Your month ahead (June 2013)

Have a great month – summer has definitely hit Dubai!

Aries

Swords Ace

Ace of Swords – using mental force – being objective, finding out the facts, analysing the situation; having fortitude – facing problems, finding the strength to overcome; seeking justice – righting a wrong, accepting responsibility, establishing the truth; proceeding with truth – cutting through confusion, being honest, having clear understanding

Taurus

13_death-scaled500

Death – ending – closing one door to open another, putting the past behind you; going through transition – changing status, being in the middle; eliminating excess – concentrating on essentials, shedding old attitudes; experiencing inexorable forces – going through what cannot be avoided, riding your fate

Gemini

Wands 2

2 of Wands – having personal power – commanding attention and respect, holding the world in your hands, having authority; being bold – daring to do what you want, speaking your mind, seizing the day; showing originality – taking a different approach, doing what no one else has done, marching to a different drummer

Cancer

5 Hierophant

The Hierophant – getting an education – pursuing knowledge, seeking a deeper meaning; having a belief system – identifying a world view, knowing where to put your faith; conforming – fitting in, doing what’s expected; identifying with a group – devoting energy to a group, feeling loyal to others

Leo

16_the_tower

The Tower – going through sudden change – experiencing upheaval, being in chaos; releasing – exploding, erupting in anger; falling down – suffering a blow to the ego, experiencing a crash; having a revelation – exposing what was hidden, seeing everything in a flash

Virgo

hanged_man-scaled500

The Hanged Man – letting go – accepting what is, ending the struggle, giving up control; reversing – turning the world around, seeing from a new angle, overturning old priorities; suspending action – giving up urgency, living in the moment, pausing to reflect; sacrificing – putting self-interest aside, putting others first, giving up for a higher cause

Libra

Swords 7

7 of Swords – running away – shirking responsibility, sneaking off, leaving; being a lone wolf – wanting independence, staying aloof, preferring solitude; choosing hidden dishonour – covering your tracks, lying or stealing, avoiding a shameful secret

Scorpio

cups_5-scaled500

5 of Cups – suffering a loss – letting go of a hope, being defeated, saying goodbye; feeling bereft – breaking up a relationship, longing to be reunited, feeling sorrow; feeling regret – being disappointed by events, wanting to turn back the clock, believing you made the wrong choice, wishing for what might have been

Sagittarius

Pentacles 10

10 of Pentacles – enjoying affluence – feeling financially secure, having a good run of fortune, being free from money problems; seeking permanence – looking for a solution that will last, having an orderly family life, being concerned with the long term; following convention – being conservative, taking part in traditions, proceeding according to the rules

Capricorn

Swords 6

6 of Swords – feeling the blues – just keeping your head above water, working to get through the day, feeling somewhat depressed; recovering – dealing with the effects of a trauma, beginning to get your health back, heading toward a more positive place; travelling – changing location, taking a trip, going on a journey, entering into a new frame of mind

Aquarius

Pentacles 6

6 of Pentacles – be generous – you are either about to be the beneficiary or giver of something with value; share what you have – there is always someone who needs it; generosity does not have to have monetary value – it could be a listening ear, spiritual support, etc.; don’t be too proud to accept what is offered, if you are the intended recipient

Pisces

Swords 8

8 of Swords – feeling restricted – feeling trapped by circumstances, experiencing few options, being fenced in by obstacles; feeling confused – being unsure which way to turn, not understanding what is happening, needing guidance and clarity; feeling powerless – doubting anything you do will help, looking for a white knight, avoiding responsibility

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The final few

I had just about recovered from Wednesday’s session with Randy when it was time to have my Sunday session!

I started with 5 minutes on the cross-trainer and then did the following circuit:

  • Squat/single-arm shoulder press x 15 on each side
  • Dead lift/standing row (10-lb weights) x 15
  • Abdominal leg raises x 15
  • Plank x 50 seconds

I did that circuit three times and then spent 3 minutes on the cross-trainer. After some water and a short rest, I did the next circuit:

  • Chest press (10-lb weights) x 15
  • Alternate lunges/twist (3-kg weight) x 8 on each side
  • Tricep extensions (3-kg weights) x 15
  • Ladder (stepping in and out sideways) x 6 lengths of the ladder

I did some stretches after that and was done for the day.

