Biking Saves The Big Day

I spent my birthday cycling across London in the rain, so I could cycle up a hill in the rain

IN THIS CORONAVIRUS year, I’m particularly ticked off with my parents for giving me a November birthday.

Trying to party in November is as daunting as entertaining young children in the dreaded February half term: for starters, the days are short and dark, and everybody’s mildly depressed from lack of Vitamin D.

It’s cold and wet, the leaves are off the trees and slushing up the pavements, and no-one can bear it outside for long. So, unless you want to hunker down for hours in a pricey café, or brave the insane crowds at the free museums and art galleries, you’re fucked. 

But at least in February, we have the option of paying through the nose for our fun. This lockdown November – with no pubs or restaurants, cinemas or museums, shops or art galleries to celebrate in – I began to worry that it might be my worst birthday ever. 

Back in the day, we would have got by very nicely on smoked salmon, bagels, fizzy wine and a day spent entirely in bed. But I’m 55 now, not 25 and – anyway – the kids are here, working from home.

So I threw my leg over the bike, instead. I spent my birthday riding across London in the rain, so I could ride up a hill in the rain.

And it was brilliant.

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Riding It Out

As I approach a dreaded birthday in lockdown, my bike has become my only solace

I’m turning 55 this week, which seems like a terrible birthday.

In marketing terms, I’ll no longer belong in the company of anyone who’s still in their early 50s, and I’m dead to hip young 45-year-olds. 

Also according to the people who sell us things, I’m now likely to think, buy and do the same stuff as someone who’s 64.

By my own reckoning, turning 55 means that I truly am moving from middle age to old age – but without the wisdom and perspective to appreciate getting older.

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Crock Down In Lockdown

I’ve injured my knee, but can a pact with a strange God get me running again?

Original image: Linus Schutz/Pixabay

YEARS AGO, when the alternative medicine Reiki was in vogue, a friend started telling us during dinner what an utter con she thought it was.

Then, suddenly, she began to choke on her food, gasping for breath and flailing her arms for what seemed a terrifyingly long time.

And just as we were getting panicked enough to make with the Heimlich Manoeuvre, she recovered.

“I’ve offended the great god Reiki!” were the first words she spluttered, back in the Land of the Living. “I promise I’ll never say another word against it again!”

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‘It’s just part of you’ – what I’ve learned about living with chronic depression

I’ve felt blue throughout my life, but self-acceptance and good habits can help

Image: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

I WOKE UP at four this morning and had trouble getting back to sleep.

I just couldn’t stop my brain from worrying – and all my usual fixes, my equivalents of counting sheep, weren’t helping.

So I tried to settle myself down by thinking about good things – any good thing, like the well-received meal I’d made a few hours before… or about how I was approaching another anniversary of coming off antidepressants.

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A Man And His Tights (A Love Story)

I don’t go big on the MAMIL look, but autumn runs aren’t perfect without my tights

I reckon that there’s a lot not to like about autumn.  

There are lots of little things to loathe, instead: like having to switch from drying clothes ecologically on the line to radiators, or an energy-guzzling, tumble dryer.*

Bath towels and shower mats no longer dry themselves magically; you’re waking up in the dark again and then – one suddenly pitch-black October evening – discovering that all the light bulbs you didn’t use throughout the summer are nevertheless not working.

But there’s one thing I love about autumn: braving the cold and wet, with my running tights on. 

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You Want Mindfulness? Go Running!

Running is The Dogs when it comes to Mindfulness, IMHO

Original image: skeeze/Pixabay

In my day job, I’ve been writing a lot about Mindfulness lately.

Now that we’re all preparing for a second, six-month lockdown – panic-booking Ocado slots, stockpiling the Cushelle before it goes back on the ration – it’s understandable that we’re also after some mental reinforcement to see us sanely through the dark days ahead. 

So, having exhausted my usual array of mental sandbags on the first surge, I’ve gone back to Mindfulness after a break of almost three years.

I’ve dusted down the old Guided Meditation CD, sat in the same chair with my eyes closed and assumed the familiar pose, supposedly embodying a sense of strength and curiosity.

I spent 20 minutes noticing my breathing and the noises around me, trying to sit quietly with any troubling thoughts that popped into my head.

And it was all right. In fact, it was much the same as it was when I last gave it up: at least I was doing something to combat stress and getting a bit of restful ‘me’ time’.

But one of the thoughts that did occur to me was: “This isn’t as good as running.”

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Clunk-Click After Every Trip

I’m finally embracing my Voltarol Years – and the prospect of Death

Grim Reaper applies Voltarol
Original image: Rebecca Burg/Pixabay

THE OTHER day, disgusted with myself after a weekend of sinking lager beers in the garden, I forced myself out for a punishment run in the late summer heat.

I cajoled the legs into completing a slow 10k and felt better. Less trashed, that is.  

For the rest of the day, I sat working at the computer. But, by knocking-off time, found I’d seized up, tighter than a Tory’s tear duct.

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44 Pages Of Therapy Gold

I’ve only read a quarter of When Things Fall Apart, but it’s changed my life already

It’s a bit of a swizz, this post, because it’s based on a book I’ve only read a quarter of – and probably understood even less.

But I’m so excited by the ideas I’ve found in it already, I couldn’t wait to talk about them.

The book I’m taking about is When Things Fall Apart (Heart Advice For Difficult Times) by the American Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, which was recommended recently by Matt Haig in The Guardian.

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When Times Get Tough, I Buy Shoes: Running Shoes.

I’m depressed again, but I don’t need happy pills. I just need to run more.

Original images: Mizianitka/Pixabay and doc Price/Unsplash

I’ve been feeling depressed again recently, for the first time in a long while.

I had a knockback at work which – as is my wont – I took quite badly.

And then, there was the end of summer. After the heatwave in mid-August, there were weeks of unseasonal, autumnal storms and heavy rain. I started to sense the short dark days and the long black nights a-coming. And I didn’t like it.

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Just My Inbetweeners

I’m done with books that are just OK, now that my longed-for novel has arrived

A book with flowers

I’M STOKED this morning – just because I’m getting a new book.

I’m having to ram my arse down deep into my seat to make myself work, instead of doing what I desperately want to do: leap on my bike and point the wheels towards Waterstones, so I can finally pick up my longed-for new reading matter. 

I’ve been stalking this particular historical detective story– Execution, by SJ Parris – for almost a year now. As its publication date shifted, agonisingly, from early spring to mid-summer, I tracked it like Shere Khan followed Mowgli through the tall grass.

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