Forty minutes passed, and strangely, went really quickly. Whenever I’m in the gym, you see, time seems to slow down, and whenever I’m doing something urgent or enjoyable, it seems to pass at double its normal speed.

Therefore today, I feel like I’ve accomplished something; (I have really, I finished an essay, wrote this post, and argued at length in a seminar, about the merits of feminism in the workplace) I learnt to jog. I also learnt that you shouldn’t look at the treadmill floor whilst you do it, because this will cause you to become unbalanced, and frankly, I need no help in being unbalanced. I have it down to a refined science.

The gym is a scary place, but it’s nice when the treadmill monsters have been expelled, and you can add “treadmill” to the list of gym equipment that you are no longer terrified of.

(:

(1) http://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/treadmillcartoon-1.jpg?w=300

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On Climbing Mountains

Of late, things have been evolving somewhat; from the inane and obvious, such as diet, to the more complex and frankly more interesting, attitudes. Experience, or the power and beauty of youth, becomes more obvious when you realise that you take it for granted; a failure to maximise one’s time, or energy as a person who is young and exposed to a plethora of opportunity is an intolerable waste, and once this dawned on me, I suffered something comparable to an epiphany, albeit in a more practical sense as opposed to a spiritual one.

Who wouldn't want to climb up there? (1)

So, in the last six weeks, I’ve been doing lots of things very differently than I had been before, for example, I’ve given up eating supernoodles for breakfast (or for any other meal), and instead, eat porridge made with skimmed milk. I’ve also taken to early morning trips to the gym; at seven-thirty am, instead of switching off my alarm and going back to sleep for four more hours, I’m on the cross trainer, or cycling, or something. I’ve found that the adrenaline kick that immediately succeeds the exhaustion is worth getting up early for. Without sleeping all day, there is far more opportunity to do things, and exposure to daylight naturally raises serotonin levels, making for a much happier person.

I think however, there’s more to this change than the somewhat superficial, in that I’ve been offered the chance to take part in a month-long trip to Africa next year; a climb up Kilimanjaro, all the way to the very, very top, volunteering with children and refurbishing schools (or something of this nature), and going on a walking or cycling safari through Hell’s Gate. The trip would give me the opportunity to see Kenya and Tanzania, and work with children, build some things for charity, and climb the world’s highest free-standing mountain. Research suggests that Kilimanjaro isn’t for the particularly weak-willed, and since I want to be able to say “I’ve stood on the summit of Kilimanjaro”, the opportunity seems too good to miss. The organisation of the trip itself will be something to add to a CV also; fundraising that kind of money, and seeking sponsorship is a practical skill. Overall then, it’d be incredible.

The trip has provided a little inspiration for getting up early and wandering around, thinking about acclimatising to a more normal “work-day” and eating much healthier food. It transpires that stereotypical student life doesn’t quite agree with me; but this element of student life, opportunities to travel, and so on, are very much my cup of tea. I’m glad there’s a goal that’s more substantial than ‘to look nice in a bikini’; there’s something much bigger, as well as the long-term health benefits of an attitude change.

There’s an awful lot to be said about mind over matter.

(:

(1) http://www.safaris-tanzania.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Kilimanjaro-summit.jpg

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The Realisation of Complacency

Today, I made an alarming discovery about my mental and physical states of fitness. Which led me to immediately vow that I would change; become more disciplined, fitter, and more aware of food groups. This however will require some commitment on my part; renouncing my deep and everlasting love of Pringles and Chinese food, and forming a wonderful new relationship with the cross trainer in the garage, the swimming pool, and going for rather long walks. It will be tough, but the hardest part to me at least, is wondering how it came to be like this.

When you realise that you have changed, both physically and mentally, you can only wonder when you stopped noticing this change in yourself; what happened to allow you to forget that you still exist as a physical entity? And more to the point, when did you stop wanting to do better? I think this is the worst part, to me at least, because I always want to better at something. I’ve been like this since I was a little kid. I’ve always wanted to look better, feel better, and do better than I did last time, and I think the problem is that I became complacent of myself.

People never do better if they are completely and perfectly happy; perfection, it would seem, does not come from happiness. It comes from relentlessly trying to do it better, no matter what it is; whether it’s making a perfect cheese sauce, being fitter, or getting better academic reviews, complacency does not lead to perfection. A complete obsession with perfection is how people grow. This is where the experts come from. They emerge from their libraries, for only an hour a day, and then they go back in. They do it because they feel as though they are not yet finished, and they, fundamentally, never give up researching, looking into new projects, and writing books, because there is always the nagging sensation in the back of their minds that they aren’t quite done yet. Nothing is finished, as yet.

Sometimes, you have to just drag yourself up a mountain. (1)

This is how I feel most of the time too; largely, I feel as though I have barely started, and therefore complacency at this point is simply idleness and laziness. Therefore, as of tomorrow, I will be implementing a new routine which will hopefully combat this complacency. I cannot abide stand to do nothing, produce nothing; so I will be filling my days with productive hours instead of catching up on television, and I will push through the inevitable barrier of pain, and hopefully, I’ll start to see the results within a week or so.

The human spirit is essentially what allows us to improve because we want to do better. There are people who do not have this desire to have everything; that is entirely their prerogative, and every individual is entitled to act as they wish. However, I’m of the disposition that says I have to do better.

Like I said at the very beginning of this blog, I want to be a writer. That’s all. I want to be good at what I do. So instead of talking about it, and dancing around the idea of being this person that I have fashioned for myself,  I guess I should just knuckle down and start.

(:

(1) http://powerofpositivity.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/mountains.jpg

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