Friday, 24 September 2010

How to feel like a Spring Chicken

I celebrated a semi-significant birthday last week which may account for my lack of motivation to write a blog post for over two weeks - a personal worst. Not that I was actually celebrating for the whole two weeks.  I had hoped to make a weekend of it but decided that a day was in fact sufficient - and some credit stored up for a time when needed would in fact be a better way to play things. As it happened, the birthday coincided with a busy time in my journey back to paid employment. I am still on the proverbial dock as it happens, casting about for any vessel that I might be able to set sail on - but that is a time consuming process nonetheless. I am also settling into my new role as PTA co-chair. My natural proclivity to get stuck in early, leave nothing to the last minute and to do as much as I can before asking for help means that instead of blogging I am spending time drafting newsletters calling on parents to give this and that and volunteer for this and that, and searching the web for the foods enjoyed in Tudor times.

However, I feel that from today I need to step back from the job hunt and the petty pedagoguery and practice what I preach about authenticity and playing to strengths. Unless I can monetise the PTA role somehow, I need to find time for my writing. When I do eventually persaude someone that I am not a huge risk to their organisation and start earning an income I want to have some manuscripts to pay to publish.

While it is very enjoyable to have the amazing outlets of the gym, the communal garden and the school mothers, my inner life has been on hold. Many of the distractions one busies oneself with when one is a person of the world - in the world and part of the world - are afterall in large part, ways of quelling those inner musings. Truth is I do miss my quiet rants in this forum...

So given that twenty-something blue-eyed, rosy cheeked  recruitment consultants are not nearly as warm and supportive as they look, I turn to my dear followers (and hopefully a large number of new patrons) to regale you with my thoughts on ageing. 

While I have the beginnings of a post on "how to live the cliché" turning around in my head and hate to move off the topic - again - I have to admit to succumbing to the predictably trite state of being somewhat perturbed about this particular birthday. Naturally, it was in the weeks leading up to the birthday that I noticed myself turning the corner into a new place of agedness. Since last week I can confirm that these things loom larger in our imaginations than they ought. As with most things, entering the next decade was worse in the anticipation than the reality. Nevertheless, the process of ageing and coming to terms with it is so universal and unifying as to be worth commenting on. 

The fact that one is getting older is an omnipresent one. We never escape it. Even at three we realise there is someone cuter and sweeter and more attention grabbing than us. At seven we learn that we have to remember things for ourselves. From then on we journey ceaselessly towards a place of self- knowledge and self-reliance, until one day we stand alone before the mirror, only too conscious that we hold the lives and happiness of others in our hands. Aware that what we eat for breakfast impacts another, how we speak may have more than a transitory impact on a young life and that with each year we travel inexorably onwards clinging to the last vestiges of innocence, idealism and blue-sky dreams. Or it just me? Sometimes life is like the travel-ator at the airport - we want to stride along, virtually bouncing in our rush to reach the end as quickly as possible. Sometimes we stoically avoid it and walk alongside it - all the others racing each other and arriving sooner as we plod doggedly on, thinking the exercise will do us good. Other times we stand still on it - moving, yet not really going anywhere under our own stream. Then again there are the times when we joyfully chase our families and luggage as the walkway moves in the opposite direction to that in which we are stumbling...

I am reminded of a comment I made to Mr Springgirl when the eldest Off-Spring was a few weeks old. I said that I felt sorry for the little guy. Mr Springgirl asked me why - no doubt fearing I knew some terrible secret he had yet to discover about the little pet - and I said that it was too bad that he only had me and Mr Springgirl to guide him. We laughed, naturally, what else could we do; we were neither the first, nor the last parents to realise what a lottery it might be - and we just got on with it. Now - a dab hand at so many matters of parenting, those weeks all seems a long time ago. Which brings me again to the theme of time passing. 

For most of us, the body goes first.

