Thursday, September 15, 2011


Oh my friends.  It has once again been two weeks and I am feeling somewhat stuck.  And overwhelmed.  There is SO much going on and I'm just not quite sure where to start, and how to start it. A list will help, right?

  • I started my course at the YMCA in Tottenham Court Road, Central London.  It is wonderful.  It is interesting, amazing to do physical exercise as part of your learning, fun new people to meet.  But challenging on every level.  It has been a long time since I had this much to learn (last time I took classes there was no internet.  Or mobile phones, really).  So I'm struggling to get my revision in.  The opportunities for procrastination are bigger, much bigger. 
  • The kids have both started new schools.  They're both doing great - so far - but I've been hanging onto my anxieties about them both.  A friend told me once that you're only as happy as your unhappiest child.  As they're happy right now this thankfully is not an issue, but still. I like to worry in preparation. 
  • admin.  Sheesh.  I put all my admin and correspondence to one side the last week of the holidays so I could get all the kids' stuff together for school.  In this country everything has to be labelled.  With sew-on labels.  I don't really sew.  Well, I didn't.  I worked out how to use a sewing machine (practise makes perfect) and can even label socks.  Which is good, because there were lots.  But while labelling socks the post pile just grew and I'm only just emerging from underneath.  And then there's all the stuff I want to do - move my blog to WordPress yadda yadda yadda.  
  • running.  Hrmm.  My running has been on and off all summer.  Off first, because I was recovering from bronchitis.  Then there weeks of 40 miles, and weeks of 10 miles.  Days where I thought what I needed was a target marathon in November and days where I thought I needed that like a hole in the head.  My course has not helped - the first module we are working on is gym instructor (hmm.  Let's say that is not my dream) and so due to the fact that I don't really do anything in a gym other than run I am having to familiarise myself with all the machines, how to safely use it, how to safely train others to use it, and then there's all the weights exercises.  I need to know what they are all called - suffice it to say that I've been in the gym most days slightly panicked at the practical stuff I need to learn (the theory is meaty too but I addressed that worry in my first bullet point).  This takes up a LOT of time and also, the gym I use in London limits the use of treadmills to 25 minutes.  Sheesh.  
  • food.  Hmm.  I am not on the healthy food wagon and need to get back on it.  'Nuff said.  
  • sleep.  All this messiness is wreaking havoc with my sleep.  Which doesn't help me sort out the messiness. 
Basically, I need to do what I need to do on a regular basis. Stop where I am.  Stop regretting what I have not done, angsting over things done wrong or not achieved and get a grip.  Move on.  Start. 

So here I am, starting.  Planning the way ahead. 
  • to organise my revision and admin time, I'm using focus booster.  25 minutes revision, 5 minutes downtime, then 25 minutes more revision or admin, 5 minutes downtime.  Worked with it today and it's good.  I can envisage 25 minutes of revision.  
  • Running.  I'm going to train for a half-marathon in December.  At the moment my schedule, 5 days 9-5 at the YMCA in London, then 9 days back home, with a 3 hour drive at each end, will mean I can not put the work I want into marathon training.  The weekends are busy with the kids and lots of driving (did I mention this?  The mileage on my car is shocking - when I get it serviced they think I travel for work.  Nope.  Just fun...). So, half marathon training.  Shockingly, I haven't trained for one for years, I've just run them as part of marathon training.  As I am keen to beat my PR (1:45) and Sarah Palin's recent win I want to get sub 1:45.  My runnersworld schedule is hard, but hopefully not undoable.  Following it will mean I will not be able to get to the gym at the YMCA in the mornings before my course begins (which is a shame, because one of my new friends on the course is really working me) but will instead use the lunchtimes or the evenings to get in a short cardio workout to warmup and then use the weights machines so I can get used to them.  And buff up.  Obviously.  
  • And with food - well I'm just going to have to do this aren't I? Not focus on past failures, but focus on future success.  
And generally, this is something I need to do.  A friend of mine who I really respect recommended The Secret to me.  I balked initially - I had heard about it and had, frankly, dismissed it.  She told me to suspend my cynicism, ignore the stuff about quantum physics (honestly?) and about "the universe delivering" and just take on board the basic message that visualisation works, that focusing on what you want rather than what you are afraid of is a really positive step.  So I'm working my way through it and she's right - I do focus on the negative, my fears, more than on the positive.  So I'm working on this.  Because actually - there is nothing wrong.  My kids are happy, my husband is happy, I'm happy and doing a course I enjoy and that is challenging me - the 3am stomach cramps are not necessary, right?  

It tastes better than it looks. 
Any tips / tricks / links you can offer to help me along this path would be most welcome.  I'm off now to eat a bowl of the vegetable minestrone I tend to make to get me back on the wagon.  Namaste my friends! 


Emily said...

I dismissed The Secret too, but some recent comments by others have made me curious. I like your note about the basic idea. Why do we worry so damn much? Esp when we KNOW that we don't want to. WHY?! I think everyday for me is practice in the better direction. We just have to keep trying.

