Tag Archives: fitness

Should we be content with content?

29 Jun

Have you ever kissed someone and had the whole world stop?  Everything fade away until all that is left is you and the other person and the moment, and the knowledge that nothing will ever be the same again.

That doesn’t happen, right?

Or have you had a job that you love going to, that it doesn’t matter how many hours you work because working just re-energises you? That you get so much satisfaction out of knowing you’ve done a good job and had a positive impact that you just can’t wait to go back to work.

That doesn’t happen, right?

So instead, lets settle for a job that pays the bills and is secure; for a relationship with someone that’s nice and reliable and who, “yes, of course I love them, its just, well….”

That’s what happens in real life, isn’t it.  That’s what life is about, isn’t it.  Isn’t it?

But what if it isn’t?   Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising on either side or saying one way is better or worse than the other.  Everyone has to do what is right for them.  If you find a way of having a calm and settled life that fulfils you and makes you happy, then that’s fantastic.

Certainly I sometimes wonder if part of my stress is caused by always striving for something that I’m not quite certain even exists.  My job, for argument’s sake:  it pays me pretty well, I’ve done it for a long time and, unless I do something daft, is pretty secure.  But recently its destroyed my confidence and caused me much more unhappiness than satisfaction.  I can’t remember when I last enjoyed going to work – even getting there without having a panic attack on the way would be good (ps:  cycling to work is great for helping reduce this, its difficult to have a panic attack when you’re riding a bike nicknamed Bella that makes you want to sing in Italian!).  Is that because I’m expecting too much from a job? If I just accepted that I’ll go in, do what I can and then go home, not looking to move up or help things be more effective, perhaps I’d be happier.

Maybe its better to get to a certain point and settle there.  My weight, for example. I’ve worked hard to lose weight and get in shape (or at least, a better shape).  This wasn’t helped by the arthritis diagnosis, although knowing that the pain would be eased by losing weight did give a push in the right direction.  So now I’m at a size that is ok.  I’m normal weight, I look ok in clothes.  I’m working hard on personalised workouts which are having an impact (I can actually see muscles in my arms and that thigh tattoo is getting closer).  But I know that if I really focussed on my nutrition and upped my workouts I’d get closer to where I actually want to be.  This is also where you realise there are some things that are acceptable to say and some that aren’t: when I’ve mentioned that I still want to lose more weight/tone up more the comments are all along the lines of “no, you’ll look haggard”, “you’ll look ill”, even though I’m nowhere near the lower levels of my BMI.  (As an aside rant:  All those ‘motivational’ posters now about, “its about being fit, not being thin” – no, you didn’t get like that just through working out, you have adjusted your eating, I do believe the saying that you can’t out train a bad diet.)  But anyway, I digress.  This is about whether its ok to be content with content.  So should I be happy at just being the weight and fitness level I am?

Should I be content to have a job that pays the bills and is secure?  Should I look for a relationship with someone who would be reliable and dependable and, ok, I might not be able to talk to them about absolutely anything or absolutely nothing and they just totally get me, but they are nice?  Should I settle at the weight and shape I am?   Would it be so wrong and way less stressful, to just be content with content?

Sure, I can see the advantages in being thankful for what I have, for living in the moment, counting my blessings, being realistic in my expectations.   Blah blah blah.  But won’t it be equally stressful, just maybe in a different way, to always have a niggling doubt at the back of my mind that it could be better?  Always wondering if only I’d taken a risk or tried a bit harder or been a bit more focussed, that I could have achieved so much more.  Oh, and who is to say what’s realistic or not – who is setting those boundaries?

I’m going to say it again – this is not a criticism of anyone who says they have achieved exactly what they wanted and that they aren’t settling for content with content and that, actually, what’s wrong with content?  There isn’t anything wrong with content.  Content is great.

If that’s what you want.

But I don’t think I do.  I want to have that feeling of the world stopping; I want that feeling of knowing I’ve made a difference; I want that feeling of knowing I’m the best I can be.

