Mindfulness: Reading (a lot)

As I mentioned a week or so ago, I’ve been really struggling with increased depression and anxiety, thanks to my parent’s divorce and the breakdown of my relationship with my father. That, combined with an intense work life, has meant an increased need to recentre myself and practice mindfulness wherever possible.

This year I’ve found reading to be absolutely crucial to staying mindful despite in the chaos. Sometimes I find my mind racing at night and really struggle to get to sleep – and so I’ve turned to reading as a nightly ritual. I get all snug in my bed and allow myself at least half an hour to turn off my phone and get stuck into another world.

download.jpeg

It’s really hard to switch off entirely, and that’s precisely what reading requires you to do. You have to stop thinking about your own life, your own problems or even your own social media feed, and just concentrate on something entirely other. For me, it really helps, and sends me off to a nice, peaceful sleep.

Since I mentioned my 2017 Goal to average a book a week, I had plenty of requests to share my reading list. So here you have it – all my books for 2017 so far!

From the guys who wrote Freakonomics, this takes you through how to challenge the status quo and look for hidden connections in the seemingly meaningless.

The absolute pick-me-up I needed in January when I found myself jobless and on crutches – one of the standouts so far.

The autobiography of ultra runner Charlie Engle, from his adventure racing exploits to his wrongful imprisonment for tax fraud.

Hilarious, poignant and thought-provoking autobiography of Trevor Noah, on growing up in post-apartheid South Africa.

An inspiring work of fiction about the importance of finding your destiny in life. A bit sentimental, but beautifully written.

A fictional tale of love, betrayal and identity, set against Nigeria’s 1967-60 Civil War.

The story of love and identity, following Ifemelu; of a Nigerian student who emigrates to the US.

A good insight into the start-up way of doing business and getting quick results by learning to fail and fail again.

A great mix of self-help and memoir, this is a great guide to becoming more present in life, and letting go of perfectionism.

Comical memoir of a 30-something comedian who doesn’t have her shit together any more than the rest of us.

An account of 12 months of goal-driven happiness, including concrete, actionable ideas on how to cultivate happiness in your life.

A short Penguin guide to the Suffragette movement in Western countries, including the female-led anti-suffrage movement.

A lazy beach read- a story of love in adverse circumstances.

A hilarious and charming retelling of Norse myth and legend, brought to life in a wickedly clever way.

A genuinely terrifying profile of Donald Trump by one journalist who has keenly followed the demon’s rise to fame.

Fascinating insight into the Occupy movement, including the recent historical context of the 2008 Financial Crash.

An abridged version of the feminist classic, covering the way beauty standards are used to keep women “in their place”.

A modern sci-fi classic – an ancient civilisation is discovered on earth. The rest is a mystery…

The second Sleeping Giants book – it continues!

Another life-affirming classic from Paulo Coehlo; the premise is about a girl who wakes up from her suicide attempt, but discovers she only has a few days to live.

A collective memoir or the experience of Japanese women brought to the US as brides in the 1930s and 40s.

A collection of the authors favourite and most thought-provoking philosophic quotes, along with a brief essay on why they captured his imagination.

A collection of essays and short stories written by a talented young Harvard student, and published after her tragic death only a few years ago.

An autobiographical account of everything running can teach you about life.

A productivity guide that preaches doing the most difficult and most dreaded task first.

A poignant and gorgeously-written tale of an out of place teenage girl who yearns for a place to belong.

An imagined but entirely possible future in which genetic engineering has gotten out of control, and which there remain only a handful of “real” humans left.

A fascinating historical and anthropological look at humankind’s evolution through the ages, from the Stone Age to the modern day.

A memoir / non-fiction work on the issue of race, in the context (mainly) of 21st Century Britan. This work certainly highlights the lack of cultural education received in the UK – specifically to do with the injustices and atrocities committed by the British Empire, and the legacy this has left.

