Monday, February 28, 2011

A Bit of a Re-think

So Ladies and Gentlemen (and Dave), guess what?! It's the end of February. Yep, that's right. We're now two months down in 2011 and another ten to go. How're your resolutions faring? If your answer is 'WTF is she talking about? What resolutions?', I suggest you pour yourself another double, light your fag, sit back and relax. Don't worry, I've got enough energy and bounce for you too.

This is the end of the second month in which I made my resolution to do just one thing: stop thinking about it. (Yes, I know I'm repeating myself, have a little nap, I'll wake you up when there's a new bit) and do it.

In this time, I have started exercising regularly, time and aching muscles permitting. I also stopped smoking (ahead of schedule, that was supposed to be on the agenda for March). How do I feel? Actually, pretty damned amazing. I can't say I feel amazing physically. Looking at my wobbly bits, well, they're still wobbly and despite it all I've actually gained weight and it isn't muscle. Surprisingly enough, I'm losing my morning cough and I can breathe much more easily. I feel great in that I've done what I set out to do. Just doing these things for myself has made such a huge difference to my mood. I realised I can make a difference to me. It's opened up other possibilities as well. If I can do this small thing for me, what else can I achieve when I set my mind to it?


At the moment, I'm having a bit of a re-think. February was supposed to be about meditation, instead I dealt with V-Day and stopped smoking. This means March is wide open. I could either do meditation, or see what crops up and go with that. Don't know. But that's okay. I've got a huge pile of reading to do in the meantime. I'm doing some research on NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), I'm enjoying what I read and want to learn more.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reflections on Walking

It was something Zoe said about reverting to child's perception of time, coupled with a conversation I had yesterday with the very kind massage therapist, gave rise to this blog post. I went to see the massage therapist at work, as recommended by my dishy osteopath. He has crunched my bones into submission, now it's time to tackle the knots between my shoulder blades. Apparently, normal people do not feel like they are carrying around a bag of new potatoes in between their shoulders. Who'd have thought eh?

The first thing I really learnt about children with Boy, is contrary to belief, they do not have a short attention span. Oh no. Small children can watch the same dvd to the point where you scream at the Postman Pat soundtrack.

That was just an aside to the point I am eventually getting to.

The massage therapist, asked me if I go on walks.

Oh yeah, she's not a massage therapist in the sense that she plays plinky plink music and has hot towels and a selection of nice smelling oils. She's a massage therapist that wants you to only uncover the bits that hurt, massages all the achy bits firmly until they give in and piss off and you spend your time moving from your back, to side, to other side, to front, so she can best get to the achy bits. Forty-five minutes with her is not a relaxing experience, but my goodness she's really good. I was sent away with orders to drink a litre of water (what nothing in the water?) and to go have a gentle swim today.

Walking, yes, I'm coming to that. Can't you follow this train of thought? Can't keep up? Yes, anyway, she asked me if I go for walks.

Actually, I don't. Certainly not the way she meant.

Walking with a small child broke me of that habit. Small children are fascinated by the world around them. If you let them walk at their own pace, it'll take you an hour to go a hundred yards. They want to check out every crack; after all, it might have something hiding in it. An ant is a busy being to sit back on your haunches to watch. Chewing gum makes such an odd pattern in the pavement. And if you eventually get to the park (well done) there's flowers, weeds and maybe even a sandpit to check out. My job as a parent, was to find things for my Boy to enjoy. I walked with my head down, looking for ladybirds, grasshoppers, mushrooms, curly braken.

And then I did my BA in Creative Writing. Part of my degree involved conceptual art. Conceputal art is not 'pretty' and tends not to involve the natural world for its inspiration. However, it taught me to look around my environment with child-like eyes. It was easy to fall back into the role of mummy, to look for things which are interesting, the metaphors, the juxtapositions, the beauty in the every-day.

The last walk I went on, was with Dave. He had his camera, I wasn't feeling very robust at the time and we ambled. He got some cracking shots of dragonflies.

I'm not able to walk at a healthy, heart-raising pace. Head in the air, ignoring my world and the other people there. When I was little and went to spend time with my Gran, in the late afternoons, after we had tea, I'd have been bathed and changed into something pretty. We would go out for a walk. It was a stroll, a promenade if you will. Her friends would usually be sat on their porch, having their 'sundowner'. We would pause and I was to stand quietly, speak when spoken to, and not to sigh at all costs. I was brought up to say 'good morning, good afternoon, good evening' to the people we passed, even if we only knew them by sight. People we were unsure of, we smiled politely to.

