Fun and games

I have been having a really happy time lately. Somehow things have been going really well for me. And for the first time I do believe that my bike riding has something to do with it.

I’ve been cynical of the supposed serotonin-increasing effect that exercise is meant to have on a person. I have experienced severe depression and so many people have told me to exercise, encouraged me to exercise, told me how exercise would help, and asked me if exercise was helping, and referred me to endless articles that supposedly prove how exercise should help me and would help me by increasing my serotonin.

I never got it.

I never felt that I was “better” after exercising, and specifically after riding my bike. I think this is mainly because in my lethargy and weight gain, exercise was so difficult to get started and to maintain that the sheer effort of exercise was greater than any benefit that may have been lurking way back there in the background. I didn’t feel a buzz, I didn’t feel elated, I wasn’t flying high or whatever it was that I was meant to be feeling. What exactly was I meant to be feeling, after all? Exercise was meant to increase my serotonin, yeah? What was the effect or end result of that increase in serotonin meant to be, exactly? What would it feel like if I had it? How would I know I had it? Would it be a direct effect? Would it occur at the time or would the effect be cumulative? I’m sure there are some answers out there but I’ve avoided looking at them, because for a good long while my bike riding was harder than it was anything else, and I just didn’t believe in the serotonin thing.

Until now. I haven’t lost any weight as yet, but half a dozen people have told me lately that they think I’ve lost weight; I’m hoping that means I’ve put on muscle and lost fat but time will tell. I’m a lot less lethargic thanks to returning to work, and having a regular schedule, and places to go, and people to see. Regular bike riding has definitely built up some kind of stamina in me, more than I would have had 13 months ago when I did my first ride with Wheel Women, and thought I would die from it! I view bike rides a lot more optimistically these days, I’m happy to say. This is based on my cumulative experience of so many rides; 60 rides in 59 weeks since March 2015, when I first got back on my bike.

This increased stamina has been improved on recently when I did a 4 day bike riding tour with Wheel Women through central northern Victoria. Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook will have seen the photos! To prepare for the tour I rode every day for 3 days over Easter in the week prior to the tour. I did this to prepare for the anticipated soreness I might experience when getting back on the bike day after day, and to try to build up the endurance that I would need on the tour. I didn’t ride long or far, but riding every day really did something. Then riding 62km, 43km, 37km and 28km for 4 consecutive days  on tour built up another kind of stamina. Arriving at this level of stamina has brought my riding up to another level, and since I got back its been like I’m riding on a cloud. I think it’s because the 3 rides I’ve done since I got back to town are less kilometres, bar one 40km ride, and less strenuous, also bar one ride with a few “gentle” hills, but overall they aren’t as tough as the rides I did while I was away and so I’m riding within my limit, inside my reserves and so it all feels easier!

And I love that!

There’s a saying in cycling, and probably in all sports, and maybe in life too that a certain thing doesn’t get easier as you develop your skills in it, you just get quicker at it. But at the moment I’m not only quicker at riding, but it feels like it’s easier too. And that feels awesome! Not all of it of course, hills are still a bit of a nemesis but I’m even going easier up hills! And I’ve changed my philosophy about hills since the tour. We did 40km or so one day that was more or less flat; my ideal situation, I thought. But now I think differently. Flat terrain just means that your legs go up, go down, go up, go down, rub in the middle on the bike seat, chafe from the bike shorts however comfy they are to start with, get tired, have no chance for a break unless you want to slow down, and it all gets tedious! I thought it was ideal, but now I can see the downsides to flat, and the upside to undulating and even hilly!

At least with undulations or little hills, you get a break while you’re rolling down the other side. It can be quite fun actually, a little up then a little rest on the way down. A little extra work for a little less work; it feels worth it. Plus it’s kind of a challenge for this girl from Flatlandria to operate the gears correctly to get up the incline without changing pedal rotation speed…it can be one way to keep your brain going when your legs aren’t loving the effort.

So here I am, having fun and games on my bike 🙂 I’ve even recently bought a T shirt that says ‘I want to ride my bicycle’. And I’m even heading out on my own after publishing this to do a ride that really sucked a month ago, just to test out my new theory that with the new stamina I’ve built up lately, it’s gonna be a whole heap easier, faster and more fun this time.

Wish me luck!

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A little less

[Started 10th September, 2015]

Okay, time to be a bit less serious.

Sun, glorious sun!!

Sun, glorious sun!!

There has been too much D&M lately. Meaning deep and meaningful, of course!

My bad. As well as causes, I love issues!!

But it’s spring, and there’s something in the air. I walked home in broad daylight tonight! That’s exciting! I’ve only been working 8 weeks and already my walk home has gone from almost pitch dark to sunlight. Yay!

Walking out into the sunshine! Perfection!

Walking out into the sunshine! Perfection!

So let’s have some fun and enjoy the light, little, fun things in life.

[Continuing 12th September]

A cheeky lorikeetHere’s a cheeky Rainbow Lorikeet playing peek-a-boo and considering acrobatics to get you into a playful mood!

Today the air was warm. I put a foot outside, and it was warm; not cool, not chilly. So unexpected. And how exciting! My pilates teacher back in Warragul said once that she loved hot days because it felt like the air was giving you a cuddle. That’s a beautiful way to think about those hot, cloistering days. Wrapping themselves around you and keeping you cosy and warm.

