A Leap Forward

That First Leap © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

That First Leap © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

What do you do when you don’t know what you want to do?

I have recently been making conscious decisions to learn, and do things that I am not very good at. With my recent sporting endeavours I have learnt that the things I think I cannot do, or am bad at, I can learn or improve with just a tiny bit of effort.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso

What I have found is it is the first leap that takes the extra effort – or more often – extra courage. My recent leap was leaving my job, after telling myself that I need to keep moving, to keep learning. I feel like I am at the next stage of my career and I want to be in a new environment where I can learn and feel inspired.

A leap can even be setting yourself a private challenge. For example, I have made a resolution to write more – on this blog – but also I have enrolled in a free online creative fiction class. I currently have no plans to share it with anyone (so best not to ask!) but actually doing it is taking a lot of effort on my part to get over the idea that I can’t.

The next problem I have is sticking with it. As you can probably tell, I am currently experimenting with my illustration style. I find it hard to stick to one style as I quite often see a new technique tutorial or just have too much fun experimenting.

And sometimes the best thing you can do is experiment! The reason I have made this promise – ‘to consciously learn’ – to myself is simply because I don’t really know what I want to do, and so the only real solution to this is to give everything a go, and say yes to opportunities as they come!

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” – Douglas Adams

Maybe, one of these leaps will take me somewhere I need to be, but for the meantime I will just enjoy the experience.

Finding time to be upside down

 

Chakrasana / Upward-Facing Bow Illustration © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

Chakrasana / Upward Bow © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

I’ve really been enjoying my yoga practice recently. I go to a yoga class at my local Sweaty Betty shop, where not only are the girls there so friendly – I have made some great friends and we even go out for the occasional drink after class (I know – not so healthy!) – but the yoga instructors are really great!

Last week I challenged myself to do my first un-assisted Chakrasana – and succeeded! This week I didn’t make it to class as I had work late – I was so disappointed! I have been developing my practice on my own with help from Yoga With Adriene, but I have been getting back home so late it has been really hard to ‘find the time’. I know this is not much of an excuse, but after a long day all I want to do is sit, watch tv and draw. 

Virabhadrasana Warrior 2 © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

Virabhadrasana Warrior 2 © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

So, I made a list of reasons why it is important to spend more time upside down:

Focus
Finding time to focus on what I want and the challenges I set myself is great, but sometimes we all need to let go of everything and focus on the present moment. I find this easier when in a harder pose as I am having to concentrate so hard on my breathing.

Concentration & energy
I find that going upside down wakes me up, helping me to feel alert and giving me an energy boost! I have heard Yogis say that this is due to the increased blood flow to your head, which helps to increase oxygen to your brain. It also helps me to calm down and improves my concentration.

Developing kick-ass core strength. 
This one is pretty obvious. Yoga engages the core muscles. Do it more.

A confidence boost.
Achieving that yoga move that you have been watching all the advanced yogis do for months is a really fantastic moment. My first Chakrasana taught me that I can do almost anything that I set my mind on. It also helps me to realise how my practice is improving.

Get Happy
Yoga, like all exercise, increases endorphins and serotonin, which naturally make you feel ‘high’, releasing stress and improving your mood.

Downward Facing Dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana Illustration © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

Downward Dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

So, even if it means lying on the floor with my legs in the air whist watching tv, I am hoping that making a list of reasons will help to inspire me to get upside down!

Open Water Swim – A New Year Challenge?

Open Water Swim © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

Open Water Swim © Rosalind Gregoire 2015

I love the water, an have been swimming since I can remember, but in the last 18 months (April to September) I have swapped the pool for the open water. I love being able to ride down to the lake and jump straight in. It is the best feeling in the world, when you are in the middle of that lake, it is so peaceful and the water feels amazing.  

Getting to the lake feels like an amazing commitment I make to myself. The conditions may be good or bad, but I am there to swim. Sometimes the water is calm and peaceful, and sometimes there are issues you just have to deal with. The water feels alive! And makes me feel alive too!

