Use it or lose it

It’s been one month on the boat and I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve come to be comfortable with a slower pace of life. For me, this has included being less physically active…

Cycling home from playing a hard (hard for me anyway, my partner enjoyed making me run, I think…) game of squash as I did many times, I was on a high. The sight of a fresh sweat still visible on my arms, my hands tensing to go over the speed bumps just a short distance away from the squash club I found reassuring. Blood pumping, eyes darting everywhere for the usual dipshits that don’t know what a blind spot is, or for the many holes in the ground that most other road users breeze over. I revelled in my ability to anticipate the road, the road users, the traffic lights. The dodgems of the read world. Just as I also revelled feeling like my lungs were a pair of hot air balloon were trying to overinflate whilst running round after a silly black bouncy ball. It’s no surprise that I got nicknamed the ‘Energiser Bunny’ for love I had for this feeling.

Perhaps, like me, you have previously, or still do enjoy this level of exertion. If not and you are sat there thinking – as my Mum often said to me – ‘you make me tired just hearing about it!!’. I challenge you to consider whether you also know that tired, but elated feeling. Perhaps working long work day to finish a job that made you proud, or you live with young children and their smiles make your world go round no matter how many times they cost you your sleep, or even ‘just’ hosted Christmas day.  Several moments like these, no doubt.

Imagine now that job, or those children, becoming the most difficult thing to sustain (Christmas dinner I’m sure, we’d all happily pass the buck on). I’ve written a bit about being ‘Wonder Woman’ as a guest blog for my friend Melissa on Feel Good Community’s site. I think we all believe we were like a superhero, when retrospect kicks in. I didn’t want to stop feeling that ‘high’ but my body was forcing me to do so. If I kept up this level of exercise, I wouldn’t be able to do anything else, including simple things like making a quick meal, let alone the complex and varied nature of having a job. Initially, I didn’t understand that was a choice I had to make. Gradually, my body wore me down and I found it simpler to do as little as possible. Changing from Energiser Bunny to this was no joke.

That was my ‘safe space’; do nothing, and you’ll feel well. Painfully, I still didn’t. I had a part time job and friends and family that I wanted to see to maintain some level of sanity.

Living on the boat has giving me the chance to slow down mentally, so that I may have some space to speed up physically. After an appointment with the Migraine Centre, I’m now aware of how physical activity can act like prevention medication; it can higher your tolerance to symptoms. Still, moderate levels are recommended so even if I logistically could, I wouldn’t be cycling to a game of squash. Along the tow path there’s plenty of opportunity for walks, as well as chopping wood and perhaps even a dip in a nearby river now and again. The hot air balloons that are my lungs are safely inflating without straining to pop, but my blood is pumping and my eyes are watchful. After a few minutes I can stop to rest, and start again either later today, or the next day, or the next…

I’m still no Energiser Bunny, but perhaps we can all be superheroes, in our different ways. What we don’t use – and therefore lose – perhaps don’t always need to be grieved, fought against or be cause for self loathing. Change is inevitable, and, as the Buddhists have it, pain is as essential as pleasure.

When people ask, ‘are you well?’

Do I respond, ‘sure, I’m swell!’

Perhaps that smile won’t reach the eyes

Perhaps they only want to hear the lies

The pain creeps in, my old friend

Always moving, around the bend

The next calm waters still my mind

To myself I can now, be truly kind

Thank you for reading blog! Can you relate to something I’ve written?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and be sure to look out for another instalment in a week or few. Click on the subscribe button if you would like an email when a new blog goes up.
Naomi 🙂

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