After my divorce and the post-divorce relationship, I met a man. He was the kind of man my mother would have rather I married in the first place: well brought up, good family, potential for making lots of cash. He and his family went for walks in the fresh air because it was good for one. One walked at a brisk pace over fields, paths and pavement, dressed in green wellies, and Barbour jackets. Frankly, they were so mean-spirited, outside was warmer than the house in winter. I'm sure this was their only way of warming up. I distinctly remember him bitching at me, Boy all of 4 years old, was holding him back on these walks. He needed to keep up, walk faster. This is one of the memories that makes me cringe, this is one of the things I wish I could do over.

So no, I don't do walking for health. Yes, I would rather spend 30/40 minutes sweating with Davina McCall for my exercise. But writing this blog post has given rise to something else. A creative project if you will. Hmmm....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MCW Most Over-rated Oscar Win - Braveheart

The trouble with this category, is that obviously the Most Over-rated Oscar winning film is Titanic. That is just in no doubt whatsoever. Therefore, I returned to the oracle of the stupid and indifferent that is Wikipedia and looked at previous Oscar wins. That list, Ladies and Gentlemen is impressive. It is an ode to fantastic film making, much of it groundbreaking and heartbreaking in it's content. Show me the person that does not shiver with the opening lines of 'Last night, I dreamt of Mandarlay...' or cry like a baby with Gone with the Wind....I'll show you a hard hearted soul indeed.

Braveheart...well...let's see what irritates...ummm...Mel Gibson Scottish/Aussie accent which sounds occasionally as if he's got marbles stuffed in his cheek; his hair, which is a mullet by any other name and I suppose, if that's the total amount of ire I can muster about this, then you see why it's on here. It's a mediocre film. It neither raises my heart, as did Gladiator or hurts my soul as did The Deer Hunter. In fact, a far better and underrated film of this type is Rob Roy with Liam Neeson. Though I will admit to some bias as far as Liam Neeson is concerned, he does make me want to lick the screen when I see him with his long hair and in a kilt.

Anyway, Ladies and Gentlemen, my offering for MCW for the Most Over-rated Oscar Win, I give you Braveheart!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Faithless - I Want More

Not the first time I've put this video up.

But this is the anthem for which I will live my life this year.

More oneness, less categories
Open hearts, no strategies.
Decisions based upon faith and not fear.
People live right now and right here.
I want the wisdom that wise men revere.

Friday, February 18, 2011


That Ladies and Gentlemen is the sound of me falling off the wagon. My smoke-free status changed after a particularly heavy day Wednesday. I came home, walked to the shop bought more baccy and accountrements. I so missed the ritual of rolling my fag, putting on my coat and standing outside, gazing at nothing. That first fag was eye-rollingly fantastic. The fourth one, not so much.

So, what have I learnt in the last couple of days?

Tobacco addiction is a sneaky, sneaky beastie. I'd grown up with the "Say 'no' to drugs" campaigns in the 80's. Movies like Christiane F, showing addiction as this monster that reduces addicts to gaunt sticks, experiencing withdrawl symptoms that has them gouging their skin, pulling their hair out.

It's not like that. The first day....a doddle. Filled with self-righteous pride, not having a ciggarette is not a big deal. The second day, thoughts of tobacco crept in and stayed in. In the afternoon, I would have chewed the table quite happily. Wednesday, well Wednesday was hell and I gave in. I didn't feel physically uncomfortable. I was occasionally a bit twitchy. Emotionally, I can honestly say that coming off tobacco seriously impinged on my ability to give a fuck. For three days, I was ready to stick my two fingers up in the air and mouth obscenties a sailor would be shocked at.

Truthfully, I've been nagged into giving up smoking. I don't have an immediate, pressing need to give up. I can risk the stats. After all, I started late in life. And it's not like I smoke a huge amount now. Nine thin roll-ups is counted as a 'low' addiction, according to the NHS.

Giving up smoking and failing miserably, makes me determined to give up even more. Not for any other reason than my own personal contrariness. If I have to do something, I don't want to do it. I see now I have to smoke and now I am determined not to. I am not going to live my life dictated by any substance. I won't do it.

