Zen and the art of till jockeying…

Today has been a bit of a rollercoaster, with the morning seeing me slightly out of sorts and snappy with my lovely supportive wife. I wandered off to catch the bus to counselling in a bit of a haze of unsettled feelings…

Clearly tired, I half read and half dozed through the journey, trying to stay focused on what was going on around me. Still, I made it to town and appointed session in good time with a clearer head. Sleep helps sometimes.

Counselling today gave me time and space to explore and examine the feelings I’ve had over the last few days, trying to work out why I’ve been feeling so unsettled and out of sorts. I like the time I have in counselling, as I feel as though I am thinking on a higher level, able to clear my mind and understand my thoughts and feelings.

So after a refreshing coffee and a late lunch, I caught the bus home in a much clearer frame of mind, able to focus on the days ahead and what needs to be done.

Yet, it was while I was putting in my hours at my part time supermarket job that a sense of real calm and awareness came over me. Suddenly, life made sense and I had a real understanding of my place in the world. The feeling has stuck with me now, and everything seems clear.

Om.

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Cycling makes me happy!

Today was college day, almost the end of the first year of my Counselling Diploma (man that has gone quick…), and it was really cool to cycle in.

The afternoon saw me plummet into a tailspin of tiredness and depression, and even though I had a good chat with an old friend that helped, cycling home really lifted my spirits and brought me back from the pits of despair.

I bloody love cycling!

elsa
Elsa – my trusty road bike

 

Into the trees…

RollingI’ve been trying to cycle more over the last few months, partly to get fitter, but mostly because I love bikes and cycling of all forms. It’s also a great way to explore…

I have a regular route to a local town that I use for meetings which takes in country lanes with spectacular views of beautiful English countryside. One side of the road, rolling hills and fields, the other woodland. I love woodland, its my happy place, where I can escape from everything for a while and regroup.

BicycleThere’s one stretch of road I’ve been on lately, which has woodland stretching down a hillside that I’ve wanted to explore. So I stopped, turned my bike round, broke through the hedgerow and stepped into another world.

I put my bike down and looked around me. There were trees all around me, with the hillside rolling down from me, covered in a blanket of leaves, broken with clumps of bracken and brambles. My first thought was “Woah. It would be cool to ride down that…”, as there was a clear(ish) trail weaving down the hill. Another time, definitely…

EntranceThe hill is quite steep, so I stepped carefully, stopping to photograph the ancient trees as I descended. I also stopped to look back up the incline, admiring the view of the midwinter sun pouring back through the trees. At the base of the hill, there is a gate leading into farmers fields, so I can only assume that the woodland belongs to them…

UphillI wove my way back up the hill, aware of the time again, knowing I had an appointment to keep. But for a short while, I knew my mind had escaped the stresses and strains of everyday life. Picking my bike up at the summit, I knew I would return, hopefully to go blasting down a clearer hillside on my trusty steed.
Slope

 

Double whammy…

I’ve been fishing twice today… and made my own bait!

After talking to my good buddy Rolf yesterday, who was also canal fishing last night, I was determined to get bank side as early as possible, and try own my home made bait! (I cooked up some sweetcorn with sesame oil, sugar and spices yesterday afternoon…) I prepped everything last night, packed my bag, and managed to be set up next to the canal bridge just after 5:00 this morning.

It was lovely being outside before anyone else was about on the tow path, There was still a little mist rolling off the water as I baited up, as there was plenty of activity under the water. Casting out nearer the bridge was much better, as there are less trees overhanging on this bank. Great for practising my casting, and getting my accuracy better.

The new bait worked well, as fish were definitely into it. As soon as I got some out into the water, the bubbles were up, and feeding was instant! Sadly, even though the fish clearly liked the bait, they were only knocking, not biting in the morning. Mind you, I found out some interesting info about the canal later in the day…

I was a little upset about not catching anything in the morning, so planned to try another stretch of the canal later in the day, and some different bait. Ham.

After lunch and a lovely walk with my wife and our dog, I had a really nice walk over the old canal tunnel (about half a mile long and was built in 1797), to try out a different stretch of water. After letting a canal barge and a canoe through, I baited up with the sweetcorn mix, then baited my hook with small strips of ham. (My reckoning was that they’d look a bit like worms…) There were definite fish signs, but rain stopped play, making it very difficult to see what was bubbles from fish, or bubbles from the rain.

Back to the info about the canal… Whilst I was fishing, a lovely old chap stopped to see how I was getting on. He was an angler too. I was chatting about fishing the Fleckney end of the canal in the morning, and not catching anything. It turns out that a local farmer had released slurry into the canal last year, killing over 20,000 fish, leading to our stretch of the canal needing to be seriously restocked, even though many fish were saved. (The farmer did it again too…) No wonder there’s not many fish around, nor are they biting. Neither, for that matter, have I seen any other anglers over the last month. The old chap was telling me about fish that used to be in the canal, tench, bream and carp. All at good weights and size too.

We chatted for a while longer, and I was getting some really nice knocks, which we were both commenting on. He was kind enough to offer advice on water depth and line length, which definitely made a difference to the rest of my session. Oh yeah, the ham didn’t work, but the fish liked the sweetcorn.

So, I didn’t catch anything yet again today, but I had a really nice time learning and growing as an angler. I walked home through the canal fields really happy that I’d learnt more about fishing and enjoyed what nature has to offer. Thanks for reading…

Over the tunnel
Overgrown and overground…
Early morning
Early morning at the Fleckney end…
Fleckney tunnel
Saddington end of the tunnel
Saddington end
Opposite stretch after the rain…

Go for the burn!

