Consolations of the city*

Surrender is a beautiful moment in which you gracefully, willingly, languidly fall, only to find midway that you have been gathered into some unimaginable embrace. Surrender is letting go, whether or not you believe the embrace will occur. It’s trust to the hundredth power, not sticking to your idea of an outcome, but letting go in the faith that even the absence of an outcome will be the perfect solution – Daphne Rose Kingman



I recently read this quote in Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra, a book lent to me by a friend at work after I had brought in a series of books for people in my new team. It is in the part where he is floating in the water for the swim of his fourth Ironman (out of 5 in less than 7 days) and it hurting in all kinds of ways. I have to admit, the first thoughts that flitted across my mind were ‘I hate trust exercises’ and ‘sounds a lot like learning to fly a la Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘. An ethnography of the daydream, what a lot it would tell us about ourselves. *loses time to reverie*

That all out of the way I realised just how right it was and sat there on my ball chair breaking it down for myself.

Not that surrender means ‘not trying’ or ‘giving up’. But that there are different ways to be successful. I have spent the last 10 months being undermined, belittled, bullied, and being brought to the point where I lost all sense of self and direction. I finally managed to get out of that situation, although it is still affecting my day to day life, and was struggling to see what positive options existed, and what good had existed in the past year. I was fighting against the barriers I perceived, and getting angrier and more frustrated.

Being successful in this situation will be to be happy and healthy. It will mean doing the things that I want to do, and bringing others along with me. It will include swimming, running, biking and yoga, as well as setting myself personal development goals (Russian B1 by the end of the year?), and being a healthy and fulfilled person. It will also involve being thankful for everything I did have, for all the awesome moments and experiences of 2015, that got lost behind the shield that I had up against the world.

So is this ‘New Year, New You?’

When I lived in Colombia I used to make my own versions of vegan juices/post-workout drinks, and loved them! Some of the paraphernalia is still in transit, with all my other belongings, and I have been using that as an excuse not to make them any more. Well, it has been a year and a half. There is only so long one can wait; I went and picked up a new juicer in the sales, and reminded myself once more of the Racing Weight guidelines. This is not about being a new me/you/us. This is about being myself, the best version I can be. If I’m in London for a while, as I chose to be, then it is about squeezing every drop out of London, and growing while I do it.

While down at the supermarket, an elderly man started chatting to me (I think I have a non-threatening face so people will often come over and ask for directions or just talk to me, wherever I am). We walked across the parking lot reminiscing about the old days when it was quieter and friendlier. He told me about his life and family, his time spent living in Wales, and his hatred of the Welsh (although two of his sons are married to Welshwomen), and his new-ish Bangladeshi wife (who he met in Asda), and plans for the future. There were times during the conversation when I had to respectfully disagree with some of the sentiments, usually sweetened with a laugh, but it was actually really nice to stand and talk while the world swirled about us. He told me that he is 71. In a few days that will be less than double my age, but is a lot of experience and life. There was no blender-buying-deadline or pressing need to get home. There were just two people, having a conversation. A bit later on I explained double cream to a guy, and helped him find it (what is it really?). Those were two really nice moments in that part of my day.

I don’t think I had stopped being helpful over the past few months, I had just stopped being conscious of it. Which brings me to my response/participation in the discussion started by (the world and) my blog roll: Swim Bike Mom, Fit is a Feminist Issue, Director B, Progress by Accident, Gretchen Rubin, Mainely Butch, Blog Runner,   et al.

The resolutions are not so much ‘stopping’ or ‘starting’ anything, but definitely about consciously enjoying things, pushing myself further,  growing as a person, and reaching out to others.

Friends and family: I want to make it easier for us all to stay in touch, and be present in one another’s lives. Some of that may be down to technology (my mum can now use whatsapp calling feature), but I think that building some sort of flexible schedule will help too. I get free pictures each month through my Times+ membership, and I think that letters and actual pictures will help me with this one.

Running: I want to build my confidence and ability over longer distances and get better at nutrition and route planning while running. I’m going to use the racing weight plan to get leaner, which feeds into my sense of well-being. I have signed up for the classic quarter in June, as well as a couple of marathons between then and now, and am thinking of other challenges for later in the year – with a yoga/surf/meditation retreat somewhere after the ultra in order to relax and reset. I will go along to the Sweatshop running club, so that I am not always running by myself (this is the most like a resolution, I am terrified!).

Life: I will use the yoga classes that my yoga studio extremely kindly extended for me when I showed up completely distraught when things got really bad, and do a ‘January reset’. Hopefully I can then do the whole exchange-some-weekend-help-for-yoga-classes thing which may also help in meeting people. I will go to the circuits and pilates classes that I enjoy at my gym, and doing that will get some structure to my work day as well as smashing the whole cross-training thing.

I will get to B1 level Russian by the end of the year, will do something helpful or nice every day and will be thankful each evening for something or someone.


I will travel.

There may be other actions that can feed into these, but they are my starting point.


Happy New Year to you all!


*A nod and reminder of Sylvain Tesson’s ‘Consolations of the Forest – alone in a cabin in the middle Taiga




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