It may take a while for me to finally quit. I may fall off the wagon many, many times. Actually, it doesn't matter how I get there, all that matters is I quit. If one way doesn't work, there will be another way to try. One step at a time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MCW Best Broadway to Movie Phantom of the Opera

I confess, I scratched my head. I then consulted the oracle of the stupid that is Wikipedia and found one of my favourites: Phantom of the Opera. Technically a West End show that was shipped to Broadway, but hey, we're all friends here.

I chose this clip, simply because I heart Antonio. I know he's let himself go of late and quite frankly Sarah Brightman has to turn down her voice just so he can be heard. But enjoy anyway.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, Day 2

Those of you who put up with my endless purile Facebook status updates 'Gone to bed now. Friday night sux', will not be surprised to hear the following. Indeed, many of you have been wondering how long it would take me to blog about it. In that case, whoever won that particular pool, better be buying me something nice. Anyway, for those in the know, now is the time to wash your hair, go put the kettle on, watch some car crash tv.

For the rest of you, consider this a public service anouncement. Don't give me any whiny shit, when you're picking your teeth out of the carpet. I did tell you so. You were warned.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I quit smoking. I am an ex-smoker. I no longer smoke. I smoke no more.

How do I feel about it? Truthfully, fucking grumpy.

I am in fact, a trucculent child; having to kiss the smelly, spinster aunt with the spiky chin whiskers who just gave me £5.00 for my birthday.

That is exactly how I feel. I'm doing it because it's good for me, that and the fact I promised my dad I would. I'm doing it because I took up smoking at a particular time in my life when I didn't cope. I am doing more than coping now and smoking feels out of place. I am doing it because it's supposed to be good for me and all the incessant nagging...

It was on my List of Things to Do. January was all about exercise; February was supposed to be all about meditation, but that hasn't happened; March was giving up smoking; April was to focus on healthier eating. Sometimes the best laid plans have to be shuffled around a bit. I was finding cutting back my smoking incredibly stressful. I'd capped my smoking to 9 a day since I came back from Trinidad. Out there I was smoking anywhere from 12 - 18 a day. The day of my dad's wake, I gave up counting. The last few days I was stressing out so much about cutting it down, I just had enough. So at 2 am Valentine's Day, I lit and smoked my last.

I'm doing it cold turkey. No nicotine patches, replacements or crutches will be used. If I struggled cutting down the fags, I'm going to struggle cutting down the nicotine. I might as well just lump it and get on with it.

Yesterday, I was high on oxygen. No other explanation. I was bouncing around annoying people virtually and IRL. Today, I feel like I've got PMS times 2. At about 5 o'clock this afternoon, I was ready to head to the shop to get some more accoutrements (when I announced I'd given up yesterday morning, Boy gathered up all my stuff and sold it to his friends at school. Got to admire the entrepreneurial spirit). I'm sticking with it, moaning about it. But I am determined. Boy very helpfully found a widget for my PC. It throws up helpful tips, hints and facts, counts the time since I last smoked and how much money I've since saved. Given I smoked small roll-ups, it lies about the last point.

Anyway, this non-smoking thing is temporary, just to warn you. I'm going to pick it up again when I'm 70. I figure if I live that long, I'll be entitled to a few pleasures.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Saturday, filled with Saturday things

Does Life get much better than this? I think not.

I crawled out of bed for my hair appointment, which I stupidly booked for before mid-day. Of course I was late for it. That's really no surprise. I rang and said I was parking (when I was parking). Before I went I knew I wanted to grow my hair again and to have a darker colour put on. I have semi-permanent colours to hide the masses and masses of grey. Usually, it's a chocolatey-brown with red tones. This time I've gone for a very dark violet. Because my hair is so dark, the violet doesn't show up much, except in the light. I love it. My adored hairdresser, who I loves to bits, even if he is straight and very married, prefers short hair. I make him sigh a lot. I grow it long and then will come in out of the blue and say 'I want it short', he cuts it short and then 6 months later I say 'I'm growing it out'. He excelled himself today. I love my short cut. I've been staring into shop windows all day.

