Tag Archives: inspiration

Time

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I mentioned last post about how I’ve been trying to not use my phone when I’m doing social stuff, because I want to be a part of things. It’s harder than you’d think, because we’re so conditioned now to document every meal and moment, and to take and re-take photos to prove our spontaneity. There’s a place for this, yes, but for me? I’m trying to be more in the moment.

But sometimes, I really do not like the moment.

This morning was the icing on a particularly nasty cake I’ve been baking for a while now. I was running late for a cycle class, and I do not cope with being late. So I took what I thought was a shortcut, and found myself going straight past the gym. I turned around and promptly repeated the exact same sequence of turns, and again… going straight past the gym.

As I sat at the lights waiting to do a third u-turn, I heard myself say something. Actually, it was pretty loud. Chances are the person waiting at the lights next to me also heard it.

One thing I am good at doing is talking to myself in ways that I wouldn’t dare or even dream of talking to other people. And to prove a point, I have turned what I said into a beautiful meme:

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And looking at those words, I feel ashamed of myself. I would unleash total fury at anyone who dared to use those words towards someone I love. Even towards someone I don’t know. You don’t talk to people like that, not in my world.

Except… I do. To myself.

And I’m sitting here, writing this, and I just want to cry. Because I know I meant it, at the time.

Time.

When I eventually got to the gym, I pushed myself through a big cardio workout, because I’d totally and utterly missed the class I wanted to go to. I was stretching afterwards, and a woman who’s become a good friend plopped herself down opposite me to chat.

We talked about time. About how moments are so important, and without investing in the importance of time – instant, immediate, now time – life kind of loses meaning.

It reminded me of a conversation I had last night, where again time was the topic. Don’t rush time, don’t force yourself forwards into things you can’t possibly predict the best outcome. Don’t worry about things that you don’t have the information about yet. Just be now. Time.

Which reminded me of a conversation I had on Sunday. Time. Time doesn’t exist, you just have now as your guarantee. Don’t let anxiety mess with now.

Time.

I need to remember those words I said to myself. Not because they’re true. But because of the horrific cruelty behind them, that I directed to myself. And I need to remember how I spent that moment, that time. Because life is so fleeting. I cannot put more time into talking that way to myself. Because fuck.

I might hear me.

I thought about things that I have heard other people say about me.

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photo by @kimmi_joy

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There comes a point where you can make a choice.

And I choose moments. I choose now.

And as hard as it’s going to be to change the thought patterns of a lifetime, I choose to remember that I have done something amazing. That I am strong.

And that I am about to help other people set themselves free.

 

 

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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.

 

 

Behind the keyboard

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It was unexpected, by me, anyway – but the last post, It’s Not That Hard, went a little bit crazy. It resonated with many of you, and while I knew it was true for me, I tend to write things taking a bit of a punt that it might be true for other people, too. It’s kind of hard because my brain is a peculiar place. But it appears this time, I was spot on.

The problem with writing a post that results in new followers of this blog and big reactions, is that for me it creates this funny kind of pressure to follow it up really well. I guess it’s a different kind of writer’s block – performance anxiety or something. Who knows. But I decided in the end that probably the best way to follow up that post is by letting you know who is behind the keyboard for this particular blog. To prove that I know what I am talking about when it comes to losing weight actually being quite hard.

This is me.

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This is also me.

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So yes. I do know that it is is indeed hard to lose weight. Anyone who tells you it isn’t that hard is an ignorant fool, and probably hasn’t been there. But I’ve already told you my thoughts on that one.

For me, this journey started when I fell down a flight of stairs. I completely screwed my ankle, busting bones and ligaments and tendons. I was overweight at the time, and the foot surgeon I saw said, “If you were an athlete, I’d repair it, but you’re not.”. Can anyone say arsehole?

