to run or not to run????

regular readers will remember last summers Million Mile Challenge, where I went from sitting down all day eating cake to walking 500 miles in nine weeks.  Well, since then I have been busy, I am still walking everyday, and I have managed to get other people to walk too.  So far so good.

Now a new opportunity has arisen for me to get involved with an amazing event where people will be inspired to change their health through exercise and movement. It looks wonderful, music, fun and famous people, what is not to like? The catch is that on the day there is the opportunity to run.

Now walking is one thing, I have got that now, I can put one foot in front of another at a fair to middling pace and get myself up hills, down dales, walking is easy.  Running is a whole new ball game.

Many years ago, before motherhood, before fibromyalgia, before gaining weight, I did run.  It was called jogging back in the day, we had trainers and leg warmers and everything.   I was rubbish at it.  I never got very far before breathless and bored I would stop, heart pumping and sweat forming.  I came to the conclusion I am a not runner in 1985. since then nothing has happened to change my mind.

The sixty year old version of me, the one I am currently using, has flaws.  A painful knee that often seizes up, a funny lower back that can let me down and give me pain.  A default position of laziness and a need to always do the head shift thing to even contemplate moving swiftly,  not to mention little legs, almost as wide as they are long, this body is not built for speed.

The big question is, to run or not to run?  There is no pressure on me, I can take part in the event, I can walk and I can have fun. I don’t need to run, but a big bit of me fancies having a go. I get frustrated when people run past me on my walks, their steps are building so quickly, especially when it is cold and damp, I would love to be able to run.

So this morning out for my daily walk I thought I would give it a go, what can I lose? I set my stop watch on my phone and I decide to run for as long as I can.  I am running, one foot in front of the other, quite quickly, it is fine, not difficult at all, I keep going for ages, feeling so proud.  I stop and check my stop watch, one minute thirty nine seconds!!!!  Really doesn’t time fly when you are having fun?  That was possibly the longest minute and a half of my life.  I get my breath back and walk for a bit, before running again, this time for just over a minute.  This running thing is easy!! Except it isn’t.  My knee is already complaining and my heart rate is rising, and breathing normally is very over rated I think as I pant and puff. I walk the rest of the way.

I am not giving up, I need a buddy, someone to run alongside me for a minute or two, someone who won’t mind me gasping for breath and clutching various parts of my body in agony.  Someone with a high embarrassment threshold and who is kind.  I am not sure I can do this by myself, although I probably can, I need to remember that this time last year I couldn’t walk at all and I have come a long way, literally a long way, since then.  It is going to be an interesting couple of months.

on being sixty, one week in

today I was relaxing at home in the afternoon, the cat sleeping on my lap I was paying little attention to the television in the corner,  Countdown, how I love word puzzles, was halfway through when I switched on.  Who can resist a conundrum?  So, there I am, as my lovely daughter pops into the living room.  ‘Oh mother, you sure are being sixty’ she laughed.

To be honest I was a bit shocked.  Yes, I guess I was fulfilling a certain stereotype this afternoon, but the first week of this decade has been full on.  Actually in the last eight or so days  I have done at lot of stuff.

I have spoken to a crowd of 200 plus footie fans and got a huge cheer, I have played board games late into the night with teenagers, I have danced at my own birthday party.  I have walked 51,000 steps, some up very steep hills in a forest, despite having two days on the couch due to feeling poorly.  I have been on a demo in my home town,  and walked the streets with hot chocolate and met loads of new young people, in one of my new jobs.

This past week I have also recorded a pretty cool interview for local radio, packed loads of donations ready for sending out to refugees, commissioned web designers for an amazing new fund raising project – so exciting can’t wait to tell all, watched The Lady Vanishes (such a good film), spoon fed our ridiculously old cat, and discovered Pink Dog gin.

So, being sixty, means I can in essence do what I fancy.  I can catnap with the family pet while pretending to solve anagrams, I can march in the street in solidarity with others.  I can shout loud when needed and I can pretty much be myself.

I guess what I am saying is that I am comfortable in my skin.  My daughter can laugh out loud, she wasn’t being unkind, because I know she is as proud of me as I am of her.   There is much to be said about growing older, sixty is not the new forty, but it is suiting me very well so far.

on another decade

yesterday on my birthday my age changed to one with a 0 at the end. The end of one decade and the beginnings of another.  In truth I am just one day older than the day before, but numbers matter.  They matter as they mark the passing of years and when we enter a new decade it perhaps matters more.

