Tag Archives: exercise

Only for the Lockdown 6

List number six of things that may not have happened if it hadn’t been for the Lockdown:

  • My most expensive non-essential spending is on Amazon downloads for the Kindle.
  • I lay out on the grass reading under a big ball of sun and in the time I relaxed there, a spider’s web formed and attached itself to the Kindle. I marvelled at miraculous nature while simultaneously breaking my Kindle free with utmost haste.
  • It used to annoy me when people would walk on the wrong side of the road. Until a friend suggested that I be the person to cross the road “no matter who’s right or wrong”. Now, I’m skilled at zigzagging walks and cycles. And it still annoys me.
  • TodayFM’s Dermot and Dave are ghosting us. They’re adding €50 to the pot each day that nobody guesses what the letters ‘WMM’ stand for. We message them with unique answers every single morning and they’ve never once called us. They spoke to a lady who guessed “What matters most” when it had ALREADY BEEN GUESSED! “Where’s Magic Mike?” was surely worth a call. Or “Where’s my monocle?” We’re saving “Wank me, Mary” for a rainy day.
  • My boyfriend spent a morning bombarding me with terrible jokes, which he read from his smartphone. “Why was the pineapple blushing? Because it saw the salad dressing.” Groan. “What happens to grapes when you step on them? They whine.” Ugh. My personal favourite was: “Why did the banana go out with a prune? Because he couldn’t find a date!” Haha! “Did you just google ‘Jokes about fruit’,” I wondered. “Of course not,” he retorted. “I googled ‘Fruit Jokes’.” I grabbed the phone and typed in ‘Jokes about vegetables’. They were much worse.
  • I spent a quarter of a weekend perving over old holiday photos and videos. What I’d give to be kayaking in Halong Bay or kissing my nephew’s round cheeks.
  • Spent a Sunday evening in bed listening to my newly-discovered GABA podcast, which is like my very own personalised wet dream: a sexy euphony of poetry, music and meditation. I felt I’d explode at the beauty, at the intensity, at the artistry… I glanced over at my boyfriend, who was lying back beside me, headphones in, playing Call of Duty on his phone. His cheeks were full of suppressed laughter at my podcast choice. I tickled him, told him to F off and turned away from the faint sounds of machine gun-fire in his ears.
  • Phase One of “Reopening Ireland” was rolled out today. Already people are reaching out to meet up. Part of me feels excited. Another part doubts that I can make time. My schedule is fairly packed already what with Zoom classes, breathwork, daily exercise, books to read, three solid meals per day…
  • My boyfriend moaned, “I’d love to go to the pub!” Radio silence my end. He tried again: “Imagine going to a party!” “What kind of party,” I relented. “Any kind. Imagine the drinks! Imagine having conversations! With people!” Silence again. What I was thinking was: “I can work from home. I attend classes via Zoom. I feel unstyled and… padded. I’m not party-ready! Until you can hand me a cocktail in front of an Aegean sunset, don’t talk to me about easing restrictions!”

Image: foodetccooks.com

Only for the Lockdown 4

Only for the lockdown, I may never have experienced the following:

  • My hair appointment (always booked two months in advance) was cancelled. I texted my hairdresser, desperate for advice on box dyes. She informed me of my colour. Debated doing a patch test. Decided I’d better. It was the “ALLERGIC REACTION MAY CAUSE DEATH” bit that got me. Going to the hospital would be a nightmare! The patch test burned and I was left with a scabby wound. Decided to go gracefully grey.
  • A few weeks later, I purchased a different brand. The patch test stung. How much stinging is dangerous? Maybe I can use this as an opportunity to see how I’d look if I consciously decided not to cover the greys.
  • Took a nail scissors to my hair instead. I wanted a layered look. I sliced off two chunks. I was reminded of that one time I cut a Barbie’s hair and kept having to compensate by shortening the opposite side. Bald Barbie really stood out from the crowd. I put down the scissors.
  • When someone told me that we should try on our jeans every day because tracksuit bottoms/leggins/pyjamas are lying to us,” I was enveloped in a wave of emotion (anxiety, guilt, rage, denial). “That’s the worst idea ever,” I retorted.
  • Did a 20-minute Joe Wicks’ workout. I couldn’t bend over for three days (and counting…)
  • Whenever a TV character walks down a busy street or through a colourful market or into a noisy bar, I mutter: “Before the Corona virus.” Nothing on television really reflects our current reality. And they don’t stream The News on Netflix.
  • Remember how I got my boyfriend into Irish radio? Well, he’s taken to texting Dermot and Dave even without a cash prize motive. He felt the need to share that, according to the Lockdown Personalities they’d discussed, he’s a Bubble BursterThis means that when someone suggests that this will all be over soon, he disagrees: “No pints in pubs or international travel until 2021.” 
  • In case you’re wondering, I’m a Quarantine Queen. I’m the one who sets up all the Zoom catchups and emails on the links. I’ve also completed several meditation-, personal development- and exercise-based challenges. More still to come. And I saw my no-sugar-or-crisps-for-Lent challenge (sacrifice?) right through to the end, despite the apocalyptic vibes.
  • I’ve noticed that whenever I start dancing, my boyfriend drops everything to join me. We wiggle and laugh and get all the lyrics wrong. I look into his eyes and smile, enjoying a rich few minutes’ appreciation for his presence and willingness to put aside whatever he’s doing to be with me in silly abandon.
  • The song finishes. The moment ends. And I’m right back to my multi-challenges and Zoom-ing. Earning my title every goddamn day.

Art by Tati Ferrigno

Only for the Lockdown Part 3

Some things that may never have happened if it wasn’t for the Lockdown:

  • Attended a Beyoncé concert in my living room. We danced, we sang, we drank, we (okay, I) freaked out when Destiny’s Child reunited on stage. We were even able to pause Coachella to go and make popcorn.
  • Only got dressed from the waist up for all my Zoom meetings.
  • When we were given half an hour to be at an apartment viewing, I screamed at my boyfriend, “Get dressed” because who’s ever really DRESSED during the Lockdown?!
  • We struggled into jeans for the first time in weeks. The first thing we did when we got home was pull them straight off again.
  • Experienced time pressure when I had to log in for my one pre-booked Zoom class that day. Felt quite resentful actually. It can be challenging to fit all my self-care activities into one day.
  • Took part in a 21-Day Abundance Challenge, seven consecutive days of Breathwork, a three-day Mindfulness retreat as well as multiple Zoom meetings, classes, catchups and birthday celebrations… My boyfriend hardly ever sees the living room.
  • Took my bike out for the first time in over four years. I felt like the Erasmus student I once was speedwheeling my way to a lake swim or a barbecue or a beer festival.
  • My boyfriend asked me if, just for one hour everything went back to normal, what would I like to do most? I pictured travelling to a sunsetting Greek island and dunking myself in the ocean. “But one hour wouldn’t give you enough time to get there,” he said, stomping on my dream. “You’ve obviously thought about this. What would you do,” I retorted. He replied without hesitation, “Get a haircut.” 

Only for the Lockdown 2: The Weird and the Wonderful

The following is a list of things that, only for the Lockdown, I may never have experienced:

  • Had a dream in which I questioned the social distancing practices.
  • When my boyfriend said he didn’t remember his dream, I suggested making one up just so he could tell me a story. “I could never lie to you,” he exclaimed. I regretted asking.
  • To get my boyfriend out of bed, I suddenly shouted: “Come on, you’re going to miss the train!” “The train to where,” he asked. “To work,” I tried. “Work doesn’t exist, it’s just an illusion,” was his response. Then he decided that we should start playing the Lotto. We still haven’t bought a ticket.
  • Took out Connect-4. I won every game. “I’d say you’d be really good at chess,” my boyfriend marvelled. We took out a draughts board. I lost every game. I blamed it on the cider I was drinking.
  • We started treating a teddy like a real-live dog.
  • I look forward to going for walks so I can record WhatsApp voiceys to my friends in peace (the adult version of My News).
  • I no longer mind how long things take (phone calls, work on the computer, queues for Tesco, hugs).
  • Am learning how to properly shoot a basketball.
  • When passing another human being, I’m alternating between genuine joy, connection, polite nods, smiles and Hellos then wishing I could clothesline them when they come too close (but that would mean I’d have to touch them).
  • Appreciated springtime to this extent (coloured blossoms, cerulean skies and the coconut scent of a gorse bush).
  • Birdsong is my new favourite soundtrack.
  • As I strolled along the canal this afternoon, I had the urge to bury my face in the swaying reeds. I didn’t. Maybe next week.
  • Stood and watched a starling murmuration. In the distance, they looked like vibrating particles of one entity. Then they swooped overhead, spreading and coming together, making shapes like a celestial Etch A Sketch.

Please share your weird and wonderful Lockdown experiences.

Only for The Lockdown

Only for the “Lockdown” I may never have:

  • Experienced gratitude for being allowed to go for walks.
  • Followed the flight of a swan as far as my eye could see.
  • Witnessed a heron spearing a fish with its beak and thought it was amazing (I’m vegetarian).
  • Had so much quality time with my boyfriend.
  • Got my boyfriend into Irish radio.
  • Convinced my boyfriend to enter the daily radio competition so we’d double our chances.
  • Dragged my boyfriend for his first proper canal walk.
  • Felt surprised when he wanted to walk further than me.
  • Wrote a poem about COVID-19 because all my cousins were doing it.
  • Attended online classes via Zoom.
  • Participated in a Women’s Circle (via Zoom).
  • Attended a Life Coach (via Zoom).
  • Started giving Life Coaching sessions over Zoom.
  • Had video chats with friends, who live within a 30 km radius, using Zoom.
  • Paid for a Zoom subscription.
  • Watched a movie with homemade mini-pizzas, a nice bottle of red and a basin of popcorn on a WEDNESDAY.
  • Listened to a podcast while lying on my bed. Listening to podcasts had only ever been a multi-tasking activity (alongside walking or cooking).
  • Gazed out the bedroom window at a lone star.
  • Listened to the wind in the trees.
  • Had a day-time nap.
  • Enjoyed bringing the bins out and hanging out the washing.
  • Walked all the way to the “Big Tesco” instead of driving and didn’t mind queuing because “Sure, what else would I be doing?”
  • Rejoiced when I spotted eggs in the supermarket.
  • Let my hair go this grey.
  • Reevaluated where I am in my life and what I want.
  • Had all the time in the world to figure it out.
  • Opted to write this list instead.

What have you been doing that you may never have done only for the “Lockdown”?

Rising

This morning, I rise at 5am. I do some breathing and get dressed in the half-light.

I shut the front door quietly and slip past blindfolded houses. I feel like I’m playing a trick on society, the only one awake.

Cars are wrapped in ice. The air is cold. I feel strong, resilient.

I walk up an empty street, flanked by glowing green traffic lights. Birdsong surrounds.

Salt and pepper clouds are bunched up in a corner of the sky. This is it, I smile excitedly.

I pass through a shuttered town then turn up a country road. Sheep graze. I wonder how long they’ve been up.

I point my camera at a lamb posing by a gate. It bolts. Good for you, I think.

Hefty cows lie across frosty fields. A blackbird balances on the branch of a tree. My gaze gives it flight.

Half-way through the walk, I realise that I don’t have much time to get ready for work. I run-walk-run-walk the rest of the way. An unintentional High Intensity Interval Training session. My chest sparks.

