No Leaf Clover

It seems like it has been a long time since I last wrote a blog and that a lot has happened since then. The world has changed a lot since I last put metaphorical pen to paper and most of it hasn’t been good. The world has been engulfed by a global pandemic which has affected everyone’s lives As a result the last 6 months have been a case of bunkering down and getting through it as we wait to see what happens next. Part of the reason for not writing much over the period is that I’ve been concentrating on trying to make the best of the situation and working on how I perceive and react to what is going on around me. Much of that is easier said than done, especially when you have a lifetime of looking on the downside behind you, however, the pandemic has shown that to a large degree, I am in control of how I think and react.

There is a quote from Charles Swindolls, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our attitudes.” Over the lockdown period I have been working on my self-development through one of Paul Mort’s courses and I have also been doing a lot of reading (if listening to audiobooks still classes as reading) about Stoicism and the Stoic Philosophy. As a result of some of things I have learnt, I have been working on how I think and react to what is going on around me. I have tried to be careful over the language I use (something that I keep working on and frequently must correct myself over) either when speaking to others or just my internal dialogue. A good example of this came during lockdown. When we were told to stay at home apart from being able to have an hour of exercise each day, there were two extreme ends of how you could react to it – you could say that you are stuck at home and can’t do anything you want to do; or you could say that you are getting to spend more time at home with your family so that you are all staying safe.

In both of those the situation that you find yourself in is still the same, all that has changed is how you are reacting to it and how you are framing your attitude to it. By looking at the negatives of the situation you are more likely to produce a negative mindset and bring your mood down. If you are looking at the positives in the situation, you are putting yourself in a better mindset to be able to deal with whatever life throws at you. One of things that Paul said on the course was “energy flows where the attention goes”. If you spend your time focusing on the negative aspects of life, that is where your energy will go, and it will get sucked out of you. If you focus on the positives, your energy will start of flow from that and you can keep moving forwards.

When the effect of the pandemic started to affect our day-to-day lives, I started to try to get into a routine to make the most of my time. I was had less time commuting which meant I had more time to spend with the triplets and I could also factor in more time to train (as I know what a positive effect that has on my mental wellbeing). I also established routines to fit in yoga and meditation to try and keep my head clear of all the negatives that were going around. We started doing a weekly quiz with some friends in the village online and to give an added focus, I decided to do some fundraising for the NHS by skiing 10km each day. Everything was coming together and even trying to home-school triplets as well as working full time was happening to some degree (although I did find out that teaching was not a career option if I ever decided to change career).

This all ended abruptly when I tore my hamstring racing the kids. It seems that sprinting is not a good idea when you’re getting old and are unfit as the grade 3 tear and a black leg would testify. I managed another week of skiing and got to 75 consecutive days but then had to call it a day so that my leg could recover. The setback wasn’t ideal, and it took a few weeks to get back into a routine again after the recovery period which thankfully wasn’t as long as predicted. Since then I’ve been trying to get my fitness back on track so that I can take on the next challenge and see if I can get back to the fitness levels that I want to be able to hit so that I can keep pushing myself.

‘Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel
Is just a freight train coming your way’

Metallica – No Leaf Clover

The return to training was going well but then in the last couple of days it has been like the freight train made contact. A couple of weeks ago we lost someone who will always have a special place in my life when my Great Aunt Lily passed away. It’s never easy when you lose someone who has had such a positive effect on your life. I’ll always have fond memories of the time I spent with her and my Great Uncle Les and will be grateful for the effect that they had on my life and helping shape the person I am today. They were the grandparents that I never had and despite her passing not being a surprise, it has still being hard to deal with, especially as I continue to struggle with dealing with my emotions with things like this. This down cycle has come as a bit of a shock to the system as I had been dealing with everything fairly well and had kept up with all the things that had been working for me but yesterday I spent most of the day feeling like I wanted to cry but without being able to. Training didn’t help although I was glad that I had done it and even the quiz didn’t really lift my spirits.

One thing it does show is that even when you think you are on top of things and doing everything that you can, depression doesn’t discriminate and can still hit you. This time it seems to have hit particularly hard, but I think that’s because it has been a while since I went through these sort of feelings. It does feel like I’ve been hit by a train but I’m still fighting. As Mike Tyson once said, “everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face”. This has had the same effect; everything had been working but now I’ve taken a hit. It isn’t going to stop me as I just need to deal with my emotions and reframe how I am dealing with this.

Training will help me through as will finding a new challenge to focus on. I’ll also be getting the Lego out later to provide a welcome distraction and a release from the adult world (not that I do much adulting). The journey continues and there are great things to come.

Onwards and upwards

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