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Running

I didn’t  run once in the entire time Ann and I were in the Philippines. There were two reasons for this.  First, I’m pretty sure people would have taken photos of me while running and I would have ended up on the local newspaper frontpage under the title “Tallest person in the Philippines seen running!” It was impossible to do anything anywhere without standing out due to being super tall and a foreigner, so going out for a run would be an invitation to attract tons of attention. I would not have been surprised if groups of childrens started running behing me, rocky style ;). I see running as a kind of mediation for me, and I prefer to be able to run in quieter places where I can focus on the moment without too many distractions around.. The other reason was the heat. Basically anytime after 5.30am the temperature would have made it  pretty unpleasant to run. Of course this is something that I would have got used to if I went running regularly but due to reason #1 above, I didn’t. I really missed running during that year. I had built up good habits with running and cycling in my last five years in London and I knew that not exercising at all for year would result in me losing the little fitness I had when I left. When we came back to Europe, both Ann and I were eager to get out and go for a run and it’s one of the first thing we did. That first run was painful and (at most) 10 minutes… but it felt great.

I’ve been trying to run regularly since, aiming for twice sometimes three times a weeks. I kept running as much possible throughout the last winter – something that I didn’t do in London. Running has taken quite an important place in my schedule since coming back to France. I don’t have a set time when I go run though I prefer the morning, and so it’s been more about going to run when I can rather than trying to stick to a schedule. I often complain about not having enough time to do things I want to do outside of work. I recently realised that I tended to see running as an activity that was taking time away from something else I wanted to do or should have been doing. But in the last month or so that perception has changed, and I realised that, actually, I do enjoy running very much and I’m quite happy to spend time doing it. I’m not sure why I had the idea that running was something I was sort of forcing myself to do rather than something I was enjoying.

This year was the 31st edition of my hometown annual 15K race which traditionally takes place on the 1st of May. It was also the first time I participated in it (and finished it).

Last year I remember I was working on the day and as I was looking out our window I could see the runners passing by on the street below, I thought “I should have signed up. I should be running right now, not working in front of a computer working.” This year I signed up on the day registrations opened and made sure I wouldn’t be away on a work trip that week (the 1st was a Wednesday). I did considered pulling out as during the preceding weeks I had picked up a little knee injury and I didn’t get the chance to run much as I was away for work on couple of occasions. Also the morning of the race, it was cold, grey and rain was coming down hard (a small “river” had formed on the street where 4 hours later the race was suppose to take place). It was not encouraging and I wasn’t really “feeling it”. But the weather changed in a spectacular fashion and by the time the starting gun went off it was beautiful blue sky and sunshine all around. It was really perfect conditions to run in and collective mood was firmly up. It was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The winner of the race finished in 43:48 (Kitumai Kennedy from Kenya) and the first woman in 50:22 (Mekasha Waganesh from Ethiopia). They passed me when I was on my second lap (the race has three laps)… It was quite a sight to see them whiz by, it looked like their were not running but gliding. Very impressive, and beautiful in a way. I finished in 1:15:26. Not too bad and a timeI was aiming for so I’m very happy with that.

I don’t know whether I’ll go running more from now on following this little mental shift, and that’s not important anyway, but it’s good to now run with this new state of mind.

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Street is still wet from the rain but the emerging sun is taking care of that

Street is still wet from the rain but the emerging sun is taking care of that

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An Explanation.

It has been a while, gentle readers, hasn’t it?

This is partly because I’ve been run off my feet.  It is also because I’ve been a bit lost for words. It is true that when we don’t keep up our good (or bad) habits, we fall out of them.  So there’s that.  But it’s also a question of integrity.

Lately I’ve been watching this show Girls.  It’s something I’m selfish about…I don’t share it with Chris, not because of the presumably girly nature of the show itself (Chris was a die-hard Desperate Housewives fan for years.  True story.).  Anyway, it’s not even just a girly show.  But it does bring up a lot of emotional junk for me.  I started watching it, incidentally, because there is a character named Shoshana, and as many of you know, one of my besties is named Shoshana.  Not an uncommon name, but I only know just the one.  My Shoshana is also a little crazy, but more in a Liz-Lemon-as-schoolteacher sort of way, not in the way of Girls‘ Shoshana.  And I miss her a lot, a lot of the time.  There are many other reasons I heart this show, including that the main character (who happens to be played by the writer/director of the same show, the ridiculously talented Lena Dunham) is so fantastically flawed I can completely relate to her.  In fact, the likenesses between us are frightening…our differences lie only in what we are and aren’t shameless about.  I really need to take a step back from my friends on the small screen.

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Minimalism

I moved to the US in 2000. I had a suitcase and a cargo bag with me. Included in the cargo bag was my computer tower…yes the whole box thingy. Being a student, I had no money to either buy a laptop in France or a computer upon arrival in the US, and so resolved to take it with me as it would have been much more difficult to study without one (I was studying web design and management). Needless to say, I didn’t bring it back with me two years later when I came back to Europe. Continue reading

What a whole lotta love.

