How I started to run

Running. Everyone is running. Running is the new black. 

It seemed to me like one of the signs of successful people, no matter what they were successful in. I always wanted to run but my efforts every time got me before I even started. Therefore, I also admired people who run, it’s simple: if they can overcome this suffering and sustain this pain for so long, they definitely have the stronger will then I do. And then, you know how these thoughts can spin around your head and create a personal picture of yourself, where you seem to be not focused, not strong enough and not dedicated enough. What is more dangerous, when those thoughts start to pour into other dimensions of your life, into your beliefs of your own capabilities and into your self-esteem in general. It takes more than that, of course, but it can be one of those doubting sources for pour thinking about yourself. Yeah, self-doubt is almost like my guilty pleasure.

So, you can easily imagine my surprise, when I got some nice equipment (a watch, actually) and a proper partner, and I gave it a try. And it worked. I was able to run along my personal training program and I didn’t want to die after that. Moreover, after the run and a shower, I felt as energized and powerful as almost never before. How is that even possible?

Like in many other areas of my life, I see part of the answer to this question in my own perfectionism. And stubbornness. I always thought that when I go out and aim to run, I should run for the whole time. Even for the first time. And when I had to slow down to walking so I could catch my breath, I perceived that as a weakness, as something given and unchangeable. My first and almost immediate response was: “Okay, I’m not good enough. I should stop making a joke out of myself and stop with this nonsense.” And of course, I used my stubbornness for making me actually believe that and never try it again. I could have use it to become better in running, actually, but that would be a totally different person.

I basically needed someone kind to explain me, that even running needs time to learn it properly and that my body needs training to adjust in order to reach my goal, which, let’s admit it, wasn’t exactly unreachable. Last year was one of the hardest ones, but also the luckiest one, because I have actually met this kind person and fallen in love with him. Sportsman by his heart and soul, dedicated runner. He introduced me to this idea slowly (he recognized my stubbornness too, haha) and I started to wonder, really slowly: Should I give it another try?

Another observation I made in this matter is, that you need two things: an authority to follow in your training and a way to see how you progress. I found this on a recommendation of my kind one in sport watch from Garmin. Not only they can show you how you improved physically (like how fast you run or how was your heartbeat during different stages of the run) and help you to improve your sleeping cycles or stress management, these can tailor you a nice running plan to help you accomplish your goals. For me, someone who never run properly before but prefers to not to ask anyone for professional advice, this is just revolutionary. And suddenly, I have my authority and progress, peacefully resting literally within reach of my arm.

After two weeks of running, I dare to say – running is awesome! It is good for your body, for your digestion, skin, muscles, posture and everything, but also for your soul, because you can feel super energized afterwards, have this sense of accomplishment and notion that you did something right for yourself. I start to feel my knees though, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to not to have to stop with it. Hopefully, a proper pair of shoes and a right technique will do the trick.

How about you, do you like running? Do you hate it? Any tips for hurting knees? 

Learning tip #3 – Online classes

They say when you put money into your own self-development, it is the best investment you can do. I decided to follow this advice now, when I have more time to focus on improving my skills, and I purchased one-year membership of MasterClass.

 

I have to admit, I miss studying. I still could (and should, although I don’t know whether I will) write my thesis to finish my study program and finally get my master’s degree. But writing a thesis is not my favorite way of studying and writing it just for the sake of getting the degree feels also really dishonest and wrong to me. No. I miss the awesomeness of receiving new information on everyday classes, putting them into context and maybe even the adrenalin rush at the end of a semester and competing with myself to get all the A’s from all classes. Where are those times now?

We live in a blessed time when everyone can study on their own. There is so many books and many of us speak lots of different languages, which means the world lays on our desks as an open book waiting for us to read it. Many can do it by themselves and I admire that. But I personally always struggle with finishing things up, whether it’s reading a book, writing a novel or learning new skill. Maybe I miss some kind of authority over these activities since these are all things that I’m doing just for myself.

I hope I will become my own authority in the future, I will be the boss. But before this happens, I wanted to try a different guidance. And all those very well aimed YT ads were suggesting that I could get really epic teachers – Neil Gaiman, the legend, the writing genius, who teaches storytelling. Or Annie Leibovitz, who teaches, well, guess what, the art of photography. And many others. It even made me miss my time on journalism bachelor’s program I finished years ago. I realized how thirsty I am for learning from the best of the best.

