The Point of No Return
I always try to see the positive in everything. I am going to say that although I have a variety of phobias and addictions that set me a number of challenges just getting through everyday life I can deal with them on my own - or so I thought
The combination of panic attacks, OCD, an eating disorder and a very addictive nature is quite frankly exhausting and I would do anything to empty my brain and allow in some nice stuff for a change.
Outwardly I am a successful, motivated, confident, ambitious, kind and an adventurous person who has time for everyone (so I am told) inwardly I feel insecure all the time, worry continuously and have no idea why people think I am good at anything. I can look at my CV and achievements and wonder who I have written about. I feel like I am leading a double life.
I am sure all of my what I like to call ‘challenges of life’ are linked. Well I hope they are and I hope that there is a magic switch the can be flicked so they will all go away in a blink of an eye.
I know that nothing is going to go away if I don’t deal with it. Funny thing is that I am so decisive and organised in the rest of my life (I even help people organise their lives as a business) but when it comes down to sorting out myself it feels like too big of an issue so I leave it. If I had broken an arm or had a visual illness I would do something about it wouldn’t I? No, I just suffer and it’s my own fault. That’s another thing I do. I blame myself for everything as I am sure it’s my fault if something goes wrong or if someone is not happy it must be me who is the cause of their unhappiness – talk about being insecure! I am 45 for goodness sake and its time to say goodbye to this ‘other’ person and leave happy Lisa to enjoy the rest of her life.
The realisation that I need to stop procrastinating about my issues – all of them this time and ‘just deal with it’ happened a week ago with a ‘Road Closed’ Sign. This sign literally stopped me in my tracks as it meant my limited driving routes became non-existent.
The problem is that one of my many ‘challenges’ is pure panic and anxiety about driving on motorways and increasingly so driving in general. The Road Closed sign in my local town meant for 10 days the country lane I use is shut and only access to the town and my job is via a dual carriage way. Stress levels soared and I bought on a panic attack just by the thought of trying to face my fear of driving a mile of dual carriage way. Mind was working in overdrive as I fast forwarded the next 10 days and what options and alternatives I could think of in order not to lose my job. Why can’t I just function like a normal person for a change?
With the aid of my partner we ‘practised’ driving the one mile of fear. In my mind it had become 100 miles. I know I should not worry or think and breathe correctly but practise and theory are not the same, luckily I made it to the slip road before a full blow out attack and he drove home. Now the worry of how was I going to get to work really kicked in plus the usual ‘I am useless and letting everyone down’
Then the usual spiral of OCD (increased number of times I had to touch certain items things 5 times with my left hand otherwise the world would come to an end and other similar routines plus checking the cat was not in the freezer) bulimia and hitting the wine reared its ugly head and I was on the road to nowhere again. As I said I am sure there is a link with all of my issues. When they all come at once it is mentally and physically exhausting but I am determined to keep it hidden from everyone.
About 9 years ago I was climbing up the corporate career ladder at a pretty fast pace and not doing too badly – thank you very much. Zooming up and down the M1 at least twice a week from London to the North East, Red Bull in hand and cursing the slow drivers. Then it happened and I hit a huge stumbling block and experienced my first panic attack while driving on the motorway. Not pleasant experience and I would not wish that on anyone else. It came out of the blue and I did not know what was happening to me. I felt that I had a compulsion to drive directly into the central reservation. All feeling left my arms and legs, hyperventilating, dizzy and sweating. I felt like I was on the top of the highest point in the world and wanted to jump. It is so difficult to describe it to people and it seems so daft. I kept trying but the more I did the worse it got. Just to add to the equation my fear increased to driving over motorway bridges as well. I had to give up driving on the motorway, basically for the safety of me and for every other driver on the M1 as well!
This developed into the delightful fear of not just driving on motorways but driving OVER them as well and the combination cutting out the two options when driving makes it all a little bit restricting.
Shortly after this I moved to rural Zambia for 8 years and luckily could tick motorway driving off the list of my issues for a while, although I replaced this with adverse fear of elephants and driving – What is wrong with me!?
I really hoped on the return to UK it would all have been forgotten but sadly no. With the power of my mind in all its negative ways it all came back with vengeance…
Trying to find job that does not involve going on the motorway or going over the motorway via a bridge was not easy. Goodness me it was hard enough for me to find a job when I returned to England let alone having a specific set of locations that were a no go for me!
Luckily my long suffering partner is understanding of my predicament and motorway driving is all his. I think he made that decision after the time I thought I was OK to give it a go which lasted 10 mins before my hands and feet went numb, heart was palpitating and the vertigo feeling overcame me. Freaking out I pulled into the hard shoulder where I just climbed into the back of the car leaving him to ‘deal with it’ Mum was in the car too – sorry Mum for scaring you to death!
Crossing motorway bridges is more of a challenge as when driving solo as even with my carefully planned non motorway route generally mean I will have to cross one. My heart is actually beating faster as I write as its really amazing stressful to cross these things. I have no rational reason for this fear at all, apart from the fact I really do have the urge to jump. No idea why, it’s like a devil in my mind telling me to do the exact opposite of what I am meant to do.
I have been known many times to psyche myself up miles prior to the impending motorway bridge and be really determined to give it a go. As I approach the panic attack symptoms start to kick in and the prickly armpit syndrome starts (does anyone else get prickly armpits when they are stressed or is it just me?) anyway it’s about a 50/50 chance if I cross them. On a good day and if I am going fast enough I can do it and the relief and elation is something to behold. If it’s an off day I am known to indicate and do a nifty three point turn which really is not an ideal situation for me or any on else on the road but I just can’t do it! I suppose it better than trying to do a 3-point turn when I am actually on the bridge…
So there we have it – time for a change and as I said I always try to do look at the positive and think when one road shuts another one opens (as it literally did for me!) This time I am going to do something positive. I have already and looking at the support on the Mind website http://www.mind.org.uk and seeing that I am not remotely alone in this private battle of the mind gives me hope. Counselling consultation already booked. I just hope they are not located near a motorway as it’s still going to be one step at time but now it’s going to be in the right direction!
I always need to have a goal in the not too distant future to aim for to give my running a purpose. Yes, I love going out and running to unwind/distress and take in the quite frankly amazing scenery I am lucky enough to live within. My slightly competitive nature (if you have read any of my other blogs you will understand what I mean!) means I need to have an upcoming event to focus on.
I started running in July 2015 after returning from 8 years in Zambia and super unfit. I lack confidence in myself (yes, know many of you may find that hard to believe!) and I thought that running was totally out of my league. I tried a 5k Park Run with my brother and unbelievably I had gone from 5km Park Run in 35 mins to 22mins within 6 weeks. That was my first achievement and I thought I would try for a 10km although I never thought I would finish that. 48 minutes later I did – maybe I can do this running stuff after all!
It had to happen and the Half Marathon loomed up, was done in 1 hour 42mins and Wow, I enjoyed that one! I decided that longer distances were a better option for me. It takes me at least 3 miles to get into my stride so you can imagine with my competitive nature I nearly kill myself with the strain of trying to better my time or have to warm up three miles before I do a 5k Park Run!
My partner Chau is a ‘proper’ runner. I was a bit intimidated running with him at first. I still don’t see myself as a 'proper' runner and always amaze myself when I get to the finish. He is a club runner and has numerous Marathons under his belt and yes, I would say slightly obsessive!
I suppose I got slightly obsessive as well and got panicky if I missed a training run. For me it has extra impact as I battle with an addictive behaviour and an eating disorder so I can on occasions combine all of these together and go into a downward spiral of ‘bugger, cant do my run today due to work commitments so that means I wont burn off ‘x’ amount of calories and therefore I will automatically put on weight or I need to run double tomorrow’ The mind of an addictive personality is exhausting sometimes!