I remember other 0 birthdays, the first one I was very excited to be in ‘double figures’. 20 was spent in a alcoholic haze and by the time 30 came along I was busy with babies and no time to think about birthdays.  40 arrived and with it a plea from my little boys who decided to hold a ‘surprise’ party for Mum.  They had no money of their own, so they asked me to buy the food and help them decorate the room.  It was still a surprise though, it had to be, they told me it was.

50 was probably the most difficult.  A party, planned on a bus in Southern Spain, when good times seemed all around, was very different once January drew to a close.  The person I thought would be by my side was choosing another path, we were having a tricky time, when the future was very much in doubt.  The party went ahead, friends and family gathered and a good time was had by all.  I on the other hand was happy on the outside and sad on the inside.  I wish I had known that day how things were going to be.  In truth this decade was the turning point.  It was in these years I made choices based on the life I wanted to live, rather than accept the one I had fallen into.  It was the decade that saw all my children grown to adulthood and it was the decade I became a Nana.

So now at 60 it is fair to say that I am in better shape than for at least twenty years. Emotionally, physically well and healthier than almost ever before. I have a real sense of ‘self’.  It is as if I had to do the decades before, to arrive here, now, with peace and friendship and love all around.  A party was held, at the end of a week of celebration.  My, now adult, children organised everything.  From a surprise mini break and concert tickets midweek, to a fabulous get together in our local pub for family and friends on the day itself, I am truly blessed.

I looked around the room at the party guests and realised that these people, sitting, laughing, chatting and catching up, these are my tribe. Some I have known forever, others from more recent times. Together the people in that room have supported me, propped me up during bad times, they have laughed with me through the fun times. Each and every one of them has helped me to be the me I am right now.

Earlier last week I was told, for about the tenth time, that I don’t look 60 years old.  Well, I said, think again, for this is exactly what 60 looks like!  I have no idea what this decade will bring, surely that is part of the fun, but I have no intention of becoming old.  I have more life in me now that in most of the previous decades.

So, I say, bring it on.  This seventh decade begins in style, with love and friendship, with laughter and kindness.  The world may well be in a tricky place just now, but I am grateful for the life I am able to live and very thankful for my tribe.  I love them all dearly.

on dealing with this ‘new world order’

January 2017 and the last piece of the nightmare jigsaw that began back in summer 2016, has fallen into place.  Each time I have thought, ‘no, that won’t actually happen, surely not’ and yet each and every time happen it does.

So, did I go marching with the women yesterday?  I did not.  In my life I have been on more marches than most people, I have shouted ‘out! out! out!’ sang songs, with the miners, the ambulance service, the NHS, Greenpeace, Stop the War, and much more and each time I have relished in the shared community of protest.  I understand this stuff.

I no longer believe it means a thing.  Nothing, at all, save from giving those marching validation and a good feeling.  Then everyone goes home, back to work, to kids, to life and nothing changes.  That is how it seems to me.  My social media feed has been full of photos, hundreds and thousands of people on the streets, people taking pride in witty banners, in coming together, and I am thinking, is this all part of the plan?  It feels very safe, very middle class, very organised, and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

I have no doubt many people walked away from the marches yesterday feeling good, they had their say, they stood up.  But did they?  Why has it taken a misogynistic millionaire to galvanise people.  Has there not been enough to be angry about?  Why are people more angry with comments against women than they are about sexually exploited children?.  Why has no one taken to the streets to protest about the missing lone children, who have fled from war and no one knows where they are now?  Why, why, why, is this march all over the media.  The TV news, the internet, radio news, all documenting the mass marching across the Western World.  The same media that has ignored dozens of protests when they don’t fit the narrative.  It is easy to march against one man, however, vile as he maybe, much, much worse is being done to the world than he will ever achieve.  So, why is this such news?  I am cynical, I don’t believe for a minute that the people with power care a jot who is in charge.  This is smoke and mirrors on a grand scale.

So, this time I am not going to march,  I am not going to give my precious time to realise once again that nothing changes.  Instead I am going to get on with looking for the good in the world, I shall spend my time with people who do, rather than talk about doing. Those that reach out and help, those who say what needs saying and those who are struggling. I will support and cheer on everyone who takes action that effects change.  I will encourage everyone I know to be kind to each other, I feel we are going to need a lot of that just now.

