4 February 2015


What do you actually NEED?

I was thinking about this this morning after my swim. There were a couple of things I noticed about my new routine and how it benefits me.

The first thing was my morning stretches. I’ve known for a long time that I need to be doing these and they fell off in the second half of last year until I found a set of stretches thatade sense to me. I knew that on a practical level, it’s just not possible for me to workout six days a week without doing them – I get all seized up and just knackered. (I should probably be doing evening ones as well but that’s a goal for the future).

The hidden benefit I’ve noticed though is how going through the motions of that set of stretches really calms me. Like a lot of people with anxiety I wake up every morning and get hit by the fears I store up in my brain while I’m sleeping – this morning a vivid set of them flashed up in my brain, fears that would stop me doing in real life the things that I have already planned to do and am completely capable of. Having that set of straightforward movements and regular breathing in the soothing early darkness calms me and reminds me that there are things I can cope with. The stretches help me manage my anxiety and I NEED that.

Thing two was the swim itself. In this transition from km to miles, the long mile swim each week has become a new delight. There’s something about swimming for that long that settles me and makes me feel strong and I feel better each time I do it. I can’t wait to be swimming miles every time. The swim contrivures massively to my wellbeing and I NEED that.

The third thing, and something I often overlook, is what I’ve read somewhere is called Tribe inclusion. This morning it came in the form of emails from various members of what in my mind is coming together as my “music crew” even though they’re all separate groups of people – a group email with my two favourite banjo players and then ongoing replies from two separate studio guys (the engineer who made my album in particular I am missing having spent so much time with him last year). It’s the growing sense that the community around me is built up of people who love to do what I love to do, and I’ve made that part of my life as in I see them regularly. I didn’t have this at all before April last year and really it’s something that’s developed over the past four months – but I am part of something now, connected, people know me as a musician, and that cab onku get better the more I gig. I am part of a tribe and I NEED that.

It’s strange because I didn’t always predict these effects accurately – sometimes you have to go out on a limb and do things that terrify you to get to a place where you have some aspect of what you actually need. There’s still a lot of my life that is profoundly not what I need, but these random pieces point the way.


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