Sunday, May 13, 2012


Spring is back: The weather is moving slowly from chilly to mild, the blossoms on the wisteria are draped in white profusion and the air is intoxicating, with lilies of the valley and lilacs perfuming our passage.  The bicycle shops and cafes are busy, the streets are alive with untanned legs in shorts and sandals, new sunglasses, cotton dresses, and altogether there's the feeling that people are shedding the layers of winter and emerging, slightly fragile, pale, and fresh, into the warming sunshine.

And I too seem to once again be in spring mode. It feels great,

Perhaps it’s just that I am getting into some renewing activities. The Burma book is finally about to head to the printer: the photos have all been picked, the edits are done, with as many typos found as we could find (a few always manage to escape notice, no matter how many pairs of eyes check for them), and hurrah! the cover seems to have found its way at last (so the cover now up on Amazon is NOT what we’ll have: the fish will be safely tucked inside the book, a great shot but not for a cover, and replaced by fresh free loveliness - you’ll see).

Thrilling to have the book this far along.

With work less demanding the first renewal is that at last the spring house-cleaning thing is happening. It’s not exciting, more a (rather predictable) getting caught-up feeling.  At last! is the theme here, which it seems to me is the true essence of spring-cleaning.

The other renewal this week is about new horizons, not the food history course I’m about to start teaching this week (I am really looking forward to it, after hours of prep) but something entirely different. I mentioned last year that ligaments in my left foot had weakened and that I was not going to be able to go for my extremely pleasurable runs any more.  That remains true, alas.  I’ve replaced the runs with brisk walks, not quite the same, but way less potentially damaging for the foot and other body parts too.

I was talking about the sad fact of no longer running with a woman who came to immersethrough in Chiang Mai this last winter (and was in great shape). She told me I’d love doing weights, that it gave her great endorphin hits.  As an endorphin/adrenalin etc junkie (in a mild kind of way), I was intrigued.  It’s taken me several months to figure out how to start.  But now thanks to a friend I have met a personal trainer named Rafi, and had a first session with him.

Our phone call was funny: Rafi “what weights or equipment do you have?” me: “none” Rafi: “not even a ball?” me: “nothing at all, but there’s lots of room…” 

I had no idea what to expect when he came by yesterday.  My mother was a physio, and I’ve always been interested in how things work, body dynamics, for example why one person walks this way and another walks completely differently.  As Rafi had me lift, push against resistance etc, in various positions, he was checking out where I had muscle weakness or imbalance, in other words, where I needed work the most.  I learned a lot: glutes need work, abs too, and lats, and some other transverse muscle in my back.  hmm

And then he started getting me to do deceptively simple things: lie on my back with bent knees, breathe into my belly, tighten my abdomen and pelvic floor, then on the exhale lift one leg slowly toward my chest and then back down to the floor, keeping the abdomen etc tightened. Relax, then repeat with the other leg.  It’s not so difficult to understand, but to do it while keeping the hipbones level, the pelvis level, takes concentration I found.

And so it was with all the other things he had me do.

I made notes at the end of our session and now I have “homework”: I’m to do the full lot of exercises (a specific number of reps for each) every other day, just once for the first week, then twice in the second week, and so on.  And there are a few great stretches too, subtle and effective.  When I get comfortable, maybe in three or four weeks, he’ll come by again and add other exercises.

The day off is to let everything recover.  Logically, having done work yesterday I should have skipped today.  But I wanted to get started, and also to repeat everything right away to get my body-memory more established.

And how was it?  It was engaging and energising, a challenge that took concentration, way more than I would have imagined.  Somehow this combination of concentration and effort (side plank held for a minute for example, and knee bends with a stick held straight-armed over my head, to keep me in alignment) was exhilarating, got the old endorphins going, transported me, even though I wasn’t running happily down the street but instead working on the floor.

This is not a fascinating post, sorry, but I wanted to write about this new invigorating era in my first flush of enthusiasm and discovery.  It’s such a pleasure to embark on a new challenge and feel that I am going to get stronger day by day, through my own efforts.  We can’t ask for much more than that in life, can we?

…well, apart from the pleasures of friendship…  This evening I’m headed to eat and drink and play with friends.  I'll make a leek soup I think; we'll grill meat and vegetables; asparagus is finally here and fabulous (we had our first huge meal of it last night); and there's been talk of making a baker's cake (using a yeasted dough to make a sweet treat). Yum.  The excuse is Mothers’ Day, but really it’s all about the joys of extended family, celebrating the juiciness of life at every time of year.


iliana said...

Lovely, inspiring as I struggle with keeping up with the rowing, and your evening sounds delicious. Cheers :-)

naomi duguid said...

the comments moderation stuff is wonky - maybe it's just me not understanding how the newly reconfigured blogspot works.
Anyhow it means that I've had notice of a nice comment but somehow can't get it posted, so I'm cutting and pasting it in here:

Lovely, inspiring as I struggle with keeping up with the rowing, and your evening sounds delicious. Cheers :-)