I ‘came out’ a while ago, and most of my readers know it: I like running very long distances (See here if you don’t remember: http://frenchyummymummy.com/going-the-ultra-mile/). Come to think of it, the work ‘like’ can be misleading. Ultra marathon runners will understand. What I really mean is that running ultra marathons make me feel alive, even if after a while everything hurts. Maybe, as a friend suggested yesterday, I need a good psychiatrist. So much for thinking that running was keeping me sane. We all have our own issues, right? But I digress.
It is easy to take running for granted. As a woman runner, one thing that I know I often take as a given is the freedom to run without social persecution. It wasn’t always like that. In 1928, at the Olympic games held in Amsterdam, women were allowed to compete in running events for the very first time. After the 800-meter event, the International Olympic Committee ruled that the collapse of women at the finish meant that the distance was too difficult a strain on the female body, and banned the event until the 1960 games. As for women running marathons, it was a big no no until 1972 or so. And I have recently been told (I kid you not), that running long distances could damage women’s reproductive organs. For real, in this century. I would like to reassure everybody: everything seems to be where it should be. What can I say: as a society, we still have some way to go. Not to mention that I know a few girls who could give most men a run for their money…
What a day! I woke up at the crack of dawn to try Parkrun in Sydney. I am not a morning person, and it was already way too warm for me (after all, I am British too!). That said, I needed to stick to my training plan -more about this in another post. In London, Parkrun (a 5k run) always started at 9 am. I found out that in Sydney, it’s 7 or 8am. Bummer.
I took the Tube to St Peters, and of course I got lost. Long story short: suddenly I was in a parallel universe. It was May Lane and continued on Caroline Lane, and, as far as I could understand it, it was an outdoor gallery featuring an array of work. Some looked legal, but many looked, well, a bit improvised. All were stunning. I felt like I was in a comic strip. I was literally walking in my very own comic strip.
If you follow me on twitter (https://twitter.com/FrenchYumMummy), you know that I have decided to stay in Sydney a little bit longer to enjoy the Aussie way of life. I had come to a point where I couldn’t take one more British winter, and a change was long overdue after close to 15 years in Blighty. Not to mention that I am a nomad at heart. In short, here I am, and loving it. So, what did I learn? Well, so far, so good. The running is amazing and it’s incredibly warm compared to Europe. But let’s not wait, here are my main findings after a few weeks:
- 1. People TALK. I know, it’s amazing, right? Over here, you say ‘Hello!’ to the bus driver, to fellow runners, to the concierge or the cashier. You might even strike a conversation. For the record, I haven’t heard anyone say ‘G’day, mate!’ just yet. It must be urban legend. That said, you might strike a conversation with somebody you don’t know. Come on, it’s shocking! In London, you shut up. It’s considered rude to talk to others, and most of the time nobody will reply if you do. Not to mention that I always took the automatic check-out anyway.
- 2. I am a control freak. I totally need to relax. That’s probably what London does for you. Things are very chilled over here, and slower than in England. Simply put, it freaks me out. When, for instance, the food is slow to come, the light remains red for too long or the shop doesn’t open bang on time, I feel like the world is coming to an end. I. Need. To. Relax.
Things are slowly starting to pick up after the Christmas break. In Australia, nobody has commented on my French accent, and it’s pure bliss. In London, I keep being reminded that I am ‘different’. What I particularly hate is when my interlocutor pretends he (Let’s face it: it’s usually a he) doesn’t understand what I am saying. It hasn’t happened in Sydney, which makes me wonder what is wrong with British men (selective hearing maybe?). Obviously, according to them, we French women are supposed to ‘have it all’. We must look like a trophy wife, but we must also be strong-minded and financially independent. What a load of codswallop!
Come to think of it, this ‘having-it-all’ concept is really getting on my nerves right now. It must have something to do with middle-age. In no particular order, I am supposed to be beautiful, stylish, thin, independent, intelligent and healthy of course. Not to mention a good mother/wife/friend/cook/coach/taxi/business woman, etc. Here is a newsflash for everybody: I only have 24 hours a day. My life is already pretty full-on. And I am far from perfect.
As we were working long hours on a new project the other day, one of the (British) assistants cracked a joke:
‘But Muriel, you are French! With the hours you are working you wouldn’t be able to have a torrid love affair.’
Here we go again, I thought. How very un-French…
It’s this time of the year I suppose. But fear not: I will not patronise anyone (I am too old for that anyway). I just wanted to share with you my New Year’s resolutions. As I never keep them, I thought that I should make a lot of them -some big, some small- to make sure that I keep at least some of them. That’s just me: I always have a fallback plan. At my ripe age, you have to be pragmatic, right?
The problem is that we often only follow through with good intentions for a week or so. The more strong-minded among us may last a month, but sooner or later we all end up falling back into the same old ways which we tried so hard to change. (Let’s come clean: when I say ‘we’, I mean, well, ‘me’).
Why does this happen? And how can we improve our goal-setting strategies?
I have read somewhere that often our goals transform into failures because they’re not solid enough to maintain our motivation, or because they’re perhaps too hard to reach. According to psychologists, if we want to welcome a change and make New Year’s resolutions for real, we must use a strategy called SMART Goals, which outlines the criteria of successful goal-setting (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, relevant, Timely). Seriously? Again, fear not: I won’t bore you with this corporate BS (Excuse my French). Again, been there, done it, and I am sick and tired of having to agree with Powerpoint slides and so-called experts anyway. I have pretended to do so for far too long. My new mantra is more real life, less theory. Call it MindLessNess if you want. I have just made it up as well. I think I am on to something…