I had yoga on Monday (nothing new to say about that) and actually went back to the gym on my own on Tuesday. I managed to do 3 km on the treadmill in 25:44 – walking and running – and was quite pleased with that. I thought it would take me longer as it had been so long since I’d done anything on my own! It felt good.

I had a killer session with Randy on Wednesday morning. Actually it was just one particular exercise, but I struggled with it. I started with 5 minutes on the cross-trainer and then did this circuit three times (with a break between sets):

  • One-armed kettlebell swings (4 kg) x 15 on each side
  • Crawl out/push-ups/knee-ins/crawl back* x 8
  • Ab cycles x 20 on each side

*This is what finished me off. From a standing position, I put my hands on the floor and crawled out so I was in a plank position. From there, I did two push-ups followed by two alternating knee-ins, and then crawled back to a standing position. The crawling out was fine, the push-ups were fine (sort of), the knee-ins were fine, the crawl back was painful. By the last three (of each set) it took all my willpower not to fall to my knees and push myself up that way!

I did another 3 minutes on the cross-trainer and then did the following circuit three times (with a break between each set):

  • Single leg press x 12 (again, the difference in strength between my legs is shocking: my right leg is much stronger than my left)
  • One arm dumbbell row x 15 on each side
  • Abdominal leg raises x 15

I did some stretching and was done. Looking back at what I did it doesn’t look like much but because I was working each arm/leg separately each set took a bit longer than usual!

I went back to the gym on Thursday and did another 3 km in 25:20.

I decided to take Friday off but was determined to do 5 km on Saturday. I woke up on Saturday still determined to do 5km and thought about how I was going to break it down into manageable chunks. I came up with a 1-km plan:

  • 0-200 m – walk
  • 200-300 m – jog/run
  • 300-400 m – walk
  • 400-600 m – jog/run
  • 600-700 m – walk
  • 700-1000 m – jog/run

If I could do that five times I could do 5 km. I saved the longest run for last so that I’d have the 200 m at the beginning of the next kilometre to recover. It actually worked! At the very beginning of the 4th km I thought I’d need longer to recover but by the time I got to 200 m I was ready to run/jog again. I slowed down a bit in the 5th km – I alternated walking and jogging every 100 m – but I still finished in 41:46. Looking back at my stats, the last time I did 5 km was back in October (in 39:47) so I don’t think I did too badly!

When I got home I tried my new whey protein isolate. I’d just finished a tub of Met-Rx Ultramyosyn Whey Isolate and went back to Nutrition Zone to replace it. The assistant recommended Collagen Sport Whey Protein (French Vanilla) by NeoCell so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s gluten, wheat, sugar and lactose free. I mixed a scoop of the protein isolate with water and drank it. Oh God, it looked gross and tasted vile. I think I need to mix it with low fat milk or almond milk (although I’ve been reading that almond milk isn’t that great for you either!) and see how that tastes.

Low point of the week? I can’t think of anything!

High point of the week? Working out 6 days this week!

Weight loss? None – I’ve been steady at 70 kg this week. I need to be somewhere (anywhere!) in the 60s though…

Girlfriend

Read more updates here.

Your week ahead (26 May – 1 June)

Have a great week!

Aries

1 The Magician

The Magician – taking action – doing what needs to be done, producing magical results; acting consciously – acknowledging your motivations, examining the known situation; concentrating – feeling centred, being totally committed; experiencing power – having vitality, feeling vigorous, being creative

Taurus

cups_5-scaled500

5 of Cups – suffering a loss – letting go of a hope, being defeated, saying goodbye; feeling bereft – breaking up a relationship, longing to be reunited, feeling sorrow; feeling regret – being disappointed by events, wanting to turn back the clock, believing you made the wrong choice, wishing for what might have been

Gemini

Pentacles 7

7 of Pentacles – assessing – evaluating the status, making sure you’re on course, finding out where you stand; reaping a reward – receiving payoffs, reaching a milestone, finally seeing some results; considering a direction change – pondering alternatives, thinking about change, standing at a crossroads

Cancer

8 Strength

Strength – showing strength – having stamina, being a rock; being patient – refusing to get angry, taking time, maintaining composure; being compassionate – understanding what others are feeling, giving others lots of space, being kind; achieving soft control – guiding indirectly, being able to influence, demonstrating the strength of love

Leo

Pentacles 10

10 of Pentacles – enjoying affluence – feeling financially secure, having a good run of fortune, being free from money problems; seeking permanence – looking for a solution that will last, having an orderly family life, being concerned with the long term; following convention – being conservative, taking part in traditions, proceeding according to the rules