Eventually, seven years after the initial fall, I did indeed get my ankle repaired. And after months of physio, and two more procedures, I started walking. Exactly 12 months after I took my first steps on that new ankle, I completed my first fun run. I barely ran, in fact I walked the vast majority of it and also managed to get lost on the course.

The thing is, in that seven year gap, I wasn’t able to do anything active at all. So the weight piled on. And on. And on. I also had PCOS (poly cycstic ovarian syndrome), which meant that I was exceptionally good at gaining and keeping weight. Like, National Representative good. And every single thing that I did, was hard.

I can tell you that while it wasn’t easy getting started, I knew I had to. I had a lot of motivators, but no motivation on earth is match for a reason. A Reason. Motivation can and will fall away. But I reckon if you have a Reason, a Reason for anything that you do, then you have something that will drive you through the days where you don’t want to, or it’s too hard, or you just cannot be arsed.

For me, my Reason was simple, but came from the most painful of firey furnaces. I’d say it  was like a phoenix but in reality is was more like an uncoordinated pelican that my Reason surfaced. It involved shifting of mindset and reframing of response.

My mum had died very suddenly, and the grief and aftershocks for my family and myself were, in short, heartbreaking. And I stayed stuck in grief mode.

And then one day, when I was thinking of my family and my people and my beloved, I realised that by not getting my health under some form of control, I was heading up a path that was going to force my people to go through the grief and pain of my own sudden death. Because that was the reality of where my health and my weight was.

So I changed the way I wore that blanket of grief. Tucked it into the back of my shirt and turned into some kind of mediocre superhero cape. Because it really was going to take a superhero effort to turn that ship around.

18 months later, that Reason hasn’t changed. For me, my Reason comes down to love; to an encompassing need to try to protect my people from experiencing that grief and pain of loss. Everyone is going to have a different Reason, but if you can find your Reason, then congratulations, you’re on your way.

That Reason pushes me on daily. Fuelled by love, I do my kilometres on the treadmill. I lift my weights. And now, I go to Tafe to learn how to be a personal trainer and fitness worker. Because there is a serious shortfall of people who know what this is like, first hand.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know all of that stuff. And even now it still makes me a bit wobbly to share it all again. These are painful things to think on, but it’s the reality, and if nothing else I have always, always had the mindset that if it’s painful and I have to do it, then I need to use it to help other people.

Give me a few months to finish these qualifications, and I’ll do just that.

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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

 

What would you do?

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I’ve come up with an idea.

It’s based in that feeling. I don’t know if it’s a feeling only I get, or if other people get it too, so bear with me and I’ll flesh it out for you a bit.

You know that rising jittery feeling you get in your tummy when something you’re scared about happens? Or even looks like it might happen? What about when all paths seem to be leading to you having to compromise on things that you have avoided because they make you anxious? Are you like me, and refuse to do things because you honestly don’t think you can? Or, commit to doing something, then pull out at the last minute because it’s just too scary and confronting?

These are the things that have governed so much of my life. And at 38, I’m calling bullshit on those things. They are valid – this is not about saying you shouldn’t be scared or anxious or any of that. Because those responses are always valid. You’ll get some gurus who tell you that fear is irrational, I call bullshit on that, too. Fear is totally rational. It’s generally based in experience, or research, or gut instinct. Three things you cannot refute.

But what if it didn’t control your life. What if?

Just over 12 months ago, I made a choice to change my life. I suddenly had an ankle that wouldn’t let me down. And I had realised that unless I worked on my health – seriously worked on it, getting my weight under control and increasing my fitness – I was signing up my family to the heartache of another sudden death.

So, I made a choice. And it was a choice. I had two options: keep going how I was, convinced that my body wasn’t able to do anything to help me and to continue to be lost in grief; or just test out what my body could do, and turn that grief for my mum into a motivator.

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It was not easy. It. Was. Not. Easy. Not at first. But slowly, it became routine. Get up, go to the gym, walk slowly on a treadmill. Or get up, get my shoes on, and walk slowly around the block. I started where I was, probably at less than where I was, so convinced was I that I couldn’t do anything. But the thing is, I started.