There were the things that I needed to buy: pens. But then I went into the Department Store where I used to work. All my favourite girls were working. What should have taken 5 mins, took half an hour. Of course I need new lip gloss. I mean, just because I've got like, a thousand kicking about in drawers, boxes and bags, doesn't mean I could live without this new lipgloss. And of course, with another purchase, I could get my free gift. My ability to invoke the power of no, needs work. I know this. But I'm wearing the lip gloss now and of course it looks fabulous. And my free gift includes a fabulous slut red lipstick. I'll wear it to work next week and shock the hell out of people.

Duly laden, of course it was lunchtime (for normal people, for me, breakfast), so I went along to Frank's Bar, ordered lunch - rump steak, sauteed potatoes, roasted red peppers and aioli and a cup of earl grey tea. Outside in their patio area, I'm having a puff, admiring my hair cut and colour and there are people waving at me from inside. Some gesticulation later, they all settle down at my table. I go in and have a lovely socialise. We'd been saying 'yes, we really must meet up'. And there they all are.

I rolled myself out after eating. I was good, you'll be pleased to note. I did not get the carrot cupcake topped with cream cheese to go (no, I didn't eat it in either). I wanted to get some workout pants. Primark used to be the place to get cheap clothes, cheaply. The Norwich shop always looks like a jumble sale, clothes strewn everywhere. But if you ignore that and the Jeremy Kyle rejects, you used to be able to get nice enough clothes for not a huge amount of money. Nowadays, their clothes are cheap and nasty and you have to pay for the pleasure. I was feeling optimistic enough to risk it, to see if I could find some appropriate work-out gear. I went in, went half way down the main aisle, did an about turn and went out again. Briskly. Ugh.

I hit Chapelfield shopping centre. Of course, as it's Valentine's Day on Monday, I need more chocolate in the house. Don't ask. Perhaps I'm pre-menstrual. I wade through the hordes of panic-stricken men grab my goodies and make a run for it. I stop in the sports goods shop, buy 5 pairs of workout trousers, a pair of lounge trousers, a pack of sports socks and some ankle weights. My osteopath has given me some exercises to build the muscles around my knee. Yes, I know I could have made do with a shopping bag and a tin of beans. At least, I'll have proper exercise stuff gathering dust. I'm a classy lady, you wouldn't expect anything less from me.

On the way home, I called in for a coffee with Gee. We put the world to rights, exchanged confidential gossip. I have no idea why people trust me with their secrets. I mean, really. Don't they know me well enough to know what a daft idea it is? Start off a conversation with 'Don't tell anyone but...' I'm there on speed dial, ready to tell everyone else. I over-share about everything. And honey, if you had a drunken night with Mr Wrong, ended up at a chemist looking for the morning after pill, feeling more than a little sheepish, really don't tell me. I look at this inability to keep a secret as a public service. After all, if you go around with a face like a wet-weekend, if everyone knows why, there's no need to explain why you're upset/surprised that he didn't call.

Oh shit. By the way, that was told to me in confidence. Please don't tell anyone I told you.

Ah, I didn't tell you. I'm having my patio and fence seen to. It's all terribly exciting here. At the FS place of work, they have lists of tradespeople. Everyone from plumbers, painter & decorators, electricians to curtain makers. Because they're part of a network, they have to maintain a good quality of work. Through them, I found a plumber who called and turned up. Anyway, I asked about having my patio re-laid. Walking sober on my patio feels like you're walking on the deck of a ship at sea in a storm. It's worse if you've had a couple of alcoholic beverages. Anyway, this guy comes along, assesses the job, tells me how he's going to do it and when I can expect the quote to land on my doorstep. I like his attitude and ask if he does fences. Does he do fences? Is the Pope a Catholic Nazi? Do bears shit in the woods? I ask does he replace knackered garden gates? Does he replace garden get the picture.

Part One was achieved during Thursday. He pressure washed my patio. Ladies and gentlemen, I didn't know my paving slabs were pale yellow. It's a bit bright out there now. Yesterday, my garden mysteriously acquired concrete posts and fence panels. It's all a bit exciting. When I next see him, I'm going to push the boat out and ask him if he paints house exteriors...

Sunday, February 06, 2011

February Resolutions

So, how's it going with those resolutions people? Apparently, if you do something regularly for a month, it officially becomes a habit.

I sit here, still absolutely exhausted from the hour's worth of Davina workout. I'm still not convinced by the exercise argument. I'm knackered and I'm rapidly discovering new places that ache. I really want to crawl back into bed, but no can do. I'm off to the pictures in a bit.

