The Ride

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I was so angry and disappointed that morning. So very disappointed.

I felt trapped, wanting, needing to break out and be free of the frustration and worry. I wanted to argue and shout and beg and cry (some more).

Instead I went cycling in the city of gold.

I fought the hills. I fought with you. I fought with God. And I fought myself.

Who won?

I’m not sure. But it was good.

In the brisk morning air the grey clouds yielded to the sun.

Cute distraction

I have a wonderful excuse not to have a proper, written post today.  So I thought I would share it with you so as to not miss a day of NaBloPoMo.

Here he is:

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His name is Jamie and he is the latest addition to our family.  Hubby Dearest surprised me yesterday with this little cutie pie.  How cool is my husband?!

Of course I can’t post photos of one baby and not of the others.  Here are our two wire-haired dachshunds, Meg and Jack:

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Meg
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Jack

 
I’m going to play with the new puppy now…

 

Soundtrack for a run

Life needs a soundtrack. Especially when you are running.

When out and about in the streets, most runners these days are sporting headphones.  Even in races it is more and more becoming the norm (although music is not allowed in official races, the rule is rarely enforced).  Just about everyone is hooked up to a music player.

According to an article I read, studies have shown that listening to music while you are running reduces your perception of how hard you are running by around 10%, thus making running feel easier.  No one can complain about that happy side effect.

The purists’ argument is that running with music “removes” you from the run: it prevents you from hearing your breathing and foot strike and from focusing on the task at hand.  You are less aware of what your body is doing (bunch of masochists, these purists…).  A more practical problem is that it makes you more oblivious to your environment (other runners, traffic, opportunistic Jo’burg criminals…), which could have you end up in a dangerous situation when running outside.

I confess that I find it hard to run without music. Depending on where I am running and whether or not I have company, boredom can become an issue (although this is more of problem on a treadmill). I need to have something to take my mind off my complaining body or to give me that extra boost to really kill the run.  Participating in triathlons, where race officials still strictly enforce the “no music” rule, I have gotten more used to the idea of running without music.  Now I am at least able to have a decent, enjoyable run when the iPod battery dies or some other technical disaster strikes.  If given a choice, though, music will most definitely be involved.

What makes a good running song?  I’m actually not sure.  Anything lively with a quick beat can work, I guess.  But I find that some songs that do not fall within the obvious workout music category work incredibly well.  And the right music can mean the difference between a decent run and an epic run.

Some songs have a connotation with something that inspires (think of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, Rocky Balboa running up the stairs and punching the air victoriously as he reaches the top).  Others push you to go harder with a slower, strong beat and angry lyrics (think Metallica or Rammstein).  Sometimes in a shuffled playlist you simply get the right song at the right time in your run, having just the right tempo to push you up that hill at a strong but steady pace or kicking you into a sprint on the flat to the finish line.

Here are some of my favourite running songs (in no particular order):

  • Faithless – Insomnia
  • Limp Bizkit – Rollin’; Break Stuff (dedicated to my favourite clients)
  • Kula Shaker – Hush
  • Prodigy – Breathe; Smack My Bitch Up; Firestarter (these guys really rock your run)
  • Liquido – Narcotic
  • Republica – Ready To Go
  • Coyote Shivers – Sugar High
  • Basshunter – Russia Privjet (horrible Euro dance crap, I know, but it is just so awesome for a workout!)
  • Bryan Adams – We’re Gonna Win (this one will get you to the finish line first)
  • Enya – Book Of Days (who would have thought that Enya could be on a running playlist)
  • Bon Jovi – Lay Your Hands On Me
  • My Chemical Romance – Welcome To The Black Parade
  • Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
  • Apollo 440 – Stop The Rock
  • Jan Blohm – Tangerine
  • Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
  • Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
  • ZZ Top – La Grange
  • Bloodhound Gang – Kids in America
  • Drowning Pool – Bodies
  • Safri Duo – Played-A-Live (The Bongo Song)
  • Spiderbait – Black Betty
  • Rage Against The Machine – Bullet In The Head
  • Billy Idol – White Wedding, Pt. 1
  • Muse – Supremacy

Do you run with or without? What are your favourite running songs?

Who I am and why I’m here: An attempt at writing

Since childhood I’ve enjoyed writing.  When we were kids, a friend and I used to co-write crazy monster stories, each taking a turn with a chapter. It was always a surprise to see where the other one would take the story. The creative process fascinated me.  I even once won an essay writing competition when I was in primary school (I grew up in a small town, so it is actually a case of having been a big-ish fish in a grubby little pond, but still).

Today I read and write for a living. Although the drafting of legal opinions and contracts teaches some important lessons that can be applied to other forms of writing (do not use more words than is necessary to convey the message, set out thoughts and principles in a logical manner, etc.), it does not really stimulate your creative side.

In the last few years I have become increasingly frustrated and bored with my work.  This lead to me exploring career options outside of the legal field.  I quickly realised that a career change requiring a formal qualification like a degree will be a tough one to manage.  There are only so many degrees that one can do part-time, and if I did that I will be the proud owner of a new bachelor degree when I’m around 40 (if I’m lucky).  And then I would still need to build up an actual career in that field.  I considered starting my own business.  I’ve always wanted to open a little bistro or café.  But that is risky.  It requires significant start-up capital that will not be easy to raise and the chance of success is slim given all the competition in the area and the fickleness of restaurant goers in Johannesburg.  Maybe a change inside the legal profession is the answer?  I don’t know.  But what I do know if that I need to either change careers or get into a hobby or part-time stint that entails something creative or at least more fulfilling than my current job.