If I’d been content with content, I’d still be with my first husband and working as a secretary – and probably 5 stone overweight, drinking heavily and hiding in the bathroom to cry when no-one was looking!

So I’m going to try and find a balance:  I’ll be content about what I’ve achieved so far, but not content to stop there.  It’ll be my stepping stone.  I can only be content here if I know its acting as a base to work towards where I actually want to be.  Use the good things about my job, my fitness, heck, even what I’ve learned from relationships, to act as the foundation for getting something more.  To getting that unrealistic aim – because its only unrealistic if I believe it is.  Hell:  I believe in zombies and aliens and ghost monkeys, I can certainly believe in having a job that I want to go to every single day; a body that can sport a leg tattoo and vest top with pride and finding a man that will make the world stop when they kiss me!

Inspiration

 

 

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When are you a Proper Runner?

13 Aug

I’ve never really counted myself as a runner, even though I’ve always run.  I started back when I was about 15 and was rubbish at sport.  I have no hand to eye co-ordination, so was always last picked at netball and hockey and spent most of a tennis match apologising for not being able to hit the ball back.  But I could stick a pair of trainers on and go for a jog (I’m old enough that it was called jogging back then, not running).  I’d head out into the countryside and just run for a bit until I turned round and headed home.  There was no special kit, I was probably wearing plimsolls, no garmin and bearing in mind we’d only just got a house phone there was certainly no mobile phone app to record your distance.  It was always something I could rely on to clear my head and give me my space.  I probably didn’t even realise this was what it was doing.  When I left home and moved to London at the age of 18, tearful at leaving my boyfriend in Somerset, I’d go out and pound the streets and feel better.  Over time I started other things, aerobics, step aerobics, weights, I even learned to swim, but I always went back to running.  I guess I must have been ok at it as I can remember deciding fairly last minute to do a half marathon and coming in at under 2 hours.  I’m rubbish at remembering stats so I’ve no idea of exact time – I just remember that my fiance (the same boyfriend I’d left in Somerset) wasn’t at the finish line because, as he put it “I figured you’d be ages so I didn’t think I needed to hang around”.   I remember my entire shift (all blokes) making fun at me because jogging wasn’t proper sport or keeping fit and anyone could do it.  So I told them to join me in a 10k I was doing ….. I’d finished my race and jogged some way back along the course to run the last mile again with two of them who had to eat their words with a large portion of humble pie!

I had a bit of a falling out of love with running (and exercise generally) after the end of my first marriage, for lots of reasons that could be analysed by a psychologist but boiled down to my rebellion against a husband who’d been fairly insistent on me not getting fat (I was a size 8-10, I realise in hindsight I wasn’t fat, but that’s a whole different story and would be a very dull blog).  But I’d still get back to running – training to go to Nepal on a trek, I went back and pounded the streets and local wood (yes – trail running before I even knew what trail running was!  Bloody hell, I was ahead of my time!!).   I even remember my lodger – considerably younger and considerably slimmer than me – commenting in a rather annoyed manner, when I went for a jog with her,  that how on earth could I manage to run longer and faster than her when I did nothing!!  I guess muscle memory hangs on in there longer than you imagine.

Nothing else ever really appealed to me like running.  I like the solitude of it.  I know running clubs are great and lots of people like them, but I like that whole thing of just going out and doing my own thing.  Picking my own route, deciding a distance, plodding at my own pace and working through the crazy in my head.  When I have run with other people, I’ve been too pressured and picked up my first big injury from training with the next husband (plantar fasciitis picked up on training for a 10k – I maintain it was the hill sprints, he maintains it was me pushing to do an extra 500 yards to make an even number of miles on a run, but we’ll beg to differ).

Do you become a proper runner when you’ve had your first injury?  not sure, but its when you start to realise just how important running is to you.  When you can’t do it, you start to realise just how many extra lumps of cheese or Chinese takeaways those runs stop from settling on your legs and arse!  Its also when you realise just how jumbled your head can become when you haven’t got the consistent pounding of feet on ground to settle them into some sort of order or stomp them out of your brain.

