If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll be familiar with my attempts to meet up with the sociable Sheffield walking group ‘The Shamblers’.  Well, on Saturday 1st April… I actually made it to one of their walks!!

It was suspiciously listed on their website as a 5.5 mile walk to the ‘Isle of Skye’.  Now, being the 1st April, I was on my guard for an April Fool’s joke – we were after all nowhere near Scotland!  But nevertheless, I headed off with ‘Bruce’ my SatNav to the meeting point near Stocksbridge, north Sheffield.

As I drove along the A616, my inner voice started with the usual negative chatter…

“Why are you bothering to try again, you’ll not meet up with them.  You’re just gonna fail AGAIN!”

“Why bother, they won’t be interested in having you walk with them.  They’ll all have their own friends… no one will talk to you”.

I arrived 30 mins early.  The good thing about that was I managed to park easily.  The downside was it gave my inner voice longer to try and persuade me that  I ought to give up and just go home before anyone arrives.

However, I PERSEVERED.

Other people soon started parking up, getting out of their cars, and donning their walking gear.  I was definitely in the right place… and yet I still hesitated.  No one knew I was joining the group for that day’s walk.  I could remain in the car – in my safe comfort zone – and then just go home again.

BUT I GOT OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE.

I got out of the car, went over and started talking to the other walkers.  Phew.  They were friendly!!

In the end, nearly 40 people came on the lovely walk to the ‘Isle of Skye’ viewpoint, which overlooked the new Fox Valley Retail Park.

Although only 5.5 miles, it was classed as ‘Moderate’ as it included a fair bit of ascent.  It sure was a good test for my improving aerobic fitness and leg strength.

We stopped for lunch, enjoyed the view for 30 mins, then cracked on for the remaining 3 miles – thankfully some of it downhill.  At the end of the walk I was rewarded with a tired body, and the huge buzz of overcoming something which I’d been afraid of.  It may only be a small thing for some people: why get so scared to meet up with a group of friendly walkers?  But for me it was another achievement – another little victory.

Perseverance paid off.

I was rewarded with this final view and a great sense of peace.

 

Another recent reward to perseverance came a couple of Friday’s ago.

At the end of last December, a friend asked me to do a ‘100-Day Challenge’ to help me regain some motivation for improving my mood and fitness levels. We discussed various group activities which I could try out to help improve my social life in the process.

After some thinking, asking around, and trying various options, I was told about Goin’ Stomping.  I’d expressed an interest in Line Dancing, but it seemed the only Beginner groups were during the day time while I was at work.  However, with my experience of teaching Exercise to Music, my ability to read sheet music and learn choreographed dances fairly well, I decided to give the Intermediate group a go.

Thankfully on the first night my friend Sarah came with me for some moral support.  We both had a great laugh and the people seemed friendly enough.  The real test came the following week when I had to go on my own.  As usual, the negative head chatter started earlier that day…

“They won’t be as friendly now you’re on your own”

“What’s the point of going? You’re no good at this, you’re gonna fail again.  Everyone will laugh at you.”

Even while driving the 25 mins to the venue the negative chatter continued.  Several times I nearly turned round and headed home.  But the thought of telling Sarah I’d chickened out of going wasn’t very appealing either!  So I persevered.  I arrived at the Community Centre 10 mins early.  Parked up. Watched other people arrive and go in.

So, once again, the familiar dilemma: do I sit here stewing and then go home defeated… or do I take a deep breath, face my fears and go in?  I WENT IN!!

And it was a fab 2.5hrs.  I smiled and laughed all the way through til my jaws ached.  Everyone was pleased I’d come back.  People were so encouraging.  The key is to just try.  As long as you give things a go, generally people will go out of their way to help.

Margaret (teacher) walked me through some of the dances.  She also gave me a list of the most popular dances to look up on Copperknob & YouTube to learn the step sequences.  I was shown which dancers in the hall to follow.  Everyone encouraged me and said I was picking the steps up well.

Two hours into the session and my head was spinning.  I must have clocked up nearly 20,000 steps that evening alone on my FitBit.  But I loved it.  During the brief break, Margaret came round asking for requests for the final few dances.  I suggested ‘Dans Le Tango’, the dance which she’d introduced to the group on my first week.

She put the music on and we went for it – and apart from a few steps near the end, I nailed it!!! So proud.