Wednesday, 20 June 2012

There but by the grace of...

I need to say, I am a rubbish blogger, I wait too long between posts, I make promises about writing more regularly than I do, I hide away in my head rather than come here often enough.  For that I apologise and thank you for popping in on me every now and then to see if I'm still here.

When I do post it is because I have no choice, I need to come and share, either the fun and silly or the deep and darkish.  Tonight it's a little more of the latter...

I've been battling with myself quite a lot in the last couple of months - about stress, work, diet, home life, weight, age, height, you name it - and there are various reasons for this.

Firstly I am about to run head first into a milestone birthday, the dreaded "big four oh", which will come slamming into my life a week on Saturday.  I'm fine about it, and all, in that "am I really, stop being ridiculous!?" kind of way, but dead dads and complicated kids and wobbly bellies do come and spoil the party in my head quite often.  On the whole though, how lucky I am to be approaching middle age healthy and with two wonderful kids, a lovely husband, a job, a house, a generally positive attitude and some lovely creative projects that keep me hopeful and excited and fulfilled.

Secondly I've just had the 5 year anniversary of my gorgeous little man's first and still most palpable diagnosis.  The one where my DNA shifted into a new place and my life altered for good.  The difference with June 4th this year is that I've been doing a lot of talking and thinking about when it happened, what's gone on in between and looking at our life as a family.  This is because I have been lucky enough to connect with three lovely "special" mums, who at first were coming to me because I could help them to talk and not feel alone.  But by chatting about their gorgeous complicated kids, and about how happy I am to be helping and talking to them, my own aching hidden away loneliness has been brought out of hiding.  In finding through them three new kindred spirits, one of whom I knew at University when life was so easy, I now feel again how alone I've been.  How despite my virtual Chromosome 18 family, nobody in my real life knew what it was like to have an atypical family.  It's amazing to have company, although i wouldn't wish it on any of us, so Rachel, Jules and Natalie, thanks.  I didn't know I needed to talk but I'm glad I have.

Which brings me to the title of this post and the link below.  I am finally able to look back at how far we've all come, from this lovely seat here in "officially off red alert for now" land.  I have a five year old boy who has exceeded every expectation I was hoping we could have of him.  We live a fairly typical life, and if you don't count the stuff in my head and heart, are just like most of our friends.  My boy walks, talks, writes, counts, reads, plays, loves, laughs, performs, expresses himself...he is a million times more than anyone hoped or predicted and full of even more untapped potential.

It didn't look like it would be like this and we may not always have this luck, but I am finally in a place where I truly appreciate it.

In homage to how far we've come and how lucky we are, I want to talk about the man you will see if you click on the link here because that's why I'm writing this post.  Browsing iplayer for a drama I needed to catch up on, I saw this clip for  Great Ormond Street ,a BBC show about the wonderful hospital that we thankfully don't see too much of nowadays.  This man here is the white haired saviour who was the first to listen, care, dig deep and then support us through the horrible days of our very sick baby. 

There but by the grace of whoever you believe in, we only know a bit about sleep studies and low sats and blue lips and slumps and operations and worry and it was all a long time ago.

There but by the fortune and love and luck we have, life is sweet and I am glad to be able to see it from a calm and safe chair.

If the last decade is anything to go by, 40 will be a piece of cake, and I am looking forward to finding that out.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lights, Camera, Action

I took this photo last week, on Thursday 23rd at 5:55pm to be precise, to mark a turning point in the year.

Now as you can see, this is no great shakes as a photo, but for me a big deal because this was the moment that it was light enough for me to walk back through the park on my way home, rather than go the long way round through the streets.
Memories of earlier blogs come flooding back, composed in my head as I wandered, poems like The Rhythm of My Week .  I am visited by memories of the former years, walking home on the back of a rough day, twiddling my fingers, arms hung by my side, imagining all the stress flying out from my fingertips and settling benignly on the grass behind me.

As a Mancunian with already frizzy hair, I don't mind winter, or rain, or cold - as Billy Connolly says it's all just weather.  But my body and soul do seem to respond to the light and I feel stronger and more free as I march home after a day in the office.

So on this leap year day, February 29th, this bonus extra day in 2012, where I've kind of done nothing that impressive with my extra 24 hours, I am thankful for the small things and hopeful for a Spring full of creativity, happiness, friendship, love and success.

It was light, I had camera, I will take action.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Cancelling to Gain

I was so happy to read Daisy Waugh's column in the Sunday Times Magazine this week that she's inspired to write on the same theme (albeit in a much less funny way).

A few months ago I finally got my hubby to cancel mine and the kids gym membership with the, some might say ironic, intention to try to get fit again. 

Joining seemed like a great idea at the time and for the man of the house it still is, but increasingly I knew that my membership was causing an opposite reaction to the one it should have.  I was doing exponentially less exercise and feeling bad about it, so both physically and emotionally it was giving me whatever the opposite of endorphins are.

