Tag Archives: writing

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.

 

 

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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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Extended

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A couple of weekends ago I had to fly to Brisbane. It was for a 90th birthday, a beautiful gentleman who, when asked what it felt like to be 90, replied with, “Up the shit!”.

The last time I flew was around two years ago. That flight, I was heading to Melbourne. I remember the angst on the lead up to the flight.

I knew without a doubt that I would need a seat belt extension. Some people don’t even know what they are, or even that they exist. You know the seat belt they use in the safety briefing before you take off? Well that can click into both ends of the standard seat belt on a flight, thus extending the length of the belt so that every passenger can be safe. I rang the airline to get the seat measurements. I wanted to be sure that my sizeable bottom would fit. I contemplated booking two seats, so that my overflow wouldn’t affect the person sitting in the same row as me.

Because that’s one of the things I used to worry about, that my too-bigness would infringe upon other people. That taking up too much space would inconvenience the people around me. That I should do whatever I could to make amends for being the size I was.

That I should wear a sign, apologising for myself.

For me, my weight was a shame that I wore on the outside for the world to see. I took on the stares and the comments. I absorbed the giggles from children in the street. I carried every single one of the observations about my size and even though they were pointy and hot and uncomfortable, I carried them close to myself until they became myself and there I was, a walking ball of shame and grief and sadness and disappointment.

For me, my size mattered, 100%. And a lot of my time was spent trying to minimise it. I’d sit hunched and curled into a ball. I’d move with a nimbleness that belied my size when I felt like I was in someone’s way. I’d stand rather than sit, lest I break a chair or block an aisle.

Now, I still stand. But it’s more about not wanting to sit still. And now, when I do sit, I tend to sprawl in a most unladylike manner. Because screw being a lady.

When I booked the flights to Brisbane, that little voice made me wonder. Would I still need a seat belt extension? I’ve tried and tried again to explain how hard it is for your brain to catch up when your body changes. I knew that in losing over 50kg, the chances of me needing that extension were pretty slim. But what if. What if I hadn’t really changed my body shape that much? What if that apron of skin was going to be still too big for the standard seat belt?

Turns out, it wasn’t.

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And it also turns out that the tray coming down is a thing. The tray never used to come down. Not even close.

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No worries.

These are the victories that, for the run of the mill person, seem a little odd. If you don’t even realise that a seat belt extension is a thing, then what’s to celebrate if a normal aeroplane seat belt fits you?

Here’s what’s to celebrate:

I didn’t have to walk sideways up the aisle. I didn’t have to whisper that I needed an extension when I boarded, and hold it close to my body as I took my seat so that nobody would notice. I didn’t have to tuck it down the side of my seat when I got off the plane, trying to hide the shame I felt. I didn’t have to pre-book a specific seat at the window, so I could at least spread in one direction in an attempt to minimise the impact I had on the person sitting next to me.

You might think I am being too hard on myself. You might think that most people wouldn’t care.

If that’s the case then thank you, you’re a human with a beautiful heart.

But the reality is that a lot of people are not like that, particularly with strangers.

I’ve discovered that as a whole, society still believes that fat is something that people choose and therefore something they can quickly change. And as a result we have created what seem to be quick fixes for this problem. I’ve always been very careful to state clearly that for me, what was going to work was earning every single gram lost through sheer hard determination, through pushing my body, through walking and running and riding endless kilometres and lifting and pushing and pulling different weights. I had to respect what I had done in order to maintain the weight loss. For me, and I can only speak for myself, that’s what I had to do. Not everyone’s solution looks like that. But I can’t speak for everyone, only for myself.

As the seat belt clicked shut, and I tightened the strap, it sounded like victory.

But in my victory, as in any victory, I remembered the battles lost in winning the war.

So to the me in the plane. Taking up space. Wearing an extension. Desperate for the flight to end:

I’d rather you were safe with the extension on. You have an equal right to be on board this flight. Where are you going? Are you excited? Who are you seeing? Don’t let this moment rob you of your joy regarding travel. You go, you get there, you have an absolute blast. Because regardless of your size, you matter. Your heart is ticking, your soul is full and your smile lights a room.

Extensively.

 

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

 

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.

 

Just an update

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Today is Friday.

Actually, no, no it’s not, it’s Thursday. Sorry about that.

All week there has been social media and news reports and updates about that tragedy on the Gold Coast, at one of the theme parks. Four people died. Tragic, yes. But do we really need all the updates every half an hour? And the recordings of people who were there and the people who say it’s in bad taste that they could still buy their souvenir photos from other rides and the people that say they were on that ride once many years ago and oh my god it could have been us? Something like this happens and the attention whores come out to play don’t they. I’m looking at you, Mamamia. I’m not downplaying the tragedy, or the heart-wrenching world the families are now living in. But god, when did it become so vital that we knew every single detail about every single event?