A no-bullshit guide to everything that’s wrong with clean eating, fasts, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the logical tricks that leave us buying into them.

The premise: one Ghanian sister sold into slavery, the other married off to a British slaver; we follow the atrocities and legacies of slavery as they trickle down through the generations.

A soothing, cosy book on the magic of getting your shit together, your house in order, and your life how you want it.

A tale of a married couple’s struggle to have children – beautifully told, and set against the background of political unrest in 1980’s Nigeria.

A heartbreaking work about a girl caught in a state of limbo after a life-threatening car accident – great if you need a good cry.

The true story of Olympic Legend, eccentric and all round gentleman Emil Zátopek, struggling with his role in post-war Czechoslovakia. A truly inspiring read.

A concise but thorough account of how Western foreign policy (specifically British and American) has screwed over the Middle East and created a breeding ground for extremism.

The continuation of Homo Sapiens, this work takes a look at humankind as we embark on our voyage into the world of amortality, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

In case you weren’t counting, I’m on 36 to date, which makes me approximately two weeks behind. But fear not, I’m catching up!

In the meantime, please send me your recommendations! I’m always looking for new reads to get my nose into! 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

Advertisements

2017 Goals: Checking in

Given that Summer is officially over, and we’re now heading into the tail end of 2017, I thought it would be a good time to check in on the goals I set for myself at the start of the year. To recap, I ended 2016 with no job and my leg in a cast, so I have to say those goals should be taken with a pinch of salt… But anyway, let’s jump in!

A Half Marathon

Sadly, it’s a no from me. Today actually marks the date of the Vilnius Half Marathon, which I was supposed to be running with the guys from London City Athletics. But unfortunately, work and life got in the way of anything resembling a proper training programme.  To be completely honest, I still haven’t really rehabbed my ankle properly, and I just haven’t been in the position to train with the dedication a big goal race deserves.

vilnius (1)

A Sub 1:45 Half Marathon

Again, it’s a no from me.

A Sub-45 10k

I have only raced once this year, and that was just to get me back in the running game after an extended injury break.

Move house!

I’ve finally moved house! Yay!! It’s so nice to be in a new and different environment, with flatmates I really get along with – some of my oldest friends, in fact. I’m still settling in and getting a feel for the area, but I’m in a far better place than I was previously.

Parkrun at least once a month

Absolutely not. Unfortunately, in between the broken ankle, the new job and the parental divorce, I’ve been all over the place (literally) and haven’t been able to commit to getting up early on Saturday mornings for a friendly 5k. As much as I would absolutely love to, it just hasn’t been happening.

Take at least one race vacation

No! Sadly, the race vacation to Vilnius just didn’t happen. Boo.

Read 52 books in 52 weeks of 2017!

This is the one goal I’m actually on top of! We’re 36 weeks into the year, and I’m on 36 books! It’s been great to expand my horizons in all directions, including modern geopolitics, third-wave feminist thinking and of course, some good old fashioned fiction. If anyone would like a rundown of my book list to date, I’d be more than happy to write a post!

 

Do yoga at least once a week

I’ve been doing more stretching, but to be honest yoga is the one area I’ve really failed to achieve in without a decent excuse.

Explore a plant-based diet

Yass!! I’m 100% vegan, and enjoying it thoroughly! There have been a few stumbling blocks such as craving cheese and eggs when I’m sick and/or hormonal, but I’m learning to cope with those. I have to say I don’t feel restricted in the least, and I’m enjoying bringing my friends along for the #plantbased ride.

Screen Shot 2017-09-10 at 13.58.23

Find a way to give back at least once a month

I haven’t been ticking this off per se, but I’ve definitely been finding ways to give back wherever possible, whether that be through shopping at and donating to charity shops; donating money to charity or just practicing kindness as a daily act.