Chau was doing the London Marathon as he has done for the past 5 years and yes, I was slightly envious as I wanted to be involved in this amazing event. I found a 21 miler to do a month before London so perfect for my next goal of increasing my miles annoying Chau with my incessant chat on his training runs!
I had been very complacent sailing along injury free apart from the usual aches and pains a 45 year old would get! Increasing the mileage and the runs were going well and 3 weeks to go I was doing 18 miles no issue – well there was a niggling pain in my knee but just a niggle so let’s ignore that shall we?
That was wrong thing to do as the day after a half marathon event I was doing a short run which turned out much shorter than anticipated as knee gave way and no more running for me for three months.
I fully admit I am a challenge to live with at the best of times but with my first injury I was a nightmare. I kept trying to run and would manage a mile at best before I ground to a halt and swore a lot and limped off home. I struggled mentally as well and my automatic thoughts were no running equals unfit, flabby and fat and I would not be able to run again. That increased the stress and drama of it all. You would think I was training for the Olympics the way I was acting!
It proved I have fully caught the 'running bug' as I pressed my nose against the window of the car looking in envy at people running with two working knees!
The cartilage in my knee was either inflamed or torn and no running for me as per the physio instructions. ‘Oh woe is me’ and ‘Oh woe’ for Chau to as he got full force of the unexercised non running me. Sorry Chau!
So how did I manage to keep my fitness level up to a similar if not better level in the 3 months I could not run?
Cross training! It’s a miracle!
I would say I was pretty fit just running but I then found another level and have discovered over the past few months my stomach muscles, biceps, triceps and apparently you do have muscles in your back and I can see mine now!
I was lucky with my injury I could walk and cycle so with a combination of Spinning for cardiovascular, long long walks for endurance and British Military Fitness for stamina, muscle building and general top to toe total exercise.
BMF is amazing and let me tell you the foundation of sit ups, press ups and the good old Burpees worked a treat!
I maintained my fitness to a point of when my knee repaired itself I was able to run 6 miles on my first outing.
I am gradually building up the running again and have my first half a marathon since February on Sunday and feeling positive about it. Looking back now I think I over ran and maybe that’s a trait of an over enthusiastic novice runner. In a way it was a silver lining having the injury (I like the glass half full approach) as I know cross training has improved my core in particular and general strength which has reflected positively in my running ability
Instead of running 5 or 6 times a week I now do two shortish runs, a longer one at the weekend of approx. 14 miles and then adding 2 sessions of cross training to the week. Bingo – it worked for me and I can get up those hills in much better shape now.
I have extra proof it works as well as Chau who only ever focused on his legs and running was not developed in his upper half and could manage one sit up if I held his ankles! He added cross training into his training schedule and goodness me it worked. He moaned and groaned initially as he was flat on his face after 2 push-ups but within a few weeks he was parading round in his tight running tops flexing his newly found biceps in the mirror (yes Chau, I saw you!)
Did it improve his running? Oh yes, London Marathon in 2 hours, 56 mins and 23secs.
Does it mean he can beat me doing sit ups and push-ups? Never!
So God Forbid if I ever get another injury I will not be stroppy or moody or dramatic. I will just refocus and up the cross training as it worked for me and onward and upward for my first Marathon in October!
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I have had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for as long as I can remember. Certainly early teenage years. Over the years it has got worse, got better but never actually gone away.
I much better now but it still goes in fits and starts and depending on the day it can take me 5 minutes or 20 minutes to get out of the house in the morning.
I have to factor this in my morning routine and if Chau is already at work I know it’s going to take a little more time!
Suited, booted and bag in hand, everything checked and all good to go
Bag back on the table
‘Did I switch off all the lights’? – mmm – not sure, best go and look in every room
‘Is the towel rail still on’? Not that I turned it on but it may have miraculously turned itself on in the night
‘Might the cat be in the freezer’? Why on earth would I think that? Anyway this must be checked as well
‘Where are the cats anyway’? It’s vital for their safety that I touch with my left hand before I leave for work (can’t be the right hand)
‘All taps off’? Yes, but I must hold my hand underneath each one just in case (I have not used a bath or months but must make sure)
OK – all fine and the cats have food and water.
Now for the tricky bit… I need to lock the door, Oh the stress of it all!
Lock it, try the handle, walk to the car, return to the door try it again – pushing it the ritual five times (no more no less) OK, off I go. This process could happen about 4 times.
Finally, in the car, must just pop out to check the cats are not under the car which is quite awkward depending on my dress attire for the day (lucky it’s quite where we live if I am wearing something a little short and grovelling under the car for cats…)
Done – and I am off to work for a rest!
I don’t know why I do it or what triggered it in the first place. I have not gone through anything traumatic particularly or been burgled which would explain the checking the door obsession.
When I want to relax my mind seems to switch on to say ‘Oh no you don’t you have to do some checking first’
So off we go again
Sit on sofa with a magazine
‘Have the cats got water’? I have just filled it up but best check
‘Is my Debit Card in my purse’? Of course it is but I must just check – what made me think that one?
‘Have I left the tap running upstairs’?
‘For Goodness Sake – sit down’!!
Quite frankly it’s all very exhausting. I know why I do so many steps on my Garmin now, it’s all the unnecessary steps I take checking for something that has not happened.
And so it goes on, I am almost acceptant that I have to go through this routine before I can allow myself to sit down.
I understand what I doing is not normal but try telling my brain that.
As I said it is getting better and I am looking at different ways to reduce this cycle step by step and I will get there. I know there are many effective methods available and time to try them out!
In the meantime, I need to make sure that the TV volume is always on an even number (otherwise the world may possibly end) the iron is in a separate room from the ironing board and the cat is not in the freezer
Is every plug switched off? Excellent
I need a little sit down now!
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Apparently I am not a very nice person when I am ill. What me? Surely not, I am sweetness personified!
My partner said next time I am ill – not that he wants me to both for my health and his sanity he will video it just so I can see the person of awfulness I actually become.
I can’t believe it for one moment although the recent bout of flu I had I do seem to remember a certain amount of resistance to being looked after.
Actually it’s all coming back to me and yes – I think I actually turned into a monster for 48 hours.
I am pretty good at dealing with sickness and I try not to dwell on it, soldier on until I fall over. This time I fell over with vengeance after catching a bug on the flight home from holiday. Tried to ignore it for a day and then gave into the nasty little bug like thing in my system and fell into bed bypassing my partner Chau who was trying to check if I was OK by gesticulating with the back of my hand to ‘leave me alone’
I'm am nearly 46 years old but I flounced in like a 16 year old and continued to be obnoxious throughout.
Leaving me alone is very important in my journey through flu as you really would not want to travel with me through it.
Prior to moving in with my long suffering partner I lived alone for 10 years and most of that was in the middle of the African Bush which was a little more isolating than a housing estate in the Home Counties!
When you were sick over there it was a case of grin and bare it as there really is not much that can be done as Drs and medicine are far are few between. Always, always always make sure you have Malaria treatment with you otherwise the outcome could be severe. It nearly was once with me when I awoke after 48 hours on a quinine drip in a Malawi hospital – that was the neighbouring country to where I was living. It was that bad I did not even notice I had been emergency evacuated across the border!
I was used to lying in bed after contracting an unknown virus with temperature sky high and amazing hallucinations until the one and only Dr managed to battle through the elephants and other wildlife in order to say ‘you look rough have some Panadol, its all I have got'
Believe me it was scary to be ill in the middle of nowhere, although great for weight loss (I always try and look at the positive!)
