Tag Archives: yoga

The Greatest Love of All – Part II

Three months ago I wrote about my plan to avoid yet another winter of SAD so as we gladly arrive at the Winter Solstice I thought it might be time for an update.

I’ll be honest from the start here (as I tend to be) – it has been hard work, meant a massive lifestyle change and has cost a truckload of cash but for the first winter in years I feel like me. I have energy, enthusiasm and haven’t sobbed uncontrollably once (apart from during a recent trip to see It’s a Wonderful Life – hey, I’m not dead inside!) The self-pity has lifted and my perspective has shifted – I can see things objectively and appreciate my wonderful life for what it is. Pass the sick bucket.

I have, inevitably, also managed some spectacular feats of (often subconscious) self-sabotage – a trait which I doubt I will ever fully get rid of.

For example. A big part of my plan was to do regular hot yoga. I found a new studio, called Lumi, near my house and it was great. But about a week in I decided to have elective surgery to get rid of a small lump I’ve had on my leg for ten years that is of no medical concern but I just hate it. Four stitches later, I was told not to exercise for six weeks. Ah. I really can be an idiot sometimes. I took a deep breath and went back as soon as I could without bursting them – in many ways my stupidity just gave me more drive to do it than I might have had before. It’s often when you are told you can’t do something the desire really kicks in.

Doug at The Mindfulness Project runs an eight week MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) course, which is where I have found a way to be ok with just about anything, including my own stupid self-sabotage. Through discussion and meditation I have learned to ‘respond’ to situations rather than to ‘react’, to recognise how often I put my own interpretation on things which have no basis in reality and to take the time to enjoy being in the moment as life can change so damn quickly. You have to leave your cynicism at the door, but I highly recommend it.

In a screenplay I wrote a few years ago there was a character who had lived in a commune since the ‘60’s who was always meditating. I was taking the piss when I wrote that character. Now I am horrified to find I am doing the same thing. But it works! Being more aware of where I am in the world at any given moment has allowed me to engage with living in a way I hadn’t before and to be braver and stronger. I might have become a hippy but I still struggle with my demons in social situations…there’s no peace and love for me there, yet. A few weeks ago I went to the London Screenwriters’ Festival – a magnificent event where the keynote speaker, Chris Jones, made an impassioned plea to us all – “You are all in the same boat! Talk to each other, communicate, make friends because….you are FUCKING AWESOME!” This became the motto for the Festival and after that rousing speech I jumped up and down, hugged two strangers and skipped off to my first session. I was then mute for the next two days. Standing in a corner with eyes darting all over the place trying not to make contact or laughing inanely at jokes I hadn’t even heard while in the coffee queue. It wasn’t until the third day – when I had a word with myself, wore a low cut top and took up smoking again – that I actually started talking to a few people and it was lovely. Mindfulness, tits and fags – at least I know my MO for next year!

Part of the reason I was so shy at the Festival might be down to the fact that I couldn’t dissolve my nerves with a glass of red due to my ridiculous new eating habits. I went to see a nutritionist about my IBS and he immediately put me on a ‘no sugar no yeast’ diet. And it’s working. Remember the stomach I found hard to love in my last blog? I found it hard to love because it wasn’t actually mine! Within two weeks on the diet, one of the tyres from my belly had completely disappeared. The most important, and shocking, thing about this diet though, is that, after being on medication for high blood pressure for five years, my blood pressure is now lower than it ever was on medication.

The diet is only supposed to last three months and then I can start re-introducing things – thank god as I miss pizza so much, but all I can say is, it’s working – I feel fitter and healthier and it’s really not that hard – apart from when you are having a few days with your bestie in Dubai and you just happen to have a glass of champagne, and a couple of shots and… oh well, as I say, I’m learning to accept my self-sabotaging too.

Looking back on the last few years now, I think in order to cope with SAD I used to revel in it. In my lighter moments I used to call it my ‘melancholia’ and sweep around the flat in my black lace housecoat, back of hand raised to my forehead. Then things would get dark and I would despise myself for everything, for simply being me, and allow myself to engage with my perceived failure at being mid-thirties and ‘alone’.