Virgo

Pentacles 8

8 of Pentacles – showing diligence – making an effort, plugging away, producing steady results; increasing knowledge – taking a course, researching, increasing expertise; paying attention to detail – being painstaking, checking and re-checking, noticing the fine points

Libra

Wands 8

8 of Wands – taking quick action – making your move, putting plans into action, rushing into a new area; coming to a conclusion – closing out an activity, completing unfinished business, having all elements come together; receiving news – getting an important message, finding the missing puzzle piece, having a meaningful conversation

Scorpio

Wands King

King of Wands – being creative – having natural artistic ability, being original and inventive; being inspiring – setting an example others want to follow; being forceful – carrying authority naturally; being charismatic – magnetically attracting others, naturally becoming the focus of attention; being bold – being intrepid, daring to stand and be different

Sagittarius

Wands 6

6 of Wands – triumphing – having your day in the sun, coming out on top, achieving success; receiving acclaim – earning applause, achieving recognition, getting a pat on the back; feeling pride – strutting your stuff, holding your head up high, having a high opinion of yourself

Capricorn

Swords 4

4 of Swords – resting – taking a break, giving your body time to heal, taking life easy; contemplating – taking time alone to think, standing back from the situation, reviewing where you are; quietly preparing – making sure your base is secure, tying up loose ends, stabilising

Aquarius

5_hierophant-scaled500

The Hierophant – getting an education – pursuing knowledge, seeking a deeper meaning; having a belief system – identifying a world view, knowing where to put your faith; conforming – fitting in, doing what’s expected; identifying with a group – devoting energy to a group, feeling loyal to others

Pisces

18 Moon

The Moon – feeling fear – lacking courage, being overcome by anxieties, feeling a nameless apprehension; believing illusions – deceiving yourself, experiencing distortions, chasing after a fantasy; stimulating the imagination – opening to fantasy, having vivid dreams or visions, plumbing the unconscious; feeling bewildered – losing direction and purpose, being easily distracted, feeling disoriented

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For a personal tarot reading, please contact me.

Dubai 2013: Week 18

After my Sunday session with Randy I had a doctor’s appointment at Medcare Hospital. I’d had a chalazion under my left eyelid for months and just couldn’t get rid of it.

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2013.05.05 131308

I’d seen my GP and an ophthalmologist at the health centre where I’m registered. I’d tried creams and hot compresses and steroid eye drops but nothing worked. The ophthalmologist eventually referred me to an ophthalmologist elsewhere so I could get it removed surgically (they don’t perform surgical procedures at the clinic). I’d met her before I went to Vietnam and decided I’d do the excision when I got back.

I was nervous when I got there – more about the local anaesthetic than anything else! I was expecting to have a shot in my eyelid and then hopefully feel nothing afterwards. The injection was so painful – I wanted to cry. But at least the worst part was over with. Or so I thought! She gave me two more shots in my eyelid – the second one was quite close to the first so I didn’t feel it. The third shot was very close to my eyelashes and was the most painful of the three. Once the anaesthetic had taken effect, my eyelid was flipped back and clamped and the chalazion was cut out. I didn’t need stitches and it wouldn’t leave a scar as it was done from under the lid. It didn’t hurt but it was uncomfortable – I could feel a lot of pressure on my eyelid and I just wanted to get up and go home! (This is where the deep breathing exercises I’d learned in my meditation class came in useful!) The whole ordeal lasted about 15 minutes.

I went home looking like this:

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I had to keep the dressing on until that night. When she taped the dressing my main concern was that my eyebrow didn’t come off with the bandage! I went home and slept for a while. I couldn’t do much else! After I took the dressing off (eyebrow intact), my eye looked a little swollen but it didn’t hurt:

20130505_234412 (1)

I took it easy for most of Monday. By the evening I was feeling well enough to go to the third History of Islamic Art talk (I missed the second one). The session was about ornament and calligraphy in Islamic art. The speaker first covered ornament:

  • The early Islamic period (Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates): the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (completed in 691), the Great Mosque in Damascus (completed in 714), Qusayr Amra in the Jordanian desert, stucco decoration in Qasr Mshatta, Jordan and Samarra, Iraq
  • Umayyad Spain: the fountain at Madinat al-Zahra on the outskirts of Cordoba and the Pyxis of al-Mughira (carved in 968)
  • Art of the Muslim East: the Minaret at Jam in Afghanistan (1194-1195 or 1174-1175), the Samanid Mausoleum in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, the Shrine of Ahmad Yasawi in Turkestan, Kazakhstan (1398); Masjid-i Jami (14th century) and Masjid-i Mir Chaqmaq, both in Yazd, Iran

Some of the things she talked about with regard to ornament were ‘horror vacui’ (fear of empty spaces/emptiness), the impact of geometry (symmetry or patterning), the ability to make any theme a part of an ornament (including script), and arbitrary-ness – the idea of impermanence and that decoration is just a shell.