Meeting oppression with the power of love, looking the haters in the eye and just keep on keeping on.  Do you know if enough of us did this, we could change the world.

on a friends birthday

today one of my best friends in the whole world has her birthday.It isn’t a ‘significant’ birthday, you know the ones that end in a zero and mark the passing of a decade, no, this is an ordinary, middle of the road birthday, but one I am happy to celebrate with her.

This friend is my go to person, the one who my daughter calls her second Mum, the one who has laughed with me more than almost anyone, and the one that has helped me cry through trouble many times.

Without her my daughter would never have learned the fun of roller coasters, I would have struggled often to move house and furniture on my own.  Without her I would never have understood just how important football is, and I would have missed some magic moments.

Always kind, she has no clue just how special she is.  Her caring for her family, her friends and for those she doesn’t know but offers a home is the one thing that sets her apart.  She is one of life’s good people.

I have this quotation somewhere, it used to be on my fridge, but I think it sums us up.

‘A friend, as it were, is a second self’

Happy birthday my lovely friend, I hope we have many, many more years ahead of us, to walk and talk, to laugh and hold on through those tough times and most of all to watch our gorgeous girls grow even more into beautiful women.


the sense of those we love

yesterday we went to visit relatives, a bit of New Year cheer and as always when we see those we don’t see often, memories were resurrected and remembered, people now gone were spoken about and those we love felt a little closer to us.

On the way home we are chatting about our day and hubby asked if one of the people we visited had changed her appearance, she was not as he remembered her being. Despite having been with her not an hour or so earlier I had no clue what he meant.  To me she has never changed.  Not since I was a child and she a pal of my Mum and Dad, she has always looked the same.

It dawned on me that those we love and have loved all our lives we seldom see.  What I mean is that the image of them is so imprinted in our brains that we no longer need to see their physical presence today. So, when I sit with my family I am content with my sense of them, I tune into the person I know to be them and take little notice of how they actually look.

Holding my Aunties hand we chat of the past, she has had great sadness recently and I wanted to be a comfort to her, wanted her to know I cared.  I have realised that she knew this, because she was also seeing her sense of me.  I am sure there were times when she looks at me and sees the child I once was, then the young Mum who looked to her and her husband to help, having lost my own Mum and Dad.  Maybe we all do this, the sense of someone, this knowing who people are from the inside as well as the outside.

As we talked on the way home it became clear to me that this is the essence of love, the understanding and acceptance of someone exactly as they are to you, with no other thoughts necessary.

Memory is a super power, for within our minds we can conjure up the best of times, a sense of continuity, a sense of self, and within that the sense of those we love, never changing, always there.

2016 – Merrry Christmas

in years to come this year we have just all lived will be one no one forgets.  A year of momentous events, all across the globe, when things shifted in a way we never anticipated could happen.  Fascism back on the agenda, racism, anger and separation politics abound. From the East to the West things they are a changing.

it has also been a year of loss, famous people, much loved icons of British culture have died, most far to young, and have left us all feeling sad.  David Bowie was one that floored me, even now I think, really? David Bowie, how can I live in a world without him being in it.  Which is a bit odd actually cos I was never a great fan.  I guess it takes losing people to realise how much they were a part of your life.  I guess I am at the age when those who have been alongside me from teen years to now are aging too.  I suspect this is the future, and it makes me feel sad.

Now the year is drawing to the end and things are getting worse not better, war in the East is raging on to a bloody end, so many people are being killed while the West seems content to watch and occasionally add a small voice of dissent.  This makes me tired rather than angry.  I think I have reached the point where I expect nothing, certainly not for those elected to make good decisions. Forty years of protesting had left me empty of protest.  It simply doesn’t work.  My mantra now is to do the best I can, where I am, and try not to worry if others do not do the same.

Personally 2016 has been a bit of a hit for me.  I will remember it fondly as the year I became well again.  Having had years of pain and illness this Spring I was able to begin to make the changes that have led to a better life, no pain and more energy than ever before.  For that I will be glad to remember this year.