There is no magic cure

There is no magic cure

Isn’t this just the way to think about life??

I’m not there yet, but I really love this meme, and this saying.

When life is overwhelming and having to go forward feels impossible, wouldn’t this saying just help to bring you back from snowballing thoughts, and overthinking, and digging yourself into a giant sinkhole? Or at least it might send you in that direction.

I do so relate to the aims of this theory!

So many shades of yellow in the wattle bursting out all over the place

So many shades of yellow in the wattle bursting out all over the place

  1. An easier day. I have loved the feeling of bliss and achievement that is an easier day than yesterday since I’ve started back at work. Since I started bike riding. And less noticeably over the course of my getting better, but I notice that in hindsight over months not days.

Getting fitter and stronger, having more stamina and energy, and coping better feel like great victories compared to recent life that has been lived on the couch! I’ve only been back at work for 8 weeks, but I can feel my progress every time I go back. Which is so delightful. I wish I could share this feeling with every person every where, because it is so powerful and so good for you, and gives you a feeling that you are good for something after all.

Cygnets hiding in the grass

Cygnets hiding in the grass

2. An unexpected laugh. Nothing is so wonderful as an unexpected laugh when you didn’t think you could possibly!

I called one of the help telephone lines once, can’t remember which one now. My husband was away for the night at a work thing, staying away til the next day and I was braving it at home. This has always been something that’s difficult for me: the night, monsters, shooting people, muggers, rapers, people breaking in and stealing stuff etc. Yes my mind works in drastic ways! I had not long been diagnosed with depression, and my anxiety had really flared up again. I’d had a panic attack the month before, and I knew I was fragile. So I tried to look after myself, made a nice tea, had some good snacks, watched a movie to distract myself.

Swamphen chick last spring at the Botanic Gardens - check out those huge feet!

Swamphen chick last spring at the Botanic Gardens – check out those huge feet!

I chose Sunshine Cleaning or whatever its called with Amy thingamybob, bad idea! It’s most sub-textual but in the past the mother had committed suicide in the bath by bleeding to death, and one daughter has learned to cope and the other sits under the railway line having her ears blasted to death while she cries about it. Obviously by the end of that movie my thought processes weren’t in a good place or heading in a good direction, and it wasn’t too long until I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t call hubby tonight, extra panic. And so on until I was in a pretty nice state!! I had these numbers from different depression websites, so I called.

And the lady was brilliant. I wish I remembered the details to give her feedback because she was truly awesome! I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t breathe, I was so distressed and she calmly spoke down the phone to me for a good 10 minutes before I could really participate back. And when I could talk but started to flare up again she kept on talking. And then she made me laugh! I don’t even remember how, but she had found out a few things about me and knew enough to get on my wavelength and then she made me laugh! It may have been a wet, sobbing/gasping laugh but I felt that laugh and nothing could be more powerful to giving you the idea that you are going to be okay.

Masked Lapwing, or Spur-Winged Plover baby being all kinds of cute last spring

Masked Lapwing, or Spur-Winged Plover baby being all kinds of cute last spring

You just laughed. How amazing it that! You’ve been so distraught but you laughed! People don’t laugh when things are really bad. Therefore things must be getting better, all because you laughed. It is a true gift to give to anyone at anytime; give them a laugh.

Not a condescending laugh; oh look at you, silly billy, making a big deal out of nothing.

Not a laughing-at-you laugh; look at how seriously you’ve taken all of this, just admit that you got carried away and acted crazy.

A genuine, I’m-with-you-in-this, here’s some common ground that will make us both feel better and that will lead us to better things.

A little trickling waterfall is always music to my ears

A little trickling waterfall is always music to my ears

I sincerely, genuinely, honestly recommend help telephone lines for anyone and everyone. Nothing is too small, not serious enough, not a big deal. Why wait til it gets bigger, more serious, a really HUGE deal? Just call. There’s no reason not to. Just call. If you just need someone to talk an issue through with, to commiserate with and to understand just how you feel, call.

Obviously don’t abuse their volunteer service, but if you have a shadow of a doubt that maybe you should, just call!

Being on top of the world!

Being on top of the world!

3. A mirror that doesn’t matter anymore. The mirror thing is an ambition of mine,  and maybe one day it won’t matter anymore, or at least not so much as it has.

I’m not going to go down the mirror path in this most uplifting (I hope!) post…but seriously, mirrors are conspiring against me! I just get an outfit sorted that I think sort of flatters me, then I walk past some window and got a shock! a fright! a surprise to find that the once thinner me actually has a big butt and bigger belly! Where’d that come from?! How’d that get there?! When did that appear? That’s not what I look like in my mind! I thought I’d gotten rid of that. Well, yes, you did get rid of it, in your mind. But then you woke up today and because you haven’t done anything actually about it, it’s still there. Huh!

Golden afternoon light on my subject; best way to end the day!

Golden afternoon light on my subject; best way to end the day!

I hope you have enjoyed some photos of some of my favourite spring things! And hopefully you’ve found something here to feel good about, or at least to get you going in a goodish direction. Till next time! D x