Of course, MasterClass is super expensive but when you purchase it in a time of their one+one membership for free campaign, you can split the price in half with whomever is interested in those classes as well. And that is a great deal.

I am planning to do a proper review once I finish one or two of these classes. But for now, I have to say I am pretty satisfied. I started the Neil Gaiman’s class and I love it. The way he teaches, the truths he uncovers, which you always kinda knew but never were sure about them or never exactly understood how to make use of them. And if you read something from Neil Gaiman in the past, you know that everything he is sharing with you is genuine, honest. I’m definitely already in love with this class.

So, why am I writing all of this? I think it is never bad idea to give someone a push. And, as I already mentioned in one of this week’s positive diaries, we had never had as much time to use for self-development before as we have now, when all restaurants, theaters or even borders are closed. When life throws lemons at you, do yourself a lemonade. If you want to learn something, do it now. Are you wondering about purchasing a MasterClass, Skillshare or Udacity membership? Well, I say, let’s give it a try!

 

Some of them offer even free quarantine time for studying!

 

So, what are you still waiting for?

 

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The Positive Diary #18 – All the useful stuff

16th April – For the most of us, the current pandemic means restraints of freedom. We can’t go out whenever and wherever we want, some of us has lost their jobs, others lost a connection to their coworkers in offices as they are forced to work from home office. We cannot go to trips we planned, to concerts we paid for. We don’t even dare to dream about the future because we don’t exactly know, how it will look like. The traps of our mind, fears and regrets, might feel eternal, real and hopeless. I know it is hard, especially for some of us.

But hey, we are living in a time of great freedom and endless possibilities thanks to new gadgets and, especially, the Internet. Just look around… Do you feel lonely? You can connect to Discord or Skype and spend hours on the call with your friends and family. Is it still not enough? You can play together, wander through the Elwynn Forest or under the open skies of Middle-earth, or if you know more games than me, you can wander everywhere. And be safe.

Would you like to see a movie? And Netflix is not enough anymore? Well, there is HBO, Prime and many other different platforms. You just have to choose and enjoy it. Is it not the same without the popcorn and trashy people in a cinema? You can always make an online order and your precious popcorn will arrive. And if you really need someone to talk during a movie you want to see, you can go back to the first paragraph and try to call some of your friends.

Do you feel melancholically? Why won’t you listen to some of your favorite music? It is not the same as when you are on the go and you listen to it while being active every day, but it can definitely bring you those memories back. And the feelings you have when you listen to your favorite music, these won’t go away. Also, while listening to it at home and in no rush, you might notice, discover new aspects of these songs. All of the options of how we can listen to and approach to music have their own benefits.

Or maybe, you feel down and overwhelmed. The world seems to be falling apart, and you have no control over it. Luckily, there is plenty of useful mindfulness apps and even free YouTube meditation lessons online. You can just comfortably sit or lay on the mat and let these short voice recordings to calm you down. Maybe, you are too skeptical about trying it, but trust me, you have nothing to lose but so much to gain. If you can spare just ten minutes to give it a try, you will see for yourself.

Okay, maybe enough of fun. The TV shows are all the same, nothing can surprise you anymore and you feel empty and bored. Maybe it is a sign that you’ve had enough of fun and you are ready to work on your skills. I bet there is something, anything, you were hoping to learn for a long time now, but you never had the energy nor the time to give it a proper try. Well, guess what – this is the time we were all waiting for! If you belong to the lucky ones, who can work from home, keep their salaries, but still have an excessive amount of free time left, you can purchase some of the online lessons. I shared a subscription of MasterClass with my brother, but you can find whichever class or platform you like and get dedicated to fulfilling your dreams. There is many free “how to” and “DIY” videos on YouTube, you can try Patreon, Skillshare, whatever suits you better. Just go and give it a try.

Maybe the lessons are too much for you. Maybe all you wanted was time to practice your craft. Practice your writing, cooking, drawing, sewing, whichever skill you have and want to evolve. Because you have time to do it now.

The whole day sitting can also numb your senses, your will to enjoy the life. Luckily, you can always go to YouTube, Patreon or use any sport dedicated web or app to add a little more movement to your life. Yoga, pilates, dancing classes, shredding classes, whatever you prefer, it is there, just within a reach of you hand.

If you are tired of all those online activities, you can always grab a book you wanted to read for so long but never managed to merge entirely into it. Now you have the time. Jump into the story and let it to take you away. That is one of books’ magic purposes. They can also slow your overthinking patterns and calm you down, easily and naturally rock you to sleep.