But good physio help (thank you NHS!) and I’ve always been able to get back out there.  Even after two bouts of fairly major (non-running related) surgery, the aim of getting back out and building the miles back up helped speed recovery.

I think I still never thought of myself as a runner though, because I’ve never been fast.  I’ve never completed a marathon (half is still the longest distance I’ve run).  But I can get out and plod along and just keep going.  I’m like a little Shetland pony rather than a sleek race horse, but I was happy being a little pony.  I discovered that I loved to run in the rain.  I discovered the joy of head torches and running the streets in the dark, pretending I was escaping from zombies (as opposed to drunks, but they kinda look the same, just my version was more fun).

I started to think that maybe I was a runner, or could be.  I watched other people take up the recreational activity (sport?) that I’d always loved and achieve great things with it.  They smashed pb’s, they ran ultra’s, they lost bin loads of weight.  Why wasn’t I achieving that?  Maybe I wasn’t a proper runner, but perhaps I could be – so I put in for a marathon.  I started to train.  I was doing pretty well – got my distance back up to 11 miles, taking advice about proper fuelling strategies, nutrition, hydration and all the things that proper runners did.  Then it happened.  Another injury, but this time it just didn’t feel right.  My left hip was ridiculously painful.  Not a niggle, proper ‘hurts to run’ painful; ‘hobble like an old lady when you get up’ painful.  So I did what pretend runners do, I rested and figured it would get better on its own.  I rested for a month, the excruciating pain subsided to a constant ache – that meant it was better, right?  so I tried a gentle jog.  After a few hundred yards I had to stop and walk, pain was just too unbearable.  Now clearly the logical person would at this point think to see a doctor.  But I’m not a proper runner, it must just be lack of stretching or a pulled muscle or a bit of an ache.  So I rested some more.  It wasn’t til 6 months later when the realisation that the ache was always there, that going up hill was troublesome, that my dog walking had been reduced so that I wasn’t left hobbling that I thought perhaps I should see the doctor.  So I trundled along, figuring they’d refer me to physio and all would be well.  Instead x-rays and blood tests were booked.

I started to swim instead of running.  I found I enjoyed it.  But it wasn’t running.  I had to count lengths and so it didn’t have that mind clearing opportunity that running did.  It didn’t get me out in the fresh air and let me plan my world.  It was an interim until I could run again.

Then I found out when you are a proper runner.  Its when you find out you can’t run again.  Its when you sit in the doctors and get told you’ve got osteoarthritis in your hip, even though “it isn’t something we’d usually see developing so young”  (thank you at least for that, as my first reaction was “crap, did I fall asleep and age 20 years”).  Its when you’re told that its likely to also develop in the other hip.  That first action will be to refer for physio to try and manage the pain, but that it can’t be ‘healed’ just managed. That if the physio doesn’t help the pain management, there’d be a referral to orthopaedic surgeon, but reassuringly (??) “they don’t like to do hip replacement so early”.   That it will probably get worse, but no timescale.  You’re a proper runner when you ask “when can I run again” and you’re told to look for another exercise as it wouldn’t be wise to run.  When you realise you can’t run again and you leave the doctor’s surgery and cry in your car because it feels like you’ve lost something important.  That’s when you realise you’re a proper runner.

So I know that this is just another challenge that I need to face and tackle.  I know its not the worst thing in the world and I know that other people have far worse things to face.   I know that I need to now look at what I can do – swimming, non-impact gym work and so forth – and look at managing diet (ten pounds goes on remarkably quickly when running isn’t giving that calorie deficit!).  But somehow I’ve gone to being “someone who used to run” without ever really recognising that I was a Proper Runner.  And that makes me very sad.

Another mile closer …

14 Oct

This week has been a bit of a struggle.  One of those where everything just seems to pile up on top of me and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball under my duvet and stay there for a month or two.   But I guess when you’re a grown up and you have responsiblities you can’t really do that.  Firstly, they’d stop paying me, but before that I’d probably die of starvation as noone to bring me food and then the dog would eat me as he’d be hungry.  Actually, scratch that, he isn’t the sort of dog that would wait for me to die – he’d smother me with a pillow and then gnaw on my leg!

