What are your favourite things in life?
In a world full of high intensity work, easy access internet and 24hr news, it’s pretty difficult these days to de-stress and take timeout.
This week, I’ve decided to lay it all bare and let you know a little more about me; to be precise, 10 of my favourite things in life (but you’ll notice, I’ve only mentioned 5 as this is only Part 1!)
Most weeks, I try to make time for a little of each of these 5 activities; a small amount of one of these things (if not all of them!!) helps me to chill and keeps me happy throughout the month.
So what are my 5?…
1) Playing my violin
Playing my violin and reading music is such an escape and a great way to relax. I’ve been learning and playing my little violin for… well, close to 20 years. Eeek! 20 years?! That’s crazy.
I’ve got to say, when I started learning it wasn’t love at first sight by any means. I desperately wanted to be able to play the flute but sadly, as much as I tried, I just could not make a sound. I was like the mute flute. My second choice instrument was the cello, but that got vetoed quickly by my parents as they could see that they would need a bigger car if I was any good. So that was that, third choice… the violin.
I’m so glad it happened that way though, because I really do love it and I’d now never wish that I hadn’t learned it.
After a couple of years out for uni, I got back into playing the fiddle again last Summer. I started practising more and more as I realised I needed something to learn, something to restart my brain after a long day at work. So I dusted it off and began to play my old music.
Peter was very kind and said it sounded good, I think he fibbed for awhile!
I found it difficult to keep the practising up when I got back in from work as it ended up being too late, especially in a flat! So I bought myself a silent electric, which I can plug headphones into. It’s great fun to play, but it doesn’t substitute the real thing.
That’s why I decided to give myself some structure and began searching for a teacher. I wasn’t looking for anything serious, no exams, just playing and learning new things. And that’s exactly what I found in the very talented Cecilia! That said, we are now talking about the possibility of me taking Grade 5 theory (my nemesis) and potentially Grade 8 – something I thought I’d never do, but which now excites me.
2) Spending time with family & friends
I adore spending quality time with family and friends. Whether it’s enjoying a film together, tucking into a special meal cooked by Mum or just relaxing in each others company, it doesn’t have to be much to be lovely.
Family time got even more exciting with the arrival of my little nephew two years ago. It’s fascinating watching him learn and grow. To be that inquisitive again must be so tiring!
Family time is special to me because it’s one of the most precious things in life which quite often gets taken for granted. If you don’t see each other much, you just have to make the most of it. I’m lucky in that I see my family quite frequently, I’m not sure what it would be like if I lived thousands of miles away from them.
3) Sailing with my Dad
My sister and I have been sailing since we were little and started off by going out with our Dad in his single-hander dinghy. Dad would sail the boat, Zoe would sit up front with her legs wrapped around the mast and I would sit next to Dad, ducking every time we manoeuvred. It wasn’t long before we got too big for that and Dad decided it was time for us to learn how to sail ourselves. He thought we’d be naturals. We weren’t. It took us a couple of weeks learning with instructors until we spent more time upright rather than in the water or bushes!
We both eventually became instructors ourselves and started to compete in races. Dad decided to get a double-hander, three sailed boat, which meant I could sail with him too. Although there is always room for improvement, after 10 years or so of sailing it together, we still love it. I get a lovely sense of freedom when sailing. The satisfaction when something goes just right, or the great sense of surviving a windy day – makes for a brilliant buzz.
4) Walking up hills (and coming back down again!)
When not sailing, I love walking. It’s something that you can do pretty much anytime, any day, any weather (depending on how mad you’re feeling!).
It’s only been relatively recently that I’ve done more of the really hilly stuff. A weekend of walking in the Lake District with friends is my idea of bliss. The idea of renting a little cottage in the middle of nowhere, then waking up surrounded by beautiful scenery, watching the mist rolling over the hills and down the valley, and then coming in at dusk, having the longest shower possible and trying not to move my aching legs – ahhh! Take me there now!!!
It was after a weekend like this when Peter and I decided with three others, that doing the National Three Peaks challenge would be a brilliant idea. If you’ve not heard of it before, the challenge is one which involves walking up and down three mountains, Ben Nevis, Scarfell and Snowdon, in 24hrs. It really was an excellent idea – although Peter and I couldn’t make it back in 24hrs (falling just a little short, and completing it in 25hrs) because of an injury I picked up, we absolutely loved it. Being in the elements, with a group of fantastic people, feeling absolutely zonked but so motivated to just power through, really made it one of the best things I’ve done so far. I just can’t believe it was 2 years ago now.
It is definitely time for another challenge, just which one?! In the meantime, Peter and I continue to love walking around cities, including our home, Oxford.
5) Getting sweaty at CrossFit with Peter and ‘training like a pro’
Peter and I have recently started going to The Athlete Centre which is a CrossFit gym (aka a Box) just round the corner from us in Oxford. We’ve been going nearly 3 times a week now for just over two months and are absolutely loving every aspect of it. We’re still in the beginner’s ‘fundamentals’ classes, but are slowly working ourselves up to attending a full blown strength class. That said, we have started to go to Olympic Weight Lifting and are loving that too. Exercising the CrossFit way means that it’s really easy to see progress each week, even if it’s just small steps, like squatting that little bit lower, going up a kettle bell weight or even just being able to skip 50 times in a row without stopping.
The main reason for us joining TAC, was because of my hyper-mobility (which I’ll probably talk about in more detail another time on the blog) and for me to gain muscle strength. I’m astonished by the difference this type of exercise is making to my core strength and stability in my hips and is really easing the restlessness and aching I get from sitting at a desk all day long.
Aside from the physical health benefits, it’s making me feel so happy and is a brilliant boost to my self-confidence and general well-being.
If you enjoyed this, Part 2 is here!
What are your favourite things in life?