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? 

Positive Diary #19 – Rain

31st May – I know, it might seem pretty basic. Rain, water, breeze, we tend to take all of these things as granted, although our ability to take advantage of them can change pretty rapidly. I can see it in the long-term change of weather, or maybe let’s say climate itself, in Czech Republic. I vividly remember every spring because I love them so hard. You can see all of the changes, you can feel them, touch them and mourn for them. But not this year. This year we are lucky and that is what I got to say today.

Springs in my country used to be fabulous. Blue sunny skies were often replaced by mild rainy days; the trees, grass and flowers were racing to sprout, all spaces were buzzing with life and there was enough of water in the exact perfect amount that you didn’t even have to think about it. It was a paradise, marking the soon-the-summer-comes time and eyes and hearts of patient spectators were drowning in unwitting amazement. Those times, those colors, sounds and smells, all of that taught me how to love nature. They made me who I am.

However, in recent years, those lovely spring days disappeared. And not just them. Snowy days of winter and the joy from seeing sun rays dancing on a fresh layer of frozen white water was replaced by dirty, dry and lightless short days; and warm summer days changed into almost never-ending waves of heat, leaving you wonder where have we all made the mistake and pray for this desert to go away as fast as it came. And between those two wrecked seasons – nothing. The sweet springtime suddenly became compressed into two-day season and that was it. From long, brown and grey winter quick jump into the never-ending heat of summer, thank you very much.

This year is different. And it fills me with joy, happiness and even hope that not everything has been lost. This May was far from all of those previous years. It is raining every other day, but mildly, lovingly and with kindness, don’t mistaken it with the already well-known relentless flooding cloudbursts. Herbs on the garden thrives again, birds sing, all is green and fresh, buzzing. Everything seems to be back in normal.

We still fight the exceptional drought in Czech Republic, but seeing the wonderful power of nature, still loving and kind, despite those terrible acts we commit to her on everyday basis, fills me with surge of gratitude

I hope that more and more people will realize how profoundly beautiful and important nature is; that more and more people start to believe in her and that more and more people start to do what they can in order to protect her

The thing with nature is simple – she doesn’t need us. But we certainly need her.

Let’s be grateful for all of her gifts. And let’s start to give something back.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Wicked and Clever

Šárka

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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.  

Perfect Spots in Prague: Vítkov Hill

When you visit Prague for the first time and you usually have only limited time, the schedule is somehow very easy to figure out. There is the Charles’ Bridge and astronomical clock to see, trdlovník or svíčková to taste and beer or Becherovka to get drunk with. No problem with that, it just works like that when it comes to fast traveling.

But! For those moments when you have more free time to spare, when you are slow traveling or when you move to the city in order to live and work here, you will discover there is much more to see. And that these places are way better than classical crowded touristy spots.

Perfect Spots in Prague: Vítkov Hill

National Memorial on Vítkov Hill and the giant statue of Jan Žižka standing right in front of it are visible and recognizable from various different corners of Prague. I remember it was always one of the points of orientation while maneuvering throughout the city, even when I was a kid and later, in my teenage years. Especially, when we were coming home from faraway places, I knew, when I saw the statue and the hill, I was close.

It was many years after that, when I first started to see the place as a perfect venue for meeting my friends and family. As a place where you can just chill, hang out and forget about the buzzing life you left down there, under the hill. Because almost all roads lead to Vítkov, it is easily accessible from various different quarters: from Karlín via stairs starting on Invalidovna or via the tunnel coming right through the hill from near the Karlínské náměstí; from Žižkov by just walking or from the city center via the secret shortcut between train stations Masarykovo and Hlavní nádraží connected to a cycleway and, you guessed it, some other stairs.

You can tell a lot from this description – first of all, you get pretty sweaty while reaching the top of the hill, especially during the long hot summer days. It is fun to see how your physical fitness is slowly declining as you spend more and more hours in the office. But that is also a good reason not to skip this trip! But secondly, the view from the top is just spectacular. I cannot just have enough of it. Because the place is visible from many spots in Prague, you can see almost the entire Prague from up here as well. That is quite logical, right? And it is definitely worth all the effort.

There is a lovely park behind the monument with many benches to sit on and it is also a favorite place for many sportsmen and sportswomen – for jogging and training under the open sky. What I personally love the most is to sit on the low wall surrounding the monument, observe everyone and everything and the whole city along all of it and chat with any of the precious beings I know.

Vítkov is basically one of the last places in Prague that were able to defend its charms, place that is quiet, peaceful and adorable and what is more, you can see the city you love from up here in its whole beauty. So please, while visiting, try to hold on to it and enjoy it. Staying humble while facing the greatness such as this one is also a part of the experience.

The Positive Diary #15 – The music memory

24th February 2019 – This February was very enriching, surprising and empowering in so many ways that I cannot still properly comprehend. It all started with the most emotionally tensed 1st February I’ve had in a very long time. It was all about passing one of the hellish exams we have on my master program in the morning, having an argument with my younger brother during a lunch and accidently meeting someone I thought I forgot about a long time ago in the evening. I have to say, meetings like this one make you wonder about your past. You might find yourself thinking about the decisions you made in your life, reckoning.

 

When I got home after that exhausting day, with a slight hangover, I started to search for my diaries from that time of my past so I could bring some of my memories back in order to revise them. Because it is all almost forgotten history to me (everything happened almost ten years ago and all of it resemble more a dream than an actual history) I needed to dig deep to find my rather modest diary excerpts in my many personal notebooks. As I found it, I realized with horror that I hadn’t written much about my experiences from those days. I also went through some stories and unfinished novels from that time, but I haven’t found a lot. I felt a little disappointed, but I let it go, eventually.

 

But today, as I was listening to some random playlist on Spotify, one of the tracks struck me with a memory and reminded me what music I had listened to back then so intensely that it had become a part of my memories of that time. I rushed to listen to it as a whole and I couldn’t be more astonished! As I was listening to these songs, many memories were brought back to a daylight. So many pictures I thought I have forgotten already, so many contradictory feelings, so much joy and sorrow at the same time!

 

I know it can be viewed by many rather as a tool of torture because we sometimes want to forget about certain things that happened in our lives. That is totally understandable and even I have to confess there are some songs that I prefer to avoid because memories which are brought back to life by them are still too heavy to carry. But in moments like these, when you want to remember something in order to gain some clarity over a problem you are solving right now, or in case you want to remember how extraordinary and happy you felt once in the past, this kind of memory is just remarkable. And it always hits me and surprises me when I realize how powerful these memories can be!

 

So today, I want to express my endless gratitude for being able to remember such intensive feelings through beautiful music and songs. I am also very grateful for living in the time when all we want to listen to is just within arms reach. I simply cannot imagine how dull, lifeless and sad my life would have been without the possibility to plug my headphones in and surrender to sounds only I decide to listen to.

 

Have a wonderful Sunday, my friends!

 

With love

 

Wicked And Clever

 

Šárka

 

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