Up my photography game

I think so…! One of my favourite happy coincides is that running and blogging has definitely opened me up more to the creative side of things, photography included. I love nothing more than snapping beautiful sunset shots on my runs, and I’ve even bought myself a book on iPhone photography. It’s a small passion  but it’s growing!

 

Be able to do a single pull up

Okay I can now do an assisted pull up with around half my bodyweight supported. Not too shabby!

Travel!

I used most of my annual leave this year on taking my mum to the south of Spain. She’s been through such a lot with the divorce this year, that I honestly didn’t give it a second thought. And whilst it’s true that I have the post-holiday blues (especially having realised I only have 2 days annual leave left in 2017), I can always travel next year!

The Mantra: Move Your Frame

Yes! It’s so important to me to keep active every day, whether that be simply taking a walk at lunchtime or doing some quick yoga before bedtime. It makes such a difference to my mood, and helps me make the most of my body!

IMG_1862

All in all, it’s been a tricky year so far, goals-wise. Part of me just wants it to be 2018 already so I can start afresh, but also I know it’s silly to wish away time. I want desperately to refocus myself on a new Big Goal, but nothing has struck a chord as yet. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

Tell me, what were your 2017 goals – and how are you getting on with them? 

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

 

Mindfulness: Starting Again

As you may well be aware from my previous posts, I’ve been struggling a lot recently with a family situation – namely, my parent’s divorce and the breakdown of my relationship with my father.

This whole situation has left me feeling pretty fraught, and the year itself has been entirely chaotic, what with twice-monthly visits to my mother, tense family gatherings and a whole plethora of other issues. In addition to that, there’s the small detail of trying to keep the rest of my life ticking along in a semblance of normality – meaning, showing up to work and giving 110%, working out wherever possible, and still spending time with the people in my life that I care about.

IMG_1356

As such, it’s all been a bit of a mess. I realised that one of the reasons I started this blog was not just to talk about physical health and exercise, but also mental health and emotional wellbeing. To be completely honest that side of things has been pretty absent from the blog over the past year, which speaks volumes about how absent it has been in my life. More and more however, I’m being reminded of the need to take care of myself in addition to taking care of everyone else around me. I was reminded by a good friend that I am in an entirely absurd and distressing situation, and that as a result it’s perfectly acceptable to not have my shit together. He told me that it was okay to feel depressed, and I would be entirely forgiven if I stopped acting strong for the sake of everyone else.

That conversation was all the validation I needed – sometimes we have to have courage in order to fall apart ; to allow ourselves to feel the full gravity of what has happened. And that’s okay.

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 12.18.37

What I guess I’m trying to say is that I’m not okay. I’m no longer trying to act like everything is okay – I’m allowing myself to show weakness and surrender ever so slightly to the awfulness of the situation. But I’m not allowing myself to wallow in it, as much as I want to. Instead, I’m allowing myself more time for self care and mindfulness. As such, I’ll be bringing back my old Mindfulness series. I need a kick up the backside to actually take care of myself every once in a while, and I can’t wait to share that with you.

So please, share your self-care and mindfulness tips with me. They are much needed right now!

Lots of love,

Pippa

The Comeback Chronicles: Episode 10

Well hello there folks! How is everyone? It’s that time of the week again – so settle in with a nice cuppa tea and let’s catch up, shall we?

What’s been going on

I’m moving house next week! And then immediately going on holiday! So there’s some good and some slightly stressful. To be honest I’m not quite there yet when it comes to looking forward to my holiday, but once the  move is done, I’ll be able to get excited.

malaga-2 (1).jpg
Cannot wait for my holiday

Exercise

Errr. It’s been going okay, I guess? I mean I pulled a muscle and all, and I’ve been crazy busy – but it’s been okay,  I think. Here’s what I managed to get done last week:

  • Monday: Weights, pull-ups, calisthenics type things and then half an hour of cardio
  • Tuesday: Half an hour of cardio, some calisthenics moves & abs
  • Wednesday: Half an hour of cardio, some calisthenics moves & abs
  • Thursday: Rest day  – I pulled my lat from doing too many pull-ups. Oops.
  • Friday: 30 minutes running – yay!
  • Saturday: Rest day!
  • Sunday: Rest day – rather reluctantly this time, as I seem to be coming down with something.