Last week I went to the gym. Twice. It’s something I wasn’t sure about, due to the old image of jocks trying to outdo each other, and testosterone flying around…

How wrong was I? I had a two-part assessment, to see where my fitness level is, and what exercise suits me. The first part was on running, stepping and cycling machines, the second on weight/resistance machines. I really enjoyed both sessions, but the resistance training was superb.

My fitness isn’t too bad, with cycling when I can, football with my grandson (usually an hour of ‘training’ as he calls it…), walking our dog, and trying to be active when possible. I like being outdoors and walking, so it comes fairly easily. I would like a little more definition in my stomach area, as my slighter build shows off my little tummy a bit too well for my liking… The resistance machines are great for this, and I will be having another assessment, which will help set up a programme of exercise for me. I need a plan in these areas, as guidance really helps me on this kind of exercise.

Cycling will be going up a notch too. After much deliberation, running is out, and cycling is in. Cycling is much kinder to my poor old knees, and easier for me to build up distances, as I have a decent base from many years of BMX and MTB riding. I’ve planned out three rides a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a big hill in it that I am determined to conquer. Cycling will form the foundation of my fitness, with gym work balancing out the body.

I’m really looking forwards to this!

Elsa - my trusty road bike
Elsa – my trusty road bike

I wish my brain would shut up sometimes…

Urgh, what a week. My brain has been tripping me up over the last few days, leaving me in a depressed state and on occasion, close to tears.

Yes, I know it’s not my brain directly, as it is an organ which carries and processes chemical and electrical signals throughout the body, amongst other things. It’s how you choose to act on these impulses that causes the problem and issues. Of course, if you haven’t taken prescribed medication, supported a partner with serious mental health issues, written assignments, made music, drawn, written…

As I got so physically tired out by the end of Monday, after studying counselling all day, I was shattered and the week loomed ahead of me, full of meetings, conferences, projects and assignments. Something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be me. Been there, done that. I got my fresh supply of meds, turned off my alarm and cancelled what I could. I know that getting so exhausted was an alarm call warning me to back off and slow down. I took heed and stopped. The last time this happened, I didn’t heed the warning, and ended up being signed off work for three months. Mind you, this was one of the best things to happen to me, as it gave me time to take stock, focus on my needs and decide what I wanted from the future.

The first thing to go was my job. Working in education has been amazing, but it was costing me my mental health. That last spell was my third serious ‘episode’ of depression in 10 years working in education as a teacher, library assistant and media technician, not all at the same time, however!

So, I decided to really focus on being self-employed as an artist and designer, educating myself about mental health, restarting my counselling studies, making comics and music, and looking after me. Yes, there’s my trait of taking on too much, but I was self-aware, ready for the fallout and had support in place. Since January 2014, I have rebuilt our art and design business from the ground up; written, drawn and published three comics; released loads of music and played it live (performing live was a big scary thing to tackle); passed my Level 3 Counselling course; started networking for business and pleasure; started my Level 4 Counselling course and a ton more besides.  Yes, I still try and do too much, but I’m happy and in charge of my life now. I’m closer to my wife, our children and my family; I walk our dog most days and play fetch with her; cycle when possible; enjoy reading more often; listen to way more music and podcasts and generally look after myself and the world I inhabit.

I’m proud of where I am now, and as I can read the warnings now and know what to do. Life might catch me out sometimes, but I can stop it from completely pulling the rug from under me.

Thanks for reading!

Jump around!

Quick post with some really good news!

At business networking this morning, I met Steve Finnemore, who is a lovely chap that is a qualified massage specialist and works in partnership with his wife, Ann, who is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist, life coach and nutritionist. I’ve met Ann on many occasions, and we have discussed counselling, working with children, personal development.comics… we get on really well.

Anyway, talking to Steve about my knee injury from running, and after a quick check of my knee and thigh muscles and were the pain was, he told me that it is a muscular problem and that massage and stretching will help alleviate the problem and I can start trail running again!

It’ll take some work, and it’ll be a while before running gets back to where I was, but I’m really happy!

Time to think…

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a good New Year and didn’t over indulge… I spent mine with my grandson, who just about managed to stay up past midnight (he’s 10…), and had a lovely evening. We watched funny stuff that he chose on YouTube, and classic anime, also on YouTube, that I chose. Oh the irony, seeing as this site is about having fun offline! We did also have fun making comics, playing games, eating sweets and dancing! I love spending time with my grandson. He’s funny, smart, energetic, loving, crazy, creative, and a ton more besides…

The following morning, New Year’s Day, we did a double whammy at our local park. We took Fizz, our German Shepherd for a long walk and plenty of chasing after her ball, then went back to play football. Well, for my grandson to ‘coach’ me in football. He got hooked on football (soccer to those outside the UK) last summer at school, as they have weekly games in PE, and he really enjoys it. He’s also really good too. So, we used the basketball area to practice shooting and goalkeeping, then the main pitch for ball control and getting used to controlling power and saving goals in a full size goal. After an hour and the threat of rain, we went home for hot chocolate and lunch.

We relaxed for the rest of the day, watched some lectures about robotics, drew more comics and laughed a lot, then I took him home. The next morning, my right knee was really hurting. I thought I’d rested it properly after my running injury, but apparently, injured knees and moderate football practice don’t mix. To cap it off, my back has been really painful this weekend. I’m a little concerned…

I’d already decided to focus my exercise regime around cycling, as it’s easier on my joints, and will allow me to build my strength and stamina up again, and get properly fit. Riding differing disciplines (BMX, Road, MTB) enables me to exercise different parts of my body in different ways. It’s also great mental exercise too… I can really zone out and focus on nothing but riding.

BUT. I had to cut a family get together short today as my knee and back were really painful and wouldn’t let me settle or properly interact with my grandchildren… Back to the GP in the morning. Fingers crossed.