I sit here today delighted to be nearly free of my contract.  Ridiculously so.
I mean let's ignore the expensively terrible dark brooding refit of the club.  The memory of the burnt-orange-hued staff member who marched up to me and my sons in the ladies changing room, pointedly telling me that the family room was next door; as if I'd deliberately sneaked an adolescent in to scare all the little girls, rather than been a mum on her own with her very tall young boys. The kids' membership that seemed to be a very expensive way to have my youngest play on the computer.  The extra cost tennis lessons for the oldest to play bad tennis with bored kids, hit a ball once or twice with a coach, and then constantly transmit their message that he really should join the Saturday group too.  Let's even ignore the fact that we only use the outdoor pool once a year when the sun deigns to shine on a Saturday and we are free to enjoy it.

The real reason I decided to cancel is because I absolutely know I will be better off without it and the kids won't care at all.  With three weeks more to go and the pleading letters from the membership team coming in thick and fast, I no longer have the guilt of not getting my money's worth and am excited to have freed up that cost. 

So when someone says they go to a great zumba/yoga class in a nearby church hall, I can go along and see if I like it.  Hell I am even jogging around my park every now and then without each footstep saying "you should be on the treadmill...what about some body attack".  I have upped the extra-curricular sporting activity for my boys and they love it.  We are going to play tennis in the park for the next two weeks that the sport class isn't on.  I am actually looking forward to jogging tomorrow and Sunday and the shallow benefit is that in the park and on the street, despite knowing so many people locally, I won't worry about what to wear.

On the back of a foot that's finally healing 6 months after I broke it, the feeling of weakness that I really want to overcome and the creeping big four oh that's on its way, I am looking to heralding a quiet new phase.  One where I pay attention to my body, feel the aches and pains, see the wrinkles and folds, accept who I am and how I'm wired and that I alone know how to make real changes and how, at whatever speed, I can work them into my life.

The proudest moment I had in my time at that place was refusing to have them weigh me at my induction.  I said then and I believe now that I don't weigh myself at home, I'm not motivated by that number going up or down and all I want to do is be fit and healthy according to me, not those around me. 

One less thing to feel guilty about can only be a good thing.  To those who love the gym I say all power to you.  For those who feel like me, hope to see you jogging slowly around Finchley with a smile on my face sometime soon.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Break Yourself Better

I've been having a lovely time writing for a site called The Weekly Wrinkle about all kinds of things that make me laugh.  Today I'm really happy to be posting my next bit of nonsense back here, in my happy in between, enjoy...

This is it, I’m going to make a fortune because it’s nearly time to unveil my very own, “Post-Christmas, everyone’s a bit fat”…..Broken Limb Fitness Fad.

Back in August I broke my 5th metatarsal while stumbling clumsily on holiday (perfectly sober more’s the pity). After an operation to pin an errant little bit of bone and 14 weeks of post op tedium, I have found many unforeseen shallow benefits to this injury; various aspects of incapacitation and recovery that are as good if not better than many of the nonsense “eat yourself thin and happy” things I’ve read over the years. 

So here, gratis for you readers, I reveal snippets of my soon to be best-selling book and DVD: Break Yourself Better.

Skin Care 

After 3 or 4 weeks of non-weight bearing/hopping/crutching, then 3 weeks of partial weight bearing/crutching, I found hidden skin benefits. Namely that my left foot was transformed all over; soft, smooth and unblemished as a newborn’s.  Persistently and without any effort from me.  And it still is.  Genius.

Bingo Wing Busting #1 - Swinging on Crutches

After around 6 or 7 weeks on crutches I had extremely firm upper arms.   As a result I have not yet consigned said crutches to the loft (don’t worry, not stealing from the NHS, mine cost 11 Euros in Spain).  Just a few minutes a day swinging around in the bedroom is keeping the bingo wings at bay and is fun now that it’s not a necessity.

Bingo Wing Busting #2 - Bum Shuffle Toning

I found that the shuffling up and downstairs on my bum that I had to endure for numerous weeks had two fabulous benefits.  Firstly for my upper arms, much more fun than those machines at the gym.  Secondly it also managed to flatten down my bottom and kind of dissipate all the wobbly bits.  For my hugely successful book I shall endeavour to find some dodgy science to back all of that up.

Surprise Weight Loss Opportunities #1 - Pre-Pubescent Flashback

Leg withering and muscle atrophy is not really something you’d imagine could have a silver lining, but I’m happy to say it can.  You see, on a bad day, I think it is secretly a little bit ok to look in the mirror at the top of your withered thigh and see that it looks just like Victoria Beckham’s. (*DISCLAIMER, do not look at the whole leg, just the bits that have not been thin since you were 10 years old)

Surprise Weight Loss Opportunities #2- Allergic Reaction Result!

Adverse reactions to both anaesthetic and pain killers, plus inactivity and slight depression, can mean unforeseen weight loss. (*DISCLAIMER, continued exciting eating makes the weight loss/gain boundary quite hard to discern.  At some point you have to step away from the biscuit cupboard)

Hard-Core Points 

I find that any points this many years past child-bearing are hard won.  Even my two natural births are long past counting and it’s been difficult to garner anything on the pain scale since then. Men on the other hand continue to do man-games like football through and past their 30s, so fractures,sprains,ligament tears are commonplace. However a bona-fide broken bone, operation and ligament damage, borne with supreme grace and bravery (this is hindsight here remember) just adds to your “I’m harder than you” quota.

So, should you have stumble-trip-clunked over the festive period and find your brittle bones suffering, come and find solace at a bookshop near you.