Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 2014 - an update

If you've been keeping up with my lack of shenanigans on Facebook, you'll know the last month has been a bit of a trial for me. Got side-swiped by a virus, that behaved like a weird stalker ex-boyfriend by refusing to go away; the lack of movement during this time has buggered both my back and wrist. 

In other words, any blog post I might write starts "whinge, whine, moan..." 

Therefore, I fall back on blogging with bullet points:

  • Dave's coffee business is now up and running
  • It is a lot of fun
  • The equipment is really heavy (coffee machine alone is 65kg)
  • The coffee is really good
  • I'm the cashier/order taker and I wipe up mess every 3 seconds which drives the barista absolutely nuts, but keeps everything clean
  • It's bloody hard work
  • I really hope my gym membership is tax deductible, because if I am to continue working with him in this business, I must become much, much stronger.

  • It is the season of weddings
  • We were doing coffee at a wedding yesterday and it was fab
  • Boy and I will go off in a couple of weeks to celebrate The Viking and his lovely's wedding
  • I am really looking forward to it
  • I know they will continue to be a very happy couple and be very good for each other.

  • Rummy is totally bonkers
  • Boy continues to claim Rummy is a dick
  • He rushes outside to break up the many fights Rummy has with his doppelgänger neighbour, Rocky
  • Boy is still pleased when Rummy comes to sit next to him
  • In the morning, after I given him breakfast and made myself a cup of coffee, Rummy comes to sit on my lap until he gets too hot.

  • I miss running and I miss the gym
  • I miss that feeling of accomplishment after a workout or a run, even if it wasn't the best
  • I'm going down to the gym this morning to book myself into some yoga sessions to try and free up my back
  • It's nuts how much ground I have lost in such a few weeks
  • My body has made it very clear it needs to move
  • Finding the balance will be the challenge from here on in
  • Finding the balance is always a challenge for a person who naturally enjoys extremes.

  • Summer should be my best time of year, given I love warm weather
  • With my hayfever, sinusitis and increased vulnerability to bugs at this time of year, I now perceive Autumn and Winter completely differently
  • I was much healthier last Winter, despite the cold and the bugs flying around the office
  • I will be doing a lot of research into allergies and sinusitis for next year
  • The Lovely Ursus gave me a light bulb moment when she reminded me this is my tough time.

  • I suspect I have become vain in my old age
  • Urban Decay make up is now my drug of choice
  • I had several oops moments in their counter
  • I have now more eye shadows than Pantone have colours
  • Some are sparkly, some shimmery and some are barely there
  • I haven't decided on a "look" yet, it's all down to mood right now
  • In fact, it's all down to mood. I'm sure there's a deeper meaning to my current obsession, I don't much care to think too deeply about it
  • Eyebrows continue to be the bane of my existence
  • However, I'm beginning to get the hang of them
  • I no longer look continually cross or surprised (unless I'm cross or surprised), which I'm counting as progress.

  • My finances are challenging
  • Thanks to new government regulations, I am unable to consolidate my debt to a cheaper monthly payment
  • I have way too much fun with cash
  • I tell myself, this is a learning experience
  • When I finally clear my debt, I won't be so quick with my credit card
  • That was until Friday when I went to the Urban Decay counter
  • It's time for me to think outside my financial box.

  • I'm in my fourth decade and I haven't begun another degree
  • It worries me
  • I did my BA in Development Studies in my 20s
  • I did my BA in Creative Writing in my 30s
  • My 40s stretch in front of me and I'm not sure what to learn next
  • Not that I can afford another degree
  • But I am beginning to think about it.

Considering I didn't know what to write, I think I've done quite well...

That's all for now folks. Catch you later...

Friday, July 04, 2014

Have you seen June?

The last time I felt properly well was at Zoe's blog party. I know I promised you a post, but it has come and gone and it feels wrong doing a post about it so far afterwards. The last 3 weeks I have been hit by the Virus from Hell. I thought I had shifted it last weekend, I could feel the symptoms abating and then...WHAM...it hit me again and even harder. 

Today, I woke up feeling like a human being again. I peered at myself in the mirror and ran away screaming. It was not a pretty sight. Have I done the piles of laundry that have multiplied in my period of illness? Hell no. Have I dug out the kitchen and liberated it from the fuzz of unwashed plates. Oh please. Have I watered my plants and loved them after my neglect? Go on, can you guess?