My memory of this particular theme park? About four years ago we went there, beloved and I and the Bear and her mini-me and beloved’s kids and one of their friends. And I was too fat to fit on the first ride I tried to go on, so then I was too scared to try to get on any more after that.

I would fit on the rides now. But to be honest I don’t know if I want to go back there. That extremely overweight, morbidly obese fat person mentality is really hard to change, to realise that I don’t need to hang on to it and wear it like a coat of distancing from the world anymore.

I haven’t seen a lot of writings about how to recover from what I am affectionately naming “Fat Head”. It’s a brain space, that I believe anyone who has been significantly overweight learns. The mentality of automatically grabbing the absolute biggest sizes in clothing stores. Of walking straight past the majority of retailers because you still assume there’s no way their clothes would fit you. Of sitting carefully on fold out chairs, in case you flatten them, of coming up with reasons not to sit at all in case you flatten chairs. Of realising that the foibles you have long focused on – gut, arms, arse – that they’re becoming less of a problem, but you just can’t see it. You just can’t see it.

You just can’t see it.

So I’ve decided I’m going to do some exploring into this Fat Head thing. What it is, how it gets there, and how to change it. Not today, I have other shit to do, but soon.

What is driving this for me is the sheer frustration I cause myself. I spend so much time thinking I can’t do things. But I actually can now. I can.

This photo is the most recent update. The left is last Friday night, before I disgraced myself at a local bar thanks to a steady stream of cocktails. The right? About 4 years ago.

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I feel so sad when I look at the girl on the right. She has the same brain as me. The same musical talent. The same heart, the same attitudes. She treats people well. She cares for others. She loves long and hard and is devastated when she sees people feeling hurt or sad, and tries to fix it. She loves animals and the quirks in life. She laughs, and means it from the pit of her belly.

But she’s a before photo, and she didn’t even know it at the time. Maybe learning to love that girl on the right is at the beginning of unravelling Fat Head.

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I’m not where I want to be yet, in terms of weight loss. But I’m getting closer each day.

But essentially, this is just an update.

Do you know what I mean by Fat Head? Have you experienced it?

 

 

Two

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Two years ago, I was waiting.

The surgeon was running late.

I got a call from my sister, who was quite worried about things.

Beloved was by my side, the queen of my army of supporters.

And we waited.

Finally, I got wheeled off to surgery.

Drifted off to sleep, and woke up with a brand new ankle.

The original injury happened around seven years earlier: I’d fallen down a flight of stairs, severing the ligaments that support my ankle and gravelling off the end of one of the bones. The surgeon I had to see at the time looked at my body, looked at the xrays, and said (and I’ll never ever forget this) “If you were an athlete, I’d fix it. But you’re not”.

So, for the next seven years, I broke my ankle. Again and again. Or twisted it. Or sprained it. And it got worse and worse.

Then I saw another surgeon.

This man, he became one of my heroes.

He took one look at my ankle, gave it a tug and watched how that pull had no end point except for when my skin got too tight.

He told me how he would fix it, and when.

On surgery day, he was running late.

So two years ago, I was waiting.

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I didn’t know it then, but that surgery saved my life. It certainly altered the path of my life. It took another surgery on my calf, a procedure on my Achilles and a shit load of physio to get me walking correctly again.

Exactly twelve months after I took my first steps, I did my first fun run. The Variety Santa Fun Run, raising money for the Variety children’s charity. I got slightly lost on the course and did an extra kilometre, but I did it.

Since then, I’ve done at least one fun run a month. I’m not sure on what the final tally is, but I’ve collected a swag of finisher medals and shirts and bibs.

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So far this year, according to the app I use, I’ve clocked up almost 800km. Just me and that repaired foot. And I still, still, get that buzz of joy every single time I start.

It’s not until you’ve been unable to do something for so long that you realise how much you love it. Love the freedom that being functional offers. Love the sense of achievement that one step after another brings. It’s been hard though. Realising that the barrier that I had for so many years no longer exists.

It’s so hard to explain, the fullness of the emotions that surround this day. Grief, for the years spent just… unable. The joy at these new days – and yes, even after two years, they’re still new days. The sheer amount of time I lost, not able to do stuff. The things I avoided. But now, the almost daily surprises I get when I do something that I couldn’t do. Or when I jump on and off beloved’s truck tray, then realise that I stuck the landing.

I stick the landings now.

In November, I’ll be back where I started with these fun runs. To finish off the year of fun runs, I’m taking on the Variety Fun Run again. I’d love it if you could throw in a buck or two, to help Variety help kids in need. Here’s the link for my profile.

It’s funny. It’s joyful, but it really is a sense of sadness about those years spent thinking that the first surgeon was correct; that I didn’t need or deserve surgery because of my body shape.

Well. I’ve fucking shown him.

But I know, without doubt, that I couldn’t have done it without that new surgeon, beloved and my beautiful army of supporters.

Thank you.