I knew it was going to be bad on a personal level, but to really kick me in the head, work decided to be really difficult this week.  I ended up having to cancel a day off and I went in on the weekend, yet despite that everything I did just seemed to go wrong.  At one point I cried.  At work.  In front of my boss.  I hate crying in front of anyone.  At all, ever.  To cry in front of my boss was just mortifying!  Although I think he was slightly more perturbed by it than me!

On a personal level its been…. shall we go with ‘challenging’?   Its almost a year now since the day I found the text that showed me my husband was cheating on me.  So it was going to be a bit difficult anyway, he’s still with the woman he cheated on me with and I’m alone.  But in that ‘yes I am going to kick you when you’re down’ way that I mentioned before – they’re heading off to New Zealand on holiday (well, part holiday, part racing in World Championship Tri, but he didn’t qualify so that is sort of amusing to me!).  Its not that I want to be with him, I really don’t.  But New Zealand was a dream holiday for us a few years ago and we always planned on going back.  So that he’s going there with someone else is hard, its as though I’m being airbrushed out of existence.   But more than that, it hurts that I’m still alone.  It hurts that someone can go so quickly from telling you that you’re their soul mate and that they love you so much and then all of a sudden they don’t think that any more and they’re telling someone else that.  It hurts to realise there is noone in the world that loves you.

So I had a bit of a mope this week.  I’ve cried a fair bit at home (in addition to the work bit), I’ve walked the dog in quiet fields and howled alone as I whipped along on the pity train.   But I’ve got a choice, I can sink into a pit of wallowing or I can do what I was doing before – just get on with things.  Get up, go to work, come home, do stuff, watch the days pass by.  So that’s what I’m doing.

In the spirit of that, I’ll focus now on what has been positive:

Had a fabulous weekend last weekend.  Friends came up from Hampshire and we had proper girls night out.  Lunch, wine and shopping during the day.  Cocktails and all of us getting ready together in the evening.  I wore a boned corset that I’d treated myself to and I felt like I looked ok.   I did seem to attract attention from traveller types and not the good ‘aussie back packers on a trip to the UK’ type, but that meant I did get to learn some good techniques from my friend in how to get rid of unwanted attention (that’s never been an issue for me before so I tended to be too polite!!)

I’ve lost more weight and am now less than a pound away from dropping into the ‘tens’ (ten stone bracket, that is, not size 10, thats a bit away yet!).  Even after a blow out weekend last weekend, I got back on to the healthy eating and managed to lose a pound this week.  19 pounds to go to target weight.

I’ve run:

Friday 5/10 I got up early so that I could get a 5k in before work.  It was slow, averaging 12.29 minute miles and I walked some of it.

Recovery from weekend meant I didn’t get back out until the 11th, when I upped the distance to 4.16 miles and dropped the time to 11.10 minute miles.  This time I didn’t walk any of it.  It was also absolutely tipping it down, but not only did I still go out there and do it, I actually enjoyed it more.  I think I mentioned once before that I seemed to like running in the rain.  That does appear to be confirmed.

Today, I wanted to run for an hour just to see if I could.  I had in the back of my head that I’d like to start moving towards the 5mile mark as I’ve got my eye on the Woburn Reindeer 10k in November.  Imagine how pleased I was at the end of the run to realise I’d run 5.46miles at a speed of 11.01 minute miles.   Though clearly as  do like to be hard on myself, I also thought if only I’d run another .04 I’d have done 5.5 and if I’d just sped up a bit I’d have been high 10’s!!!  But it gives me an aim for next week.  A mid week 5.5, a fast 3.1 and a 6mile next weekend.  Also going to look up the application for the reindeer run and have it ready just in case.

The technical bits and a picture of the hilly bits

Hot, sweaty, pasty faced – but proud of me!!