What have you been doing with your new-found energy? I hear you ask. Well, I have been attending to my personal grooming. When I opened my front door today (the first time in 6 days), I realised Summer had arrived in my absence. My legs glowed like a florescent bulb. I  started with a shower and got the lawn mower out on my legs. I'm a hirsute woman. I'm not going to beat around the bush (ha ha ha), I have two fuzzy caterpillars: one above my lip, the other that lays across my eyes and nose without any interruption. Once the legs and caterpillars were dealt with - I was liberal with the application of orange.

I look like this if I'm not careful

For those of you who feel self-tan is difficult, it really isn't. Moisturised the dry bits (knee caps, shins, back of the ankles) first, apply liberally and remember, facial toner is your friend. For the streaks and heavy bits, toner gets rid of those lickidy splick. By the way, I would lie out in the sun and bake myself golden except for one slight issue...my skin no longer reacts well to sun. I get very unattractive blotches, which I am told is due to my ethnic mix and age. sigh. I used to go five times a year on a sun bed to dim the whiteness, but that all had to come to an end. If I want to get my legs out, I slap on the orange. 

According to the blurb, this colour is Mahogany Brown. No, not...



I'm really not sure. It's lighter than my natural hair colour and it's got a red tinge to it. To be honest, it's safe hair. Next time, I'm going to lighten it up a bit. Go more golden maybe...I'm not sure. My hair is so dark, I always am concerned about the roots. Next time.

S'alright I s'pose

Yes, with the shaving, the tweezing, the chemistry etc. etc. it's not real. But gorgeous. Deal with it. The fact that I actually give a shit means I'm on the mend. Watch me as I rise...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Run Roses, Run!

On Saturday, I ran with Norwich parkrun. For those not in the know, parkrun is an international movement to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run 5k against the clock. It's held in parks all around the world, is free to runners and supported by volunteers. All a runner needs to do is to register, print off their barcode and show up Saturday morning.

I was nervous. I felt underprepared and unfit and really was not up for it. The week's running had been hard going. The temperatures were in high 20s when I made it out the door and the pollen count...the least said about that the better. My definition of hell is running without a tissue, a streaming nose and proper running gear. My heart rate monitor warned me that I was about 30 bpm faster than normal, which could have been down to the heat and the fact I taking hardcore decongestants at the moment. But it did mean I had to be careful. In my training sessions I walked far more than I would have liked. 

Saturday dawned cool and gloomy. It's probably the first time I've ever gone out my door and said with genuine enthusiasm "it's drizzling!"

There were 402 runners gathered for the run. And they really were all shapes, sizes and ages, squeezed into lycra. There were mums and dads running with buggies, parents running with small children, people running with dogs. Because this is Norwich, I recognised quite a few faces. I was greeted by a good friend of Dave's who took up running a year ago. She's been so encouraging and so sweet. She said I looked petrified. Yes. That's because I really was. 

The 5k has been carefully measured out in the park. I figured I'd be following everyone, so I wouldn't get lost. The newbies and I had our instructions and then we went down to the starting point. I made sure I started at the back, I didn't want to be in anyone's way. I had a great view of everyone's backside as they disappeared from my view. 

I focused on 3 people who seemed to be of a similar ability to me and I paced myself with them. Occasionally, I'd pass them, occasionally they'd pass me. I reckon I ran about 75% of it. I did my best not to get in anyone's way. It was hard. It was really hard. I got passed by everyone. I saw a lot of peoples' butts. Doing the run in laps was quite good because it broke the field up into portions that I could count my way through. Once I had done the 2nd lap, I knew I was half way done. I knew I had another 20 minutes to go and that I was on the count-down to the end. I found myself counting in 8s in my head. I have no idea why. I just kept counting up to 8 and starting over again. 

When I was on the home straight, there was me and an older guy who I'd been pacing to and we encouraged each other over the park bridge and then he sprinted off down to finish. I honestly don't know where he got it from, I was done. That was it. There was no more.

According to my heart rate monitor, I had done it in 39:06, but I had been slow switching it on. My final result was: 39:20! In a field of 402, I was runner 400! I am so pleased. It's my first ever 5k run. This run sets the marker. 

A year ago, if you'd have said I would be running regularly and would run 5k, I would have laughed at you. But I did it! Tomorrow morning I've got my recovery run all planned and as long as it isn't chucking it down, I will be out there.