It has also been the year in which I have met and worked alongside so many amazing people.  Across the UK,  from all faiths, religions and creeds, gorgeous amazing people, some with a wicked sense of humour have become my go to crowd.  These are the ones I recognise.  We are in the same tribe.  Cutting through the bullshit and the propaganda we come together to do what we can.  Turns out we can do a lot, who knew?

So, Christmas is upon us, and soon this year will be done.  Any year we get to the end of, happier and healthier has to have merit.  Lessons are being learned, we are finding our path, it has ever be so.

Soon it will be a New Year, we will fill it full of our hopes and our dreams, and slowly one day at a time it will pass.  I have no idea what will come to be, but I am sure I will try to make the most of every minute.

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you have all you need and some of want you want, I hope you have those you love close and if you have more than you need, I hope you build a bigger table.  We really are all in this world together, and it is together we will do the best we can.

Advent – friendships, then and now

today a friend shared a meme on social media, in the shape of a Christmas tree the words have special meaning and are worth reflecting on.   It begins, This Christmas end a quarrel.  Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.

I love this, the idea that we should end a quarrel, surely that is the best idea of all.  How many times have we ended on a bad note, thinking it will blow over, then days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and one day you realise the friendship is lost.  Maybe we should all seek out a forgotten friend this Christmas time.

I have a lost but not forgotten friend.  We went through the early days of being mothers together, inseparable, our children were at home in both our houses, we knew everything about each other, the support we shared in what were trying times, had I thought bound us together forever.  It seems not.

Years later, we don’t talk anymore.  I have never understood exactly what happened between us.  We spent a weekend together, my friend went home and never spoke to me again.  I tried phoning, at first not realising what was happening.  From our endless chatting, suddenly she was too busy to speak, once she put the phone down on me.  I remember now how that felt.  I missed her.  I missed the easy way we could talk, the shorthand long lived between us.  I missed knowing what her children were doing, for years they had been mine too.  I got over it, built a new life, I already had great friends, they just weren’t her.

So, I see the meme and I am once again wondering, pondering, what on earth happened.  I have heard on the grapevine news, she has Grandchildren, I would have loved to have shared that with them all. But it is not to be.

The next line, dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.  I gave that some thought.  I have sent a Christmas card, to be honest I have done so every year for the last ten years.  This year I have added a note.  Simply saying, I have missed you, I hope all is well in your world. I have added my phone number.  This is all I can do.

I don’t expect a call, I am sure whatever it was is too long gone now to mend, which is sad.  This year will be the last card I send, time has passed, I would love to hear her voice, but I can live without it, if she is not wanting to speak to me.

So, candles in the darkness today, must be the hope that we have that friendships will endure.  If this is not possible, then the light that was the friendship, the support and love we once shared and the happy, happy memories I hold dear.  I hope my friend is having a wonderful life, of course I do, and I will hold my dear friends now close this Christmas time.

No one is ever gone while people remember them with affection, my friendship is still there, it is just not acknowledged any more.


Advent – Santa and me

for a very long time I have been collecting Santas.  I don’t remember when it started, but over the years more and more have appeared and now adorn my living room at Christmas time.  Some of them are beautiful, glittery and detailed, others are funny and some make noises, singing songs and dancing about.  I love them all.

The rest of my family are at times less than enthusiastic about my festive collection, sometimes they can be quite rude.  However I try not to care.

This year there is another person in our family who loves Santa.  My gorgeous little Granddaughter arrived yesterday with her Mummy, to deliver the Gingerbread Man cards she has made for all of us.  She is such a funny little person.  Together we explored my Santa collection.

She is also a Santa fan.  She loved the singing Santa, spent ages pressing his foot and laughing out loud.  We examined each one, the one with the sleigh and Rudolph, the pretty one with the little girl and lots of presents.  She laughed at Santa in bed reading and loved the snow globe, her face as the flakes fell all around was wonderful.

So, Christmas is coming, and with it comes all the usual chaos, rushing around shops, posting out cards, thinking of food to buy and making plans to see family and friends.  It is the same every year, last minute dashing about hoping all will get done.  It always does.

This year there is more magic about.  Seeing it through the eyes of a two year old is precious and something I am so grateful for.  This feels like Christmas with her Daddy, aged two, all those years ago.  I can so remember the excitement building as the day grew near, the fun and games we had, there is no feeling like it, until yesterday, when my boy’s daughter brought the magic with her.