Monday, 5 August 2013

Theme of the Month: Health and Calm

Health and Calm have won the competition to be this month's theme. It looked there for a while like it was going to be Fun and Excitement. I've felt the need for more fun - more hanging out, socialising, doing unproductive but recreational activities - for a while. Life had become a bit humdrum. August was going to focus on getting out there, getting messy, reconnecting with the few of my friends who are still living the fun, single life and reaching out to make new friends in similar circumstances.

Yet, while fun is good, I decided that what I really need, in order to face into the Autumn with confidence, is more rest and calm. Living alone, it's easy to take quiet for granted. The neighbours took an extended holiday and while they were gone there was often only the noise of my keyboard and the birdsong through the open French windows. The meter in the hall ticks and tocks away but apart from that there is no noise in the house unless I make it; I turn on a tap, or the radio, or chop vegetables and the silence is broken.

Peace and quiet go together but they're not the same thing. While I had the quiet, the peace wasn't necessarily following. Sometimes the silence can be deafening. Sometimes I responded to a suggested activity with an enthusiastic "yes" solely because it would mean leaving the house and being in company. I need peace and calm so as not to panic in the aloneness. I need to calm down and start being able to turn down engagements and also, while I'm there, to slow down and appreciate them.

So calm it is: brought on by meditating every morning, keeping my gratitude notebook, and drinking more peppermint tea and less Diet Coke.

Less of the fizzy, black delicious stuff is also part of a general resolution this month to be healthier.  September is my busiest month of the year and time will seem in shorter supply. I want to get into good habits and get back running. I'm a lapsed convert, having taken up running in January. Running was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I went, with the help of Mary from from being out of breath after two minutes to running 5k, if not comfortably, then bearably.  I thought this is it; I'm a runner and will be doing this forever. Ahem. Knee pain and the infernal summer have kept me off the roads but I really want to get back for the Autumn. I joined a gym for the summer and have been building up my stamina and leg muscles but I know I'm only fooling myself and only proper, outdoor running will bring back the fitness and sense of well-being I had in April.  As Ruth Field writes in "Run, Fat Bitch, Run"
Running is different from all other forms of exercise, at the level at which you are doing them, because it is much harder. Not harder as in more complicated, but harder as in more physically strenuous. And because it is that much harder, ultimately it is that much more rewarding, both in terms of the dramatic physical changes to your body and indeed to your life in general.
I recommend this book, as it's funny and very motivating, but I don't think I'd ever have pushed through the five-minute barrier. (For really unfit people like myself, this barrier is a real and substantial obstacle) if it weren't for being in the running class.

So health and calm it is: the enemies of panic, the aids of fertility. Producers of a clear mind that is able to make decisions based on my actual self-interest and not on perpetuating the drama of catastrophe. I'm not sure how health and calm contribute to writing though; maybe I should take up smoking instead of running and substitute absinthe, not tea, for the Diet Coke.

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