The best bit of Saturday was yet to come: Zoe's BLOG PARTY! (but that's another blog post)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dusting Myself Off

Hi! Remember me? I used to blog here regularly. Well, I think I've fallen off so many horses recently it's got beyond a joke. Last week, I had to take some time out and have a proper think about things. Not small things like laundry or shoes or eyeliner. But big things - what do I want to do when I grow up?

That was not the first time I have asked myself that particular question. I suspect I will ask it again many times before I leave this earth. Again, I found myself coming back to my place of creativity, of writing. I haven't written anything since last summer that hasn't been work related; and my intermittent blogging...well, it became more and more intermittent.

I had put my head down, put all thoughts of writing to one side and went to work. The problem is simply, it's not who I am. I can do it in short bursts. Certainly, I am so blessed that the people I work with are actually prepared to put up with me. I must be the world's biggest pain in the arse for them - wafting in and around. But the fact of the matter is, I am never going to manage being a full time anything. I require flexibility and creativity.

I have come to terms with the fact I am going to die a very poor woman. I console myself with the fact that I will have a lot of fun along the way.

Getting back on the Exercise Horse, has not been so painless (if you can call the process of giving up 2 days work to write, painless). My physical activities in May petered out to the point of disappearing. All of my previous physical niggles started to creep in again. My back, my knee, my shoulders. I got myself moving again.

Let me tell you, the biggest lesson I've learnt in the last 6 weeks is: it is much harder to start up again, than to notch the intensity down.

I am not beating myself up about it; there would be no benefit in doing so. I know why I paused and I've learnt my lesson. I am going to take every step I can, not make that mistake again.

Part of the mistake I made was to 'exercise'. I bailed out of doing the City of Norwich Half Marathon in November because I wasn't at all confident I would be fit or strong enough to run it, without serious risk of injury. It seems I am more motivated to 'train'. I need a reason to exercise beyond the 'it's good for me'. Over the weekend, I signed up to run the Wroxham 5k in the middle of July. This Saturday, I will take part in the Norwich parkrun to set my first bench mark. I know my time will be rubbish. I know it'll be a miracle if I don't kill myself. I will be walking bits of it. It doesn't matter.

If I am to eat regularly, I have to rethink my writing activities. That's what today is all about. I'm getting back on this horse and I'm going to ride this sucker until we both drop dead from exhaustion. 

The difference now is the exercise has taught me self-discipline and to put my motivation in action. Perhaps I am still unable to set clear goals as per NLP structures, but I'm all about the moving in the general direction. 

I really do hope I'm moving in the general direction of Financial Sustainability...

Monday, May 05, 2014

Kitty, Kitty, Kitty


 It's now 4 months, more or less since Rummy came to live with me. It's not been an easy transition for either of us. I wanted a different natured cat than my beloved Cat and yes, I certainly got one. It's true, you should be careful for what you wish for. 

He has big brass ones. I think the vet might have neutered him, but they left the cohones. He picked an Alpha fight with Dave and then one with Boy. And that's just the start...

Gin Rummy was supposed to be a house cat. By the end of our first 6 weeks together he and I were about to kill each other. He meowed constantly. And I do mean constantly. Like a fractious baby, throughout the night. 

I got him a nice shiny disc, engraved with his name, my mobile number and a bell. I attached it to a bright red cat collar and I then put it around his neck. Off he went into the big, wide world. Not a moment too soon. 

My unhappy, vocal cat, restless, grumpy and demanding, chilled right out. Nowadays, he comes running when I shout "bedtime Rummy", curls up on my chest for love, then moves off to sleep at my feet. There he stays until I have to get up the next morning. He goes out for a pee and then demands breakfast. After that, he goes out again and I won't see him again until I come back from work. He's happy and contented and so am I. 

He's a very solid, physical cat. He actually likes being hauled about. Firm petting is definitely preferred. He will push his way onto my lap and demand attention. He's not shy about coming forward. He might have a very kittenish meow but he's all male.

When I say the following, please understand that I am not sure whether I am deeply appalled or deeply impressed about the following. 

There are quite a few cats that live around here. In fact, there's one across the road that looks pretty much identical to my Rummy, apart from the fact that he's heavier and has a very grating voice. These are cats with a well-established territory. Here comes this upstart in their territory....you know how it works, right?