Getting used to living with someone again takes time and we admittedly cut out a lot of the ‘getting to know’ and got straight on with the 'living with' which meant that we had not experienced all of our character traits and this was very apparent to Chau when I got flu.
Now bedridden which is highly unusual for me he left me to go to work and I sweated it out at home fluctuating between sleeping and thrashing around sweatily in bed. Chau as a dutiful and caring person he is called me regularly. I did not answer. I just did not want to know.
On his return he came upstairs to check on me as one would. Well I who had been on their own all day had become possessed by something quite horrific.
Everything he could do or say was wrong
‘Do you want some lemonade, it’s the zero calorie one you asked me to get?’ my reply, 'why would I want any of that?'
‘Would you like me to turn on your laptop for you?’ my reply ‘why would I want my laptop on? His reply ‘ its on the bed and I thought you may like to use it, my reply ‘NO’
It was ‘NO’ to everything and why was he so stupid to ask me all of these kind caring and normal questions?
I was being totally irrational, I knew it but I just could not help it, I had no control of what came out of my mouth other than total rudeness
I knew it was getting bad when he asked if I wanted something to eat. ‘ No, if I want something I will get it myself and I am going to have baked beans' ‘OK’ ‘ he said ‘I will heat them up for you’ This was shocking news to me and how dare he suggest that he heat up my beans? These beans were the most important thing in the world and it was me that had to cook them.
I staggered downstairs to heat up beans I did not even want. I knew I was really quite ill but these beans were the focal point of my existence even if it took me half an hour to coordinate the tin and a tin opener.
A comforting hug would be nice? ‘Get off me!’ I just could not cope with the niceness. Not normal is it?
Back to bed without a word. A few hours later I opened an eye to see Chau kneeling at the side of the bed. ‘Why are you praying? I'm not dead yet’
Poor guy was really worried about me and was just checking I was still breathing
I have only realised while writing this my behaviour in certain circumstances shows just how isolated I had become and if I am going through a difficult time I withdraw and shut down. This was apparent in this situation and its all very well being a strong independent woman but I am very lucky to have found someone who is A – willing to take me on, flaws and all. B – patient enough to wait out my teenage tantrums and C – understands that I still need time to get used to sharing my life with someone again. I need to appreciate that and embrace it not throw it away.
It will continue to take time to get used to each other and I think I have an easier ride than Chau as after a fair few relationships where my naivety and trust have taken me to a bad place where I have shut down completely. Now is the time to make the change to share my life. I can still be independent I just don’t need to go through the bad bits on my own.
I really hope I remember this if I get ill again although I cant guarantee to be a perfect Angel next time!
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I suppose you could describe the house I live in with my partner, Chau and our four-legged feline family as a little quirky or possibility a ‘Marmite’ House – love it or hate it.
We immediately fell in love with it upon the first viewing and luckily for us everyone else who viewed it did not feel the same. Quick smart the deal was done with my Chau excelling himself in the negotiations and seemingly in a blink of an eye we landed ourselves a house!
It would not suit many people due to its quirky character but it almost seemed to be tailored to our needs perfectly. Not many 5ft (nearly) 3‘’ people can paint their ceiling without using a ladder can they? A 17th Century fully beamed cottage with nearly two bedrooms that we called our Hobbit House – before you ask, no we don’t have big feet or hairy toes!
Due to the character of the house certain styles of furniture would not sit well, No Ikea or Habitat thank you very much. We needed to look for items suitably sympathetic to the house.
Being a positive person I will say that we were very lucky that due to our previous personal situations we did not have any furniture at all. This means we were blessed with a blank canvas to work from.
That sounds much more romantic than we had literally nothing!
Luckily Chau managed to negotiate the fridge freezer and cooker into the deal so at least we were not cooking on the open fire in the garden – it was becoming a consideration!
With an economy trolley dash to Dunelm plus a necessary bed and sofa purchase we covered the basics. Chau actually came with a TV as every man does!
Having no furniture plus money not being our best friend at the time it was time to think outside the box and get creative.
I was happy with having minimal and wait until we found the right pieces for the house. I usually find that my best finds are when an item literally jumps out at me (as an inanimate object can do) and says ‘take me, I am perfect.
This happened with an old armchair that was looking a little sad in the corner of a junk shop. It caught my eye and it was love at first sight. I had to rescue it and give it a good home. A shampoo and a polish and it’s in pride of place in the living room, complementing the new sofa. Only issue is that I am not important enough to sit on it as apparently its only Alfie our cat who is allowed to use it. He gives you a look of ‘how very dare you’ if we even consider sitting on it!
That one chair opened the flood gates of many satisfying hours in second hand shops browsing, considering, choosing and bargaining. At the bargaining stage I disappear as I can’t deal with the stress. Chau being a born negotiator is delighted with his £2 discount and then you can see me happily bundling another old relic into the car (I mean the furniture, not Chau..!)
A lot of what we bought did need a little TLC before coming part of our home. Nothing that but a bit of sanding, staining or painting could not sort out.
I watched much of the Olympic coverage on TV kneeling on the floor painting our new (old) chairs on a dust sheet in the lounge. Note to anyone who does similar – keep the paint tin well away from your mug of coffee. I have painted my furniture with coffee too many times now as I am not looking what I am dipping my brush into!
After the necessities came the ‘nice to have’ accessories. With cash flow still a challenge we won’t be hanging a masterpiece painting on our wall soon. What to do? Buy £1 frames from ASDA, get creative with leftover paint then frame photographs of your flower of choice or prints of your bear of choice (see the photographs and it will make sense I promise!)
50p old bottles make great vases for flower and why not have an old ladder as a shelf? Believe me you won’t go back to shelving once you have tried it!
Our house is nearly finished – for now.. Mixing 80% old with 20% new has worked really well for us and also for our bank balance. There is a massive satisfaction of placing your tea or wine on your newly sanded and oiled table and know it’s all your own work.
I can’t fit anymore in the house but I have the bug for rescuing furniture so we still buy pieces and up-cycle them to sell on and the profit helps with the weekly food shop!
If we did have more money would we buy new? No, I don’t think we would as our furniture has its own story to tell.
A little bit about one of my (many) Phobias!
I always like to see the positive in everything so I am going to say that I am blessed with a variety of phobias that set me a number of challenges just getting through everyday life.
No 1 - motorways and motorway bridges
Trying to find job that does not involve going on the motorway OR going over the motorway via a bridge was not easy. Goodness me it was hard enough for me to find a job when I returned to England let alone having a specific set of locations that were a no go for me!
About 9 years ago just at the end of my corporate career I was climbing up the ladder at a pretty fast pace and not doing too badly – thank you very much. I hit stumbling block and experienced my first panic attack while driving on the motorway. Not pleasant experience and I would not wish that on anyone else. To cut a long story short after years of bombing up and down the M1 on the outside lane I had to give up driving on the motorway, basically for the safety of me and for every other driver on the M1 as well!
This developed into the delightful fear of not just driving on motorways but driving OVER them as well and the combination cutting out the two options when driving makes it all a little bit restricting.
Luckily the long suffering Chau is understanding of my predicament and motorway driving is all his. I think he made that decision after the time I thought I was OK to give it a go which lasted 10 mins on the M4 before my hands and feet went numb, heart was palpitating and the vertigo feeling overcame me. Freaking out I pulled into the hard shoulder where I just climbed into the back of the car leaving Chau to ‘deal with it’ Mum was in the car too – sorry Mum!