Which leads me to now.

Throughout this experience, the biggest thing that has held me back has been fear. Even now, when I know I can do all sorts of stuff. It’s almost like a habit, to doubt myself and come up with reasons to be scared.

But imagine what we could do if we removed fear from the equation.

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I have deemed this November to be NO FEAR NOVEMBER. I’ve challenged myself to turn off that fear reaction. Because ultimately, I still have those doubts about what I can do and how far I can push myself.

#NofearNovember is about doing things anyway, until I find out that I can’t do them.

We’re 9 days in to November, and so far?

I’ve gone to a different class at the gym, with an instructor I don’t know, and been totally fine.

I changed plans and rescheduled stuff, and been totally fine.

I organised a confronting Christmas gift for beloved (big shout out to Style By Divine and Pearl Davies), and been totally fine.

On Saturday I’m taking on my first Park Run. And I’ll be totally fine.

The thing is, I’m still scared doing these things. But I guess there comes a time when you have to again, make a choice. Be stopped in your tracks by fear, and regret the fuck out of the things you don’t do.

Or.

Do them until you find out that you can’t.

#nofearnovember

Are you in? Use the hashtag and show me what you’re going to take on. Or, search it on your social media to see what I’m up to.

A HUGE thanks to Josephine, Suzi and Alice who have all gotten behind me with the Variety Fun Run – you can still donate, the link is here!

 

The Literary Lunch

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So a few weeks ago the delightful Mrs Woog said that she was going to host a bloggers lunch. Mrs Woog is one of my blogging heroes. I don’t know if she has a cape and wears her undies on the outside. She might. But what she does have is one of those instantly lovable personalities that makes you wish you could go and raid her coffee machine and dig through her cupboards for hidden treats, then fart loudly as you leave. And you know it would be OK. I’m lucky, I have several friendships like this. Or maybe I have forced them to be as such, I don’t know.

Anyway anyway, just like that I’ve become distracted. I’m at my sister’s house in the Hawkesbury this weekend. My phone is connected to her government issue laptop (she’s a teacher), and I am hoping I have enough data to publish this. Time will tell.

The lunch!

I left Newy at 9:30. Being me, I knew I would spill coffee all over my clothing in the duration of the trip down so I put my lunch shirt in a bag and wore an old scruffy in the car. And as I drove to Sydney from Newcastle, my bladder began to fill. It’s OK, I reasoned. I’ll find a Maccas or a servo and get changed while I do a horse-type wee before lunch, then arrive cool calm and collected.

NOT SO, MY FRIENDS.

I found the lunch spot with bladder at capacity, and had roughly 20 minutes to spare. Not enough time to scout out a servo, and I hadn’t passed a Maccas in a while. I went to the nearby supermarket and asked if they could tell me where the nearest loo is – they pointed me to the cafe where lunch was happening. You know that funny walk you do when you have an exceptionally full bladder? That was me. For some reason I decided that I couldn’t use that toilet. So I got back in the car and had a little think.

The suburb had lots of trees. Oh don’t be disgusting I wasn’t going to wee on a tree. No, I figured I could simply pull to the side of the road and get changed in relative privacy, then return to the cafe for my ladylike wee.

It’s surprising how many houses are built to maximise view.

I found a little street called Pleasant Ave, and decided it was time for that street to see something unpleasant. Running low on time, I quickly stripped off and put my ladylike shirt on. Then buttoned it like a three year old with non-opposable thumbs. I had to rebutton that shirt twice.

By this stage I was nervous as all fuck.

Raced back to the cafe. And spotted the only big table, which already had several proper grown ups seated at it. Proper ones. Not imposters like me. I ducked into the cafe and did the BIGGEST WEE OF MY LIFE, then in my nervousness grabbed what I thought was toilet paper. I then spent several anxious moments hoping the giant wad of HAND TOWEL would flush. It did.