Writing is something that came up during my explorations.  It is something I enjoy and have some form of experience in. It is also something that can be done on a part-time basis.  And that is why I am here. To get into writing. Not contracts, not legal notices, not circulars and not opinions. I want to be able to share my views, express my feelings, tell you about things that I actually find interesting and, eventually, get into the really creative things like fiction.

Why a blog?  Writing something that people will actually read can be a scary thing.  I remember how long it took me to first make my blog public and publish the first few posts.  Even now with more than 20 posts behind me it is still daunting to put my writing out there for people to see.  The post is silly, badly written, not meaningful enough, not funny enough…  I tend to be my own worst critic.  And most of all, I am afraid of making a fool of myself.  A blog seemed like a good place to build up confidence in writing for public readers.  The idea is, after all, to eventually write something that someone will pay to read.

My goal with this blog is, firstly, to keep posting regularly for the next year to really get into writing as a long-term hobby.  Secondly, I would like to build up a meaningful number of followers.  Once I have achieved that, I hope to be in a position to identify a niche to focus on, maybe in a separate blog.

Maybe I have a novel or two in me, who knows? I can only find out by trying, and this blog is the beginning of just that.

 

NaBloPoMo

What better way to kick off my renewed blogging effort than by participating in NaBloPoMo. For those who are not familiar with the acronym (I wasn’t until about a week ago), November is National Blog Posting Month, during NaBloPoMo_1114_465x287_NOVwhich participants aim to publish a post on their blogs every day.

I hope that NaBloPoMo will help me get into the habit of regular writing and blogging, forcing me to actively search for topics and not just waiting for inspiration to hit (which generally doesn’t happen very often). I can’t guarantee that the posts will be any good but I suppose even bad writing is better practice that no writing.

To add to all my blogging fun, I’ve also signed up for Blogging U’s Blogging 101 course, which starts tomorrow.  Hopefully I will learn more about blogging and writing in general, in order to broaden my own skills and save you, dear readers, from being bored (or scared) to death by sub-standard material on this blog.  I hope for all of our sakes that I achieve this goal.

It was touch-and-go but Day 1 of NaBloPoMo was successful, with me succeeding to get that first post published in the last couple of hours of 1 November. I hope I can remain disciplined and keep it up.  Just have to write, write, write.

Now, let me go and find a muse…

For more information on NaBloPoMo and Blogging U, click on the badges on the top right of the page.

I said goodbye to a friend today

I said goodbye to a friend today who is moving to another city.

As we had dinner yesterday evening, I thought about all the other times we could have had dinners just like that. We lived around the corner from each other for more than two years. Why didn’t we have more dinners on the sidewalk of Fourth Avenue?

Watching our four-legged kids play last night before bedtime, I thought, “They get along so well”. Why didn’t we arrange more doggie play dates on Saturday afternoons while we chat over a glass of wine?

Having a last cappuccino this morning before you went to the airport, I was thinking how much we have to talk about despite seeing each other every day at the office for six years. Why didn’t we have more coffee dates, just you and I, talking about the important things, sharing our feelings and fears, and really connecting?

This friend is just moving to another city. Although this means that we will likely only see each other once a year, if we’re lucky, we can still call, email and message. But what about the friends that do not just move? We always think, “I’ll give her a call next week” or “I’m too busy to reply to this e-mail now” but what if there is no next time? This farewell reminded me that life is short and things change (sometimes quite unexpectedly). You need to make time and put in effort for the important people in your life, and you have to do so now. We are so quick to waste time on nonsense or on people that don’t add anything to our lives because career or family requires us to. Why does it seem like so much effort to call a friend for a quick catch-up or to spend quality face-to-face time with the people that matter?

To my friend, if you happen to read this, thank you for the chats at the office, about work and life and dogs and everything else. Thank you for sweating it out with me in the gim. Thank you for all the lunches at the office canteen with the other “outcasts”. Thank you for your support during difficult times.

To everyone else, call up that friend who you’ve been meaning to talk to but is always too busy to phone. Go out for coffee or lunch and have a good old fashioned face-to-face talk with him or her. No Facebook or Whatsapp. Have a real conversation while looking each other in the eye. You don’t know how long you will still have the opportunity to do that.

Jo’burg on wheels

I love this time of year in Johannesburg.  From when spring rears its pretty head in September, the good citizens of the City of Gold are on their bikes preparing for the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge.  This race is to Johannesburg what the Argus is to Cape Town – maybe not quite as scenic but us Jo’burgers love it anyway.

Young and old, black and white, skinny and fat, all have dusted of their bicycles (or borrowed some wheels from a friend) to ride 90 odd kilometers on a hot summer day in their city on 16 November.

In honour of all the brave cyclists out there, Jozi Jottings’ header picture shows a typical Kromdraai Road scene on a weekend morning.

Only two weekends left to train.  Happy and safe cycling everyone!