Crossing motorway bridges is a big challenge as when driving solo as even with my carefully planned non motorway route generally mean I will have to cross one. My heart is actually beating faster as I write as its really amazing stressful to cross these things. I have no rational reason for this fear at all, apart from the fact I really do have the urge to jump. No idea why and I probably should be seen by someone professional pretty damn soon!
I have been known many times to psyche myself up miles prior to the impending motorway bridge and be really determined to give it a go. As I approach the panic attack symptoms start to kick in and the prickly armpit syndrome starts (does anyone else get prickly armpits when they are stressed or is it just me?) anyway it’s about a 50/50 chance if I cross them.
On a good day and if I am going fast enough I can do it and the relief and elation is something to behold.
If it’s an off day for me or the car in front of me is going too slow for my liking I generally fail as it gives me too much time to think on the approach. I am known to indicate just before the bridge and do a nifty three point turn which really is not an ideal situation for me or any on else on the road but I just can’t do it! I suppose it better than trying to do a 3 point turn when I am actually suspended on the bridge!
Recently I was at the start of Wokingham Half Marathon where I was making polite chit chat to a nice gent as we waited to set off. I have never run this one before so I asked ‘are there any hills on the course?’ ‘not really’ he said ‘Oh, other than on the approach to the motorway bridges’ ‘what the f….?’ I said back, I think that was in my head not out loud.
Luckily for Chau he was at the front section for starting the race as he is super speedy. If he was anywhere near me he would have got what for as he knows thatI can’t go anywhere near a bridge on my own two feet without the security of a car. He still won’t admit if he totally forgot to tell me or thought it was best for me to be ignorant of them. Not sure if I have forgiven him yet… Bridges mean more than one so how was I going to deal with this? Do I back out or go for it?
I went for it and just waited as my legs ate up the miles and the bridges got closer. My laboured breathing increased as did the sweat and the swearing but I am so proud to tell you I did it and made it over all of them! It certainly took my mind off the distance and the howling February wind. I want to thank all of the runners who ‘adopted’ me whilst running over the bridges as I hung onto their T Shirt or hand (whether they liked it or not!) one lovely lady who got me over the second bridge told me to look at the men’s bums in short which I thought was an excellent idea and kept up with that focus whether it was bridges or not!
So if I am every late for anything its probably because I am still planning my non motorway, non-bridge route and I think I might find an alternative Half Marathon next February!
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I just can’t cope with the pressure of posed photos at the best of times and Selfies just seem to magnify my problem of having my photo taken.
Sounds a bit contradictory as you will see on my Facebook page I have quite a few. These are due to the fact that my ‘other half’ has a bit of a passion for photographs and generally has his i Phone/ best friend glued to his hand for any photographic opportunity. I am not sure if this genetically ingrained as his country of origin seems to live on Selfies as I recently observed. (more of that later)
Living with my battle of a pretty poor self-image as I do I am one of the most uncomfortable people in front of the camera. I literally turn to wood if I am asked to pose for a shot. Ramrod straight with fixed grin and squinty eyes... and what are you meant to do you do with your hands? The longer someone takes to take the photo the more awkward I will become and look for any avenue of escape!
Chau, ‘my other half’ quickly learnt that the only way of getting a decent photograph from me is to take it when I am not looking so he is surreptitiously snapping away on his phone pretending to be doing something else.
‘I know what you’re doing and please don’t’! is my usual mantra on holidays and days out as he tried to sneak around taking photos while I am not looking which is the only way of getting me on camera. Apparently his method is take as many as he can and then delete the mouth open, gormless and eyes shut ones and usually he will find success with one or two that I won’t delete.
For some reason Selfies seem so much worse. I think for me it’s the pure focus on my face and the emphasis of ‘look at me!’ It just emphasises my fear of photos.
Nowadays Selfies seem to play a big part of photographs on holiday and everywhere you look there are happy couples enjoying their Selfie sessions. As you can imagine this is not my highlight of the day!
On holiday I consent to one Selfie per day (I am so generous ☺). Chau is able to grasp the most opportune moment and with a glint in his eye I know its Selfie time and obediently switch on the grin. Why do I always stand to the left?
Selfies leave me self-conscious and uncomfortable however as an avid ‘observer of people’ I just love watching Selfie behaviour of other people. This became part of my day to day routine on holiday recently.
The obsession of Selfies fascinates and in Malaysia and Thailand the use of the smart phone appears to take up 95% of people’s time, especially with Selfie taking.
I built in ‘Selfie Watching’ as part of my daily activity along with the usual holiday pastimes which focused mainly around eating. I would settle on my sunbed, suntan lotion on, other beach accessories arranged around me in my usual OCD style and then lie back and discreetly observe people who are in the process of taking a selfie.
Getting ready for a ‘professional’ Selfie appears to be a long process. Firstly, the preparation. Hair needs to be in place, if long then it has to be over one shoulder. If female check out the makeup (yes it’s one million degrees and humid as hell but make up is vital) I learnt that lip gloss is the key essential to the mandatory pout. Why do people do that? Sunglasses on or off? – so much to take into consideration.
Then it’s all about positioning do they lay back in the lounger? Sit up? Head tilted back or to the side? Lighting correct? OK all set for the click of the camera.
The best Selfie activity that totally absorbed me was when we went on a boat trip around the islands. With these trips you never know who is going to keep you company for the day which I love and incorporate people watching into my sightseeing experience.
A man in his mid-thirties sauntered onto the boat with the air of someone who had fallen from the good looking tree. He proceeded to risk life and limb to achieve the perfect Selfie. We were in a speed boat so going pretty fast as he set himself up for a selection of Selfies – risking his safety and pride he hung out of the back of the boat and after a few trial attempts of perfecting the angle of his cheekbones he started clicking away. I could not tear my eyes away! Even better was he bought with him some ‘props’ so I was treated to a number of different looks with an array of hats and sunglasses.
Each to their own but did he appreciate the spectacular scenery, the environment, wildlife? Probably not and he could have saved money sitting on a moored boat in the harbour. I must admit it enhanced my boat trip no end!
This is going to show my age and realisation I am getting to the more mature stage of life but sometimes I do feel there is so much emphasis on image and social photo opportunities we miss the here and now of experiencing the activity in hand as the focus appears to be ‘look at me and my perfect surroundings’
Have we actually spent time appreciating and enjoying it through our own eyes and not a lens? I do it as well but getting increasingly aware of whether it is appropriate or not. Maybe just in small doses but not to the point of total self absorption.
Chau bough a Selfie stick - I said ‘no, no, no’ I love him to bits but I just could not walk next to him wielding a selfie stick. My nerves would be in tatters wondering when he was going to pounce on me for the perfect opportunity to grin into the phone.
As I watched Chau backing into the sea with said stick and prized phone, fully focused on the Selfie he was about to take with no regard for the dangers that lay under the ocean let alone the waves building up behind him that will probably wipe him out I envied his comfort in front of the camera.
Maybe I will get the Selfie Bug one day and I will join in without any resistance at all – maybe!
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Lisa's Guide to Charity Shop Shopping
New part time job combined with my new business - brilliant and between the two it will ensure that I have a roof to live under!
Also great news is that my part time job is based in my nearby and favourite town of Marlow in Buckinghamshire.
As you will be aware from previous blogs I am rather particular to a spot of Charity Shop shopping so doubly great news is that all of my favourite charity shops are located in Marlow. Oh the Joy...!
This presents a small problem of willpower as a mooch around the charity shops at lunchtime could see me spending my hard earned pennies a little too easily!
It’s time to give myself some Charity Shop Guidelines in order to control myself and prevent myself having a ‘child in a sweet shop’ scenario as I enter the domain of the ‘exciting and unknown’ and the anticipation of what treasures I can find – yes, it really is a passion of mine!