 

lower-back-anatomy-usually-a-violent-twist-jerking-motion-or-over-extension-of-the-back-muscles-during-a-lifting-session-or-even-during-bodyweight-movement
Ouch. And yes, I had to Google this.

Running

I managed a whole thirty minutes running this week (!) – not ideal. I would love to be able to run more, but with one thing and another it’s just not happening. I pulled my shoulder/rib/waist, plus now I think i’m on the brink of coming down with something. And with a house move and a holiday on the horizon, I’m not risking getting sick! In other news, it’s looking like I won’t be running Vilnius Half Marathon in September. Some days I can barely walk when I get up in the morning, and so training for a big goal race is just not feasible right now. It’s a huge shame, but also I was kind of prepared for it right from the start. You live and learn.

Lithuania-Vilnius-view-of-main-square-MKlimenta-618-pixels
It woulda been sweet, Vilnius

Everything Else

As mentioned in my last post, things have been tricky recently with a big Family Situation. I’m going to be sharing more on my coping strategies and self-care soon, but let’s just say I’m making a much bigger effort to take care of myself as opposed to just trying to be strong for everyone else. The motto of the story: I’m not okay. But that’s okay.

giphy.gif
JK guys, I’m fine I swear

 

So that’s all from me!

 

What’s been going on with you?

 

Lots of love,

 

Pippa

The Comeback Chronicles: Episode 9

Well guys, it;s been a hot minute since I posted. After the big reveal of all the drama that’s been going on in my life, I kind of fell into an unmotivated slump. I’m not going to lie, the past year has been really tough on me, and honestly sometimes I just don’t have the sheer force of will to actually write a blog post. But despite all that whinging, here I am. Let’s jump into things!

 

What’s been going on

It’s been a busy few weeks in the office what with various colleagues being away – it’s holiday season after all! I’ve just about been coping with it all, as well s trying to enjoy the best of what London has to offer in the summer time. I’m also moving house at the end of August! It’s a good move for me, but packing up and hauling ass halfway across London is never going to be a fun time. I went home to visit my Mum and Grandma last weekend, and spent some quality time with my dog Shadow, also known as the light of my freakin’ life right now. 

img_2933.jpg
Look at this glorious badass

Exercise

About two weeks ago I had a particularly stressful time of things – it was busy at work, plus t I was in the depths of a horrific family argument which was really getting me down. And so, I ran. I ran every day for about a week, which seemed completely miraculous at the time, and far too good to be true. And of course, it was too good to be true. I ended up with a very swollen ankle around the sight of the original rupture, as well as a really sore foot – an aggravation of the severe bone bruising I sustained when I injured myself. Nonetheless, it was good while it lasted.

As a result of all that ankle drama, last week I stuck to cross training at the gym – a combination of the elliptical and spinning. It wasn’t as fun as the treadmill, but frankly I’m just glad I got it done. Feet still very sore and muscles still very tight,  so I think it’s time for a yoga class.

 

Running

As you may be able to tell, me and running had a bit of a thing a few weeks ago. It was predominantly a stress thing, but it felt so good to just hit the treadmill for half an hour every day, no matter what. Needless to say, I’m paying the price for it now with a very swollen ankle and very sore feet. But you live and learn.

img_1589.jpg

Everything else

My mood has been really quite low recently, on account of the family divorce. It’s just complicated, and there are so many dynamics and emotions and arguments. I’m trying to focus on the positive, but I think I also need to allow myself the time to feel sad, as opposed to being strong for everyone else. So I’m taking a day off work for myself.

img_2728.jpg

How is everyone? How is your running going?

 

Lots of love,

Pippa