inspiration

Confidence in 1,000 miles

Like many things in life confidence is only found through practice. Just knowing that what ever I do repeatedly will get easier, keeps me going. Whether that be making a skirt or cycling, in both cases practice improves skill, understanding and technique, and with this comes confidence.

When I first got on a road bike in May, I was partly terrified and partly exhilarated. There was such a sense of freedom of being able to cycle at a moderate speed. But, for me there is an additional anxiety of about falling off, not that I just don’t want to injure myself, but also not having a spleen, means fighting infection and recovering from illness and injury takes longer.

But now that I have been cycling for oooooh almost 4 whole months, I can see how my confidence has built, firstly it was all about the bike. Things like getting used to the gears, I often ran out of gears going uphill, no idea how I managed to do that, but I did.

Next it was the shoes, most road cyclists used clipless shoes, which ironically clip on to the pedal, however before the clipless shoes, cyclist used straps which went over the pedal to position the shoes on the pedal for better purchase. I started off with regular pedals and trainers, then added straps to the pedals, then graduated into rigid sole shoes. I still haven’t tried the clipless shoes but am sure I will be in them for next spring.

Flying downhill at speed was fantastic until I learnt that most accident happen going downhill, so I am a bit more cautious now, not much, just enough to balance exhilaration with safety.

Sooner than expected I found myself able to go longer distances, going out on Sundays – working up an appetite and stopping for brunch before returning home – a wonderful way to enjoy the day. Having used Sunday’s to develop stamina for distances I then used my weekly rides to improve my speed. I have been using an app Map My Ride which has been a great motivational tool for me.

Finally I had to work on the hills – it looks so easy when watching Le Tour de France, even the mountain stages. I had no idea how tough it was going up even small inclines, but it’s all about practice and persistence – and so I have kept going until finally I made it up the highest local hill – I would have celebrated when I reached the top, but breathing seemed somewhat more important!

I had never before appreciated road surfaces, there are just to many different types, some are a joy, others soul destroying – in which case it’s usually time for a sharp exit.

So finally after 4 months and 1,000 miles I am ready to cycle from London to Brighton, on Sunday. It will be my longest ride  at 54 miles, but I am feeling confident and ready for the challenge, anyway I have to finish as I am being generously sponsored to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action in memory of my Mum, Joanna Roe who died of pancreatic  cancer aged 72.

 

Determination

Having a training plan in place to help get me cycling  from 0 to 54 miles in 16 weeks, has been amazing. Firstly, I don’t have to think or worry about trying to create a plan myself, it’s there done, printed out in black and white and stuck on the wall.

All I have to do now is to follow it, which has been much easier than I thought. That being said, I am not over keen on the stretching exercises. Resting I can do, cycling I can do, but stretching well it all seems a bit half hearted really. So I have had to find ways to inspire myself by reading blogs and articles on the benefits of stretching for cyclists in order to motivate  myself. I found an article on yoga for cyclist which was great, I can relate to yoga but not stretching – it’s different words for basically the same thing. However, my favourite article was:

10 Stretches for Cyclists You Can Do Without Leaving Your Bed

Surprising things have happened too – not knowing what the weather will be like for my London to Brighton cycle, has meant that I have been out in every weather no matter what and that has including torrential rain with streams of water running down the roads and cycling through floods. Not something I would have normally persuaded myself to do, but knowing that I have done it, that I can do it, makes all the difference!

Determination has appeared in another guise too, part of which is competitiveness. I have downloaded an app, MapMyRide, so I can record my routes and times. But, I also get points and times for doing certain local courses, which has motivated me and made me more determined to get out and cycle.

Finally, I am determined because there are those who say I can’t do it – there is nothing like being told you can’t to ensure that you do!!

What makes you determined?

 

 

2015 gratitude and compliments

At the end of 2014 I decided that instead if having a New Years resolution I would have a theme to focus on, and for 2015 that theme would be gratitude. It was a theme that has proved to be somewhat challenging especially as on the 2nd January I was dignosed with a rare tumour (IPMN) in my pancreas. So literally 40 hours into 2015 I was thinking why me, and gratitude was the furthest thing from my mind.

