Friday, 29 November 2013

No time for such excitements

There was a time, not so long ago when I was watching five TV series, knitting and crocheting consecutive projects, reading three magazines a month and feeling, well perhaps a little bored.
Studying for a Pschology degree, alongside working, being a mother and running our home has left me with just one television evening a week, I haven't picked up a hook or needle in weeks and my magazines are piling up like the dust on the shelves....
Working four to five days a week took a little bit of getting used to, but after six weeks I reached a level of match fitness which enables me to read late into the evening one night a week. Nine weeks on, I am now finding my feet and have realised that I have to approach University as another job, so that I can keep on top of my work and produce assignments at the level my tutors are looking for.
Of course it's not all rose-tinted textbooks; there are times when I feel like my head is going to spin off my neck and many nights when I can't switch off and sleep feels miles away.
But am I happy. Much happier than I have been in ages.
I am finally learning the truths of the subject I have been second-guessing for years.

Friday, 13 September 2013

It's all about to get a little crazy.....

On 1 October, I return to university for the first time in 20 years.
I will be studying for a Psychology degree, part-time. I am super excited about learning and cannot wait to start. On the other hand, I am nervous of being old enough to be the mother of your average student, doing well and fitting it into our life.
For the first time in over five years I will be busy five days of the week. I am essentially hoping to fit six days into five.....
But I am only happy when I my brain is stretched and my time squeezed. 
Anyone that knows me will tell you that.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

My summer so far.....

Just for once, the weather has been kind. Everything I have done that would have been enhanced by the sun, has been.
First was the annual Street Party on 2 June (an auspicious date as that was the last time I drank way too much wine) and we raised £200 for St Elizabeth Hospice and the British Heart Foundation. I love where we live. 
The following week, my friend organised a Teddy Bear's Picnic in Christchurch Park. More and more families arrived, my donations bucket got heavier and heavier and £2000 was raised for UNICEF.

Then I pushed myself into a sponsored 13.5 mile walk from Jimmy's Farm, around Alton Water, and back. I was way too relaxed about the training, and even bought new boots just two weeks before, but I finished, wasn't last and raised £410 for Suffolk Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Then it all becomes a bit more selfish.....

Over the course of two weeks, we have been to no less than three key sporting events. 
First the Grand Prix:

So much better than I had anticipated. We had a weekend ticket so managed to make qualifying (by the skin of our teeth) and returned for the main event after a lovely night out in Oxford. £165 seems a lot for a two hour race but the reality is that you are entertained all weekend (who knew the Red Arrows are so jaw-dropping incredible). 

Next came Wimbledon:

A spur of the moment ticket purchase but sadly everything over-priced once we were within the walls. However all I wanted was to see Lisciki play, and she won her game just as the drizzle started.

And then the first day of The Ashes:

As good as I imagined, despite the clouds - but rain did not stop play. 14 wickets in one day after a lovely evening in Nottingham with good friends.

So what next?

Friday, 31 May 2013

Thora Alice Cole - 8 September 1912 – 2 May 2013

Seven months ago, I stood in front of most of you – with Nanny to my left – and told you all about her 100 years.
The trouble with living for 100 years is that people start to think that you will go on forever.
On Sunday April 21, Nanny had a severe stroke following a fall that left her totally debilitated. For eleven days we watched her hold onto life – she held our hands, she smiled and she tried to speak. She knew we were all there and we were grateful to have the chance.
But 100 years of life leaves you with few resources to draw on at such times, and Nanny passed away in the early hours of Thursday 2 May with Mum at her side.
She was small and she asked very little of us but there is a very big Nanny-shaped hole in our lives.
She always smiled, she was so happy to see family and friends, she hardly moaned – despite her recent ailments – and she didn’t judge. Her three great grandchildren were a source of much happiness to her but she loved all her family and was proud of everyone’s achievements.
She used to say that if we were OK, then she was OK.
She left Mum an envelope with a few instructions for today – most of which we have got right.
She left the story of her life in that envelope and I would like to read her words today.

“I was born on a farm. I was brought up with a Nanny who taught me to love all the animals and wild flowers. I had two older sisters. I always felt the odd one out so I learned to enjoy my own company. I loved to roam the fields and talk to the animals.
"I went to a village school, but left at fourteen to rear chicken, ducks and turkeys.
At the age of sixteen I took over the dairy. I made the butter that was sold at the door and shops, attended to milk and eggs.