Edinburgh and beyond … things I have done today

2 Oct

Things I have done today:

  • sat a promotion exam
  • run 2.5 miles

I’m trying to take on board some feedback I got from a couple of different people this week, but which was along the same lines:  stop being so hard on yourself and actually acknowledge that you’re doing quite well.  That doesn’t come easily to me, like a lot of us, I’m probably my own worse critic (and bearing in mind some of the criticism I’ve received from others, that’s a hell of thing to be able to claim).  But I’m going to take a bit of a deep breath and whilst doing one of the exercises the physio gave me – I’m going to give myself a pat on the back.  (I will be doing this whilst sitting down and then rotating to one side whilst keeping hips still in order to stretch my back at the same time, fyi.)  I’ve lost 17lbs.   17lbs – that’s actually pretty good.  That would be a fairly hefty baby (apparently), its bigger than a puppy.   I couldn’t run 10k carrying a puppy – that’s perspective!!

I studied for an exam and sat it, not because anyone encouraged me, in fact the opposite, noone has pushed me to do this.  This might be a bad thing and might be a reflection that people think I can’t do it, but noone has taken me under their wing and started pushing me to build a portfolio and all the other blah that is known to happen in my chosen profession.  I did it because I wanted to.  I had to build in the time and still run my house, on my own, while I did it.  That might not be much compared to what some other people have to cope with on a daily basis.  But so what – I did it.  The actual result is fairly irrelevant, I gave it a shot.

Right, now the praise-fest is over, back to basics.  2nd run of this week completed.  Although I was only supposed to be doing a mile to build slowly, that was really never going to happen.  I did keep things slow though, averaging a 12.16 minute mile for 2.56 miles.   Combined walking and gentle jog, warming up with 10 minutes gentle jog then 30 second walk followed by 2.5minute jog, finishing with 9 minute jog.  Took 31 minutes to do 2.5 miles, which is about the pace I was doing a slow 5k, but considering I haven’t run in a dog’s age, not too shabby.  I’d been advised to look at my form and try to relax my back as I run.  I admit I’m a bit confused as to what that means.  I’ve run on and off for about 30 years and have just tended to stick one foot in front of the other and keep going, without putting a huge amount of thought behind it.  So I’m not sure which bits I’m doing right and which bits I’m doing wrong.  So today, I tried to let my arms hang loose so that my shoulders and back weren’t so hunched up.  I’ve always run with clenched fists and sort of punched my arms forward, which when I stand and do it, I can feel is very tensing.  So instead, I left my hands unclenched and open.  I did wonder, as I ran past part of the hospital, whether medical aid would be sent out for me as during the walk parts I took the opportunity to try and shake out my arms and shoulders  to relax them – so there was some rather odd arm waving and shaking going on.  Think some sort of Baptist Church revival sermon and that might give an idea of what I looked like.   On good note – legs felt fine, no problems in legs or feet (which is where past problems have been), which is very positive.  Back does feel a bit tight – but I did spend couple of hours hunched over an exam paper so that could just as easily be responsible.   But to go back to the original point – I went out and ran, even though it was raining, even though I’d already been out and walked some distance with the dog (and got a headbutt into the bargain!), even though I hadn’t had any tea.  No excuses – got out there and hit the pavements.

Food wise – quite proud of fact that I ran right on past the chip shop and didn’t even bat an eyelid.  Got in and didn’t grab junk food, instead I poached fish, roasted butternut squash and made fish pie topped with mashed cauliflower and squash.  Which is what I’m not going to head off to eat.

Overall – a good day.  I’ve stuck a photo below of a poster that I saw advertised ages and ages ago.  I think its meant for a child’s room, but the sentiment holds true whatever your age.

Dream, Imagine and Aspire to be just who you are.

There are dragons to slay

Edinburgh and beyond

29 Sep

I’m supposed to be revising, especially as the exam is in just over 2 days time.  Even sent the dog off to spend the weekend with the ex so that I could focus on cramming.  Which means I’ve been to the hairdressers, watched Poirot, been for a run and am now updating blog.   My ability to distract myself from what I actually should be focussing on is fairly astounding.  I even washed the floors in the week (admittedly between mock exams, but still).