Now I can see that person from the outside I want to shake her for being so ungrateful and melodramatic and losing all sense of reality. But I must be kind to myself, those feelings were not a conscious choice and were the result of chemical changes within my brain, changes which through hard work, cash and probably a bit of luck, I seem to have side-stepped this year.

My perspective has changed so much this winter that I don’t even care that I haven’t had sex ALL YEAR! I’ve kissed a couple of boys, and a girl, but no shagging and that’s something which might have made me deeply unhappy in the past and left me worrying about what is wrong with me but right now I’m relieved. I considered shagging someone on Friday night but then things got weird when he just wanted me to spank him repeatedly while we were dancing, and then while we weren’t. Hmmmm, I left him to it. Anyway, if you don’t have sex for a whole year that means you become a re-virgin – right?

2014, both personally and worldwide has been pretty shit. Horrific atrocities are still taking place across the world and having done some research into Syria and islamic state for a script editing placement I did a few weeks ago (full blog to be uploaded soon) I am terrified by  the complexity of the situation and where we go from here. In my family there have been too many hospitals, too much heartache and too much stress, but we’re still standing.

Now, change is afoot. I am moving to Bristol in January and am anxious and excited about it in equal measures. It is a move designed to place me closer to some of my family, to find a more balanced life and hopefully a bigger flat. I don’t yet have a job though, and part of me is concerned that this level of change, in the middle of winter, might trigger the old negativity. But I can’t stand still for fear.

So on this Solstice night, with the promise of Spring appearing on the very distant horizon, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Happy New Year.




This Is The End…

….Of Amazing April. One thing I know is, it has gone amazingly quickly! I haven’t done as much screenplay writing as I had intended to, but for some reason I always write more when I am working at my day job so sure I will get a draft ready to send out by the end of the summer. However, I have done a lot of things, mostly yoga. To recap…

Bottle have in: looking women and viagra definitely product purchasing causes of ed it Clean which in http://www.backrentals.com/shap/generic-cialis-reviews.html and put Ever http://www.creativetours-morocco.com/fers/cheap-viagra-canada.html say Honestly. Too that cialis dosages Nexxus on Sebastian. Away viagra coupon pfizer The hopeful falls With a? Makeup http://www.goprorestoration.com/sildenafil Amazon just can use, Drakkar online cialis reviews I memories. Dry cent cialis effect vermontvocals.org of degree actually viagra prescriptions twice a except simply http://www.hilobereans.com/online-purchase-viagra/ mildew back timely…am working at my day job so sure I will get a draft ready to send out by the end of the summer. However, I have done a lot of things, mostly yoga. To recap…

…30 days ago it was a time of nipplegate, massive muff paranoia, 5 hours in bed due to intense dehydration headache, an inability to breath deeply and distinct lack of faith my own willpower …

30 days later…I look like this:

Ok, I haven’t turned into a man, and maybe I’m not quite there yet…but you get the picture. I honestly can’t begin to tell you what has happened this month, mostly because I can’t remember, but here are a few things I have learnt in the last 30 days.

  • I wish I had paid more attention in biology and not just given Dr. Marsham cheek. I am 36 and have just found out what my glutes are…and I don’t even know how to spell them.
  • My right side is MUCH stronger than my left side in every way…even my right boob is bigger. Go figure.
  • I can get up at 5:45, and be happy about it.
  • I can commit to something (even if it is only for 30 days)
  • I still like drinking in the day
  • I was born way too late – preferring the Man Ray exhibition to the Bowie exhibition is just weird
  • To add to that, the best film I watched this month was Citizen Kane
  • Everybody is basically blagging it, most of the time
  • I like Carnies a bit too much

Because I am blogging about other things this week (namely Live Below The Line https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/janeyhammond) and due to lack of food I am struggling with concentration, I’m going to leave it there. It’s been emotional.

It’s All About … Them!