Mine has been going for a while, admittedly. I am not so vain as to conceal that from myself and others. I am so vain as to fight it valiantly though, especially in matters of fitness and exercise. I can live with the grey hair re-growth at the temples. I cannot miss the gym class. If you knew the gym instructors you would see why...

I am delighted to notice that despite my seniority, I am in great company at the gym and my strength and fitness is improving. I am complimented on my push-ups and core strength and I have a sneaky suspicion that if tested in a shipwreck (in calm, non-shark infested, warm waters) I could stay afloat and calm for a good long time before giving up. I also suspect that in a survivor type "mockumentary" scenario my keen sense of direction, sense of humour and stamina would stand me in great stead (finding and enduring all those classes paying off immensely).

All of which is to say that exercise and fitness are the key to feeling fab. And at risk of repeating myself, feeling fab is the key to life. The gym or other substitute must be the font of youth (a decent sense of purpose and some great relationships can't hurt either, granted). But exercising the body (and mind) need involve no one else and can sustain us through all sorts of trouble and stress. 

Now I am not going to rest on my laurels here. In order to ensure I can keep all the bits in good working order I am also joining a bridge club, extending my social circle and trying new things.

One of the new things I considered committing to was always speaking my mind. That lasted about seven minutes. I have to admit that changing habits is never easy. That is another post in itself. So clearly, trying something new is best done when something old does not need to be drastically altered first.

So by new things I mean watching different tv programmes, taking a different route to get places, trying a new brand of chocolate, wearing a different colour, breathing deeply before losing the plot over something trivial, and so on.

Another new thing is eating dinner outdoors and walking and chatting in the windy early Autumn gloaming, searching for foxes with the Off-Spring. 

Another is trusting my instincts. By my age they are well-honed. Stand up comedy and singing solo in public are also on the list.

Anyway, all of these musings will be boring you, so I want to share some I prepared earlier - indeed when I was a couple of years younger. I have extracted below some ideas from my book "Spring to Mind" which set out my vision of the ideal gym - a space where mind and body can be exercised and nurtured.

Investors are welcome to email me directly.

(NB - as this is a long post - feel free to return to the rest tomorrow - that way my visitor stats will look healthier - to me, anyway...)

Spring to Mind Spa

At Spring to Mind Spa we value space and time to reflect and think. We call this “mind space”. We believe that when we harness and maximise the ideas and inspiration that emerge from our mind space we can embark on transformational journeys.
Whatever your motivation, Spring to Mind Spa can help you clarify your thinking, rediscover your equilibrium, nurture your dreams, connect with your true self and get and stay fit and relaxed.
Our unique services incorporate a blend of coaching, training, treatment and support group. Leave your worries at the door and move into a new mind space.
Rejuvenate and refresh.
Spring to life. Spring into action. Find your inner spring.

Spring to Mind Spa is an Urban Retreat, divided into a number of spaces where clients can focus on their particular needs.
Spring Body Space
As well as a state of the art Gym and swimming pool with specially designed lighting that enhances you and where needed, conceals you, rather than exposes you, as well as mirrors and rest areas that motivate you to workout, Mind Spa Spring Body Space offers a range of active classes and group fitness sessions intended to put the fun back into exercise.

For the Uber Fit:
High Kicks and High Jinks – a high energy aerobic workout for the super fit. Bored with stepping up and pulsing it out? Then this is the class for you. Our instructor, Kevin, guarantees no two routines are alike. Not only your body, but also your mind and memory, will be stretched as you pirouette, can-can and cartwheel your way around the studio. (Knee pads optional).
Commando Cruising – ex-marine, Charlie, will get those abs tight and those buns light with this intense adventure based workout. Test your ingenuity, mettle and inner thighs on our bespoke obstacle course.
Pushover – bring out the child in you with rough play and rumpus style work out techniques. Devised by 8 year olds, Pushover will have you roaring with laughter as you elude the tickling probes, escape the water bombs and duck for cover as the pillow fights erupt.

