In the pool, about 16 years ago!


I recently began swimming again after about a decade out of the water. It’s been a month now since I decided to make a habit out of swimming about four times a week (plus a couple of aquafit classes).

What is interesting to me is how often I hear people mention that swimming lengths is boring. I’ve found the opposite to be true. In that hour of doing breaststroke, I practise self-talk. It is during this time when my body is in a gentle flowing rhythm that I go through everything in my life that I’m grateful for. I consciously weed out unnecessary or negative thoughts on a daily basis, and replace them with the seeds of hope, faith, trust, belief and love.

I really wish the power of thoughts/thinking was taught in schools so that children didn’t become adults who spend vast swathes of time in fear and anxiety.

Examples of some of my affirmations include:

I am thankful for my strong, stable, secure shoulders and arms (have had a history of dislocation, so really need to combine positive self-talk with physiotherapy and exercise).

I give thanks for my loving and nurturing husband, and that I have such a beautiful marriage.

I am grateful for my funny, creative, inspiring daughters.

I am so grateful for my luxurious life which allows me to be self-employed doing work that I love.

I give thanks for my body which is growing stronger, fitter and healthier every day.

I am strong. I am fit. I am loving. I am kind. I am happy. I have wonderful friends. I am grateful for my nurturing home.

I have plenty more that I mentally say, but this gives you a taste of how I spend my swimming time. My body might be exercising, but so is my mind. It is being fed strong thoughts. Our thinking really does shape our life. And, like the muscles of the body, our thoughts and way of thinking can be lax or fit. It’s up to us what thoughts we choose to entertain. Regardless of the way we’ve been brought up, we can change our life by weeding out the pointless and damaging, and instead planting seeds of love, gratitude and harmony.



I’m not a gym babe, and I never will be! However, I have been consistently going to the gym for about 15 months, usually attending seven days a week.

Statistically, most people who join a gym quit within three months.

The gym isn’t my natural habitat, for all sorts of reasons, however I do know that humans are creatures of habit and that if you commit to something it can become like second nature. But it’s more than that for me. Not just habit, but discipline.

I was inspired to join the gym after watching how my teenage daughters’ bodies changed. They’d been attending regularly for about a year before I joined.

Physically, I often feel like I’m going through life with the brakes on. Both shoulders can dislocate at the drop of a hat, and my coccyx has dislocated three times. To say I’m both wary and conscious of every movement I make is an understatement. Various underlying endocrine issues can cause my energy levels to fluctuate quite a lot. None of these things get in the way of my daily discipline. I go to the gym as much for my body as for my mind (and my writer’s bum!).

The gym has become a spiritual learning ground for me.

I am constantly facing my judgements:

His sweat stinks! Doesn’t he know that his crappy diet makes him smell that way?

That man groans too much! He’s only doing a quarter of the weights I’m doing! What’s all the fuss about?

Would they turn that horrible music down? Aghh. It’s not even music.

His voice is awful to listen to. He really needs vocal coaching.

Why is it so damn cold in here?

Why isn’t that person practising gym etiquette and returning equipment?

If that female personal trainer has any more plastic surgery she’ll melt when the heating goes on.

The list is endless, really. I even said “Jesus” this morning when a class full of high school students came barrelling into the fitness suite just five minutes shy of the end of my workout. Getting religious in my old age! It was clearly a lesson in surrendering to the moment and letting go of the need to do some more exercises. You see, flexibility isn’t just about how we move the body. It’s in our attitude, too.

Seriously, though, my hour in the gym each day is a time to go within and I spend it dreaming up writing ideas, practising forgiveness, enjoying music in my headphones or a podcast, and sometimes just clearing my mind of thoughts (and judgements!).

It is a time to really listen to my body. What does it need? How far can I go? Why is it that yesterday I sweated like I was in Africa, and today, doing the same exercise, I’m shivering on behalf of the Eskimos?

I’m not skinny, far from it. I have learnt, though, that being strong is what matters. The stronger my body feels, the stronger I am as a person.

My preferred forms of exercise are Yin Yoga, Pilates and walking in the woods. They nourish me in a way that is deeply fulfilling. I can see though, that these allow me to indulge in selfishness.

Exercising in the fitness suite is a lesson in mindfulness and deep spirituality ~ I have to access places of deep tolerance and understanding, not just for those people around me, but for myself.


Enjoying a rainbow while on the bike.

Enjoying a rainbow while on the bike.