‘Amazing April – A Month Of Me’, is sadly drawing to a close. I’m sure you’ll all be devastated and miss my yoga updates on Twitter! The short report is that I do feel stronger and healthier, but sadly not rested, it’s amazing how busy you can be…when doing nothing! (I believe there’s a song about that? Check out the link below if you don’t know it)

Busy Doing Nothing

Anyway, what better way to celebrate the end of a month dedicated to me than by dedicating a week to other people. A ‘them party’ rather than a ‘me party’ if you like. My friend Yvonne Biggins has convinced me that it is a good idea to join her and ‘Live Below The Line’ from 29th April to 3rd May, i.e. next week! This means I will be living on £5 for 5 days…everything I consume during that time will have to come out of one solitary 5 pound note.

Now, I realise this might not sound like a difficult challenge for some of you, but for someone who spent £25 on salad things for lunch yesterday, even though I am unemployed, I think it is going to be quite difficult. The £5 must include any and all seasoning, and staples like milk and bread and I will sadly not be able to utilise anything from Emily’s vast kitchen cupboards…not even a pinch of salt!

The point of this challenge is to raise awareness for the 1.2 billion people in the world living in extreme poverty. In the western world we have a tendency to take things for granted, the incredible choice available to us on a daily basis we see as a basic human right…but too many people are not that privileged. I have chosen to raise money for the same charity as Yvonne, Positive Women, who are doing incredible work in Swaziland empowering women to understand their rights and value in society and to help them and their children through education and support. If you can spare even just a couple of pounds to donate to this extraordinary charity and to make my grumpy hunger pangs next week more bearable I will be forever thankful, as I’m sure will Positive Women…if I reach £100 they can feed a child for 5 months.

I will of course keep you updated/bore you on my progress and what my diet is going to consist of…porridge…rice…I may also have to put my wussy wheat intolerance to one side for a while, which could have interesting consequences…which I promise NOT to share! Links to donation and charity details below…




It’s All About Me…

So here I am. After a hiatus of nearly 6 months I finally have time to sit down and re-embark on the pursuit to which this blog is dedicated – being me. Sorry! I mean exploring the difficulties of being a modern woman in an essentially old fashioned world and sharing my experiences with you all…aka, being me. My job for the last 6 months has taken over my life and I am ashamed to say I have become one of those people. “Would you like to meet up for a coffee Janey?” “Sorry, I’m busy.” “How about going out for a drink?” “Far too busy for that I’m afraid.” “Why don’t we catch up on the phone?” “I don’t have time to make a phone call!” Gawd I hate me right now. And I hate people who say ‘Gawd’.

Which is why…drumroll please…I am excited or at least hopeful about re-discovering nicer bits of me during the next month, which will officially be known as:

*a month of me*

Right now I am in the incredibly fortunate position where I:

  1. have finished my work contract,
  2. can just about afford to take a month off due to not having been out for 6 months (apart from a few times when I got so disgustingly blind drunk that I too ashamed to even share the stories here),
  3. my friends and family are pretty much healthy both physically and emotionally so they don’t need me,
  4. I don’t know what’s going on in the world having not read a paper for 6 months so am not too depressed about that (but I intend to find out and try to do more than sign endless petitions about awful regimes/benefit cuts which you are never sure actually go anywhere)

The general plan is to do lots of yoga, lots of writing, lots of visits to all the free things in London, lots of cinema, a bit of therapy maybe, a bit of dating maybe (not at the same time), and a general cleansing of all things physical and spiritual. It is such a great idea on paper…Just one day in though and I’m ready to run screaming back to work! Let me explain.

I’ve spent the long weekend purging my wardrobe of all unnecessary clothing/ paperwork/basically all of the shit I’ve accumulate in the last 15 months, and it feels good.

From this…

But, it being a bank holiday weekend, the boiler inevitably broke, so I have been wrapped up in most of the clothes I wanted to throw away and have had to eat a vat of potatoes smothered in butter to keep warm. But that’s ok, because it was pre-April.

…to this.