Well, think again. Rummy might have a couple of battle scars, but he is the big dawg round here. The other cats yowl and puff themselves up when he's around and they very carefully back away from him to run under parked cars, to hiss at him from a distance. As far as I can tell, he's quite pleased with his new territory.

And then there's the small matter of his kill.

Remember I said I bought him a collar with a disc? Two days after he started going out, he came home without it. We looked everywhere and couldn't find it. I got a phone call from a neighbour to say she found it in the nearby car park. I went picked it up, put it back around his neck. The next day, he demanded to come in, sauntered in and shook the collar off on the carpet.

I got him another collar with the disc and a bell. It never came home when he did. 

The thing is, I wanted him especially to have a bell.

I went running one Tuesday morning, he came out when I did. I did my run, limped up the steps to my front door and the sight that greeted me still haunts me.

Other cats bring home rodents and song birds, my cat brought me home a sparrowhawk. Yes, a sparrowhawk. A mother-lovin' bird of prey. Not only that, a female of the species - the species which is notorious for its grumpiness, feistiness and general stroppy behaviour not especially favoured by any but the most experienced falconers.

Big, brass ones.

The thing that surprises me about him the most, my big, bruiser, hunting cat is really lovely with kids. Small kids. My neighbour has a two year old girl, who was very curious about this big black and white cat. He was affectionate and patient as she fussed and petted him. I swear he looked sad when they went inside.

I can't say I absolutely love him to bits, but I am very fond of him. Boy said he's a dick and that's not far from the truth. But he's my dick and I'm very glad he hangs out with me.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Continuing to be Tedious

As the title suggests, I will bang on about fitness stuff again. This is my second week of completed gym sessions and my last with my Personal Trainer (PT) for four weeks. Of all of the decisions I've made recently, this is the one I am exceptionally pleased about. Or should I say a doubly good one?

The gym is brilliant. I love it's shabbiness. It's functional only; with an emphasis on weights and strength training. There are nods to cardio and floor work in the back with a handful of machines, but that's pretty much it. You want shiny machines, tvs to watch, magazines to read? You're in the wrong place. 

My PT is fantastic. The programme he developed for me is perfect in that it's challenging, addresses my weakness and builds on my strengths. In the past two weeks I've seen some brilliant improvements. Mind you, I look on every extra rep, every added 0.25kg as a brilliant improvement. 

Working out at home to the DVDs did exactly what I hoped they'd do: they built my confidence and brought up my fitness level to the point where I felt comfortable taking it further. What they couldn't do was correct my form. I knew I wanted to increase the weights, but I wasn't happy doing so without a better idea of form. I am doing everything possible to avoid injury. I felt if I went out and bought heavier weights I would be at risk. Perhaps I was a bit overly-cautious, but I would rather take it more slowly and anchor in the fitness habit properly so I continue to feel excited and motivated about exercising.

What I wasn't prepared for was the increase in my appetite. I'd heard about the need for protein after a workout, but mostly dismissed that as just manly men hype....until at 10.30am on Monday I would have killed for a whole roasted chicken. On Wednesday, I had a funny turn and it was suggested I really need to eat before my workout. I have no wish to throw up on the gym floor. That would just be embarrassing. It was good advice because this morning I had my mid-morning smoothie first thing instead and no wobblies. Please don't laugh, but I'm looking into protein shakes to boost my mid-morning smoothie to deal with the sudden carnivorous urges. 

Next week, I start Gym/Run/Rest rotations. I'm really excited about getting back out there to pound the pavement. I've missed the running. Again, deciding not to run while I got to grips with the new strength routine was a good one. I am grudgingly following Dave's advice to start with this routine rather than go straight into running and gym on alternate days with a rest on Sundays.

Last blog post, I talked about the added extra of confidence I've gained by doing the strength training. During the weekend, I realised something else.

The last 6 months have been the most consistently stressful, and in parts, distressing period of time I've experienced pretty much since my dad died nearly four years ago. In this time, I have gone from working out irregularly to working out pretty much 3-4 times a week, if not 5-6 times some weeks. This year, I started running, then joined a gym and started lifting weights. My working hours have increased to the point where it's rare that I leave the office before 6pm; my workload has multiplied like bunny rabbits on viagra and I've gone to anyone who would listen and demanded more responsibility. I haven't taken many sick days at all, despite the winter bugs and more importantly, and this is the point of it all - I am not depressed

I am not dragging my arse behind me trying to get things done at home or at work. I am out of bed in the mornings and after an hour of Pink Fluffy Dressing Gown, coffee and Facebook, I am out of my chair doing stuff. On my days off, I don't nap in the afternoon any more as standard. When I come home in the evenings, I'm still doing what needs to be done. My housework is no longer a chore I have to work up to. Don't get me wrong, I'm still knackered, but gone are the days when I'd crawl through the door and have a microwave meal because it was the only thing I could manage to do.