As I near home, the sun comes up behind me. It’s a beautiful day.

This could be where the story ends. All positivity and motivation.

But what about the other parts the writer or social-media sharer omits?

How deciding to set my alarm so early made me anxious. How I feared that not enough sleep would mess with my mood.

How I worried that I’d be attacked while solo strutting along deserted streets. How I hoped I wouldn’t injure myself when running.

The first part of the story is still true. I did marvel at the mystery of the early morning. And I was present for a lot of it.

The other part of the story can be summed up as follows: I had concerns but I didn’t let them dominate me.

I’ve been cohabiting with a scare-mongering, self-critical voice for as long as I can remember and its lyrics can convince and connive.

But there’s a flame inside me that’s growing too bright to ignore. It wants a better life and it finally believes that it’s possible.

I’ve gone from being paralysed by fear to moving forwards even as my limbs tremble.

So I walk-run-walk-run and my breath deepens. And as I fade in and out of fear and presence, the sun rises and shadows shift.

Images: Author’s own

Little Camino

The past month has been weighed down with money worries, career anxiety, fear for the future and feelings of insecurity. This in turn has had an effect on my self-esteem; how I see myself and how I feel when I’m with others.

The main outcome of a much-needed business coaching session this week was that I need to love myself. And yesterday, I had another revelation.

I’ve been depending on external factors to make me feel okay. I’ll be good enough if and when… I’ll relax when I’m earning more money. I’ll be worthy when I have a flourishing business. I’ll feel secure when my boyfriend does and says all the right things.

However, the reverse should be true. I need to feel good first, anyway, irrespective of anything or anyone.

I have to love myself just because. I must stop placing conditions on my self-acceptance.

And I definitely need to stop waiting for someone else to make me feel good. Because that strategy is destined to fail. Catastrophically.

It’s guaranteed to foster pressure, disappointment and resentment. Feelings become extremely precarious. One action, one word, one thought has the power to tear everything asunder.

What I want to do now is come back to me. That creative, happy individual who knows herself, and who has a full and balanced life with work and friends and hobbies. Who now also has a boyfriend who’s gorgeous and good and full of love and enthusiasm.

But just because I’m now in a relationship doesn’t mean I should lose myself in it. An intimate relationship is actually an opportunity to find myself more deeply than ever before.

I need to live my life. Do the things that give me energy and inspiration. Be there for myself.

I have to stop abandoning myself whenever things go “wrong”. I must remember my worth, see my light, and know that I’m deserving of love and all the good things in life. I need to focus on all the positives that are right there in front of me.

Today is Thursday and I have the day off. Part of me feels ashamed that I’m not busier, that I’m not a part of “normal” working society. Then I remember that I have to stop rejecting myself.

“What’s the most loving thing I could do for myself today,” I ask.

An image of walking in nature flashes before me.

“The sea,” I think excitedly.

“Healthy, delicious food and coffee. And a good book,” I add.

I’ve come up with the perfect recipe: I’ll hike along the coastline from Bray to Greystones, have lunch in one of my favourite restaurants The Happy Pear, then wander back to Bray.

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Most “normal” people work on a Thursday so I go alone. And that’s kind of perfect. My very own mini-Camino.

I don’t listen to music and I put my phone on silent. The weather goes from windy to sunny to rainy.

As I walk, I start thinking. Then I realise that I’m feeling bad. I observe this with interest.

Nothing has actually happened in the here and now and I’ve still managed to make myself feel bad. When instead I could be enjoying the beautiful views of aquamarine waters leaning into the horizon, mountain and birds and yellow furze. I could be breathing in the fresh air. Appreciating this time, this peace, this space…

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So today I choose to come back to me, to stay with me, to love myself and to make myself happy. Because when I’m present to myself in this moment all is right in my world.

Today I take this big lesson from my little Camino back to my working life and to my romantic relationship but most importantly to my relationship with myself.

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Images: Author’s Own