Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Left, right, left, right - march it out - easy walk...

I have always struggled to remember which side of the brain is responsible for which type of thinking. This is topical because following on my foray into the world of Daniel Pink last week I ordered his book "A Whole New Mind". At risk of sounding churlish, I should let you know that I emailed Dan and invited him to comment on my post of 6 May (what motivates us). He very decently responded to say he would look at it when he had internet access - he was on a plane. I did not ask why he could receive emails but not read a blog  - there must be a special internet for best-selling authors or people who travel up front... Anyway, I was delighted to have his interest and am waiting and waiting for his comment. He still may be on the plane of course.

I don't mean to suggest he is not a man of his word. I am sure he is busy. I just hope he finds a moment before I make it big and my blogs emerge on the humour pages of the New York Times...

I am quite comfortable with the fact he is busy. So many of my friends and acquaintances are busy. I am in a unique place much of the time in that I am seldom particularly busy. I used to be busier, it is true, when I worked for someone else and had to be in places they needed me to be. But self-employed writer and coach is not too bad. People say; "how are you?" and I say: "good, keeping busy," in an animated sort of way with a slight upward inflection on "sy". It's not usually true. I mean, I am occupied. I am not twiddling my thumbs, as it were, but my days are not quite "ER" meets "The West Wing". Some days I realise I am rushing everywhere, but rushing does not correlate with busyness. In my case I rush because I get too involved with something and underestimate the time it takes to get the coffee I ordered, to get the off-Spring where they need to be (they are not very busy so it is only school or home usually), to buy things in supermarkets (what a mammoth waste of time), to wait for and ride on buses and to give directions to strangers. I always try to be prompt, so I burst blood vessels and look like a menopausal mess arriving places in a slight lather only, invariably, to be kept waiting 10 minutes anyway, as the person I am meeting is busy and delayed in another meeting (m. at toilet or on phone to wife/hubby).

So yes, most people are less available and as they are so busy, definitely more important and needed than me. The great thing for busy people is never having to apologise for not replying to emails or invitations to have a coffee and catch up. They don't need to return phone calls or observe other social niceties. Being busy is better than being happy and whole and relaxing, that's for sure. (As an aside I think there might be a book in the inverse relation between social networking and social skills.) Busy people are a little scary. I just wonder what on earth they are doing? Some people can't meet on weekends due to "chores" or "errands". I would love to be a fly in their handbags and see what they do and where they go. Busy people are like a secret society of special people who have meaningful and relevant lives. I sometimes feel like some poor country cousin (no offence non-city dwellers) interloping on the fringes of a cool clique waiting to hear the secret password to give me access to the big-time. "Dammit," they must be thinking  - "will have to avoid Springgirl. She is always hanging about with time on her hands looking for a coffee or a conversation. Doesn't she know we are busy. Where is the diary? Is that a text? I have to twitter that I am busy."

Sometimes people say to me, kindly, semi-indulgently: "where do you find the time to do so many things?" and I say - "oh, I am not that busy, you know - just seem to have more time than most people".

Perhaps "busy" is another of those relative concepts - like weight loss, fitness and being good-looking. I am struggling to think of absolute concepts. Today, for example, the relativity of fitness was proven yet again as I altered my routine (I gather from the crime books I read that if you alter your routine you  are less likely to be a victim of crime), and attended a TBC class at a different gym from my usual one. TBC stands for Total Body Conditioning. Depending on who is taking the class it can also mean This Bloody Crap or Tired Beyond Compare or occasionally Tanned Buff Chest. Today's was Toned But Cute meets Tough Boot Camp. Anyway, not far into the 469 wide legged squats and 84 burpees, it was clear to me that I am still not fit.  I seem to think I am an athlete because I go to the gym. I am essentially quite delusional about it.

The other day I did a BC class (that's non-contact Body Combat). Now, on a Saturday at the usual gym, I hold my own. I can do as many push-ups as the next chick my age; though it is challenge to tell ages in some cases, as the Body Combat face paint - I mean make-up - would throw Max Factor off. Full night-club eyes! One lady even does that thing where the eyeliner goes into a point way off to the side of the eyes - out on the edge of the eye-socket. It is Saturday at the gym - and not even cool super expensive one - not part way through a day on-set!

