Category Archives: mental health

The Climb

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Yesterday was exactly one year since I couldn’t finish a fun run. I was doing the Maitland River Run and a surprise asthma attack had me sidelined at around the halfway point, waiting for a medical chap to come with Ventolin to my rescue. I had to make a decision: Do I do the run again this year to prove I can, or do I do something else?

I did something else.

Not because of fear or anything like that. But because, quite simply, I knew if anything went wrong again, that there wasn’t any real first aid stations along the course. It took ages to get medical help, and I was totally unimpressed that one of the official photographers told me he couldn’t help me and that I should walk up to the drink station, which was around 500 metres away. This isn’t an event I want to support.

So, the something else.

Mount Tomaree is a very big mountain. It’s near Nelson Bay. The gradient of the hike is Level 5 – very steep and difficult. But it promised stunning views, and I am generally up for a physical challenge. And so, off we went.

Within the first 5 minutes, I was panicking internally. This was steep, and we were nowhere near the summit. In my head I was trying to come up with the words to say that I couldn’t do it, and trying to justify to myself the reasons for not finishing this attempt. But while I was thinking all these things, my legs were pumping away and my feet were happily doing their ‘one in front of the other’ thing. It’s like they were not aware that I couldn’t do this, and they just kept right on going.

Something I see often, and have experienced particularly when it comes to running, is that your brain will give out long before your body does. You’re mind will challenge what you’re doing and tell you NOOO but if you don’t listen to it, your body can and will just keep going. It’s funny because it’s my mind that makes the decisions to do this stuff, but it’s my body that does it and it’s my mind that tends to be the first to back out.

But I digress.

The walk starts on paved ground. Then it changes to mega steep metal stairs and walkways. Then it changes to steps cut into the rocks. There are more metal stairs and more metal walkways, then more rock steps. And the whole thing just keeps going and going. But it goes somewhere. Directly up. Up and up and up.

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As the ups became steeper, I realised that I was doing it.

And as we got nearer to the top, the views got better.

One more step of steps. One more metal walkway. One more twisting path. And then!

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Amazing. Totally worth the climb.

But to be honest, we didn’t spend a huge amount of time at the top.

Because that’s not what the joy was.

The joy? Getting there.

Setting a challenge and completing it.

When we were at the top, I wasn’t really thinking about the views. I was thinking about these feet of mine. That have been to hell and back, rebuilt, relearning, and now doing the best they can to keep up with the goals and ideas I come up with. I was thinking about the way I was ready to pack it in before I’d even started. I was grinning because despite my brain and my feet, and a killer leg day on Friday, I’d done it. We’d done it. And I hadn’t struggled anywhere near as much as I had assumed I would.

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One of the reasons why?

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There she is, right next to me.

And so, Maitland River Run, you didn’t defeat me last year. And instead of coming back to prove it, I took on something harder, something more challenging, something that has brought me undone in ways you never will:

I took on myself.

 

 

The Goalposts

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It’s cold this morning, proper cold, the kind of cold that gets you by surprise after months of warm. Cold never used to bother me too much. I was well insulated. I recently went to Melbourne to visit my besty and her family, and we’ve known each other for around ten years, and for the first time ever I told her I needed an extra blanket because I was cold. She was thrilled because for the entire time we have been friends I’ve laughed at her for being cold. The tables have turned.

In the interests of honesty, I have to tell you that the visit to the plastic surgeon a couple of months ago sent me into a huge tailspin. While it was extraordinarily positive, it set off a complete nosedive in my mood. Let me explain.

The surgeon is a beautiful man. He was stunned at what I’ve achieved through hard work – most of his patients who come for skin removal have lost weight via surgery such as gastric banding. He has, he said, a soft spot for people who have lost massive amounts of weight through sheer determination alone. He looked at my body, my excess skin, and said some amazing things. That I more than qualify for medically necessary skin removal. That there’s around 7kg of excess skin in my belly alone. That really, I could just maintain my weight and after the skin was gone, I’d be at a healthy goal weight for my frame. After being substantially overweight for all of my life, this was incredible.