Whilst my tumour didn’t seem something to be grateful for, I soon realised without having an astute consultant and the latest diagnostic technology it wouldn’t have been diagnosed at all! And that was definately something to be grateful for as without an early diagnosis the outcome could have been very different.

So as the year unfolded, it was by trying to find ways of being grateful despite pain, uncertainty, surgery and depression that helped to keep me positively focused and began to give me a wider perspective on life.

The initial biopsy proved inconclusive so I wouldn’t know if the tumour was malignant or benign until after surgery. Surgery wasn’t optional as IPMN tend to progress from benign to malignant, so it was all about timing. During this period of uncertainty I spent a lot of time thinking about life, illness and death, not the most cheery of times it does have to be said!  But it gave me time to realised how easy it is for me to live lost in the activity of day to day life without appreciation and gratitude for life itself and all the opportunities it offers.

My next major hurdle was the surgery itself, which had to be done in a specialist hospital as the pancreas is a difficult organ to operate on, and I was incredibly fortunate to be living 40 minutes from just such a hospital. Which was so new, that the futuristic ICU resembled the inside of a space ship, bearing in mind that I was on morphine when I saw it!!! I soon appreciated how lucky I was to be living in a country with an amazing health care system, well qualified medical personnel and access to pain relief!

I up-cycled (I just love that word) an old notebook into a gratitude diary to ensure that I wrote at least one different thing each day that I was grateful for. Which ranged from; finding a delicious new ground coffee; expressing my gratitude by sending compliments instead of complaints to the various NHS hospitals who took care of me; to being grateful that my wonderful sister didn’t make me laugh when she took care of me (as sneezing, coughing and laughing really really hurt after abdominal surgery!)

I am grateful that I found forums which helped me to realise that I wasn’t alone, there were others going through the same uncertainty, the same surgery, the same pain, the same frustrations and we could share our experiences.

As we near the end of 2015, I find myself more appreciative of all that I have in my life including the most amazing family and friends. Also I am making a concertive effort not to overcommit myself and instead allowing myself more time to experience those individual moments and people that bring a smile to my face and warmth into my heart.

As for 2016, the themes that I have shortlisted so far are laughter, contentment and simplicity so if you have any other suggestions for my 2016 theme, I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Poetic Inspiration

Poetry has never been my thing, as I have always been in too much of a rush to read it slowly, fully and with appreciation. But a few years ago I discovered a gorgeous little book of poetry that really captured my attention and heart. So much so, that I had to ration myself to reading just one poem a day, not wanting to get to the end.

This is one of the poems that I keep returning to I can’t articulate why, but I find it beautiful and optimistic.

If one were to tell an unborn child that
outside the womb there is a glorious world
with green fields and lush gardens
high mountains and vast seas, with a sky
lit by the sun and the moon, the unborn
would not believe such absurdity.
Still in the dark womb how could he imagine the indescribable majesty of this world?
In the same way, when the mystics speak of worlds
beyond scent and colour, the common man
deafened by greed and blinded by self-interest
cannot grasp their reality.

from Rumi’s Little Book of Life
The Garden of the Soul, the Heart, and the Spirit

It’s never too late……..

The topics of the posts that I commented on as part of yesterday’s Blogging 101 assignment were; Perfectionism, Ageing, Letter Writing and Power, so I initially thought I would be clever and write a post about all 4 but that idea fortunately was just fleeting, as I realised that it would take me days.

Then I moved to’ perfectionism’ and thought no. I have spent far too much of my life wrestling with perfectionism just because my School reports usually read ‘must try harder’ or ‘could do better’ and therein lies not just perfectionism, but seriousness and a lack of confidence – not that I am bitter anymore!

I quite liked the the idea of writing a letter to my younger self, so during my 45 minute drive to work there was reflection, words, sentences, and much scribbling out, all in my head. Oddly enough it all seemed a bit belated.

But what about writing a letter from my older self to me now? Now that I am liking, that is what I want to know. And all of a sudden there it was, I had just walked into a workshop to collect some signage for work and there was a fabulous sign;

“It is never too late to be who you might have been”

This totally nailed it for me. The joy and the freedom of knowing, that it is never too late, I walked out of the workshop, feeling invincible.

So thank you to those who have inspired me: The Apprentice, The Personal Blog of Henry Jones, Blog of Sharmin and WanderLaur

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