 

I know times are hard and becoming even harder the longer they continue. I myself am having anxiety attacks when looking into future or just when I follow the news. It is overwhelming, even for a person who can easily work from home. But, as in other tough times and situations, I need to see the positive sides of this situation too. And when I look around, I see a lot. Despite the situation, internally, I have never been happier.

 

So now, just fix the outside world and we are done, right? Right.

 

Have a lovely day.

 

Yours,

 

Wicked and Clever

 

Šárka

 

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The Positive Diary #17 – Spring, here and now

12th April – I know. This year started with many obstacles. For many people around the world, this has been a nightmare. And still is. Whether you lost someone to the virus, or you are struggling with money during the time when everything is closed in order to slow down the pace of virus’s spreading, I feel for you and I am truly sorry you have to go through this.

For me, personally, my biggest fear coming from the current pandemic situationis a worry about losing freedom, losing basic human rights, and relying on politicians who can easily bring us back to the dark ages.And for a long time… But I don’t want to talk about it now. Maybe, I will get back to it soon. This space is dedicated to enjoying bits of happiness, focusing on the things we need to be grateful for, even in the darker times. For me, this situation, when we are all being forced to stay at home, has brought many benefitsas well.

And today, I want to talk about the most basic one. It is one of the things which our profit-centered, capitalistic society is stealing away from usand also, one of the things we can fully appreciate now, when we are not allowed to chase after money and business-importance every day. There is quite few of those stolen aspects of life and I hope I will get back to all of them soon. Today, I want to talk about spring.

How many times in the last couple of years you felt the desperate need for summer, for spring, for sun rays, at the end of a long winter? It is always there. We are forced to sit in the office, the blinds on the windows are closed because we wouldn’t see on the monitors otherwise, and the day light is so rare. We are thirsty for vitamin D; we are thirsty for light; we are thirsty for fresh air. Right? But then, when the spring finally sprouts, we are still forced to live our fast, meaningless lives and before we know it, the spring is gone.

I don’t know about you, but for me, spring is undoubtedly the most favorite season of a year. Those smells, those colors, those sounds! I think I can be forever in love with spring. Everything is fresh and new and you yourself can clean up some things inside you that have been bothering you for some time. Especially for those, who are not entirely disconnected from nature herself, it is a time of new beginnings, new adventures, new reconnections, because this is how it goes naturally, outside of our human world as well.

If I say our civilization deprived us of spring, I’m not exaggerating that much. But now, the situation is different. Even the privileges of our civilization had to step aside and the concern over public health took over. And since we now prioritize our collective health, why won’t we include this? Spring. Going outside, even with the mask on, for a walk between the fields, to the forest, sitting on a garden, balcony or even just next to an opened window; and seeing all the leaves sprouting out, hearing all those bees and bumblebees, being able to smell the blossoming cherry trees – that is something almost invaluable in terms of our usual way of thinking. For me, it even makes up for the canceled vacation we were supposed to take off to in one week.

I am not saying the world situation is easy right now, I know it is not. But I am grateful for the lemonade I can make from those lemons life is throwing at us. Focusing on the better side of things will help us to make it through the tough times, let’s not forget that. That is why I am hoping to restore my positive diary writings and to add even more value to my blogs.

After all, it is spring. The time of new beginnings and new reconnections.

So, if you can, enjoy this time and make the most out of it!

 

Yours,

Wicked and clever

Šárka

 

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The Positive Diary #16 – Ability to step back

9th March 2020 – What am I grateful for today? I’m grateful for many many things, as usual. For my health, my job, my loving and caring boyfriend; for all those possibilities to grow through my past mistakes or just through experiences. There is so much to be grateful for. But what am I grateful today, what am I grateful specifically on this day?

Let’s talk about our ability to step back today.

As a person who is constantly overthinking everything, I find this ability very helpful. It is a feature I’ve been rediscovering for the last couple of days and it gives me what I was searching for thoroughly for the last couple of months.

I’ve been through a lot last year. It was essentially a storm year – for my personal life, for my work life, for the way I used to see myself. It gave me as much as it took away from me. But eventually, I managed to find my way out of every trouble, with a little help and also with a sense that none of what happened was a mistake. These were only experiences. Not necessary only pleasant ones, but still – just experiences. Just this shift, to see what we did without the constant judgement of ourselves and without that constant comparison with what could have been instead of what actually was, is freeing.