Guidelines are what I need– I thought guidelines are better than rules as then if offers me flexibility if there is something that is urgently calling for me to buy it. I’m not daft ☺
Lisa’s guidelines to Charity Shop Shopping to prevent her from bankruptcy
A Selection of my charity shopping bargains.
Last week I popped into Boots for a mini stock up and the Sales Assistant was looking at me intently which was a little concerning – breakfast down my top? Lipstick on my teeth? No, she was looking at my outfit and complimented me on my tunic dress I was wearing with leggings. ‘Wow’ she said ‘what a lovely and unusual top, it really suits you. Where did you get it?’ I proudly told her that it was from the Cancer Research Shop and my whole outfit was under 10.00. She was really surprised and said she had never considered going into charity shops but will now.
Three things about that conversation
Firstly - great feedback that I have got my outfit right for the day!
Secondly - it made me think that we should take more time to compliment people, a kind or nice word really can make the world a better place and a spring in your step!
Thirdly – I might have converted another person to venturing into charity shops for a new shopping experience plus contributing even in a small way to the charity.
About 70% of my wardrobe is from charity shops. I have labels I would never have been able to consider if I bought it first time around. I like having a bit of individuality and its increasing as I mature. God forbid what I am going to look like in my old age when all my inhibitions have have disappeared and eccentricity will be the name of the game!
My final and most important guideline is the following that I have learnt as I have got older and more confident in myself
‘If I like it then I am going to wear it as I am wearing it for me and not to please anyone else’
If anyone is in Marlow and wants help shopping in the charity shops. Let me know and I would be happy to escort you!
My Partner and I fully kitted out in Charity Shop outfits for a day out in London!
Charity Clothes Shopping in Style
I thought I would update you on what has been going on with me recently, although I think that you know already as I am sure that you are a guiding light for me. Or at least trying to point me in the right direction in my rocky road of life and not putting your hands over your eyes saying ‘no Lisa – please don’t do that and why not try a normal life for a change?’!
Well, you will be pleased to know I have continued to live my life in true ‘Lisa Style’ I think I have pulled it off this time – ‘thank the Lord’ I know you will say. Yes, you can relax now as I, think I am on a vague path of normality!
I have returned home from the depths of Africa and live a stone’s throw away from Mum. I know you will be pleased about that and I have loved come back to my roots. You never stopped me doing anything in my life but now I understand your concern at some of my more bizarre choices but you supported me through everything.
I always thought you would be there for me and did not even consider the fact that one moment you were here and then you left us. I know you fought hard until the end and I still don’t think I have accepted you have gone.
I know you did not want me to know how unwell you were and you wanted to protect me from the bad things in life. For me you are the strong person who never wanted to show pain and is always the one to look after everyone else. It was very hard to see you so ill, even though I knew you were trying to cover it and protect me as you always do! I remember when I was in my early 20’s you always told people I was 11 as you still thought I was a child!
In the few weeks I spent with you when I came back to visit under the pretence I was working as you did not want to worry me. This allowed us to have some good times together, even though I knew you were struggling. Father and Daughter time and that meant a lot to me. I do very much regret not being there more during your illness and I know that Mum and Richard went through times that were very hard for them to bare. It certainly was a reason for me to see sense and come home as family is the most important part of life.
There is not a day that I don’t think of you or wish you were here. So many things trigger memories of you. For that I am lucky and grateful as it means your with me daily.
You taught me to weld at about the age of 7 years old at your factory. I loved going to the factory and seeing where ‘my Dad’ worked. You used to come home and smell of metal. Walking into a workshop now triggers memories of welding, punching holes in metal and taking it back home to show Mum!
Only a Dad like you would have been able to put my mind at ease when I rang you to say I could not continue in my marriage but I felt really bad as you had spent so much money on the wedding. ‘Did you enjoy the day?’ you said ‘one of the best in my life’ I said. ‘Well then that’s all I need to know and as long as your happy then so am I’ Off I went, left my husband and was on my way to another chapter of my life with full support from you.
I used to love arriving back at Heathrow Airport from one of my adventures as I know you would be there to pick me up at Arrivals. I used to be so excited to come around the corner, tired and lugging my baggage but knowing you would be there for me. Every time I go through the departure gate now I still look out for you as I am sure you have not gone and one day you might be there and we can go and have a glass of wine and I can tell you all about my adventures.
How many times did you move me into a house, move me out of a house, set up my washing machine, checking I was not buying a clapped out banger? Too many times to remember
How many times did you come and pick me up from parties at daft o clock in the morning or collect me from my waitressing job? It would have been cheaper for you just to have paid me as the petrol costs plus you travelling back and forward would have cost more than my waitress earnings!
Coming back home was hard but the right thing to do and within a year I am back on my feet, fit, healthy and settled. I have become physically and mentally strong again which is now allowing me to get control of my life and start my own business!
Yes, my own business – well it’s in the family isn’t it? I'm doing gardening, decorating, an 'odd job' lady! already customers on the books so the practical skills you taught me are now in action! http://www.happyhomeliving.co.uk/
I think you will approve of what I am doing and with Chau, my partner. With him being the power and force behind it I think it’s going to work. You would like Chau, he is kind to me, supportive and patient (which I am sure is not easy for him at times!) He looks after me and I know that’s what you would have liked.
You should see me running now! I so wish you could be at the events I participate in. Remember when Richard and I did the Tough Guy Event and you and Mum were our support team?
Actually you were my support team every weekend for years and years when I was riding. Up early, (usually raining) driving the horsebox and waiting patiently while Rusty (the half devil half pony) used to cart me off around the showground and deposit me over the fence. Sometimes Rusty and I jumped the fence together – most of the time he let me do it on my own!
For you as long as I tried my best that was all that mattered and with this instilled in me from an early age I continue to try my best at everything I do.
I have progressed within the year to 5km runs, to 10km, half marathons and now training for my first marathon which I am doing with Richard and I am really excited about that. You might not know it but there have been many a time when you have helped me finish a race. When my legs don’t feel like they want to go one more step I gain strength and determination from you and you get me through the finish line so you see you still have not left me. Apparently I am quite competitive – so I have been told!
The last time I saw you when we were having cup of tea at the garden centre you asked me if I was happy. Well Dad, it took some time and a few trial and errors to get there but now I can say – Yes, I am happy and content and I know you are looking out for me.
That’s all for now as I have a new business to start and need to drum up some more trade. I am going to do what you do and work hard and do my best and I will make you proud.
Lots of love
Remember your Chelsea Football Teddy Bear? Well he is now in my car and helps me out when I get the occasional panic attack. I do talk to him, I pretend he is you. See – I have not changed that much and I am still daft!
What was the first thing I did after handing in my notice in the middle of the bush in Zambia with 12 weeks’ notice of work? Well you would have thought something sensible like how I could get my luggage shipped back to UK without paying extortionate shipping fees or making arrangements for closing my bank account.
Well, it’s me so no I didn’t! First thing I decided to do (yes, remember I still had 12 weeks to go) was to get onto Google and search for a running club or similar to join when I got back. No idea why this was top of my priority list at this time, maybe I was in shock!
In a previous life (about 25 years ago) I did achieve a couple of half marathons and enjoyed exercise but whilst living in Zambia it was virtually impossible to run. Monkeys and baboons thought it was a wonderful game to chase me which scared the life out of me, I did not wish for their enormous teeth to be sinking into my ankles! What with that and the fear of bumping into an elephant or a leopard dropping out of a tree I think was a viable excuse not to run!
One of the reasons why I was returning to the UK was to find myself a social life again and meet like-minded people. I very much needed to get fit and heathy again as I had what one could politely call it ‘let myself go somewhat!’
