It’s such a gloriously sunny day, officially day 12 of the UK’s heat wave. I’m like a lizard just soaking it all up deliciously, knowing that we may have months of grey ahead of us. Apparently the UK is suffering unprecedented levels of vitamin D deficiency: which manifests itself in adults in the form of lethargy, general aches and pains and a lack of vigour and vitality…and therefore may go unnoticed as simply feeling under the weather and tired. We don’t process vitamin D in the right quantities from food, you really need to get it from exposure to the sun (although you can take a supplement: check with your doctor), and so no wonder in this often grey, drisly and sunless isle we’ve been suffering over the past few years, where days of sun are irregular and fleeting. So on days like this try to make sure you get at least 20 minutes of sunlight undiluted by suncream, ideally on a large surface of skin such as your back. You can build up reserves to last you through the grey months.
My toddler isn’t fairing so well, but I love this weather, I feel revitalised by sunshine and the bright colours that suddenly ping and pop when sunlight falls upon them. I feel like finally my body is returning to feeling somewhat like as strong as it did pre-Maurice, albeit with an added comfort blanket in the form of the post-caesarean “overhang”…
Maurice came along through the sunroof, and sadly my abdominals – mighty and strong through practising Pilates, were…well, compromised, shall we say. I also then marvelled (and still do) at mums of newborns who join running clubs and jump around at mums, bums and tums classes, as my little man was a fretful little fella who screamed and squawked constantly and never slept, so I ended up pretty much acting like a kangaroo mamma and having him strapped to me at all times as it was the only way he could be soothed and calmed. This was lovely in a lot of ways: free hands to make tea etc, and a quieter less stressful time…but it also meant I had very little sense of self for the first 9 months of his life, and nearly no time to do any exercise. The inclination to exercise was also absent, seeing as I was so sleep deprived the idea of knackering myself out physically even more was a bit preposterous.
This meant I put on quite a bit of weight generally over the first year of Maurice’s life, and felt a bit sluggish and blah.
Then, still in the midst of sleep deprivation, I became pregnant again…and sadly lost the little squirt at 11 weeks – it would’ve been due this week so it feels pertinent to raise a cup of tea at this point to the floating soul – and then followed a good few months of ill health and anaemia.
My “chi”, as they say in Chinese medicine, was at an all-time low a couple of months ago. Your chi is your life force, your energy, vitality and vigour, your sense of gusto, oiling every function of your body and mind. No sunlight, low blood iron and no sleep, not to mention feeling emotionally slightly low…if there was a chi gauge mine would’ve been beeping red alert.
Gradually my chi gauge has been going up. And I’ve been thinking about how you can cultivate your chi. In Japan a common exchange when you meet someone is “genki desu ka?” “Are you feeling well?” or literally “is your chi good?”. You can replenish your chi through the food you eat, the exercise you take, how you balance your emotions and deal with difficult circumstances day to day. Also with who you spend time with: some people sap your chi, others can lift and nourish it. You know those great friends who you always feel your best personality, the most “you” with. Those people are great for your chi. Think twice about spending too much time with people who make you feel negative and depleted.
Think about the obstacles for your chi right now: if you’re spending more energy than you’re banking, have a think about how you can redress the balance.
Think about your creative impulse even if you feel you don’t have one, it’s simply dormant (everyone does – look at children), and tap into that as a way of energy replenishment: whether that’s cultivating a garden or window box, a bit of interior design by hanging new pictures or feelgood favourite photos on your wall, playing with doodles or drawing and painting, even singing with free abandon in the shower, dancing to the radio when your favourite song comes on (and ignoring dissenters like my toddler who says “no mummy no like” when I dance if he’s not keen on the song).
My chi feels like it’s on its way back to healthy levels. Now I can focus on fixing the jelly belly with more positivity…