"At the age of eighteen I was tired of working at home so enrolled as a student nurse. I specialised in Tuberculosis and psychiatric care. At the age of twenty two I had passed my exams. I became state enrolled and registered RMPA (the Royal Medical Physiology Association). I became a Charge Nurse.
"I married in 1939 just before the war. My husband was an engineer, building large excavators and drag lines for iron ore in Northampton and Lincolnshire. I looked after two evacuee girls for nine months during the war. After that I travelled with my husband, and registered to do voluntary work. After the war I received a letter from the Queen, and later the Queen Mother, thanking me for my work.
"After the war we settled back in our own home in Ipswich, we were blessed with a beautiful daughter and she produced two lovely grandchildren.
I was borne in Wetheringsett, lived in Ipswich and Felixstowe, later near Hadleigh, Suffolk, on a smallholding with animals – horses, sheep, goats and chickens. I have travelled in many countries including Australia and Africa.
"My hobbies were riding mopeds and gardening. We moved to Frinton to retire in 1989”.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

My White Bread Rant

I have been in hospital twice over the last few years and both times I have only been fed see-through white bread toast with butter and jam post-birth/post-op. As the NHS spend so much time (and resources) telling us what to eat, I cannot believe they feed such rubbish when we most need good nutrition.
Radio Suffolk were doing a phone-in on hospital food recently and I had the chance to ask Dr Dan Poulter why we cannot be fed wholemeal toast, if we must be fed cheap bread at all.
Apparently, we are fed white toast as it is a really easy food for us to digest, and this is important after the rigours of an anaesthetic.
My step-mother had a knee operation (with a general anaesthetic) in a BUPA hospital recently. I asked her what she ate when she woke up.
"Smoked salmon and scrambled egg with a bagel", she replied.
So it is all about money then.......

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Dealing with difficult thoughts

During the last twelve months, I have had three bombshells delivered. Each one of them has been life-changing, dramatic and terribly upsetting. I have also had two incidents that have been pretty stressful. But I have survived, and stayed (relatively) sane.
I find this amazing, particularly as I previously had no concept of my own resilience.
I am a thinker - perhaps an over-thinker - I look to understand and to plan a recovery. I put myself under immense pressure to be OK. It is not always easy, there are times when my mind is full of paranoid thoughts, or anger, sometimes I feel a victim to these events and at other times I daydream arguments with the perpetrators (where there is one).
Here are the four things that have helped me hold it together and calm my mind:
a) Addressing each bombshell with compassion, patience and tolerance. Compassion for those involved (and myself), patience and tolerance towards the situation.
b) Asking myself "if this was your last day on earth, would you want to have spent your time worrying about something you can't change?"
c) Distracting myself by thinking of something that I appreciate or that is beautiful. Not always easy when I am in the car driving along boring roads on a grey Winter's day but there is usually something I can focus on.
d) If all else fails I go for a run, do some yoga or drink a large glass of red wine.

The Art of Happiness - The Dalai Lama
Get Some Headspace
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

Thursday, 31 January 2013

My first fast is nearly over

I am an hour away from eating.
My last meal was finished at 6pm last night and I have had nothing but water, black tea and coffee inbetween.
This is quite incredible as I have never gone without food for more than probably 8 hours before - and then I would have rewarded myself with all the meals I had missed in one sitting.
I am someone who can eat three times a day but that has taken a few years of training. I eat a healthy diet (after 25 years of being a vegetarian/vegan I changed into an obsessive carnivore), I mostly stay away from wheat and sugar and I don't eat processed foods.
But I am obsessed with hunger avoidance. I rarely feel hunger as I paper over the cracks with meals that keep me full until the next time I have assigned for consumption.

Yesterday, I skim read The Fast Diet, which is based on the BBC's Horizon programme 'Eat, Fast, Live Longer'. The premise is that Intermittent Fasting is good for you - you might lose some weight as you push your body into fat-burning (if you do it regularly) and you might also live a bit longer and be less likely to lose your marbles, or your health, along the way.
The book suggests eating 500 calories for women (600 for men) two days a week and eating whatever you like on the other five days.

So I decided to set myself an experiment to see if I could survive a whole day without food.
I know deep-down that I need to eat less and not be scared of hunger causing me to expire in a feminine kind of fainting mess.
Last night I ate my meal of mince with a swede/carrot mash along with lots of buttery kale and followed with some natural yoghurt. I downed a glass of red (well you have to, don't you) and that was it.
14 hours later I was getting ready for the school run with a little more time on my hands as I hadn't needed to feed myself. I was busy at work this morning so I barely noticed until 1pm (my normal lunchtime) when I popped home - but I was five feet away from the fridge and really didn't feel the need to inhale it.
The toughest time was around the 21 hour mark when I was a little bored at my desk and focussed in on some digestive rumbling.
Here I am (23 hours, 30 minutes) and I am not as desperate for the end of my curfew as I thought I would be. There is a bowl of homemade broth clingfilmed and ready to go in the microwave (as I was worried that I would make all kinds of daft decisions) but as it is, my night out with friends has been cancelled and I am not sure if there is much to eat in the house.
And that feels OK.