I was quickly disappointed though, given the (well warranted) cost of the surgery. Even with private health, still ridiculously out of reach.

What my brain took out of that was this:

Without surgery, I will never be at my goal.

And once again, I felt like a failure.

Just like that, my brain took over and everything got hard. I filled up with doubts about being a PT. Who wants a PT that looks like me? Unless you know the back story, and unless you realise that my bulk is largely made up of excess skin, I just look… unfit. Everything became difficult. I struggled to see the point of going to the gym, particularly when I was surrounded by teeny tiny PTs. My studies got harder, because it was a reminder that my body isn’t normal for a PT. Everything, everything spiralled.

I went back to the plastic surgeon to ask him more questions and to work out what to do to short circuit this funk before it got completely out of control. I was cutting it close, to be honest.

We talked about goals. We talked about long term plans. We talked about all sorts of things.

That was a week ago.

And today, I’ve woken up with a new approach. It’s been bubbling away and developing for the last seven days.

This photo is from a fun run we did on the weekend. I look at it and the noisy part of my brain focuses on the way the skin hanging off my belly makes me look so big in that area. But now I see my quads. I see the lines in my neck that I never used to have. I see the way my shoulders are back, the pride in my stance. Fuck yeah. I can do this.

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I’ve shifted the goalposts.

Losing weight and getting fit and healthy was never, ever about being aesthetically pleasing. It was never about forcing my body to be something it just isn’t built to be. I knew all along that my build and frame wouldn’t let me be a waif, which is fortunate because that’s not what I want.

I want to be strong.

That first step into the gym, almost two years ago now: it wasn’t about one day looking perfect.

It was about saving my life.

And just like that, skin or the surplus of it, is not such a problem.

Because I’m saving my life. And I can live with the apron. I can live with the saggy, empty boobs. I can live with arm skin. I can live with floppy thighs. And every day that I get to live with these things is a good day because it means I am achieving what I set out to do.

I’ve saved my life.

I don’t look like what you’d expect a traditional PT to look like. But on the other hand, I don’t actually want to look like that.

I want to be strong.

I might not have a body that you would aspire to. But determination? Stubbornness? Drive? I have those, and my god you’re going to need them if your goal is anything like mine.

Because when you’re fighting to save your life, when you’re battling the very shell you’re wrapped in, you need every internal resource you can summon. Because the battle is inside.

Which is a good reason to not worry about how the outside looks.

These are the things that matter when you shift your goal posts.

This is what matters when you realise that you’re saving your life.

Remember When

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Those memory things on Facebook, they can either make your day or break your heart, can’t they. Some days it feels like all they show you is your dead pet caterpillar and what noxious weeds can do to your prize petunia; they can make you wonder why you wore what you did to a social event eight years ago and relive the cringe-worthy moment that you spouted your love publicly for a toad. Day ruined before it even starts. Other days though, you can see a pattern emerging, or evidence of change and growth.

Three years ago today, I was recovering from yet another broken ankle. This was the break that finally pushed me to see a different orthopaedic surgeon, who would reconstruct my ankle, repair my calf muscle and fix my Achilles – the steps towards being able to finally walk correctly after seven years of managing with an ankle I’d destroyed quite well after falling down some stairs.

Two years ago today, I was finally allowed to leave the house after being diagnosed with whooping cough. This was a scary time, I remember feeling like I was fighting for my life. Aside from just breathing, one of the main issues the doctor kept talking about was my co-morbidities. Isn’t that a reassuring phrase. The GP who was managing the whooping cough had written a referral to both a respiratory specialist, and also to the emergency room of the local hospital, just in case. As an asthmatic, whooping cough was quite problematic. But the other issue was my weight. It was a huge amount of excess load to be carrying around with me while I struggled from the nebuliser to bed, and back again. It also made treatment tricky – it wasn’t until the steroid dose was tripled that I started getting any form of relief.

Whooping cough was, I think, my absolute low point. At the time I felt like a victim. Like nothing was ever going to go right. That life was just relentless in it’s taunting and slaps. And even though I was surrounded by good people (albeit at a distance while I was in quarantine), I had a distinct feeling of being totally, utterly alone.