She then talked about calligraphy and the following:

  • The Koran in the 8th and 9th centuries (in Kufic script – which was square and angular)
  • The Koran of Ibn al-Bawwab (Baghdad, 1000-1001)
  • Ibn Muqla‘s ‘Six Pens’
  • Bobrinski bucket, probably made in Herat in 1163
  • Shazi pen box (1210-1211), now at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
  • Earthenware bowls imitating Chinese porcelain (9th and 10th centuries)
  • The tughra (official signature) of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520-1566)

I had another piano lesson on Tuesday afternoon and worked the rest of the day.

I thought the doctor was exaggerating when she told me I wouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort after the surgery. I expected my eye to feel similar to when I had my laser eye surgery but I really didn’t feel any pain at all. The swelling had gone down by Wednesday and you couldn’t even tell I’d had my eyelid cut open 2-3 days earlier.

On Wednesday evening I had another meditation class. We started with an anti-anxiety breathing exercise done lying down: inhale slowly for 4 counts, exhale slowly for 4 counts, inhale slowly for 4 counts, exhale slowly for 5 counts, inhale slowly for 4 counts, exhale slowly for 6 counts, and so on (as far as you could go without straining yourself).

Our teacher then talked us through a visualisation meditation which I really enjoyed. It involved: walking down 21 steps, a key opening a door to a private room, French doors leading to a terrace, your own private garden, small forest, sand dunes and a private beach. I was so relaxed by the end of it!

On Thursday afternoon I had a follow-up appointment for my eye (all fine) and then went to a dinner party at NP’s house to celebrate her birthday. Apart from her and her husband (who I’d only met once) I didn’t know any of the other seven guests – but I had such a good time. The entire meal was gluten-free and the food was excellent. There also seemed to be an unlimited supply of wine and champagne! It was a lovely evening.

One of my cousins arrived on Friday morning – he was staying for a few days. The two of us ended up going to Wafi Gourmet for a late lunch and then wandering around the Dubai Mall for a little while.

That night I met a friend for dinner at La Petite Maison. I’m not joking when I say I’d been dreaming about the burrata all day. I got there at 9pm but due to a misunderstanding my friend was 30 minutes late. I had a Tomatini while I waited and studied the menu. We eventually ordered our food (burrata, crab and lobster salad, escargots, calamars frits for starters, and salt-baked sea bass and the baked gratinated potatoes for our main course). The waiter came back 5 minutes later to say that they’d run out of burrata. I thought I’d misheard him – because how could they run out of burrata?? Do we have to pre-order it now?? I was depressed. I looked at the plate of burrata on the next table – would they notice if I helped myself? We ordered the goat cheese salad instead but it just wasn’t the same. I then ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with the sommelier. ‘Sorry, we don’t have that,’ she replied. WTF? ‘Just joking!’ she then said. Not funny. Not funny at all. The food was great but we were full after the starters as we’d both had a late lunch – and we ended up cancelling the main course and went straight to dessert (cheesecake). After dinner we walked over to Roberto’s for a couple of drinks and then ended up at Zuma. It was a fun evening but I don’t think I really recovered from the burrata episode.

I had another piano lesson on Saturday (a make-up lesson from April) and came home and did some work. There was a beautiful sunset that evening.

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That night I went to iKandy with a couple of friends. We had two bottles of wine and some food (the sliders at iKandy are really good). It was a really fun evening and I noticed that it was starting to get really hot at night – summer is definitely on the way!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 17

I got back from Vietnam late on Monday night. I was home by about 2.30 but chatted with my mum for a while before passing out. I can’t remember the last time I was so tired. I would have gladly spent all of Tuesday in bed but had a piano lesson that afternoon!

I also had loads of work to catch up on as I hadn’t done anything (including check my email) while I was away.