This is quite a scary revelation for me. For the past 43 years, I thought I had problems with my energy levels, problems with mental health. It turns out there's nothing wrong with my energy levels or my mental health - I just wasn't fit enough to live

All this time wasted.

Well, not much can be done about the past and dwelling on that isn't going to help me continue to move forward well. For the next 43 years, I now know the key to feeling good and doing more is about focusing on keeping fit and being well in myself. The more I move, the better I feel, the more I do. I am the kind of person who totally digs on the concept of 'more', so I'm going to stick with this and see where it leads.

Friday, April 04, 2014

First Week of Personal Training at the Gym

I'm so knackered, I can't think of any witty titles. I finished my session with my dreadlocked Personal Trainer (PT), came home via a greasy spoon, and spent the afternoon in bed.

This week, Rummy decided I wasn't allowed to sleep. I've had him meowing all through the night and last night I had enough. I put him outside at about 1.30. At 5 am I felt guilty and went looking for him, eventually I found him wandering round warily. Of course, I couldn't go back to sleep and he was totally wound up by the whole experience. He's still asleep. 

My PT sessions have been pretty damned awesome. Even with the sleep deprivation. I've done the most amazing things, that I never dreamed I could do. I've also got a lot of work to do, as today's session made clear. But I'm starting with a damned good base nevertheless.

People I can do dead lifts, I can squat with a 20 kg bar, leg press, chest press. Lunges, body squats, all of these I can do. Still can't do bench presses or even a push-up. That's okay. Before long, I will be dropping and doing 20! I've worked really hard. I aim to do at least 3-5 more reps, especially if it's hard. I want to get stronger. I really want to see what I can do.

Boy will be coming home next weekend and he and I are going to hit the gym together. Dave says he wants to come too. It's going to be me and my posse! I'm not sure how they're going to like my routine of 7 am starts, but in all honesty, if I leave it to the end of the day, I'm not going to be able to workout. I work at work and when I get home I want dinner and to veg either in front of Facebook or the idiot box. 

I miss the running though. I'm looking forward to getting back to my Zombies and Chapelfield Park. It's going to be interesting to see how the strength training affects my running, if at all. I'm hoping my stronger muscles will help my endurance and enable me to go further with more comfort. Shin splints are not fun. 

I also recognise I am filled with Newbie enthusiasm! I must be very tedious company right now. It's also having another strange effect. Dave will back me up on this. I'm developing an attitude problem. Situations that would have had me backing down and crawling off into a little hole to have a quiet rock and drool - no longer. 

I can run a mile in 9 mins 44 secs, I am starting to dead lift with an Olympic bar and you want to come here with that BS and expect me to take it?! HAH! I'm so done with that. It's a proper confidence, not a state that I have to talk myself into or that I think I should aspire to. It's simply - yeah, we're done with that. This is how we're going to do it.

How do I feel apart from the tiredness and muscle soreness? Good. Really good. I'm enjoying this experience far more than I ever thought I could. I've joined the gym for 1 month. It's a great place, I can have completely flexible membership, so if my finances crash, I know I'm not tied into anything. 

The gym is kinda weird really. I mean, outside of the normal allergic reactions I have to gyms anyway. When I walked in at 6.55 am Monday morning, I was really pleased that I was there. I was immediately comfortable. It wasn't overly busy, the guys there ranged from huge man mountains to weedy little scrappers. It's got two rooms. The weight floor is at the front and is the largest room. The equipment looks sturdy and well-used. The cardio and floor work room is out the back. There are a couple of treadmills, spinning bikes, a rowing machine and a weird piece of equipment that looks like a cross between a bike and a skiing machine. 

I saw three other women there today, the most I've seen. We nodded at each other and then  focused on our respective workouts - or at least they did. I was focused on my PT. He's great. He's a bloody good laugh, very encouraging and took this week at my learner's pace. We used our time together to establish where I was starting from and my goals for the next 8 weeks.

After next week, I go back to my running! Yay! I can't wait!