Monday, October 24, 2011

Little by little

For those of you who have been following my blog, you'll know I've started doing rolling 21 day challenges to make small incremental changes in my life.  I'm finding them an incredibly effective way of making long term changes in areas of my behaviour, health, and attitude.  So far I've completed a 'blog every day challenge' and an 'eating primal challenge'.  Today I'm embarking on something new.  The 3 day day challenge.

Now before your mind heads off into some weird space wondering what the heck 3 a day is.  It's my way of spending the next 21 days on focusing on building every day movement into my life.  I already work out twice a week with a trainer, and I walk my dogs several times a week.  However I've noticed that I haven't ever really regained the health and fitness that I had in my 20's.  When I reflect back the reason I was so healthy I think it was because I moved every day, and I moved a lot.  I was always running somewhere, walking between activities, dancing all weekend and going to the gym.  These days my life is a little more sedentary (although I do have a standing desk), and I'm feeling the need to get back in the habit of moving.  3 a day means that for the next 21 days I'm going to do 3km per day - walking, running, rowing, cross-trainer - whatever - as long as I go a minimum of 3 kms.  Now 3km isn't going to to a lot for my health.  It's not going to make me fabulously fit.  It's not going to break any records.  What it should do - if I keep to it - it help me build a habit of movement in my life that I can build on.  It should also help be to create some discipline around my schedule (especially when I'm traveling) helping me to remain focused on what is important to me.

So that's it.  3 a day for the next 30 days.  Here's hoping the weather is amazing and I can do much of this outside.

PS - The pic is kind of random, taken from my phone.  What I'd really like to be doing today is diving.  Unfortunately I'll have to make do with my paperweight and dreaming of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dive day divine!

Yesterday was awesome.  Yesterday I fulfilled a long held ambition to get my open water diving certificate.  Now before you all ask why I haven't done it earlier, it's not because of fear or anything like that.  Its more because I've never had the time to commit to the training programs I've found on offer.  Or in my student days I couldn't divert my funds towards it as they were otherwise committed.

I wrote about my pool training a few weeks ago and the anticipation I had about what it would be like.  It was about what I expected.  Unfortunately my first ocean dive on return from India was not quite what I anticipated.  The water was about 14-15 degrees and I turned blue after my first dive.  Sadly as I remained blue after 1.5 hours out of the water that was the end of my dive day.  I was cold, slightly miserable and extremely doubtful if I was going to enjoy diving.  In fact you could say I was anxious that it was not going to be the amazing experience I'd always dreamt of.

Fortunately yesterday salvaged my dreams and met my expectations.  The day was blissfully cloud free, warm and the water temperature much more bearable at 18 degrees.  I was lucky enough to be completing the course on my own and able to finish most of my skills training on the first dive.  This meant I was able to enjoy 2 recreational dives, and just enjoy the experience.  It was magical.  It was beautiful.  It was an experience that I think is going to cost me in the future as I have a new way to spend my money :-)

If you haven't tried diving and get the chance to - do it.  Find someone patient and gentle who can teach & encourage you.  You won't regret it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Things puppies can teach us

On my way to work this morning we passed this gorgeous puppy being walked by it's owner.  It was leaping about all over the place, with kind of a manic grin on it's face, tail going 100 miles an hour, head going from side to side as it tried to take in every sight, sound and smell around it.  While my heart was filled with joy seeing this (who doesn't love a puppy?), I did stop and think about whether there was something I should take away from this moment... so here it is.

Why we should be more like puppies.
  • Puppies are enthusiastic about everything - grass, sky, flowers, people, balls, posts, sticks, dirt.  You name it and they are excited by it.  They don't see it as everyday items or life, but as an experience to get excited about.  We could learn a bit from them and be enthusiastic about our everyday life too.
  • Puppies are content with whatever is happening right now.  If they are being walked - it's the best thing ever.  If they are playing - it's ridiculously exciting.  If they are eating - it's the best food they've ever tasted.  If they are sleeping - they are resting peacefully because they've had such an exciting day.   What would life be like if we decided to embrace the moment we were in (no matter what is is) and give it every thing we've got?
  • Puppies make others smile.  They are silly and they are not ashamed.  They do goofy things because they are too caught up in the moment and having fun.  They make us smile because they are enjoying their lives to the full.  I wonderf if I could enjoy life so much that it would bring a smile to someone else's face?
  • Puppies are just a furry ball of love.  They love people unconditionally.  It's the best part of their day (several times a day) just by being with people (and other puppies).  They are affectionate, loyal, and compassionate.  Definitely traits we could learn from
Ok that's it.  It's not an exhaustive list, but one that just got me thinking this morning.  Can I live my life with more joy, more abandonment, more playfulness, more contentedness?  Can I bring something of these traits into my everyday?  I'm not sure but I'd certainly like to think so.

PS: These puppies... well they are some of my dogs litters.  All terribly cute and beautiful little balls of fur.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The pursuit of happiness

Growing up I've been taught by society to believe that work should fulfill me and that the pursuit of happiness is a good goal.  I should strive to create an environment or life that makes me feel fulfilled and happy.  This seems to be the mantra of so many self-help books, magazines, gurus, and TV shows.  But is it the right pursuit?  Is it a lofty goal to aspire to?  Is it the direction I should aim?