But evidently, something changed.

I had a slow recovery from whooping cough. Extreme tiredness. Trembling constantly because of all the medication and steroids. Gaining even more weight rapidly, again as a result of the steroids. But it wasn’t long after this that something shifted.

Because one year ago, on this day, I hatched the idea that maybe one day, I could be a personal trainer. And I referred to it so vaguely and so cryptically, that if I didn’t know that’s what I was talking about, I’d have skipped over the memory. But I knew what I was talking about.

I’d been going to the gym for about 8 months at this stage. Actually, maybe a bit longer. I’d made progress. I’d turned my sinking ship around and started sailing towards directions unknown, but I was OK with not knowing where I was going – I could feel myself being stronger and healthier and happier.

But I still had the issues of confidence and doubt. In that I had none of one, and a lot of the other. So much so, that when I finally squeaked the idea of being a PT out loud, I firmly believed I’d be laughed at and told to swallow a large dose of reality. But that’s not how it went at all.

As I spoke out that idea, it kept being met with unbridled joy and excitement. My people were confident in me, and urged me to push towards this goal.

I don’t think I’ve shared it here before, but I actually submitted my first expression of interest in the course around this time. When the information date rolled around, I panicked and didn’t go. I just didn’t go. The second time? I went.

Because now, on this day today, in 2017, I’m halfway through the Certificate IV in Fitness. I’m almost a personal trainer.

The facts?

I still have some weight to lose to be where I want to be. Not because of aesthetics, not because of the BMI – but for my goal of where I want to be. But I’m OK with that.

I still do not look like the traditional personal trainer. But I’m OK with that.

Already, I’ve seen that as an industry, there is a tendency to rely on how people look. In getting a job at fitness centres, how you look counts. And I’ve even seen and heard people commenting that they wouldn’t want a PT who doesn’t have a body they’d aspire to. But I’m actually OK with that one, as well.

I know my story. I know my truth. And I know that there are people that I can help, and perhaps best help because of this imperfect body.

And if nothing else, future Facebook memories will attest to that.

The point of this post?

As much as I hate the way the word has been trawled through crappy reality TV and cheap self help books, trust the journey. If you had told me on this day one year ago that I was indeed going to be a PT, I wouldn’t have believed you, even though the idea was in my mind. Certainly not when I was recovering from whooping cough. Not at all when I was sitting on my bottom watching my ankle change colours.

But sometimes, you can do nothing else but trust that somehow, you’re on a journey.

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Hope for sale

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Facebook is full of Buy Swap Sell pages.

Generally, people are cleaning out their garage or buying something to replace the old. Posts usually include the words “listed elsewhere” and “or nearest offer”. I saw an ad once from someone selling a Chester Drawers. It took me a bit to work that one out. Turned out they were selling a chest of drawers. It made me laugh to think that they called it Chester, and I imagined them walking down the hallway and bumping into the drawers and saying, “Oh, sorry Chester, I didn’t see you there”. Poor Chester.

On eBay, I’ve been caught out more than once by sellers having items for sale that they don’t actually have. I’m currently waiting on one such item. I’ve been emailing them to try to find the item and they told me a couple of weeks ago to be patient because the item is at my local post office. I got a refund, but I still don’t have my item.

The point is, selling something you don’t have – it doesn’t work.

There are things you buy or do that are investments into the future. We recently made a vegetable patch. Because we were starting from absolute scratch, we had to buy the stuff to create the garden beds, and the soil and the fertiliser and the seedlings and seeds and the works. But we did it, in the hope that in a few months, we’d have a harvest. Essentially, we bought into the future; we’d bought hope. Because there’s no guarantee that the weather would be right for these crops, there’s no promise that we’d get our money’s worth. There’s just hope.

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Yesterday at Tafe we were asked to consider what personal trainers are selling. What we’re giving clients in exchange for your hourly rate. Several answers were offered but none of them really sat right with me.

And then it struck me.

If you’re selling something, firstly you need to have surplus of it. Secondly, it’s generally an investment into the future.