So where am I right now?  Well – clearly as I mentioned the exam and revision, I am taking steps to achieve forward movement in my career.  However, I’m not totally confident that I’ve done enough.  I can make all the excuses about not having time:  get home from work, walk dog, make dinner, realise its gone 8 o’clock, hardly time to get the books out.  Weekends have to clean the house, shop etc etc etc, blah, blah, blah.  Ultimately though, I could have found time.  I could have got up earlier.  But I didn’t.  I chose not to, whether consciously or subconsciously.  On Tuesday I’ll know how that works out.  However, I’m not stressing on it.  It will be what it will be.  If I don’t pass, so be it, I enjoy the job I do now, I work with a great team and I’m looking forward to starting work with a new boss from next week so lots of challenges and opportunities coming up.  If I do pass, fantastic stuff …. just got to then wait for a board and who knows when that will be.  So really, no change on what I’d be doing anyway.

Weight wise – Dukan has been a success.  Slow, but successful.  I didn’t get the massive weight loss that some people have reported.  But, again, I’m not stressing on it.  I can only run my own race.  I’ve been losing around 1-2lb a week and since 21 July have lost 17lb.  More importantly, I feel more comfortable in my clothes.  I can throw on jeans and tshirt and feel like I look ok.  I’ve dropped a trouser size in my work trousers and will soon need to order a smaller size again.  I’ve got 21lb to go, but I feel like I can do it.  I’ve got used to the way of eating and I have the cravings under control. I won’t say I’ve mastered them, more like I’ve shoved them into the back of the attic like a mad old aunty (to clarify, I think I read that in a book or saw it in a film, I have never locked an aunty or any other family member in an attic).

Running – hmmm, since the 10k Race for Life some time back I haven’t run.  In fact I ended up with such a bad back I resorted to going to the doctors (I hate going to the doctors) who then referred me to a physio.  Physio’s advice was no running until my back had been sorted out.   A few weeks of stretching exercises (ably assisted by the dog, who thinks the moment you lie on the floor its play time.  Have you tried to do back stretches and core strengthening with a 29kg dog trying to climb on you and lick your face, it ain’t easy.  You never see that in a celeb dvd do you, no you don’t.) and a bit of massaging from the physio (brought to a rapid halt on one session when whatever it was she was doing made me throw up!) and I’ve been given clearance to run again.  This was on the proviso of  ‘Taking It Easy’ and ‘Building Up Slowly’.  That was on Monday.  On Thursday I entered Edinburgh marathon.  Ok, I know that doesn’t sound like Taking It Easy and Building Up Slowly.  But in my defence, the run isn’t until May, so that’s loads of time to Build Up Slowly.  I’d been waiting for VLM results (Virgin London Marathon for the non-runners, its not some new underwear malfunction like a worse form of VPL).  Part of me was thinking I hope I don’t get it as I really don’t want to run a marathon.  But something weird happened as I waited for the letter or the pack and I started to make back up plans.  By the time the postman knocked at the door and Elvis delivered the news, I’d already looked Edinburgh up online.  That there was a code included in the rejection pack to get a guaranteed place seemed sort of like fate.  Next thing I knew, the application was in.  So 26 May, I will be doing my 26.2 in Scotland.  That in itself is fine, but somehow my mind which really doesn’t understand how to not go over the top and stick to a balance level, decided that isn’t enough.  So my aims for the next two years now include:

short term : back up to 10k fitness by end of November (Reindeer run!)

medium term : Edinburgh marathon

long term : a 30 mile run

then that’s it.  I can tick them off my list, know that I’ve achieved it and then just stick to running nothing further than 10 miles BUT and this is the big thing, sustaining that running, so that each week I’m running at least 4 times a week.  Forever.