It did not take me long to come across The Running Bug website and little did I realise how one click onto this site started a brand new chapter of my life and rescued me in so many ways.
This was the perfect site for me as I could see it had something for every level of runner and not overwhelming as can be with some sites. I could link to other people in the area I was going to move back to and looked like it would be a great way of getting my social life and fitness going on my return.
Profile filled in and I was signed up, one thing ticked off the list so I suppose it was time to do something essential like booking my plane tickets!
As the weeks ticked on I became an avid reader of The Running Bug and could not wait to get started on the actual running rather than reading about it as soon as I returned to the UK. It was encouraging to see that I had already connected with some people in my area and inspired me to see their progress and wanted to log my own Bug Miles!
I connected with a guy called Chau who lived very close to where I was going to return and we started up conversation, explaining to him my convoluted story of actually being local to him however currently halfway around the world. We continued to chat and found we had a lot in common other than running.
Upon my return to UK my first stop was a sports shop for trainers and sports bra (my absolute two essentials!) Then I started…
Painful at the beginning and I wondered why this was such a good idea as I alternated walking and running from lamppost to lamppost but with perseverance the ratio of running to walking to lampposts was improving.
It was time to post my first Bug Miles! About 3 miles in a pace just above a walk but it was great to see those miles logged ☺
‘Nice one for 1st run, is it hotter here than Zambia? ‘
This was Chau’s comment which was very kind of him as his pace is about 7 min miles and I was double that!
As I progressed so did our comments, from one sentence to paragraphs. The miles logged up and I was increasingly looking forward to finishing my run so I could log my miles and wait for Chau’s comments. Was this becoming more than just running?
A couple of times Chau said that we could meet up for a run. I really wanted to but I the thought of running with him terrified me as there would be no way I could keep up and I did not want to embarrass myself trying to keep up with this experience marathon runner. Now I know I should not have worried about that.
A month or so later and a little fitter and lighter Chau asked if he could call me.
That one phone call changed my life had changed for good.
Within a year of meeting him I am now a competent (an addicted runner!) with a number of Half Marathons under my belt and my first Marathon in the horizon (gulp!)
Within a year not only am I a proud owner of a new life, new house, 2 cats – Oh and a partner called Chau to share it all with.
Quick, I know but, the situation just seemed to be so we went with the flow and kept on running!
I could not have asked for a better person to share my life with who is kind, generous and motivating when I don’t think I can run one more step – he has the patience of a Saint!
A total lifestyle change with just one click onto the The Running Bug site...what more can I say!
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One Year on and another chapter of The Unplanned Journey in the making!
Its nearly a year until the day I touched back down in England penniless, jobless, not in a good place mentally or physically and the only possessions I had was the one suitcase I was holding (could not afford the excess luggage – yes it really was that bad!)
A slight come down from the situation when I had left for my adventures where money was not really an object and I was gaily throwing it around like sweets – Oh The Lessons You Learn Through Life...!
Anyway if you are interested to read about the ups and downs of my adventures please have a look at my blog ☺
That’s enough of the doom and gloom and let’s get onto the main reason why I am writing this is because I think I am ready for another change.
Oh Good God, you will say as I have barely drawn a breath from settling back into a ‘normal’ life and somehow fast tracked through what it would take most people years and have managed to acquire myself a unexpected yet wonderful new life including a health, peace, great job, amazing and very long suffering partner, a cat family and a house. Money? Not really but working on that ☺
Now is the time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my totally unexpected and fully packed year and RELAX.
Well I did that for about 5 mins and really enjoyed it – honest...
However, … what if I decided to slightly shake things up a bit? Just a little bit this time not the full on disappear to the other side of the world!
People did say to me that I might have difficulties settling back into the corporate life after my career break. I on the other hand thought it would be great to have an element of structure back in my life. It’s wonderful to have evenings and weekends again – the joy of working in hospitality for most of my life have meant no weekends so I really do appreciate finding them again!
A few months into the ‘normal’ I yearned to have I just can’t get my head around sitting down at a desk for 7.5hours per day. It’s impossible and it just does not sit right with me anymore (literally as I can’t sit down!) My job is great and a lovely team and environment to work in but I just know that I think there is more out there for me.
Readers of my blog will know that my motto is ‘why not? give it a go and deal with the outcome afterwards’ not remotely sensible in in any shape or form but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks can you?
I had a thought bubbling away for a little while and I know eventually it will to be too much to contain and I have to do something about it. I want to start my own business, always had. I think it’s in the blood as my wonderful Dad started up his own business at 18 years old with nothing and managed to support the family in the most amazing way through thick and thin.
This new business thought of mine is not too radical or has massive set up costs, you see I have been sensible this time! It actually combines what I love and what a lot of people don’t, therefore it could possibly equate to a going concern. Or not.. there is the risk.
So what is it? you may be asking
Painting, decorating, gardening, furniture restoration and trying to give myself a little bit of space for giving my writing a go as well.
I am going to be a Lady Maintenance Person type of thing!! (proper title to be worked on soon)
My place of work has been absolutely amazing and in order not to be homeless I have been given the opportunity to work part time and I can now, with a lot of careful planning incorporate the two.
Leaflets (as you can see from the photo) are done and some distributed, advert on Streetlife and off I go!
I am not a natural salesperson as was so apparent when Chau, my long suffering Angel of a partner and I set off on the ‘leaflet through the letter box’ drop. My cowardly behaviour meant I could only do it if there were no cars in the drive and the house looked empty. If there was any possibility that someone might in I bowed out and ran behind the hedge. Chau in his charming way was handing them out ‘willy nilly’ to everyone, dog walkers an all. I was cringing but as his charms worked I crawled out of the bush I was hiding in and chatted to the people and it was working and interest in my services was certainly happening!
I did a Time and Motion study at Mums house. Mum needed one of her rooms painted so a perfect opportunity to work out how long it will take to paint so I can work out prices and quotes. A learning experience was had. All I can say is that buying the necessary equipment is key to success as precariously balanced on a rickety stepladder to reach the ceiling causes mess, pain, bruises and swearing. Just about acceptable in Mums house but maybe not for my new clients!
On that note if you live near me you may see on a few Buy and Sell Websites I am selling some of my clothes. I have to be ruthless. Do I really want that lovely pink jacket that I have not worn for 6 months or can I sell it and put the cash towards a stepladder that will prevent me from breaking my neck? Pink Jacket sold for £12.00 – result!
I think its good to put ourselves outside our comfort zone on occasions just to keep the buzz of life going. Yes, I know I do it a lot but its good fun living on the edge ☺
The buzz of getting an enquiry has been amazing and it’s in a little bit of trepidation that I have when I drive to a new job and it’s me and only me that is the one that can make it work, but that’s life all over isn’t it? You are responsible for making your own life work for you.
I think I may have struck the perfect combination. Stability in a part time job plus the risk of building up the unknown.
This combination makes it just about feasible to have a roof over our heads, keep the cats in Whiskers and us in beans (I am getting expert in 101 varieties of tuna, beans and potato combinations!)
So for now I will be alternating between high heels and make up to wellies and non-existent finger nails.
Risky, yes, and I will be sure to keep you updated on the outcome and the stories that no doubt will find their way to my blog. I am sure to be asking questions to gardening experts on what is a weed and what is a flower? Before I do serious damage in someone’s garden!
So for now I will leave you as I go and put some beans in a saucepan for another gourmet dinner!
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Phew, a little victory dance for me and maybe a celebratory biscuit? I have finally done it after years and years of procrastination and just pure laziness to be honest. Lots of people have told me that I needed to write down what has gone on in my life and I really thought it was a good idea but that was all it remained.