It’s more than a little interesting to consider all the knock-on effects of any new given thing we choose to do, or to stop doing, or to change.  For instance:  we left England because we wanted to spend a year volunteering, without the hassle of balancing work alongside our donated time.  We also wanted to explore new career opportunities, to see if there was anything in those new roles we wanted to hold tight.

Some of the outcomes were extraordinary.  Some were disappointing.  Some we haven’t fully absorbed intellectually or emotionally as yet, and are still trying to piece together.

One of the more unexpected outcomes was the direction Chris and I have taken in our careers.  I had no plans at any point from roughly the age of 16 to try to write professionally, and yet here I am.  Chris had given up on the world of IT more or less right after the Dot Com Crash in the early Naughties, and yet here he is.

And, of course, there’s this blog – What If and Why Not – a question and a statement and a quest, I suppose – the brainchild of a childless-by-choice couple, born out of a need to update friends and family, to make sense of the crazy decision we’d just taken, and, eventually (particularly for me), to write.  What we didn’t expect was the community that would form around us:  bloggers we’ve come to admire and respect and learn from constantly, readers who would make a point of reading us virtually every time we posted.  We didn’t expect that perfect strangers thousands of miles away would be able to raise our spirits, give us food for thought, empathise and propose solutions.

One such extraordinary character can be found here on WordPress.  She goes by Colgore on here, but I’m pretty sure most folks call her Coleen.  She’s a yoga instructor by day and a word whittler by night (or the other way around?  I’m not sure.  Time differences, you know), and she absolutely. Cracks. Me. Up.  She also makes me think, and she also comes over here to What If and Why Not to make us feel good about what we’ve got going on.  What she’s got going on is called Prana and Peaches, and for whatever reason, she digs us enough to have nominated us for a bright and shiny:

Isn’t it purdy?

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The Yoga (Every) Body

Way back in January, I started sending off queries for an article on yoga.  It was one of the first articles I pitched, when I was just getting started with this whole writing endeavor.  It was actually my mom’s idea:  debunking the myth of the skinny yogi.

The piece was dear to my heart for three reasons:  Firstly, I know how much yoga has meant to a lot of people who live in / have lived in bigger bodies (myself included).  It can be, and often is, the catalyst for an entirely different way of living life.  Secondly, I also know that it’s utterly fictitious to say that yoga cannot be practiced by any living, breathing human being (and occasionally pets…see: Karma Yoga).  Yoga isn’t just Hatha!  But even Hatha Yoga can be modified to meet the needs of just about anybody, even people with some severe disabilities.  Being bigger-bodied is by no means a disqualifier.  Finally, once I got the ball rolling, I was able to speak with a number of passionate, inspiring individuals about their practice, and about how they feel about the subject.

The article has gone live, and you can read it on Elephant Journal.

I’d also like to introduce you to some of those exceptional people who gave me a bit of their time and whose innovative, out-of-the-box thinking really inspired the piece:

Lauren Rose, LCSW, RYT, is a psychotherapist in New York.  Her brand of healing is quite literally body and soul:  she is also a yoga instructor.

Meera Patricia Kerr is the genious behind the extraordinary book Big Yoga.  She fuses all of her learning, including the teachings of her guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda, creator of Integral Yoga, into this excellent resource.

Anna Guest-Jelley is the founder of Curvy Yoga in Nashville, Tennessee.  The studio is just one part of Anna’s work – she offers online courses for students not yet ready to practice in public, and sends out regular wellbeing emails to everyone as well.

Janet Zinn is the lovely and tireless psychotherapist from New York who dropped 60 lbs., owing in part to her yoga practice.  Mind, she gave the interview whilst jogging…I don’t think I could recite half of the alphabet while jogging!  She also encourages her clients to incorporate yoga into their healing, and really walks the talk.

Tony Riposo is the founder and director of Infinite Light Yoga in Syracuse, New York, and was so passionate about this subject, I think he could have written the article far better than I did!  His studio and practice are committed to working with every sort of person, especially those with mobility issues.

Dr. Moshe Lewis is a pain rehabilitation expert in San Francisco who often “prescribes” yoga to his clients.  He understands how difficult it can be, particularly for people who’ve not had exercise as a part of their lives, to get back in tune with their bodies.

Do let me know your thoughts on the article once you get the chance!  Namaste!

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Can technology make us better people?*

Of the mistakes I’ve made in this life for which I am truly ashamed, two revolve around birthdays, one of them mine.  My 19th, to be exact.  I was living in Manila with my bff at the time, and my mom had called a couple of times in the lead-up to the day to make sure I’d be home at a certain hour.  At the time, I thought absolutely nothing of it – of course I’d be home…I can even see myself rolling my eyes.

I wasn’t home.

I happened to be out, completely oblivious to the fact that I’d forgotten my promise.

Meanwhile, my mom had gathered a few of my best friends, made a cake, and planned to sing “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone and let me speak to all my peeps – which would have been a pricey gift considering the cost of phoning long distance and my propensity for conversation, not to mention the fact that I’d not spoken to anybody for more than two months by that point.

Yup. That’s the cake on the table.

What. A. Dick.

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