For me, personal training is about selling hope.

Consider it.

Imagine hitting rock bottom with your health. No, I mean worse than what you’re considering. It hurts to move. You have weight related health conditions. You can’t play with the kids, you struggle to do basic things. Doctors are telling you to lose weight but if it was that easy, don’t they think you would? Because it isn’t easy.

But you take a punt. And this takes more courage than the average person could ever understand. So you find a trainer, someone who you’ve heard gets it. Someone who has come recommended. They take you through some basic screening, check out your functional movement so that they can work out what the beginning is for you. And you hand over the money, with plans to be spending more of it with this person, based on one single thing:

Hope.

They might be able to help turn things around. They might help you save your life. They might even help you start to enjoy exercise without pain, without intimidation, without shame.

And it’s all a might, but it’s anchored in one thing: Hope.

I’m confident in this because it’s what I bought, almost two years ago. I didn’t know how it was going to work, or even if I could stick with it. I didn’t know if my body could do it, or if my mind could do it. But I had to try, I just had to. So I handed over the dollars. Signed up for one session a week. Went to each session, and did what I needed to do in between sessions. At the time I had no understanding of what my awesome PT was telling me to do, what it would all add up to, what difference it could make. But I just did it. Because I’d paid for hope, and I had put action in that investment.

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Before buying hope.

So while it’s an industry that can be tied up in appearance and numbers on scales and measurements, don’t forget that essentially it’s got the potential to be an industry that’s about hope. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find the people to be on your team with it. Who know it’s about hope. And when yours falters, they’ll remind you that it’s still there.

Hope for sale.

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Investment: worth it.

Still, we walk

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Most people take a selfy at the beach and they look hot and beautiful and dignified. I take a selfy at the beach and I look like this:

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I am not classy, nor dignified. At this point I was being whipped by sand, my hair was in afro mode and I had hit the halfway point on my walk and realised that I had a particularly full bladder.

But still, we walk.

I’m currently doing the Walk for Autism. I’m on day two of seven days of 10000 steps. I generally do around that many each day anyway, but this is for a purpose.

What’s funny is that I think this walk is for promoting Autism spectrum awareness. I think awareness is shit. You can be aware of speed limits and ignore them. You can be aware of it being hot and know that you’re going to be out in the sun, and still choose to not wear sunscreen or a hat. Awareness doesn’t do anything.

I think we maybe need to be walking towards something more like acceptance, or acknowledgement. Seeing the speed limit and accepting it and following it. Seeing the sun and accepting it and respecting it. Seeing people who operate differently to you, and accepting them.

But these words mean nothing if we don’t actually teach each other how to accept. Which won’t happen, unless we actually want it to. Which is kind of sad.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about The Biggest Loser. The new format has copped a fair bit of flack, mainly because there is a woman on it who is 78kg. As a result of the sliding audience numbers, it’s now being screened during the day instead of during prime time.

This has made me come to several conclusions.

1. We wanted our contestants to be less like the everyday population and more overweight. I’m not sure if this is about wanting to feel better about our own weight, or if it’s the appeal of gawking at people who have huge struggles with their health. Either way, every day Australians were not appealing enough to sustain a large enough audience to remain in prime time.

2. We don’t understand that whatever someone’s weight is, they still deserve the chance to work on creating a body that they are comfortable with. We should understand this. Gyms are full – full – of people who are at a healthy weight for their body shape. But they still go to the gym. Everyone has something that they’re not happy with. We need to stop being judgemental dickheads and start cheering on each other. You’re at the gym at 78kg? Bloody good on you. You’re at the gym at 160kg? Bloody good on you.

3. We wanted a spectacle and we didn’t get a spectacle. We wanted to watch extremely overweight people deciding to take part in food challenges and eating chocolate to get secret powers at eliminations and challenges. We wanted what we’ve watched for years on The Biggest Loser. The new format? I think it was better, and certainly more relevant. But, it’s not what people wanted. And if people don’t want to watch something then they’re not going to watch.

There are days when I am not sure what happened to the human race. And then there are moments when I see humans helping each other, and it’s nice.

