Notes in the Margins of Life


The C Word

I loved my morning routine, it worked beautifully and I knew exactly what I was doing in the mornings. I would awake, have coffee, get on my bike to the lido, and swim for 30-60 mins depending on the season. It was a habit, automatic, didn't even have to think about it.

That was until the beginning of this month, 2ndMarch 2020, when the lido closed, for refurbishment. We knew it was coming, it had been planned for several months but most of us swimmers, judging by the sauna confessions, didn't really acknowledge or fully believe it until the day before it closed, even though we hastily took out membership at the nearest pool at the last minute. We all, me included, started to join 'what's app' groups and make lift share arrangements, finding out routes to other nearby pools and feeling generally thrown by the whole thing.


It's taken me nearly 2 weeks to get a sense of everything and work out the best route, which is about 40 minutes and 2 buses, when I don't get a lift. I started off with less than my usual lengths to get used to the 91metres instead of 50metres of swim length, now back up to my usual mile. As it's a vast expanse of water, the temperature is always approx. 2 degrees colder, so I had to factor in the recovery time I needed. Then, to work out how the facilities operate i.e. finding the cold shower, there is no gauge on the hot showers, but I recently learnt which ones are medium heat, hot and the very hot one, so I can now shower hop my way to bringing my core temp back up. Then there's the sauna culture and the new people, whose space we have invaded by the way. Actually we are the new people and they are the indigenous tribe. Anyway, you get the drift! Now it's a question of managing the extra travel time and of course the motivation to keep going as regularly, which has been pretty much every day for a couple of years.


Change can be really daunting whether it's a change in routine, away from the comfort of the familiar or something much more long term. like setting a goal around a lifestyle change. We all have desires or aims, which generally require making sustained transformations to our life. Generally we start out with all good intentions, really motivated, but somehow we slip off the rails and fall back into a less driven mode, which we may not like and even though we may feel uncomfortable, we revert back to old ways.


So when it comes to something really big like personal behaviours we wish to adjust, stop or start, it can be a very big mountain to climb indeed.


Change is the act or instance of making or becoming different which in itself can cause us to feel uneasy, but very often sets up an inner resistance in us that goes against the positive aspects of change we seek! Why is that?

The Psychologist, Kurt Lewin's theory is that there are two opposing forces within us, one representing a driving force towards change and another resisting force that opposes the drive for change. When working in equal measures, they keep us in the same place, where no change occurs and that results in a stagnation or sense of being stuck.


To effect change, we often tend to increase our driving forces, assuming that more effort and motivation will push forward and create the change we want to see.


However, if we were to look more closely at where the resistance to change lies, we will find that yes there are some external forces and influences, but mainly it's our own automatic habits, limiting beliefs and negative thoughts which effectively sabotage our efforts.


So what can we do about it?
Well, we know personal change is not easy, but we could try a few new strategies. And, as any new habit takes at least 30 days to become embedded, consistency is a key thing here.


  • Have you ever looked at your daily habits? Which ones serve you and which have you outgrown or sabotage your desired change? Make a list of them and another list of new habits you could replace the old unhelpful ones with to achieve the changes you want to see.

  • Core beliefs, as in your core beliefs, are they resonant with your desired change or are they in conflict? A good way to find out is to ask what change you want to create and notice any self -limiting beliefs that accompany that. The "I'm not good enough" "I don't deserve", I haven't got time to enjoy" type of inner chat. Ask yourself, where is the evidence to support that belief. Examine in detail these old scripts and change them. Start shifting your point of view about what you can and can't have, achieve, enjoy.

  • As you start working towards your changes, notice and write down any positive or negative thoughts about the things you are doing, changing, working towards. . It's helpful to do this daily and to be honest with yourself. If there are more negatives?than positives, try thinking of the things in life you are grateful for. That helps to bring positive thinking back and reinforce the strength and resilience not just to make change, but to maintain the efforts too.


Let me know how you get on.


I am now out much earlier, coffee in hand, with my whole morning routine still in a slight state of flux .No doubt, by the time I am in the swing of it, it will be all about turn, as our local lido opens again, all freshly painted and slightly different to how we remember.

Oh well, a change is as good as a rest, as they say.




Recently I have been practicing a course of Abundance Meditations.

I was in the bank to get a mini statement from the cash machine. The machine stated there was no available print outs so I went to the next one in the row.


In front of the next machine after that was a customer who was withdrawing money, a large numbers of notes fanned out in his hand. He meanwhile was displaying overt gestures of love and gratitude to the machine, even blowing kisses to the money-producing chamber.


Unusual, I thought. I gave him a bit of a wide berth as he was taking up a lot of space and lurching over towards the machine I thought, originally I would use. I dropped back and waited for him to finish and go before I would step forward for my turn.



He went to walk away and then returned to continue the acts of what seemed like a display of worship, practically genuflecting and continuing his engagement with the machine. This happened a third time only, now he directed his attention to me.



"What are you fu****g standing behind me for, look, one, two three machines you could use, why you want to wait for this one?" Loads more abuse. He turned to walk away, no; he doubled back again to hurl more aggression and abuse.



I could feel anger rising up in my body, especially my face, which was feeling hot and no doubt turning red. It's funny (not particularly ha ha) in these instances how it could go so many different ways.



Found myself oscillating between feelings of defiance, a bit of uncertainty as to whether he might lash out, in which case being very on guard and then actually thinking NO, I can choose whatever fucking cashpoint I want, who the f*** are you to dictate to me.



In reality, I stood very calmly, looked into the man's face and engaged. No he didn't revert to the previous, demonstrably humble recipient of cash machine love. His anger remained, but he shunted off.



I on the other hand felt positive growth. I did not challenge, I did not waver, I did not engage in flight, fight, freeze or fear.



Keeping with the fundamental principles of meditation practice, I stayed present moment focused. Objectively alert to my subjective feelings and present enough to respond and not react.

Mindfulness practice really does pay off.

We've all met this guy in some form or incarnation right?

No doubt we'll meet one again , but having a daily practice of any mindfulness or meditation can certailnly help to mitigate some of the less favourable effects these potentially negative situations can have on us. 

How is your practice going?