Friends and family celebrating weddings deferred in favour of surprise baby announcements. A new home-owner finally closing the deal, signing on the dotted line and getting the keys to live in her first ‘own, owned place’; another friend getting the keys to her first investment property – a home to tear apart, remodel and ‘flip’, as its called when you buy-to-sell quickly for good financial returns.
Other friends – or colleagues (?? I don’t like to assume!) – soaring to new heights. Morgan Lake achieving a big personal best, British record, World and Olympic standard all in one swoop was a highlight celebration at the start of February, for sure. Inspiring. But even more-so when I recall the journey, not just over the last few years, but even the last few weeks leading up to that record-breaking leap.
From the frustration of a broken foot and the disappointment of a flat season to the leap of her life! It’s crazy what a difference a year makes.
You can listen to mine and Morgan’s ‘Olympic experience’ conversation on Ep 1 of the Define Your Success podcast. It’s available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Stitcher and wherever else you listen to pods!
LISTEN ON SPOTIFY!
Becoming a Sommelier in France, in French!
In my own world, personal to me and my life, what’s new? What’s there to celebrate beyond the second-hand excitement of the above major life moments in my friends’ and family’s lives?
I’m enjoying exploring a variety of random hobbies.
Level 2 WSET Sommelier Course
The other week, I booked my Level 2 WSET (Wines & Spirits Education Trust) course, which will take place in the Autumn in Montpellier, France. I love wine, I love learning about the taste-notes, tannins, acidities, grape varieties, etc. To drink alcohol, for me, is not to get drunk. It’s the intrigue of the expansive variety of grapes, tastes, preferences, the way each wine is made in different parts of the world. It’s just…interesting to me! And, let me tell you, I’m no sommelier (yet!) But, I’m super excited to get more clued up in this area.
Daily French Study
Another win in my life has been my very dedicated, consistent daily practice of French (at least 20 minutes per day). This is handy because, you know the above WSET course in Montpellier? Well, it’s in French! The 3-day course is IN FRENCH. Argh! My French comprehension skills are pretty good, to be honest. It’s more my ability to quickly formulate sentences at a conversational level that I struggle with. To write – oui. I’ve got that. To read – pas de probleme. But to respond to a question – argh! Quoi? Ouf! C’est très difficile!
Anyway, if you’re interested, here are the apps and classes I use to improve my French each day:
- Quizlet (I used to use this with my students to help them expand their English vocab at KS2-5 and I also still use this when I’m reading and come across a word I don’t understand. It’s great to expand one’s vernacular in any language, even in your native tongue!)
- Francais Authentique – I select two one-hour long small group (7 people + tutor) tutorial classes per week as well as working through the video modules on French history, culture, slang (verlan, argot), etc.
- French podcasts – these are really helpful on my long drives between Manchester and Loughborough. I particularly enjoy Le francais avec Fluidité with Fabien Sausset which I listen to at 1.2 x speed and have about a 85% comprehension rate ATM (completely arbitrary number that I’ve not actually measured beyond what I THINK I have understood). I’ve also trialled this one (Une Semaine dans le monde ) a few times (at normal speed), but generally only get through 15 minutes before I switch off. And have to sometimes rewind to catch missed phrases.
- YouVersion – daily bible study, particularly currently working through this Bible plan – ‘Whole Bible In Under 2 Years’ with my friend, Amina. So that’s at least 10 minutes of French each morning using the PDV (parole de vie) translation of the Holy Bible.
Speaking Better, Moving Freer & Becoming a Farmer?!
Other hobbies or passion projects that I am enjoying right now –
The Public Speaking Association (PSA).
I attend the North-West PSA events and recently became a member at the end of December 2022, so I will also look forward to attending events in the East Midlands if they coincide with my stays at Loughborough, where I predominantly train.
Reformer Pilates at The Health Lab, Manchester (Northern Quarter).
I’ve only completed one reformer pilates session, but I’m a fan. My next class is booked in already and I plan to attend at least one time each week. This type of slow, intentional movement work is great for full-body conditioning. As an athlete, people always assume that I’m strong all over, but although my big muscles may look strong, they at times don’t function as powerfully as they can and should because muscles fire out of sync or one muscle hyper-compensates for another, thereby shutting down the muscle that hasn’t worked properly for a while. I’m probably not articulating that very well right now, but it’s a big topic to explore, so that’s simply to say… hopefully reformer pilates will be a part of a series of strategies that I have in place to help me redress the imbalances that have built up over the years. P.s. because consistency and regularity is key, I will also spend at least 5-10 minutes of my warm up and cool-down at Loughborough using the reformer machine there. (I love this blog as a form of accountability!)
My Mummy and Pete becoming farm-hands.
This isn’t a hobby, but is certainly an enjoyable, hilarious pastime. Recently, my Mum has been one of my fave Whatsapp protagonists. She’s shared updates on the birth of two kids (goat babies) in their first minutes on the earth (amazing!), still covered in blood (slightly yucky); her holding a less-than-day-old kid (unbelievable – she’s becoming braver in her old[er] age); and (less than an hour ago) Pete herding four stray, chomping cows out of their neighbour’s front yard back into their own green pastures. Like – I feel like they’re living in a movie at times. Ha!
An Inspiring Podcast To Help You Grow
Finally and most excitingly, the Define Your Success Podcast. In February, I recorded and released four new episodes with the following Summer and Winter Olympians – Montell Douglas (Episodes 19 & 20); Lloyd Wallace (Ep 21 & 22); Mikel Thomas (recorded; episodes soon to be released at time of writing) and a High Performance team member, Sports Scientist (specifically in biomechanics) Dr. Philip Graham-Smith (recorded; episode also yet to be released at time of writing).
I’d really appreciate you checking out those conversations, subscribing to be notified when they are released (usually each Tuesday AM GMT) and taking 10 seconds to rate (you can even leave a short review on Apple Podcasts).
Ciao! Let’s Stay Connected?
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this month’s updates? Sometimes, I’ll be efficient and share updates here through the month; at other times, not so much! But, if you’d love more regular updates…
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Have a beautiful day!
- – Abs x