Another step is a simple realization. It is the moment when you realize, you are going to heal, with time. It is about learning that you need to be patient with yourself the same way you are patient with others. It is a promise of hope. You are on the right path; you just need to persist.

But even with knowing all of this, there are certain moments of weakness. It goes hand by hand with overthinking and the trigger might be almost everything. Moreover, with overthinking, it is not just our old scars and experiences that can start to exhaust us. It can be the most teeny-tiny problem you are dealing with in work, minor problem with people at school, basically, it can be anything. But with a little ‘help’ of overthinking, the problem can grow in your head really quickly really big.

So, what then? Learn to acknowledge that you are overthinking and learn to take a step back. Get distance in order to see the problem with fresh eyes, from a new perspective. It can be a guided meditation that will teach you how to become aware of this. It can be a person, who notifies you that you are thinking too much. In the first, second or even a third time. It’s okay to have help. And trust me, eventually, you will learn how to realize that on your own. And when you do, there are different rituals that will help you to take a step back.

Like breathing. Focusing on your breath and on your inner voice can help to take away the outside noise and redraw your attention to something worthy. What helps me, right now, is my imagination.

I lighted two candles in my bedroom this weekend. Those helped me to get rid of my negative thoughts or memories during the time when they burned. It was my safe space, a shelter where I can be happy, finally, and enjoy time with my special one. So now, even when I’m not there and the candles are not burning, I can picture them in my mind, see their light and feel their warmth. I can easily tune back into that feeling of safeness and harmony and use this feeling to repel those unnecessary negative ones.

That is magic. On some level. It must be.

And that is what I am grateful for today.

 

Happy Monday, everyone!

Held captive.

She inhaled, deeply. Once again. The pain laying on her shoulders loosened. With the light-bearer by her side, every thought was lighter, every feeling more bearable, every nightmare survivable. Still, there were moments, glimpses of her past, memories, which held her captive inside the labyrinth of her deepest fears.

It seems like we are always drawn back, we are always held captive by our past mistakes. By our foregone attempts to live, genuinely, she thought herself.

On some days, fights were easy to win. But on other days, she was so annoyed by the amount of damage that was still present in her life that the fights were burning up her whole energy.

But it’s always a victory. Unless you stop fighting, she nodded and gave a shining smile to the light-bearer, who sat quietly next to her and carefully observed every single thought mirrored on her face.

Free.

“I just want to be free,” she whispered, “free of the pain.” And she closed her eyes and opened her palm. The moth sitting on her skin stretched its wings and took off – quietly, gently, just shimmering in the air until it got lost in the darkening night sky. 

She breathed in. The air was light, cold, watery. With the air in her lungs, her whole faith expanded.  

The Positive Diary #14 – The air and the clarity

18th February 2019 – Today, I want to talk about something we take so very often for granted but it still remains one of the most crucial bases for the life on Earth itself. I want to talk about the fresh air and the various ways it can help us through difficult times. I have to admit I am always that one annoying person who complains about a bad air in a room, especially when there is lots of people or in case there is no possible way to give the room a good airing. It seems to me that many people don’t even recognize there is something sneaky and unhealthy going on when we breathe such a bad air. To me, lack of a fresh air starts to feel like a great tiredness and continues with feeling dizzy, powerless and almost sick. But in the moment I leave the room and grasp my breath, all of this suddenly disappear. That is also the reason I cherish every single moment when I can take a deep breath in and out.

Focusing on one’s breath is one of the techniques that can help us to reduce stress, ease anxieties and repulse panic attacks. It can also be used as a technique to help you fall asleep faster when your brain is overwhelmed by the number of thoughts spinning inside your head after a stressful day. Maybe the reason why I feel so weakened by the lack of the fresh air is the fact that I use these techniques so often, sometimes even without acknowledging it.

But there is also another part of me that loves the air. My less rational but the more loving part. Even as a child, I was always attracted by the strong wind during summer thunderstorms. And even as an adult, I just can’t help but to love the mild breeze ruffling my hair on a quiet walk through a forest. It is an inseparable part of my deepest admiration of Nature itself and every conscious breath I take is not only my ally for fighting my inner demons but also a reminder of this love.

So yes, no matter how silly it can sound, today I am the most grateful for every breath of chilling air I took outside today and for every other I will take in the future.

Take a deep breath and enjoy your evening, my friends!