In the interests of Taking It Easy and Building Up Slowly, I went out for a trial run tonight.  Plan was one mile of 2 minutes run/30 seconds walk all at a very low pace.  Somehow  I ended up doing 1.72 miles, as I was so busy counting that I couldn’t hear the micoach telling me the distances.  The micoach updates on 2 minute points, so after the first 2 min check point I had to keep counting and doing maths in my head, which meant talking out loud to myself because I can’t do maths in my head.  Either I’m going to have to build up fairly quickly or go back to remedial maths classes.  I averaged 12.05 minute miles, so managed the  fairly slow bit.  Legs felt fine, but I’ve realised that I do tense my back up as I run and I can feel a tight band across it even though I’ve stretched out when I got back.  I’m telling myself that isn’t an excuse to book a massage on the alternate days to running and that instead I should find out what it is about my running style that’s making me do that and build my core up properly.  The massage bit sounds nicer though.

In other news – still not dating, coming up for one year since found out husband was cheating and kicked him out.  Part of me thinks I should be back out there and looking for someone new.  Other bit of me really can’t face the whole idea of trying to meet someone new, risking being rejected, risking being hurt again.  Safer to just stay in my own little bubble.  But who knows, friends coming to stay next weekend and we’re hitting the town.  Ok, we’re hitting Bedford and that really isn’t all that great.  BUT a new pub has opened up, its supposed to be good and I’ve been assured there were men there who looked like they were single, so who knows, maybe next week things will change.

For now, though:  I’ve an exam to take and a marathon to prepare for, so lets get out there and get on with it!

This photo has nothing at all to do with the blog, I just really liked it – its my dog when he met up with some other Slovakian Rough Haired Pointers and then they bumped into a Weimaraner puppy!

To our hairy friends

27 Jul

This blog is brought about with thoughts and hugs going out to a friend who’s going through a tough time at the moment, but may make sense to anyone out there who is owned by a dog.   We might moan about them sometimes when they’ve chewed up something (usually something big and difficult to replace and definitely something they weren’t meant to chew), we might despair when they won’t do as they’re told and they’re having one of the crazy 15 minutes, we might feel a bit resentful when we leave a party early to get home because they need letting out.  But ultimately, we wouldn’t be without those beautiful, hairy heart grabbers.

When I went through my first marriage break up and all the mess that was around that, it was my dog that got me through it.  Don’t get me wrong, I had some great friends standing by me.  But on the days when I didn’t feel I could drag myself from my bed, I had to because Fergus (the beautiful dalmatian pictured below) had to be walked.  When I couldn’t be bothered to shop for food, I had to because there was no way he was going to go without eating (never, and I mean NEVER try to deprive a dally of food) and without putting too fine a point on it, when I felt like knocking back a stack of pills and just falling asleep forever, I knew I had to go on because I couldn’t bear the thought of Fergus having to go to a rescue home (he was a handful, noone else would have been insane enough to take him on!)  In no small way I owe my life to my boy.

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Fergus was eventually joined by Phoebe, my pretty, neurotic girl and we had some great times together.  Those dogs knew how to party – and Fergus was a huge flirt!

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This time round, I’ve got Ed.  Bouncy, troublesome, insane, cuddlesome Ed.   And I’m thankful for it.  He stops the house being too quiet when silence is the last thing I need.  If I’m feeling miserable he’ll stick his hairy face on my knee and stare at me with his beautiful amber eyes.  In the past I’ve used running to help me get rid of the crazy in my head.  At the moment I can’t run, but I can get out for a walk.  Who can feel bad when they’ve strolled through a field full of corn, hearing a river bubble underneath the brambles.  Stumbling across a four leaf clover that makes you just know everything is going to be fine.  In the sunshine of the last few days, when you watch the ground getting harder and more cracked, switching from heavy walking boots to lightweight Vans, you can feel your soul opening back up to bask in the warmth.  Even in the rain, you can splosh through mud and feel the freedom you last felt when you were 5 and splashed through puddles in ducky wellies!   Unlikely I’d be doing that if it wasn’t for Ed.

In the last week alone its been Ed that has brought the biggest smile to my face and made me laugh out loud even though noone else around.  Watching him point and then stalk so carefully his prey …. of a ripped plastic bag had me praising him and giggling all at the same time.  Seeing him run like Predator through cornfields – all rustling corn then the sudden appearance of a head before he disappears in a flash, has me laughing the whole walk.  (2nd biggest laugh, was when a colleague joked to me ‘keep your chin up…. both of them’ the look on his face as a universal gasp of went round the office was a sight to behold!!)