Nevertheless, as most of you know now, I am competitive by nature so I nab a good mirror spot to keep an eye on the others. I can see that I am in the top 10 (out of 40 or more) in terms of force of jab and upper cut. Some of them do not sweat. These women are forces of nature - they come in and really work hard and leave looking fresh and relaxed, not an eyebrow hair out of place. Others barely sweat because the barely moved other than to snarl up the corner where the mats are kept, chatting about what "he then said!". But, the fact that I am a contender for teacher's pet in Combat - my high knee moves are very good (many don't lift above usual thigh height!), my 128 jabs and crosses at the end are strong, in time with the music and consistent in force and direction, I laugh at the jokes and have even mastered that professional athlete hand on hip breathing thing between tracks (rather than the bent over double gasping for breath routine of former times) - means nothing on a weekday lunchtime, it seems. There is a whole different level of fitness happening in TBC, TBS (to be sure) at 1pm on a Tuesday.


Indeed, humiliated is how I felt mid-burpee when the skinny, veiny guy next to me was still going strong as I heaved my sorry leaden legs up once more (having already misplaced those pesky weights during the lunges and retied my laces twice), heart rate in the 300s and sweat pooling where my brow had been plastered to the floor.

You see, I had smiled a knowing inner smile at that skinny guy during the warm-up - congratulating myself on being so coordinated and knowing a side step from a grapevine. 

Well, imagine my mortification when I was one of the few not completing all the crunches and weird sideways dipping archy things at the end! So, having time on my hands of course, I stayed on for the gruelling follow up class in Body Balance. Man - people think that is a light weight option. It should be called TS (Thighs of Steel). After the TBC squats and one-armed push-ups it was no cake walk. But for the 34 toned, yoga queens in the room I would have called an ambulance. 

Clearly, my fitness depends on the day, class and venue. The question for me then is, do I raise the bar, risk injury and need knee replacement surgery by 40? Or just cruise, feel better about myself and steer clear of group exercise entirely? No pain (sigh) no gain, they say.

Yes! I shall push myself. I am certainly eager to keep dementia at bay and physical fitness is meant to help with that. Ohhh - which is where this all came from. 

Right and left brain.

I am tending to think I may be ambi-brained. Que? You know, like ambidextrous (which I am not).

Like in personality tests where I score right down the middle - I am an extroverted introvert, a perceptive judge, a feeling thinker and am very sensate in my intuition - I think I use both sides of my brain equally. Then again, I may have perception or judging issues and discover after reading Dan's book that I am deluded about my brain (as well as my fitness and talent in various other realms too).

I had occasion to test this ambi-brained theory in yoga class, would you believe? The Instructor is obsessed with breathing and noisy breathing, especially. I find it a bit off putting, to be frank. I mean I go to yoga to improve my plank, vary the workout and have a good stretch out, after sitting at the damn computer blogging like a maniac too long. But I play along with all the breath stuff and the "omming" and legs up the wall and so on - one cannot get the "nice warrior" compliments if one is grimacing during the less interesting bits. Anyway, she was having us use our right thumbs and ring fingers to block off our nostrils, alternately. Try it - weird eh? And as I have a head cold and hayfever, it was rather an effort to then hold the breath for 8 counts. I had to cheat and breath through my mouth at that point or I would have needed CPR and there was no one in the room I fancied having that from, bless them.

Well, yoga lady said that by blocking each nostril we feed the opposite side of the brain. She said we mostly breathe better through the right nostril and do more left brain stuff.  Mmm? Got me thinking, given my new book from Dan was sitting on my door mat right at that moment (he argues that right brain thinking is the way of the future - creative, empathic and intuitive). 

You see, my right nostril is almost completely blocked.

Hey - maybe I am not unfit after all. I struggled through TBC today due to this silly old head cold! You go Springgirl!


  1. Great Blog and I hope Mr. Pink stops by. How cool would that be?

    Sandie Lee

  2. Thanks Sandie Lee. I am enjoying your imagaination cafe - a great name.