Visiting India last week reminded me once again to challenge these assumptions.  You see there are people in the world who don't have a choice about what they get up every day and do.  They will do anything to put food on the table and provide shelter for their families.  And yet they don't seem to go through the day miserable.  It's not the first time I've encountered this by any means, but it is something I'm starting to give a lot more thought to.  Sure it's great to do something you love.  Yes it's fantastic to be fulfilled in what you do every day.  But doing something you love and that fulfills you can be full of challenges.  It can make you sad.  It can depress you.  It can make your life very difficult.  I wonder - shouldn't the question be - can I find fulfillment in what I'm doing right now?  Can I find happiness in this moment?  Isn't the simplicity of life itself enough to wonder at?

PS - This is one of my favourite photos in India.  I passed this street stall selling chandeliers every day on the way to work.  I'm not sure it was the sellers dream job, or even where these chandeliers came from, but he always had a smile on his face.  It certainly put a smile on my face seeing it every day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

If today were your last day...

 I've had something stuck in my head all night.  Yesterday one of the greatest visionaries of our time passed away - Steve Jobs.  In the news reports of his death there have been many personal stories, quotes and reports of his life that have been both inspiring and touching.  He's certainly made a lasting impact on the world and many people.

One quote that I heard a few times has been buzzing around my head continually since I heard of his death.  It goes like this... "For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am am about to do today?""  It's an interesting thing to think about.  Of all the things I have to do today - do I really want to do them?  Or am I just doing them because I have to?  If I don't want to do what is before me should I just walk away from it?  Or do I need to persevere?  What is the balance?  How much should the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment drive what I do with my life?

It wasn't until I looked up the full context of the quote this morning that the context really gave me insight into what (if any significance) I should give to this thought - before I go out and completely change my life.  The next line goes like this... "And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."  

This second line makes all the difference.  The words for too many days in a row carry such weight for me.  It reminds me that sometimes I might wake up and ask myself the same question as Mr Jobs, and the answer may very well be "No.  I don't want to do what I'm about to."  The question is - is that situation temporary?  Do I not want to go my job today because I'm tired and stressed? A situation which can be temporary and has a solution.  Or do I really dislike what I do and should seek more meaningful employment?  Do I not want to cook/clean/care for family because I'm in need of a holiday or feeling overwhelmed?  Or is it a symptom of some deeper issues that really need change.

There are two things I love about the full quote.  Firstly, no where does it mention happiness.   He's talking about what you want to do in the context of having limited time left.  What is important to you?  What are your priorities?  Are they included in the tasks that are set before you today?  Is there time for the things you value - not just the busy things of life.  Secondly, he defines the need to change around several days of answering no - not just a momentary thought.  It means that change should be reflected on.  Don't just give up on something because it causes momentary challenges, because challenges can and will pass.  Struggles are a part of life, and are to be overcome - not avoided.

Anyway it's given me food for thought.  Are my days tasks centered around my priorities in life, or do they reflect something different?  Am I moving closer to being the person I want to be - or further away.  Ultimately it's for me to determine one day at a time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's next?

So it's over.  I finished my first ever 21 Day Challenge - to blog every day - last Thursday.  I must admit the first few days I almost felt like I was missing something in my life when I didn't blog.  I didn't actually feel guilty for not blogging, but caught myself a few times thinking - I should use this in my blog.  It was quite an interesting feeling to see that subconsciously my challenge was impacting my thoughts after it ended.  It didn't quite translate to affecting my behaviour, as I really did need a couple of days break to travel home.

As I mentioned in my last post I do want to keep blogging.  I'm not necessarily sure why or what about.  I think it's really something for me - rather than something for a reader.  It's really about having some measure of discipline in my life and a way of causing me to be more mindful.  That said, I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to blogging everyday.  And I've been sadly neglecting my craft blog since I started this one.  I guess I haven't really mastered the art of balance yet ;-)

I'm keen to start another 21 day challenge - to see if I can continue to make small incremental changes in my life.  This one is going to be health related.  I've dabbled in primal eating the last few months and have been around 80% successful most of the time.  I know when I eat right it really improves my energy and my sleep so I want to see if I can make some changes in my diet which will support my lifestyle.

For those of you who don't know what primal eating is you can read about it here.  A former colleague of mine made the switch around 18months ago and has seen huge improvements in energy, well being, fitness - you name it.  Actually she influenced a number of people around her to try it and it all of them have seen huge benefits.  For me it's time to stop dabbling.  I've used my travel schedule as an excuse to eat and drink what I want when I'm away and then return to a healthy lifestyle when I'm home.  The repercussions are that it takes me longer to recover from jet lag, and I'm definitely less energetic.  So that's it.  Today is the day.  I've looked for every excuse not to start - but something about my recent 21 day challenge has made me realise that it's just a commitment I need to make for myself.  A daily commitment to be renewed every morning - for no-one else's sake but mine.

I'm not going to blog about this every day.  I'm completely bored at the thought of doing that.  I will try and update you on how it's going once a week or so though.  Here's hoping that at the end of 21 days I will have made some permanent changes to my lifestyle which give me the energy to do all the things I want to.