This first blog entry is a landmark to me, not really because of anything more than that I have actually written something and I am really feeling a little bit proud of myself to have got myself in gear– although now I have started it means I have to keep going!
The reason it happened this time was a £2.00 notebook I impulsively bought when we were on holiday a few weeks ago. As usual if I pass a shop with bright glittery things in it (I think I was a magpie in my former life) I am compelled to go in and if it has a stationery display I am in Heaven! There was this lovely little notebook just asking me to buy it so I wheedling up to Chau and asking for some money (I am not trusted to carry money on holiday)
Chau knows when I really want something but don’t really need it as I tend to use the line ‘I think if I don’t get it the world may end and that would be bad for everyone’ I recently used that about buying a green eyeliner that for some unknown reason at that time was my only purpose in life and could not rest until the said green eyeliner was in my hand and happiness was restored.
New notebook in hand I vowed this would be my last until I have actually filled it with meaningful stuff and actioned what I had written. Now there is the challenge
I have a vast collection of notebooks, (all about a quarter used if that) each one bought was another ambitious signal to the start of my new life. Usually triggered by a weekend of over indulgence and therefore my quest is use to this lovely new notepad to inspire me to a new healthy, fit and motivated me. I just love that feeling of walking out of a stationery shop with a pretty new notepad and occasionally the matching pen planning what ‘inspiring quote’ to use as my first entry so I feel motivated each time I put pen to paper.
A couple of examples of my notebook topics
I painstakingly note down days of the week for a month on the pages and what I weigh and how much I estimate to loose each week. Then all I need to do is jot down what I eat each day when I have eaten it and how many calories – easy – thing is that I manage to log breakfast calories and then it all goes astray. It’s so easy to conveniently forget how many calories I have consumed or that the size of the portion I have just eaten was probably twice the size than an average people’s portion.
Anyway if you eat standing up it does not count does it? Same applies on a plane journey as well both for food and alcohol intake as your weightless already aren’t you?
Therefore to complement my calorie intake notebook and balance out the old calorie intake I team it up with another life changing notebook..
My Exercise Log
Well you would think I was training for the Olympics with the detail and amount of exercise I aim to do in a week!
I should really know myself by now but I continue to be overly ambitious and at the start of the week I think that it would be no problem to get up before work, run three miles or do a DVD and returning from work for another 7 mile run or a session at the gym doing circuit training or such like.
As you can imagine this lasts until about Tuesday before the crossings out, amendments and excuses start and back to the drawing board for a slightly revised weekly programme taking into consideration how comfy my duvet is in the mornings.
All quite exhausting to be honest and does it make a difference? – absolutely not! All is does is frustrate me and focus on the negative plus costing me money so no more notebooks for me.
Perhaps I will just keep the one that inspired me to follow my goal for writing as I deem this notebook a success!
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It was one of those runs, I could just feel it in my bones. Saturday morning is our long run. I have been getting up to speed again after my knee injury and my usual plan for the week is…
2 to 3 runs during the week of about 6 mile or so followed by long weekend run to gradually increase my mileage for the half marathons that are looming ahead of me and 'the' marathon in now actually 4 months’ time (why on earth did sign up for that one!)
I do find Saturday morning better as then it’s done and I don’t have it in my mind all over the weekend. I tend to build it up in my mind and then I can’t sleep on Sat eve in anticipation of not having the traditional lie in on Sunday morning!
Anyway, Saturday dawns and long run is due. In my training schedule I was set for doing 13 miles but I was battling with the really heavy duvet and the equally heavy cats who have literally pinned me down to the mattress and God Forbid if I even try and raise my head off the pillow. The way I was not bounding gleefully out of bed means I might have a mental running challenge today.
The usual diversion tactics came into play. Coffee first then breakfast as I can’t run without breakfast. Obviously then I can’t run on a full stomach so that delays the run by half an hour. Now what? I know, lets clean the house first before the run so I can come home and not to have to worry about housework. Can’t find my sports, bra, what trainers should I wear? The route was road and trail so a lot of pondering on which of my increasing amount of trainers would be the most suitable. Actually should I drive to the bit where it starts trail and hide my trail shoes in the hedge? That will put the run of for a bit longer.
Finally, my other half dragged me of the house and then as luck would have it we passed our neighbours who were getting into their car. Nice little chat that lasted longer than what was really necessary.
Then my last diversion tactic before I know I have run out of excuses. My Garmin – takes ages! This means at least I can start at a walk. Chau tell me that it picks up satellite quicker if I put my hand on my head. Is that true or is it just for his and the car driver’s amusement?
No more excuses and we are off. I always struggle the first three miles until I get my rhythm and breathing in tune and its mind over matter to keep going. I know by mile four I change into a different runner and practically gazelle like (we can all dream!)
While running I had planned a few short cuts I could take if the mind could not deal with the matter and call it a bad day for running. Labouring on I had made the pre-planned excuses to Chau and was planning to cut it short and let him carry on.
Mile 4 arrived and I became that different runner – Wow, this is easy and look at me go – what was I wittering on about? Off I went and overtook Chau to show off a bit. Don’t know why I do that as when he runs with me he is practically walking but likes to humour me!
Off I stride and empowered by my new found energy and remembering that I love running we decided to turn right instead of our usual left and do a little diversion. All good so far and enjoying the sunny morning and gaily ‘Good Morning’ to everyone whether they like it or not.
Then I remembered that this route would take us over the Cookham Bridge. Dear God, I totally forgot about that. As you may have read in previous blogs I have an adverse and totally irrational fear of bridges. I can occasionally drive over them with a lot of mental preparation but on two legs it’s virtually impossible. I managed it once in a race but that was adrenalin and competitive spirit which was not quite with me now. Shall I tell Chau now 2 miles before we get there or shall I keep going and see if my lifelong phobia is cured? Doubt it. My constant chit chat stopped and running in silence as I psyched myself up. Bridge approached as did my heart in my mouth and I ground to a halt. ‘Can’t do it’ I gasped.
Chau then realised the issue and did try and reason with me a little and entice my over the bridge a bit like a donkey with a carrot but no, it was not happening and I just made myself get vertigo. Nothing to be done but turn around and back the same way adding on an extra 4 miles of my shortcut run.
Feeling guilty that I have been messing him around (I am a woman) at the source of our diversion I told Chau to resume the normal run and I would go home as I would have actually done my allotted miles with our bridge incident.
‘See you at home’ I say as I would be first back as just 3 miles left. Onward I go, it was trail which I love and striding away dreaming I was in the leading group of some famous trail run. A few styles to negotiate but all good. Not long until a cup of coffee now.
Did not envisage that the heard of cows that are normally in the middle of the field decided to have a little lay down in front of the style I needed to climb across. Now I have no issues with cows if they are in the distance but I would have had to literally step through them. I did tentatively try but it would have been impossible without touching them and annoying them and then what – so many comedy situations could have come from that little scenario!
The only thing to do was turn round and follow the route that Chau took. Yes, that meant not only had I increased my mileage due to the bridge incident but now I had to do it again. Head down and remembering the mantras to keep me going.
Not sure if I should admit this may I do love singing ‘Nothings going to break my stride’ by Matt Wilder. Embarrassing I know but it works for me.
I ended up running further than ever despite every effort to forego this run. Morale of the story is just get up and do it rather than fart arsing around and procrastinating. I knew right at the beginning I was going to run so why bother with all of the faffing around?
Did I feel better after running and really chuffed I put in the extra miles? – yes ☺
Will I use all methods to delay runs in the future? – Oh, I am sure most definitely!