With love

Wicked And Clever

Šárka

The Positive Diary #13 – Warning signs

25th November 2018 – I am an expert especially in one thing and that is taking too much on. Well, I would say comparing with others, I don’t take on that much but maybe that is the problem, that we tend to compare ourselves with others and then make our decisions based on these comparisons. While all we ought to do is just ask ourselves: is this really good for me? Am I going to make it through with my health and sanity left? I usually forget to ask and then, in the middle of a semester, I usually end up thinking about how I will manage to survive until it ends. I’m no good at managing stress, I have to admit.

 

When I was finishing my bachelor’s degree, I somehow got this job offer I couldn’t dismiss so easily. It was a position of an editor in one of the most renown Czech magazine for kids. As my first job ever, I couldn’t wish for anything better. So, I accepted it. First two months, it was a joyful ride – I didn’t have many classes at school, I was content with my co-workers and I felt important. I felt how my self-confidence is growing, slowly. It was a dream. But then, first warning signs started to appear.

 

My strong immunity went to zero and I was sick all the time. With that, I ceased to enjoy my work, I ceased to enjoy my classes, my marriage, my life – everything was consumed by the dullness of everyday stress. I stopped managing my time schedule, I didn’t have time to do my home works properly and neither to do the job assignments. I remember this dark and cold emptiness from that time which I was trying to fill with the music of one of my most favorite bands, All Time Low. I decided to ignore all the warning signs until the point when there was a huge chance, I wouldn’t finish my bachelor thesis on time. Only then, I decided to execute the plan I had already dreamt of for several months and I finally quit. It has been the roughest few months in my modern history.

 

Since that time, I’ve always tried to avoid myself from getting into such situations again. And the reason for that is not that I would like to spoil myself but rather the fact that it was not worth the effort. We basically live in the age when workaholism is considered to be trendy and the one who is not as obsessed with gaining power and money as the rest of a society is usually considered to be weak, even lazy. I don’t think these people, and me among them, are lazy. We just value our lives more than money, we value our time more than showing off with a new super-fast car or super-expensive watches. When you think about it in this perspective, who is the fool in this story now? 🙂

 

So, today I want to express my gratitude for being able to recognize and also being able to respond to those warning signs I have been experiencing for some time now. Based on my old experience, I have decided to slow down a little bit. And I have to admit that during the last couple of days, much of my happiness and calmness has returned.

 

I believe these are the crucial things in one’s life that are worth the extra effort. Just find yourself time to rest properly, to feed your body with nutritious food, to exercise the body with fav YT yoga video and to calm your mind with the guided meditation that always brings you the tears of joy. With that, everything else will surrender and you will be able to see the meaning of your life again.

Think of it tomorrow, as the new week begins.

 

With love

Wicked And Clever

Šárka

 

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The Positive Diary #9 – Czech medical care

20th October 2018 – Dear Diary, it has been a while, again. This last week was quite a mess. I turned twenty-six last Sunday and since then, everything went downhill. Not only I have found out about the inconvenient of studying while being older than 25, my younger brother, the light of my life and my very best friend, found out that he has a type 1 diabetes. What a shock it was, considering he is about to turn twenty-one next March. To my great surprise, today in my positive diary, I want to talk about medical care here, in Czech Republic.

 

When our mum died, I was so furious about the same system. After what felt like ages, during which my mum was told from various doctors that she is totally okay and if she feels bad, it is probably because she fakes it, she was hospitalized and two months later, she passed away. I was fifteen then and I wasn’t able to understand how this could have happened. I was angry as I was never before. Since then, I always considered your days over once the medical system gets you. I am much older now and, not only based on our latest experience, I have to admit that even here it depends on the people you encounter on your journey, as almost in every case in one’s life. (Also, our mum’s disease was quite rare.)

 

Visits at hospital can be harsh. I know it myself from the visits of my grandpa, as he was fighting a lung cancer, and I know it from the look on faces of my grandparents, as they were coming home from the hospital in the final stage of my mum’s disease. But this time, I was pleasantly surprised, as everyone – nurses, doctors, nuns, and other nursing stuff – was always smiling at us, always eager to explain what bothered us, always happy to answer the dumbest questions of ours.

 

Therefore, today I want to say how grateful I am that my brother was so lucky. I am also grateful that he discovered this freaking disease early enough and thus, there was less space left for the disease to start mess with his body in a hard way. I am so proud and so happy I have my wonderful brother and also satisfied I was able to be with him during those crazy days. (And to freak out about it, just a little bit. O:) )

 

 

Take care until the next time!

With love

 

Wicked And Clever

 

Šárka