January was all about getting into the exercise habit and seeing to my health. I haven't quite got to my goal of at least 30 mins worth of exercise every day. But I've taken the 'sensible' view as I haven't exercised regularly in years, if I build up to it gently, I'm less likely to hurt something and then stop. My knee causes me some concern. It really doesn't like squats and lunges. It's been aching quite a bit. There's a balance to be found between pushing it to build the muscle around it and pushing it too far. My dishy osteopath agrees with my sensible approach and when I saw him Friday, he's asked to see me again in the coming week. Working my shoulders really is seeing an improvement in keeping them away from my ears and keeping my neck pain-free. Result.

You'll be pleased to hear, I passed my health MOT. Bloods and everything else within normal parameters. I certainly was pleased. My genetics conspire against my love of everything fat-laden and I was concerned that I would be seeing a nutritionist in the very near future. A life without butter and double cream, is bleak for me. However, being more aware of the fats I consume has lead to making better choices (sometimes) of what goes into my mouth (I can't wait to see what smutty comments I get for that sentence, but I'm leaving it in).

Ladies and Gentlemen, you'll notice that I've not made any mention of my weight. This is deliberate. Generally speaking, my weight fluctuates by about 7lb at a time. In the grand scheme of things, according to the BBC BMI calculator, I'm the lower end of the normal curve for my height and weight. What I'd like to do, is stop that weight fluctuation. I'd like to cook good food more regularly. But frankly, one thing at a time.

February is all about my mind. This is the month I want to start meditating regularly. To this end, I have myself a cushion and a mat and tonight, I'll kick it off. The Buddhist meditation I've been reading about isn't about making your mind blank, it's about developing focus and concentration. So, that's this month's goals sorted. This is what I will be doing.

It's funny, just by changing one thing in my life, I feel far more confident. I can do the things I set out to do. Small steps, not giving up, not beating myself up, makes such a difference.

March will be about giving up smoking.

April will be about eating good food. Small portions, regularly. I will be pestering you for ideas in April, you are warned.

I am making this up as I go along. It seems to be working so far.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tuesday, the new Monday

Ladies and Gentlemen, let it not be said, I lead a boring life. Indeed, I would go as far as saying I live in 'interesting times'. Not the 'interesting times' of being stalked by Robert Downey Jr; pestered by Prince Charming to give up my life in Norwich and go and lie with him on the beach of his private island in the Tropics, to be waited on hand and foot; nor discovering the winning lottery ticket worth an obscene amount of money 'interesting'.

Oh no.

Yesterday, I enjoyed my first cup of coffee; nay, I savoured it. I rolled it around my tongue, appreciated every whiff of coffee aroma. Thus fortified I headed off to work. There was the usual traffic, I crept out of a junction and then...

I hit another car.

In the Grand Scheme of Things, I have much to be thankful for: no one was hurt, no one died; both myself and the other driver are properly insured; I have an insurance company who has proven itself worthy of the hefty premiums; I have employers who are understanding; I have friends who on hearing my voice and tale of woe, put the kettle on.

Within an hour, my poor battered Pride and Joy was put on the back of a lorry and carted off to the body centre to be assessed. I sat in Gee's back room and alternated between shaking and sighing. I drank very sweet coffee, smoked half a hundredweight in tobacco and ate toast slathered in butter and honey.

It was a few hours before I could get it together to go pick up the courtesy car. The courtesy car, I've decided is the punishment for my lapse of attention. I try very hard not to hate it. I'm being grateful that a) I have a courtesy car, because having to rely on public transport for the next few weeks would be a nightmare b) it's clean, tidy and new. Can you tell I write that with gritted teeth?

When I said to the insurance company that it was my fault; that I broke the cardinal rule of road traffic collisions (RTCs) and told the other driver so, the very nice lady laughed. She said if I hadn't have said it was my fault, she would have been telling me so.

I thought I was clear to cross the junction, I wasn't. It's quite cut and dried. If I had a do-over, I would do it differently. I don't. So there it is. No one died. When I said that to the guy who winched my Pride and Joy up the back of his lorry, he just looked at me and shook his head. He said that he wished all of the RTCs he went to had a similar story. He said he seen things that still give him nightmares.

So, all in all, I'm shaken, not stirred.