We know all too well that not everyone has coordinating gym kit, a desire for a six pack or a pair of clean trainers. Some of our clients have not been inside a gym for some time.  We respect and cater to that. We welcome all ability, interest and fitness levels. We applaud effort over execution and substance over style. So pull on the old Dunlop Volley sandshoes, slip on an oversized t-shirt and dust off the skipping ropes and elastics that kept you fit in 1982.
We have a special range of classes of a shorter duration to ease you back into it. These are designed for all self respecting newbies, wanna-bes and pudgees.
Unco Yoga  - a gentle blend of sun salutes and toe touching. You’ve never seen a downward dog like this before!
Balance - walk straight, stand tall and look your reflection in the eye, all while balancing a book of your choice on your head.
Bo-i-nngg - set to the upbeat and irresistible melodies of the Stock Aitken and Waterman stable of stars, this class has you bouncing (literally, on our flouro hop balls) around our Sunshine Studio. When the going gets tough on the old thighs, you bounce right over to the super large trampolines and rediscover your youth. (Maximum weight restrictions apply.)
Being a holistic organisation we recognise that some of our clients prefer to stay fit using a range of techniques not typically found under one roof. Accordingly, we offer special experiences in the Spring Body Space.
For our Ice Queen clients there is the Frisson Space with 20 metre high ice wall, mini ice rink and cold room (excellent for taking your mind off your worries and burning fat).
For the Water Nymphs we cater to both active and sedentary preferences in our Luxury Lagoon Space. Consider:
Water Ballet (tutus provided).
Synchronised Swimming (nose clips available from the Pool Boy).
Deep Immersion Pool - an abyssal experience in a 15 metre deep diving pool. The challenge lies in resisting the ebbs and flows of the random currents and riptides. (Life jackets available on request.)
Alpha Aqua Avalanche - an intense and invigorating experience in which industrial strength hoses batter and blast you through three stages – the hit and miss, the power shower and the water slide to freedom.

Naturally, being a spa, we offer traditional treatments such as massage, facials, manicures and body wraps.
Some of our special treatments in the Pamper Space include:
Total Makeover packages  - hair, teeth, attitude, body image and mindset.
Hot Stone Therapy – a visualisation therapy – who would you like to pelt hot stones at?
Lavage and Lose it  - a bespoke cellulite buster.

In the Learning Space we offer workshops and seminars to help you sort out your ideas and priorities. A sample include:
Meditation and Mindfulness  - learn to slow down and live in the moment.
Making time for me - harness your selfish whims and give them purposeful life.
Rediscover your Inner Child - using a combination of toilet humour, play-dough and dressing up, discover a simpler way of seeing things.
Find your Voice - role play, ad libbing and free association.
Now say it and Mean it - develop subtle and persuasive assertiveness techniques (very useful within marriages).
The Visible Woman – learn ways of being more noticeable and increasing your impact.
Aqua Therapy - a range of water based treatments achieving several benefits including cleansing the mind of negativity, washing away the proverbial crap dumped at your door, sifting through the detritus and debris washed up on the shore of one’s life, going with the flow, riding the current and no longer fighting the tide.
Clear Out and Declutter – find out what makes you a hoarder – learn how to let go of stuff yet retain control.

In the Emotion Space we offer suites dedicated to specific needs. For expressing Anger try the Belt it and Bash it Room. For frustration and desperation the Steam and Scream Room is a favourite (it also fights wrinkles, cellulite and fluid retention and surveys show that a 3 minute scream session and a cool glass of water achieves the same results as 20 minutes on the treadmill and a full body massage). The Tears on my Pillow Room is a zen hideaway where you can relax and let it all out, knowing you will leave intact after a mini-facial and restorative head massage.

We also have a Gratitude Room, a Guilt-Free Room, a cyber cafe and juice bar, with complimentary salads, a wine bar specialising in wines from the Antipodes, and a state of the art, sustainable crèche where the little tykes will finger paint, splash and make mess to their hearts content! (Open days for Mums first Wednesday of the month).

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