I guess the point of this post is that awareness is shit. Acceptance is optional but preferred. People watch what they want to watch.

And at the end of the day?

Still, we walk.

 

 

But “no fear April” is not as catchy

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It was funny, I was sitting in the gym car park this afternoon messaging a friend and openly told them that I was sitting in the gym car park. I was maybe 20% thinking I would just go home. I was tired. It’s been a few weeks of not a lot of sleep. It’s also been a pretty full on few weeks. Worlds get rocked sometimes.

But that other 80% of me dragged my bottom into the gym. And as I opened the stairwell door, I was confronted with hordes of teenagers from one of the local high schools traipsing down the escalator to the gym.

Friday afternoon sport.

To be perfectly honest, I automatically turned around and walked back to the stairs that would return to me to my car.

But I didn’t go up the stairs.

I turned back around and joined them on the escalator and went into the gym. As I went to get changed I had a little voice in my head whisper, “You know you packed a singlet to wear today, don’t you.”.

Now, singlets. They’re kind of my nemesis. I look at myself in them and see wagging, saggy skin; the way they cling to the skin on my tummy, the bulgey bits from my sports bras (yes plural, the girls are escape artists). But I’ve been getting braver.

And remembering I had packed a singlet when the gym was full of high school kids again made me contemplate the cleverness of my decision to push on with getting changed and doing a workout.

But I got changed. Walked through the selfies taking place. Went to my treadmill. Then to the weights. Stretched. Had a good workout.

And came home.

The No Fear November thing was awesome. And I’ve tried to keep it in mind as I’ve gone through the Cert III, and start the Cert IV next week. But it’s hard to change almost 40 years of thinking with one hash tag, which is why I tried to change my thinking just for November last year. The thing is, I discovered that I quite liked being brave. I enjoyed not being governed by fear and doubt. So yes, I tried to hang on to No Fear November.

But now it is April and No Fear April is nowhere near as catchy.

So instead, I think it’s going to come down to reminding myself not to be scared. Of life, of teenagers, of singlets.

It seems to be more of  a remembering what I’ve done and who I am thing, and remembering that my old responses aren’t how I need to respond now.

And just like that, this post has become more of a thought vomit.

Anyhoo, here is me in my singlet. Middle finger up, because you know what, I didn’t need to do this gesture at all at the gym. There were no giggles and no snide remarks. Instead it is up at the old thought patterns that still threaten to taunt me every now and then.

Fuck them.

I’m wearing the singlet.

#nofeareverymonth

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Unspirational

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I hear all the time that what I have done with my weight loss and fitness is inspiring. I’ve watched friends and family make changes because of what they’ve seen me do. And it’s brilliant, and I am so proud of every single step they take towards achieving their own personal goals. And it’s humbling to have played a small part towards spurring them on. I’m so excited for them, cautiously excited not because I don’t believe in them but because I know the hard yards they’re about to undertake. I know the ache in the thighs, the pain in the feet, the confrontation of exercise, the way food that fuels you better at first doesn’t taste as good as the foods that you love. I know the power of chocolate on sale and the lure of daytime television. These are hard choices. Your head game has to be strong to do this, and there they are, doing it, and I couldn’t be prouder. To T, P, K and several others who have messaged me to say thanks for motivating them to get on this path: you girls are true heroes, and I believe in each and every one of you wholeheartedly.

The title of this post might have you thinking my own wheels have fallen off regarding this stuff. They have not. I spent Sunday boxing for 8 hours. I’ve just signed up to walk ten kilometres a day for ten days in April. Every day choices, friends. Just like last night we chose to have pizza for dinner.

This isn’t about good food versus bad food. This isn’t about changing directions.

This is about when the inspirer feels totally and utterly unspirational.

I hit struggle street a couple of weeks ago. Time management has gotten the better of me. I’m in the last week of my Certificate 3 in fitness, assessments have been raining down on me and I think it’s time to build an ark and take two of everything that has ever given me hope and sail away while the tide comes crashing down. Except the dogs, I’ll take three of those. I think I’ve caught up with most of my study load now, but the under-riding panic is still there.