On Wednesday evening I went back to my meditation class. We started with another Tibetan breathing exercise, a standing one this time. It involved standing with your feet apart, and rocking from one foot to the other very slowly, extending one arm at a time, depending on which direction you were rocking in (if you’re moving to the right, extend your right arm). I preferred the walking meditation from the first week though.

We then talked about our experiences with the 4x4x4x4 meditation from the week before. I told the group I really hadn’t enjoyed it and the fact that I wasn’t supposed to inhale for 4 counts made me more stressed than anything else. The teacher explained why: inhaling equals life, exhaling equals death. We then talked about death and various religious/spiritual views on what happens to us once we die. We then did the meditation exercise we would have to practise for the week: alternate nostril breathing. I do this in yoga all the time but found this much more relaxing. I’ve noticed I sleep so much better on the days I go to my meditation class (and the days I manage to do the meditation exercises)!

On Thursday I was taken out by NP – it was her birthday present to me: lunch at Zuma! We started with a glass of champagne (I know, even I didn’t think I’d be able to manage a drink for a while after Vietnam – I was wrong). We both had the set menu but then ordered a couple of things from the a la carte menu to share (including tuna tataki – my favourite!). And of course the dessert (green tea and banana cake) was fabulous as always.

That night I had dinner with a friend at Left Bank in Souk Al Bahar. I had some Entertainer vouchers and I’d never been there so we thought we’d try it. We didn’t order any starters and just went for the main course and a bottle of white wine. I ordered the sea bass and she had the fish and chips. After dinner we walked over to Karma Kafe for a drink and had a couple of glasses of wine. It was a nice evening and I was home before midnight.

A few weeks ago I’d seen an offer for Friday brunch at Latitude at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel – buy one, get one free – so three friends and I had booked it and had been looking forward to it. We got there at 1pm and were shown to our table. The selection of food on offer was impressive (but nothing like Al Qasr) – I had sushi, dim sum, a couple of duck rolls, and a grilled red snapper. I also had some cheese and some cheesecake. And of course alcohol was unlimited. The one thing that was disappointing was the service – they clearly didn’t have enough staff and we soon realised that our waiter was the only one in our section of the restaurant. I expected more from a 5* hotel!

On Saturday afternoon a friend and I went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road. We sat by the pool for a while and then both had 90-minute massages. It was fantastic. I will definitely go back for some more pampering. I had an Entertainer voucher for the spa so we got two massages for the price of one.

I was home the rest of the day, just relaxing and catching up on work.

I love my life.

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The final few

I had a Sunday session with Randy after a whole week of doing nothing. I’d had minor eye surgery and hadn’t been able to do much for a few days afterwards and was ready to get back to work!

I started with 5 minutes on the cross-trainer and then did the following circuit:

  • Chest fly press (3-kg weights) x 20
  • Alternate knee-ins x 15
  • Squat/4 alternating punches (with 3-lb weights)/2 alternating high kicks x 12
  • Crunches x 20

I then did 3 more minutes on the cross-trainer and did the next circuit:

  • Deadlift/upright row (3-kg weights) x 15
  • Roundhouse kicks x 15 on each side
  • Extended arm crunches x 20
  • Stair climbers x 40 seconds

Randy then stretched out my lower body and I was done.

I was sore on Monday and my yoga teacher cancelled our class. I was even more sore on Tuesday (especially my hamstrings and arms) and my hamstrings were still sore on Wednesday when I went to my second session of the week with Randy. I was also tired as my session was an hour earlier as I’ve started Arabic lessons!

I did my usual warm-up on the cross-trainer for 5 minutes and then did the following circuit:

  • Squat press (3-kg weights) x 15
  • Push-ups x 12
  • Half-burpees (staying on all fours, moving my legs in and out) x 15
  • Plank x 50 seconds

I did that three times followed by 3 minutes on the cross-trainer. I then did the next circuit three times:

  • Lateral pulldown x 20
  • Step-ups on a bench x 12 on each side (by the third set I was ready to cry – I hate these!)
  • Bunny hops x 30
  • Sit-ups x 20

I then did some stretching and I was done.

My thighs were sore for a couple of days after that session. It reminded me how sore I was after trekking in Komodo last summer.

Low point of the week? Realising while doing step-ups that my left leg is much weaker than my right.

High point of the week? Having a hot stone massage at Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal on Saturday afternoon – bliss!

Weight loss? None…

Squatting

Whatever you say, Ryan!

Read more updates here.