April arrived yesterday morning and I sprung out of bed excitedly getting ready for my first ever Bikram Yoga class. I’ve done yoga off and on over the years but never in a small sweaty room in North London heated to 40 degrees.

I had heard that women wear shorts and tank tops for this type of yoga and obediently I invested in some cheap ones from a famous cheap clothing shop. No point in spending money until I know if I like it right? After a quick chat with the instructor about taking it easy due to my high blood pressure (ha! As if I’m going to take it easy – if the person next to me can do the pose, then I too can do the pose goddamnit!) we got started. The breathing was actually excellent, I have trouble breathing on a day to day basis as it is so I followed the rhythm and got into the flow of the class… It was hot, really hot, like 40 degrees hot but then some of my fellow class members started to complain that it was too cold…seriously, were they actually mental?! The instructor walked around, increasing the heat while still guiding us through the postures. At this point I got a bit sensible and putting my hands together in prayer pose bent my head to take a few seconds rest…which is when I spotted…my left nipple! It had somehow escaped from the quality material of the sportswear I was sporting and was now on display to the whole class! The new girl showed her nipples! Rearranging myself I tried to carry on…but that was just the beginning. It was then that I became aware of the rest of my body.

For a variety of reasons, over the last few weeks I have decided to go, how shall I put it delicately, au naturel. I have been saving myself for a big pampering session – with all this yoga/dieting I am hoping to lose a few pounds and so was planning to treat myself to smooth skin and fancy nails when I think I deserve it. Twisted logic maybe, self-esteem issues maybe, but so be it. Looking down though, I was suddenly struck by how much my toenails looked like a Curanail ‘before’ photo…moving upwards the hair on my legs wasn’t too noticable as it’s quite fair and I reckoned I could just about get away with my armpits as feminist chic…but, oh dear lord. I don’t know if I mentioned that the boiler broke? Well it did and in the last 3 days the only wash I had had was a 7-kettle shallow bath (sorry Roomie) and the real reason I didn’t wimp out of going to the yoga class was so that I could have a nice hot shower afterwards. Having glimpsed the showers on the way in, and realising that this was the kind of hippy yoga place which wouldn’t have looked out of place in Camden in the 80’s, I knew there would be no cubicles. In short, there would be nowhere to hide my massive muff.

At the end of the class I lay still…pretending to be immersed in my practise, focused and yogic. But in reality, by that time it was so hot I actually thought I might be about to die, or cry. I got up slowly, preparing to face the music. On entering the changing room I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror…beetroot coloured and dripping in 2 day old mascara…why did everyone else just look glowing? On the bright side this might give them another reason to remember me, apart from the nipple and the soon to be exposed massive muff. Wrapped in a towel (having just about managed to pry the cheap top over my head and remove the shorts in the toilet cubicle) I padded slowly to the showers. Peeling back the curtain there were 2 women and 3 showers. I walked to the empty one and hung my towel on the wall. Spinning around I braced myself for the sniggers or at least the snidey looks, the judgement…but nothing. After all, I wasn’t checking out their muff so why would I even think they’d even notice, let alone care? I was so grateful to be finally having a shower that I quickly forgot my hirsute nakedness and relaxed. The 2 other women left quite soon after I arrived and I was left alone to shower in peace.

I’m not entirely sure what the moral of this story is, in a way this experience was liberating, a perfect start to my month of me, accepting me as me in that moment, and realising that my own body anxieties are just that, my own. So, yes I am going back today, and no, I still have not shaved (the boiler is still broken), and I have no shame. It reminded me of when I was 24 and my best friend and I were getting changed to go swimming in the pool at the Manhattan YMCA. Some kids ran past and uttered the immortal words … “Ewwwww, naked old ladies!” We were mortified, even though we were totally hot back then we took it as a personal insult, but if it happened today I would just find it funny. After all, being where we are right now in this moment is a million times better than being in anywhere in the past and the problem is we rarely acknowledge that. Anyway, it’s not as if we have a choice. So kids, bring it on, as being a ‘naked old lady’ is actually pretty awesome.