I think this was sparked by probably the most exciting thing that has happened on this journey.

I saw a plastic surgeon, regarding the excess skin I have. Now, in Australia, there are several hoops to jump through to have the removal of this skin deemed medically necessary. If you successfully get through those hoops, you then are given an item number for the surgery. This item number means that part of the surgery is covered by Medicare, reducing the cost of the surgery significantly. Then you have the option of doing it privately, with the surgeon of your choice, or going on an extensive waiting list (at least several years) to have the surgery done publicly.

I cleared every single one of the hoops. The surgeon asked me how I had done it and I told him the truth: through bloody hard work. He clarified that I hadn’t had any form of weight loss surgery. I told him no, I’ve just worked really really hard. He threw down his pen and gave me a high five, and said, “We just don’t see that anymore!”. He was amazed. He then checked out my skin and my body, what would need to be done. I don’t have a frame that is petite and dainty. I’ve worked hard to build muscle mass. I have big hands, big feet. On my tummy alone he’s estimated 6-7kg of skin will come off. And by the time all the excess skin is gone?

I’ll be at the goal weight for my frame.

After being a fat baby, a fat kid, a fat teen, and an adult so overweight that I didn’t even register on the BMI scale when I first started, I had been told for the first time in my entire life that I am now at a point where I just have to maintain my current weight and muscle mass. He said I could try to lose another 5kg or so before surgery if I wanted to, but it’s not necessary.

Stunned. Overwhelmed.

I sat waiting to see his secretary to talk costs, and I became really teary. I’d done it. I’d bloody done it.

And then I found out the cost and just like that, reality hit. Even with private health cover, the out of pocket cost for just stage one of the surgery would buy an excellent car, or be a substantial start for a deposit on a house.

So there I was.

So close to my goal weight, after almost two years of solid grit and determination. On the cusp of finishing my first fitness qualification, the first step towards working with clients like myself who felt like it just couldn’t be done. Now faced with a financial challenge that looks totally and utterly unattainable. Don’t worry, I’m working on solutions for this.

But I think that’s where the wheels started to wobble.

At the boxing course on Sunday, when I did a roundhouse kick, the skin on my thighs followed through with an audible clap. When I was jab-cross-jabbing, the skin on my arms would wave at the focus mitts almost as an apology, and I’d catch sight of it in the corner of my eye. Lifting my legs for the forward kicks was difficult because of that damn apron of skin. But no, that’s not the point, the point is that in doing that course I can now use boxing with clients, and the point is that I kept up with every single one of the people doing the course, and the point is that this body, my body boxed for 8 hours with minimal breaks. The other stuff is aesthetics.

But when I think about why this stuff has thrown me so much, I begin to wonder if I’m being totally superficial. I wonder if I am every actually going to be happy with my body. I wonder if I am ever going to feel enough: fit enough; strong enough; healthy enough. Because these things aren’t aesthetics. These things are internal.

Something you don’t get told about losing a huge amount of weight is that it takes a long time for your head to catch up. That you will have demons to conquer – not food vices, but thought patterns.

There are non-scale victories that the average person wouldn’t even consider.

The moment a beach towel, and then a bath towel wraps around you for the first time. The moment you no longer have to have the car seat back as far as it can go in order to drive. The moment you don’t have to turn side on to get through doors. The moment you can walk between cars in a parking lot. The moment you can stand up and look down and see your feet, or when you can be lying down in bed and see your feet.

I can see my feet.

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I’m not sure what the point of this particularly long post is. I have a hunch it’s about being transparent, being honest with the people who follow this blog. Or maybe it’s just about getting thoughts out of my head. Or maybe it’s about giving myself a chance to catch up on where I am at the moment.

I was messaging someone who has become a treasured mate yesterday, explaining that my head had imploded. And I said this:

“Still going along the forwards path. Just need to make sure my head is where my feet are on that path”.

What I have done has changed my life.

It’s time to let it start changing my view of myself, too.

 

Change the World

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Yes, but change your undies first.