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Oh, the joy of running.... well not all of the time!
Why is it that one-day running is the most exhilarating and inspirational, awesome exercise possible (that is what ii think is called a Running High) and sometimes it’s the devil in disguise?
I veer between the two on a virtually daily basis as sometimes it is all just so easy and I feel I could run forever and other times I just can’t put one foot in front of the other.
Take yesterday for example, a 10 mile run of mainly trail and lots of hills, no issue at all. I pounding away with an incessant dialogue of unnecessary chatter to Chau who I am sure would have rather I just remained quiet and enjoyed the scenery. Got to the end and said I could keep going, maybe a little ambitious but that was how motivated it can get me.
Other days I think running is the worst thing on earth and how can people possibly want to do this form of exercise or any exercise come to think of it? I will be at work and as the clock ticks to 5pm all I can think about is I have to get changed and go for a bloody run before I go home. Believe me I have given all the excuses under the sun to get out of running when I have ‘one of those days’ sometimes I will start and get two miles from the car and literally give up and walk back, frustrated by my lack of will power and that I am really cold and that I wont have made the target amount of steps on my Garmin (that thing rules my life!)
How about when I do a running event? this can be from a 5km Park Run, up to Half Marathons. I say to myself and to everyone else, 'I am not competitive at all I just want to run it at my own pace and enjoy the atmosphere'
Actually it’s not like that at all. I have found out I am extremely competitive and as the adrenalin kicks in so does a steely determination and I turn into someone I don’t know.
Gun goes off, teeth gritted, Garmin switched on and away I go. It’s so hard to go slow at the beginning to save yourself for the end as the legs just want to go. My pace from training runs to events is quicker by about a minute without me even knowing. I am just running for myself but then I aim for a person and just have to overtake them, then another and another. I just cant help it.
I hate to admit this as I know that Park Runs are focused more just for fun and time to be with likeminded people in a relaxed atmosphere. The strap Line is ‘We all run for our own enjoyment. Please come along and join in whatever your pace!’ I actually had to give up the Park Runs as I was too competitive, stressed myself out and forgot to enjoy it. So bad to admit but it is true!
Initially it was fine as I was just happy to get round and then as soon as my fitness started to improve and my times were consistently faster then I started to get too competitive and lost the reason for why I was there. I am slow starter when running and takes me about 3 miles to warm up and get into my stride. Therefore, pushing myself to the limit to improve my time I ended up being a sweaty, asthmatic, stitched, cramped wreck as I pushed myself so hard. I think I would rather save that pleasure for my first Marathon!
I peaked at 21:32 before I retired from the 5m runs and now watch them from the side-lines with my Mum and the dog which is much better for my mental health! I love these events and it got me started with running as with thousands of other people and I thoroughly support them, just not run them!
I now focus on Half Marathons where at least I have time to warm up for the first few miles and enjoy the experience of highs and lows during the distance and hopefully end up on a high with a new PB when I cross the line
(not that I am competitive though ☺)
Thank you to Bracknell Forest Runners who I am a member of the club. Running in a club has made such a difference to me both for training and competitions as the support gives you a fantastic boost and great team spirit!
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Oh, what to do! What type of exercise is going to reduce my rather overly voluptuous figure to normal curves while trying to enjoy it at the same time?
This was my thought when I came back from Zambia where surprisingly I had put on a lot of weight. Everyone assumed I would come back as ‘thin as a rake’ after being away with a rather limited choice of food, but no, not me. I came back looking very healthy! In Zambia it was deemed to be advantageous to be large and big bottomed so I fitted in very well ☺
A selection of comments I received rather too regularly
‘Madam, you are looking very lovely today, you are SO fat, very nice!’
‘Madam Lisa, I see you must be very happy as you are getting fatter everyday’
I know they were complimenting me but try to explain to a 12-year-old that it’s not 100% appropriate to say this to an English lady does not really translate to well so I developed a thick skin and big bottom at the same time!
So on my return it was my resolve to get fit and loose little bit of weight. I also was keen to meet likeminded people as I had lost contact with many of my friends over time and after all if was my time to start my new (or another) chapter of my life.
So, what to do?
Swimming – great all over exercise but it’s so much faf! Getting to the pool, getting changed, getting wet, getting pruney fingers, getting changed again, and getting freezing in the car park. I think not…
Exercise DVD’s – too easy to watch them with a cup of tea and a biscuit rather than actually do it – well you need to watch it a few times to get the technique right don’t you?
Gym? Been there before and got a little addicted to the weights and ended up as wide as I was tall ☺ Also I think mirrors should be banned in gyms and then it would cut down the amount of time people are in there doing their stuff. I have observed that many people incorporate the mirror into their work out - 10 reps, walk to the mirror, and check themselves out as if miraculously those 10 reps have increased bicep size already! A walk about the gym to show everyone the size of their biceps and another 10 reps – it must take ages!!
Gym classes – It was just aerobics and leg warmers in my day. I returned to a confusing amount of classes of which I did pick a few to have a go at. Nowadays there are dimmed studios and flashing lights, with my eyesight I can’t see what the instructor is doing! I must admit I got slightly intimidated and paranoid in these classes and a bit of the ‘odd one out’.
I feel like I am a friendly person who would chat on to anyone but this did not work in my favour at my local gym. I tried to join in the conversation with the ladies waiting for class – Awkward!! ‘How dare you try and talk to us, ‘who do you think you are joining our class? ‘Don’t you dare even think about standing in my space which is 3rd to the left and 10 inches from the front’
Well they did not actually say that but that’s what it felt like!
So all of the above was crossed off the list
Then I discovered something that I loved both for the exercise and atmosphere.
Welcome to my life of British Military Fitness!
To start off with the title can look a little imposing – and I suppose discipline and hard work and shouting instructors could come to mind
Actually that is very true but it’s fun, motivating and effective. The instructors do shout but in a very nice way, I promise!
I have now been BMF for a year and is one of my favourite parts of the week. (yes, I know I am a bit strange!)
An hour of total body workout pushing your lungs and muscles to the limit but a way that makes you not even think about the pain (well not much) and the time flies. Have you ever been on an exercise bike in the gym obsessed with looking at the minutes slowly ticking as you pedal away going nowhere?
I won’t lie, it’s tough but the support you get from your instructor and fellow members gets you going and through it. Gone are the days of not wanting to make eye contact with someone at the gym or worrying what I am wearing as it might not by the ‘in style’
Here you are greeted warmly by both instructors and members. I don’t need to be concerned about what I am wearing or what I look like as none of that matters. If it cold and muddy don’t worry, everyone is in it together and it’s the team spirit that really makes BMF work.
‘I can’t do it’ I often said at the start, ‘’of course you can’ says our instructor and members in unison. ‘OK, OK, I will give it a go’! Guess what? I can do it and it feels great! Whether it’s an extra press up, running a little further or one more of the famous burpees, achieving a new goal is so motivating and I guarantee you I leave every session with a smile on my sweaty red face!
Not only have I got back into shape, I have made new friends who are like minded and supportive, plus I have started running which is my other passion. (The fitness you gain from these sessions really support other sports as it builds strength and endurance)
After a day at work it’s easy to become de energised and no inclination to raise your pulse rate, raising a glass of wine can sound a much better alternative but as soon as I get my trainers on and get out of the car I know I am going to have a great time and achieve something that will make me proud I have got off my backside. Plus, I have burnt off a lot of calories so more dinner for me ☺
I would thoroughly recommend BMF to anyone of any age, shape size or ability. If you are passing a park and see a group of people running around in multi coloured bibs why not join them? If your Maidenhead way come and join me at Braywick Park – you will be welcome!