This week we meet with Moira Forsyth, Dumfries & Galloway mother of three who helped establish the MTB Centre of Scotland and shares her love of trekking in Nepal and a childhood experience of being capsized by a submarine on Loch Long!
Hi Moira and can we start by asking you where you live and what you do?
I am Moira and I live in Dumfries & Galloway. I work in economic development in Scotland but am also a 500-hour trained yoga teacher and qualified Ayurvedic Therapist – and a mother of three.
One of my career highlights has been establishing the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland at Glentress with a fabulous team from Scottish Cycling and Edinburgh Napier University. It has been my honour to help scores of Scottish entrepreneurs and small businesses to get great ideas for their products and services from their heads to fully commercialised products. And with future investment planned for the Tweed Valley I’d like to think I played a small part in getting Scotland on the map for world-class innovation.
How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?
The “poorer” kids of the West of Scotland used to get packed off as part of a social experiment in the 1970’s to Ardentinny on the shores of Loch Long in February to do outdoor activities. I capsized my canoe in the wake of a submarine and that was enough to hook me on the adrenalin rush being outdoors gives you. We need to let more of our kids have these experiences – but maybe not the submarine bit . . .
What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?
To celebrate turning 50 I spent a month in Nepal and hiked the Annapurna Circuit, crossing the Thorong La Pass (5,416m) all in my FINDRA Caddon Cowal Neck Top – I should point out! I wanted to prove to myself I have it in me to age well.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
Yoga and Ayurveda have taught me how to stay in balance and to recognise when things are off kilter and do something about it. But in general, I don’t sweat the small stuff (like housework) and always have some annual leave in my back pocket, and the camper van packed for when the sun is shining!
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
Mr Roux, a rather good-looking maths teacher who started a rambling club at my school. It involved traipsing over Muirshiel Country Park in wellies and paper thin cagoules in all weathers with a couple of jam sandwiches for nourishment. I have never looked back. Thank you, Mr Roux.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
Absolutely. In Ayurveda we are all mere expressions of the 5 elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth. We are therefore connected to nature, to the changing seasons, to the shifts in our weather conditions, and the swings in the balance of these elements have an impact on us physically and mentally. When you are in tune to these movements, we experience good health but sadly many of us have lost that connection in our centrally heated, air-conditioned, lightbulb illuminated homes and offices. And that’s why we get sick.
What is it about walking specifically that you love?
I now have a very desk-based job (as all us home-workers now do) but whether it’s traipsing round my garden, doing a long distance trail or scaling a hill, it’s good to feel connection to the earth beneath my feet, the pumping of my lungs, the strength in my body and it’s like a meditative process putting one foot in front of the other. Clears the head and I feel alive. I like getting on my bike too, of course.
When did you discover FINDRA?
When it was a just notion in Alex’s head! One of the joys of my job is hearing an idea and knowing instantly that it’s a winner and putting as much support at my disposal to make it a reality. I often head out head-to-toe in FINDRA and regularly have to reclaim my socks from my son’s bedroom.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Can I have two pieces? “Trust in your destiny”, and “Never stop learning”.
On writing this blog, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers?
If you have children get them outside with you as much as you can trying as many sports as they are able to. They might turn away in their teenage years but in my experience, they will come back and all your efforts will be rewarded by healthy, happy, outdoor-loving adults.
Thanks Moira for taking the time to chat with us.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
I can’t pick just one book, but I have recently read this and will undoubtedly read it again and again. I am lucky to live near Sayme Ling Tibetan Monastery in Dumfries & Galloway and have personally benefited from Lama Yeshe’s counsel on a couple of occasions.
This is a book about how you can turn even the worst of experiences into something extremely positive but it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. Very pertinent for these strange times we live in.
PAINTING OF THE WEEK
The Orange Blind by Francis Cadell is one of the iconic paintings hanging in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow. I used to get dragged there by my grandparents every school holiday and, as well as slavering over the museum’s dress collection, I loved seeing that painting.
I had a poster of it in all my student flats and it reminds me of the rich artistic heritage of Glasgow and Scotland, and when I look at it, I can feel my gran standing beside me holding my hand. Moral? Never take for granted what you have, because one day it won’t be there. I wonder what happened to that poster?
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Moira didn’t pick a tune for us, so this week we’ve selected Michael Kiwanuka, recent winner of the 2020 Mercury music prize. Here he is with a series of songs from his debut folk and soul inspired album KIWANUKA, live at the Mildmay Club in London.
Michael Kiwanuka – Live at the Mildmay Club