Wait, hang in there with me on this one. This morning as beloved left for work, I wished her an amazing day, asked her to be safe, and finally, called out to her back as she walked out the door with her lunch in one hand and keys in the other, “Change the world!”. As the door closed I had a little giggle to myself and added, purely for the dog’s benefit, “But change your undies first”. This was not because beloved has a tendency towards wearing substandard underpants. It was more because as I turned, I saw the washing hanging on the clothes horse and spotted her superhero undies. So yes. Change your undies first.

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Not beloved’s actual undies. Image from reelgirl.com

But as I bustled about putting groceries away, I had a little think about the phrase I had uttered so flippantly, and it wouldn’t go away. Change the world, but change your undies first. It’s a giggle at first but then it takes on a different weight.

For me, life can be very black and white.

Big public actions of love or justice rarely impress me. Maybe I’m turning cynical or maybe I miss the point (a very good chance of this one, actually) – but for me, your public acts of love or justice mean nothing if you are an arsehole at home. This is where I am not talking about beloved anymore, by the way – she’s not an arsehole at home.

I hate talking about politics, mainly because of this arsehole analogy. Sure, sign the public papers and make your public speeches, but are you honest? Could someone ring you, directly, if they were in the middle of a crisis and needed help? Would you return an email or a phone call? Do you treat the people who you interact with on a day to day basis with the utmost respect? No? Then put the pen away and step back from the microphone, go and change your undies.

I think this little theory comes down to being who you say you are. Being who you want people to think you are. Being your public persona when you’re at home doing the dishes.

 

I’ve always been the kind of person who wonders if they’re good enough, nice enough, caring enough. One of the things I’ve learned in the last 12 months has been that actually, yes I am. I am good and nice and caring. But in the interests of changing my undies, I need to treat myself with goodness and niceness and caring-ness. And I’m doing it, kind of. Certainly better than I used to.

Because I think it comes down to, essentially, how you are behaving towards yourself. I think that’s the absolute core of changing your undies.

It’s been a peculiar thing, the learning and unlearning that has gone hand in hand with reclaiming my own fitness and health. But it’s not that I suddenly became worthy of these new outlooks as I lost weight, not at all: it’s more that to even kick off the process, I had to do things that were scary and hard for me. I had to take on challenges. I had to continually readjust the parameters I had fenced myself in with. I guess the more you engage with life, the more life engages with you. And to be in that reciprocal relationship with life, you have to be OK with the boundaries you have in place – enough to be able to be confident, but also enough to have to be brave.

That’s when I think you can actually change the world. But yes. Change your undies first.

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sparkpeople.com

 

Just Be.

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I have a friend, a woman who has been a part of my world for years and years. And the most consistent thing she has told me is this:

Just be.

Whatever the situation. Whatever the moment or mood or swings or roundabout or event. It’s always the same. Just be.

I think as we live more and more on social media, documenting ourselves doing life, those two words become more relevant. I’ve been making a conscious effort to not use my phone when I’m with friends, and to resist the urge to take photos of every moment. Mainly because I want to experience things in real life, rather than through a screen. And as I write this blog post I’m aware of the irony because I’m writing via a screen and it will be read via a screen; and there are plenty of times where to zone out I’ll play pointless little games on my phone; and when I need to be distracted I’ll again connect dots or scroll through music or word games.

But I’m learning to be. To just be.

Accepting where I am, what I’m doing, what I’m experiencing, and just being in that moment.

No regretting, no resenting, no longing for something different. Just being. And the more I just be, the less I am actually regretting or resenting or longing for something different. Life is, generally, very good.

I have big things in mind for this year. I’m working on a second book. I’ll be kicking off the study towards being a personal trainer. I’m taking on #nofearnovember as a way of life, and rising up to just do the things that scare me. And it is good. I’m seeing again and again that I can do things.

We had a party recently, something that generally fills me with dread. And it did, but fuck it, I took it on. I also went to a BAR that I had never even heard of before, and it was awesome. And I saw my GP about a couple of things that had been worrying me, and I feel so much better knowing that she’s got things under control.