These proper grown up ladies were awesome, by the way. We all had stories which I imagine is why we all blog. Mrs Woog was a much gracious host, greeting me with a huge hug which calmed me right down. I pilfered a couple of champagne corks (for Cubs) and then sat back and listened.

I heard tales of fish caught in swimmers from Wendy Harmer. Of love, loss, hope and feral children. And of a common desire to write.

By the time I left I was full of excitement to blog more. I was reminded of why I blog, and what I get out of it.

And here it is:

My main aim in blogging is that making sure that people don’t feel alone. I cover a lot of stuff in this blog. Same sex relationships, mental health, faith, funny shit, misadventures. People. Story telling. But everything I write comes back down to one thing: Letting people know that there is someone else out there that experiences a range of emotions and experiences. The stuff that generally goes untalked about. The things that can be awkward to bring up. Things like mental health. Shit days. Grief. The way life can rise up and punch you in the face. The sheer joy of remembering. The twisted pathways of creating stories for things like gravestones and pulpits in a second hand store.

Because if I don’t, who will?

I’ve been punching away at this blog for around 3 years. Today, I have a fresh passion for it. So strap yourselves in, Naughty Corner people. The ride is about to get bumpy and more frequent.

I’d love to hear what you want more of from the Naughty Corner. Are there things I’m missing? Things you want to read more about? Hit me with it.

And in the meantime?

I’m about to test that data connection.

Have a top weekend.

A Hero’s Exit

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A Hero’s Exit

Remembrance Day.

The eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month – we remember them.

I sat on a bench outside and Scout sat near me and we gazed into the world around and she thought about probably tennis balls or something, and I thought about my grandad.

Jack.

In the cruelty of life, in his later years Jack was silenced by a series of strokes that took much of his speech, all his mobility and the majority of his movement. He died in a nursing home. He was skinny when he died and his hands were still gnarled and brown and strong. And he could still swear and he could still laugh but sometimes there was no sound. And the last time I saw him was with my family and he was dying and getting old and weak and frail and I tried not to cry but as I left his room I looked back and he was crying and he said words. He gestured towards the door and said with a voice full of sobs, take care of her. Take care of this one.

Jack.

To be fair, Jack should have died as he lived. Brave. On the land. A heart attack, maybe. The muscles on his arms and the slight bow-leggedness, and the surprising array of things he made – including a house, a pool, a buggy for his horse, a walking stick that hid a massive and probably illegal sword. But it was stroke.

His last years were quiet. A blanket of granny squares, wheelchairs and being spoon fed. Shamefully irregular visitors from me, because I wasn’t brave enough to visit more often. Because what the fuck had happened to my grandad? I was at uni when he died, so absolutely old enough to deal with it all better than I did. But I didn’t. And I’m sorry.

Jack.

Grandad’s brain was badly damaged by the strokes that he had, but nan asked him once if he remembered being a soldier. He replied “I certainly do!”. I’m glad. Because he remembered something he was proud of. My grandad is a hero.

He was interviewed for the local paper one year. They did a story entitled “East Kurrajong man remembers D-Day landing”. I read that story countless times. Among the things he said, one line still stands out in my memory.

Men changed that day. They went from boys to men.

The horror and the torment and the shock of what he saw and lived through. I cannot imagine. And thanks to him, I don’t have to.

Jack.

Grandad.

I’ve been taken care of, Grandad. I’m OK. I miss you and I miss Nan. But I’m OK. And I’m sorry I couldn’t come more to see you. And I’m sorry your life finished like that. You’re a hero. You deserved a hero’s exit. Not the quiet whimper you had. But when I remember the Union Jack draped on your coffin. The Last Post ringing through the crematorium. The pride on Nan’s face. The way my heart felt like it was going to explode. You had your hero’s exit.