Swimming at Marlow last year

Swimming at Marlow last year

I know the open water season is a little way off (and I haven’t quite got round to braving winter open water… yet!) but making race plans for this year has got me wondering… I have not yet done a pure open water long distance race yet and have been looking at the Dart 10K. Some people have told me this is a fantastic race – and no doubt one for the bucket list – whist others have told me it is not as spectacular as it sounds (with boat traffic and salty, mucky water).

Even if it is not the Dart that I choose, I feel I might be up to the challenge later on this year if my training were to stay as consistent as last year. But, my life is so hectic at the moment, and with that and injury, my training has taken a hit. It makes me wonder if I will be able to make it down to the lake enough this spring/summer to train for such a challenge. Unlike running or cycling, I am worried that I have to rely on getting there at a certain time to train.

If you have any experience with endurance swimming, or any recommendations for a long distance event, please let me know. I would love to know what you think!

Building up the distance – My First Olympic Triathlon

“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” – Theodore Roosevelt

After months of preparation the day finally came… my first Olympic triathlon!

Swim Bike Run Triathlon illustration

And I did it! And loved the whole thing! It wasn’t hilly, as the above illustration suggests – but The run felt like it! So here is a round up of how I found it:

The Swim: Standing in my wetsuit for the pre race briefing with the sun on my back, I became quite hot, and so the cool water was a lovely relief. The swim felt relaxed, and I think I paced myself well, feeling a little stitch in my side forming about halfway round, but I kept going and even managed a bit of a sprint at the end of the swim.

I was determined to get under 30 minutes for the swim, and was happy when I looked at my watch in transition and it said 30.30! (My official swim time being 29.27 for the 1500m – a PB!)

T1 Went fairly smoothly, considering the usual dizziness I get after a long wetsuit swim. Swim Bike Run Triathlon illustration

On to the bike, and the relief of being able to sit and get on with it. I always enjoy the bike a bit too much (if that is possible), and sometime forget to push as hard as I should be! I had some great support on the bike from Dan & my parents (who had to leave at lap 6). As usual, I think I could have pushed the bike a little harder for it not to affect my run too much. Again, another PB with a time of 1.23.56!

Another quick-ish transition, and on to the run: The sun was baring down by this point, and everyone I spoke to at the end said they didn’t enjoy the heat! My run is definitely my weakest point, having only started running properly last year. This was only the second 10k race I have done, and actually got a PB! But I was still a little disappointed, as I believe I could have pushed a little harder and gone a little faster. I know this is something I need to work on over the winter!

Swim Bike Run-03

Overall, I was happy! A total time of 3.02.44! It has given me a goal for next year to beat that 3 hour mark.

What’s next? I have joined Hillingdon Tri club, and am excited about starting to train with other people. Hopefully this will keep me going over the off season! I am always looking for my next challenge, so if you have any ideas, or want to join me, let me know!

Collecting Images

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my sketchbook recently doing really quick sketches. I like do this kind of work and ‘collecting’ images in my sketchbook, of which the best ones I can use in final work. I’m hoping to put these together at some point, but at the moment I’m enjoying not having to create a finished or perfect piece if work. Here are some little fast ‘doodle’ style images. I think they will crop up in a piece of more finished work somewhere at some point, but for now theses are defiantly a work in progress! It would be great to know what you think in the comments below…

Mushroom Illustration by Rosalind Gregoire on www.rosalindgregoire.wordpress.com

Tea Illustration by Rosalind Gregoire on www.rosalindgregoire.wordpress.com

Tree Illustration by Rosalind Gregoire on www.rosalindgregoire.wordpress.com

Thomas Archer Exhibition

A while ago I was asked to illustrated some of the famous architecture by English Baroque architect Thomas Archer for an exhibition of his work in Hampshire . It was a fantastic project to work on as he had designed some beautiful buildings and it was great learning about his life and work. Heres a selection of my favourite…

Thomas Archer russell hous Thomas Archer chettle house Thomas Archer chatsworth

Best of Instagram – October

I like to think of Instagram at the moment as a place for outtakes and sneak peeks. I love it as a tool for getting reactions to work in progress. It is also a great place for sharing and learning new techniques as well as finding great inspiration and networking with other creatives. Im still fairly new to the app, but loving it so far!

Let me know if you have any hints or tips – or if you have a great Instagram profile you think I should take a look at! Just add a comment below with your link! Take a look at my Instagram profile here!