Well, you might feel disorganized but you have all of your concerns in bullet points, so I see that as progress.

Don't worry (shhhh...the secret) about your eating habits or studying or anything. It will ebb and flow and just keep picking it back up where you can. We do the best we can do, right?

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

Oh, the worry! It gives a sense of false control, e.g., "I worry about it and I am prepared for it when it comes". The thing is, often the "it" does not become reality and yet a lot of time is spent on the worrying! One thing that would help, I think, is to ask yourself what is the realistic probability of the worry (not emotional, that will be high), and then compare that probability with others that we are currently do not take into account (like the high probability of a car accident, though we rarely worry about that!).
Things seem to be going well though! Lots of changes, and change, even the good kind is stressful as we are all creatures of habit. Good to hear from you!

Unknown said...

oh friend. Hope you can let those anxieties go and embrace the learning and nourishment that is coming. I know, easier said than done. Think how this will nourish you body, mind, and soul!

Love the half marathon idea.

Amanda@runninghood said...

Hi there sweet Petra! I've still got your post here tagged and I want to make sure I sit down and read it thoughtfully before I leave a real comment. but just wanted to pop on over to say that how nice it was to hear from you this morning even if if was always make me smile. I hope to be back soon when things slow down today. Love being sent your way! and Peace.

Amanda@runninghood said...

"Basically, I need to do what I need to do on a regular basis. Stop where I am. Stop regretting what I have not done, angsting over things done wrong or not achieved and get a grip. Move on. Start. "

"Not focus on past failures, but focus on future success"

I find that when I write, there is often a nugget of wisdom in my writing that is meant just for ME. Your words above are just as good as any comment i can make. ;)

Someone said the other day that guilt and worry is the most wasteful and useful emotion because it gets us NOWHERE.

Big fan of The Secret or the whole idea of it. Telling our story the way we want it to be. Focusing on the good stuff.

Man, sounds like you have a lot going on. At the same time, sounds like a lot of good things! Kids are happy, you're moving forward with life and goals, great plans, etc. But 25 min limit on the treadmill?! So stupid!! Worth breaking that rule. They are just asking you to break it. Put a towel over the screen.. and reset it right before it stops on its own. Do that a few times and you'll be good. :)

I should be getting to sleep now. Thanks for your great comments lately. Your words always mean a ton! xo

Fran said...

Girl you are so busy, only reading it makes me tired. Sit down for a minute, come over here and I'll bake an apple pie for you.

Your course sounds like a lot of fun even if it's a lot.

And hey: nothing wrong with half marathons :) It's the longest distance I will ever do, I'm not interested in doing a full due to the time it will cost me to train for it.

Take it easy and don't forget to take a break sometimes and do something just for you!

Anonymous said...

thanks for dropping by. like the plan, and like the look of the soup more:)

let's def run in london after i'm back from berlin. i'll email my digits and some dates. will look forward to that.

pensive pumpkin said...

As far as the worrying goes, I agree completely that it wastes energy on the thing we wish to avoid instead of what we would prefer to draw near. I like to take that worry energy and make an actual plan for what to do if the Terrible Thing happens. Once I have an action plan in place, then I can stop worrying. It is already handled.

Glad to hear from you again. Your perspective always makes me smile.

Anonymous said...

Oh Petra.

As a fellow stress head I can totally relate (even if our stresses are completely different!)

I have read The Secret too and do believe in the power of visualisation.

I also find hypnotherapy really helpful. I recently bought Rapid Stress Relief (from and it's helped me get out of a hole I had got myself in to. It's only about 20 minutes long, very relaxing and seems to give me some perspective. I listen to it at bed time.

And also recently I watched The Peaceful Warrior (based on the book Way of the Peaceful Warrior) which has helped me focus more on living in the moment and not let my crazy thoughts get carried away with themselves.

I am a personal development junkie and I know this stuff isn't for everyone, but thought these might appeal to you. Don't worry if they don't - no offence will be taken.

Hope the overwhelm lifts soon: 'I have all the time I need to do everything I want to do today!'

Lots of love...xx

lizzie lee said...

Dear... I have missed you... Yes, forget all the negative stuff. I think the negative stuff can get you tire more than a busy schedule with driving included. Enjoy the driving, enjoy the labeling, enjoy the kids in their new school without worrying in preparation. That's too much energy that goes in the wrong direction Bring that energy for your classes, for your running, your cooking, for your family. And when you go to bed every night, give yourself a pat in the back, saying: "Wow, look all that I've done today. It was amazing!!!"

lizzie lee

Irish Blue said...

Wow, SP is making me feel like a real slacker. That's a great time. I personally love the half marathon distance. It's long enough to need to train and short enough to be manageable with life, kids, work/school, and labeling. ;-)

I read The Secret a while back. I would agree that visualization is powerful stuff and I do think positive thinking brings positive experiences and negative brings negative. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm with you on the eating. Starting my no-sugar, no-starch thing again too. It seems to be the only way of eating that makes me feel good, but I think I'm very sugar/starch sensitive.

Miss you kid ;-(