Just being. Rising up when I can and when I need to, and finding out exactly what I am made of.

And I am learning and realising that what I am made of is probably the opposite of what I used to think I was made of. I’m strong. I’m brave. I treat people well. I care about the underdogs. I’m stubborn, but I use it well.

I want 2017 to be the year that I am guided by what I am made of, instead of what I am afraid of. It’s going to be the year where I learn more about what I am made of, and then just be.

This song, Steer, by Missy Higgins. It’s on my playlist when I am at the gym, and it’s currently on high rotation in the car. These lyrics are the theme song for 2017 for me.

“But the search ends here
Where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know
That you control where you go
You can steer”

Thanks, S.

 

The fame game

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It’s been Christmas and New Year’s since I blogged last. Time has this trick of trundling on, especially when we aren’t paying attention.

The last few weeks have been chaos. I do not enjoy chaos. My hair would suggest otherwise, I got it cut today because I am sick of finding strands around the place and beloved has a shaved head, so I can’t even blame anyone else. I look like I have an afro at the moment, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m now thinking there might have been another solution to the finding hair problem, that didn’t involve me seeing the hairdresser.

I don’t understand the small talk shit you have to do at the hairdresser. The whole time I am wondering how I am meant to look at her, do I use the mirrors or turn my head? Other concerns include catching headlice, wondering why people lie about dying their hair at home, the unreasonable potato-form I take on when they drape me in the cape prior to the hair cut, and wondering if hairdressers get itchy from the hair that must accumulate on their skin after cutting hair all day long. It really is not a restful experience.

So, the last few weeks. I had big plans, all of which were thwarted after a phone call from my GP telling me to start fasting. I had a blockage in a kidney which needed fairly urgent surgery. Two surgeries, actually. The other thing I don’t manage well is changed plans. Chaos and changed plans. Incidentally, both start with CH and when I was a kid, I did speech therapy, and that CH blend is still a sound I struggle to pronounce. So the thing you sit on in my house will always be a SEAT. I also still lisp when I am tired but I am better at pretending I haven’t.

Anyway anyway, Christmas and New Year’s.

Both were good. Both were here. Both were spent with people that we love. Which is nice. Because it would be awful if we had to spend both of those events with people that we don’t like.

I was just sitting outside and the view was spectacular. Here, have a look:

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2017 is upon us. Let’s hope it isn’t the same kind of talent cull that 2016 was. That’s what everyone seems to be focusing on, when it comes to 2016. And the reality is that we lost a lot of talent. But we also lost a lot of normal people, a lot of run-of-the-mill people, a lot of people who mattered to someone. Just because it wasn’t on the news doesn’t mean it didn’t matter. Social media has added this funny element to life, hasn’t it. We spend a lot of time documenting ourselves, in much the same way these famous people were documented. But when we die, it’s our friends lists that are impacted. I suppose it comes down to where you create your world; to where you create your fame.

I am happy to be famous with my friends and family. And more and more, I want to be famous with myself. To respect what I’m achieving and to admire the attitudes and approaches. To be able to hit ‘like’ on the moments and the posts, to share the important things, to go viral with something like joy or love or self belief or something that actually matters more than ‘tag a mate who…’ or a cat using a human toilet.

What it comes down to is that I want 2017 to be a good year. And at the risk of sounding like a smug cow, 2016 was good. I got through it. I achieved some stuff. People I love achieved stuff. I witnessed survival and triumphs and laughter and friendship and kinship. I experienced moments and events that won’t shape a nation but certainly shaped my year. And on the 31st of December, the people I hold dear (s0me of them) gathered together and we said goodbye to 2016 and welcomed in 2017. Some of the people that were there, I didn’t even know til this year. Some of them, I’ve known for over 15 years. But in that moment, we were all there together. We smiled, we chatted, we ate, we peaked too soon (ahem. That was me.). We were together.

I do this thing quite often where I’ll step outside of the moment and look at it. Like I’m taking photos in my head. And the in those snapshots, I saw the culmination of the 2016 fame game. Hearts. Together.

2017?

Bring it on.