So, to our hairy friends, I say a big thank you – for always being there for us, for loving us unconditionally, for silent support, for the laughs and the fun, for getting us out of the house, you have eternal gratitude.  Now, where do I find me a man like that?!!!

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If Only ….

9 Jul

Someone asked me recently what it was that would bring me happiness and that got me thinking, hard.   Should it be that hard to work out?  I’m not sure.  But I realised that so many of the things I think will make me happy seem to be linked to ‘if only’ …

  • if only I could lose the weight I’d be happy with me
  • if only I could get promotion/do all my to do list/find the dream job I’d be happy with my work
  • if only I could meet a wonderful man I’d be happy
  • if only I could run that big race/break a pb/learn a language/tell people what I really think/cook a 5 star meal/find the perfect pair of jeans/fly across the atlantic in a balloon/prove who killed JFK …. get the picture?

It always seems so dependent on that elusive ‘something’.  But how can that work, because what happens if you don’t achieve that weight loss, or balloon ride or whatever it is you’ve pinned that happiness on?  Does it mean you can’t ever be happy?  Each goal that isn’t achieved another piece of proof that you are a failure?Do you just label yourself a loser and sink one more rung down a self-created ladder of depression?

I thought I was happy.  I’d had the broken marriage, followed by the wild times, followed by the wanting to be with someone to love and share my life with.   Then I got that, I built that whole lifestyle and it really did seem like happiness.  But then things change and you realise it was an illusion, like vaseline over the lens, and someone gives it a scrub with windolene and you look at things without the soft focus.  What then?

If I look at all the things I think I want and which I think will make me happy – I had all them, but I knew deep down that it wasn’t what I wanted and that I wasn’t happy.  I thought I’d glimpsed proper happiness, but it was fleeting.  Now, either I’m a completely ungrateful cow who just doesn’t know when she’s well off (and, trust me, that thought has gone through my head more than once, probably more than 100 times!) or I just have my happiness pinned on something too elusive and ‘dependent’.

I’m not even going to pretend I have any answers yet.  I’ve read things on living in the moment, I’ve seen the glib catch phrases and motivational sayings – can a solution ever be summed up in 140 characters?  But they just leave me thinking ‘but how?  tell me HOW?’  How do I go confidently in the direction of my dreams?  how do I live the life I’ve imagined?  how do I build the door for opportunity to knock on?   What do half these things MEAN??  This probably all sounds a bit impatient – and as someone who has to read the last few pages of a book before they can enjoy the book, I will admit that I am impatient and I want to KNOW.    Do other people think this?  Do they just get the package that should make them happy and convince themselves that they are; or are they genuinely, wonderfully, gloriously happy?  If there ever is an ‘if only’ is that just crushed under alcohol, or food, or training, or shopping or any of the other things I know I’ve used in the past to knock the doubts away?   Maybe they do, perhaps I am just greedy and ungrateful and impatient?

If you’re waiting for some momentous revelation (or catch phrase that forms the basis of a best seller!), sorry, there isn’t one.   As I said, I don’t have any answers.  Not yet.  Maybe that is a step forward, admitting I don’t know at least is facing up to the thought that I need to be more accepting of my failings and my flaws and accept that finding a ‘solution’ to them isn’t necessarily going to make me happy.  That it might put a nice bit of wrapping paper and a bow around the package, but the same package is under there.   I’m not going to use this as an excuse to not have goals or aspirations, I still need to live and to live a healthy life, so those things I’ve talked about in the past still apply.  But I need to not pin my happiness on achieving them and take that pressure off a little bit.   For now, I just have a lot of thinking to do, not least figuring out whether I am just greedy for wanting proper, true happiness and that I should just settle for ‘almost happy’  or whether I’m ok with holding out until I work out what it is that makes me truly happy and how to live that life.

Don’t think I can skip to the back of the book on this one.