Taking It Slow

As a general rule, I don’t take photos whilst I run. There are two reasons for this. The first and main reason is because I am rather competitive by nature, not with other people, but with past versions of myself. I don’t want to waste time by stopping to snap a good view, no matter how breathtaking, as I’m always trying to run as fast as possible and beat previous personal records. The second (minor) reason is just because I’m not very good at taking photos! I don’t take the time to adjust the settings or compose a good scene, as in the rest of my life, I rush to get it done and be on my way.

But this morning, I went for a run and I knew it would be slow. I’ve had a month off training due to illness and every time I’ve attempted to run in the last few weeks my lungs have felt like they’re going to give up in protest at the cheek of me making them work. I also did a rather brutal leg day yesterday and my glutes are angry with DOMS. So this morning I set off in the beautiful Spring sunshine with a brilliant blue sky above me and took my time. I just ran 4.5 miles around the country lanes nearby but it was so restorative. My lungs worked and because I wasn’t racing myself I didn’t beat myself up when I stopped to walk up some particularly steep hills (even with the knowledge that I usually run up them). I even stopped to take a picture of the rolling Devon hills with Dartmoor looming in the distance.

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People often react with a mixture of horror and bemusement when they find out how much training I do (5/6 days a week of running or in the gym) but for me, it’s my time away from the kids, just for me to re-set. It’s my medicine for mental health, my quiet headspace to think and just be me. After 50 minutes running in the gorgeous fresh air this morning, I feel ready for whatever the day throws at me, whether that be warring brothers or a particularly hefty workload. And this morning I feel like I also finally took on board everyone’s advice to slow down.

In life I am prone to trying to do everything quickly. Sometimes this is in the fitness side of things, trying to lift ridiculously heavy weights without building up to them or trying to launch into a crow pose or handstand without all the conditioning and beginner progressions necessary to lay the groundwork. Sometimes this is in the house, doing a half-assed job of washing up or other housework just to get it over with. Sometimes this is in my role as a parent, rushing bedtime or games with the kids, simply because of parenting-fatigue or an inability to be in the moment when there is a never-ending to-do list. Sometimes this is in my self-care, not taking enough time to rest because I’m anxious to get back to my busy schedule.

But after having been ill for the best part of a month, I have had to slow down. My body wouldn’t let me rush anything! And actually, I think I’ve come out the other side hopefully a little wiser for it. Which is why, when I came in from my run this morning with an urge to write, instead of putting it to one side to pack lunches, do home ed and process registration forms for work, I decided to sit down with a cup of tea and share my ramblings with whoever might be reading this instead.

Sometimes there are deadlines that have to be stuck to and sometimes you do need to hurry. But a lot of the time, it’s all in our heads. We can probably take five and slow down without any horrendous consequences. So I’d encourage you if, like me, you’re prone to rushing, to take it slow today. Even if it’s just taking a few minutes to sit in the sun and soak up the rays before getting back to the grindstone, you’ll feel better for it. (Or if time, family and work allows, do what we did yesterday and spend several hours lounging on the beach enjoying the spring sunshine and the water gently lapping the shore – bliss. See, I told you I’m learning!)

Sophia Jumping!

This photo is courtesy of the talented and most lovely Elsie

 

 

 

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By the Grace of God

Whilst at our Christian home education group a few months ago, I found myself talking to a lady with six (six!) children. She seemed together, happy and not at all like she was losing it, something I struggle with just half the number of children! I asked her how she managed it. Her reply really hit a chord with me and has stuck me ever since. She simply said ‘only by the grace of God’. So simple, so powerful but yet, such an overlooked and forgotten concept. The idea that actually we don’t have to be responsible for everything, that the weight of our lives is not solely on our shoulders alone.

Even if you’re not a Christian I believe there is a message to be taken here that is applicable for all of us. We don’t have to do everything by ourselves and more importantly, we shouldn’t be trying to. It’s just not possible. Asking for and accepting help is an absolute necessity if we want to live a life not consumed by anxiety and stress. Many an article has been written about the concept of the lost village. The assertion that a lot of society’s problems are created by the dispersal of family units, by the isolation and insular nature of our modern lives. And I think that it’s so true. In this village set up, there would always be someone to talk to, someone free to help out when it’s needed. Child raising would be shared, mothers would join together for solidarity in the endlessly long overwhelming days of looking after small people, there would always be a willing person ready to take the little ones off for a bit to enable the parents a break to get on with some other work or even just sleep.

Of course, ‘back in the day’ people’s lives would have been simpler with a slower pace to them. As technology increasingly creeps into every facet of our lives and the media are constantly bombarding us with suggestions as to what we should have and what we should be doing, our lives are getting more and more busy. Diaries are booked for months in advance and being able to drop everything at a moment’s notice to help someone in need is often easier said than done. But I really believe that we should try and channel the ethos of this village a little bit more in our day-to-day lives.

So if you’re struggling, try to remember to ask for help and more importantly, to accept it when it’s offered. And if you see someone else having a hard time, see if you can somehow ease their load a little. It might only take an hour or two of your time but you could make a huge difference to their life that day. After all, it takes a village…