on being down and gettting up again

we all have times when things seem just too difficult, when the blows are falling on us and all of our usual methods of self protection seem not to be working.

This week has been a bit tricky.  At the beginning of the week someone I love was in a difficult place. Despite almost a year of working towards being well, this week the universe seemed to conspire against them.  This hit me quite hard.  I am used to being able to fix things for those I love, I am the person who solves the problems, the one who can see a way through an issue and who hand holds for as long as is necessary.

Somehow this week I wasn’t able to do any of this.  Instead, all the other things that I can usually store in that place in my head, the one where ‘I am choosing not think about that just now’ sits just beyond me, came crashing to the front demanding attention.  So, for the best part of three days, I was in a complete fog of unsolvable, unfix-able and impossible scenarios, clogging up my brain space and affecting everything I said or did.  Simple stuff was ignored, the big stuff was dancing on the front of my consciousness, night and day, I couldn’t stop any of it.

People around me started to notice.  My normal, calm persona was replaced by a snappy almost angry person.  I knew I was doing this, but was powerless to stop.  Night time was the worse of all, sleep evading me, I spent countless hours with worries circling  my head space.  Mornings I was tired and my usual walking and talking stress busting failed to work.

Now, I have been alive quite a long time, so, obviously, this is not the first time I have felt like this, of course not. I have learned along the way, that no many how many hours I spend worrying in a dark place, nothing actually changes.  I needed to remember that.  The only thing that works is to either accept what you can’t change or do something positive to deal with the worries.  The problem is, that when you are in the middle of it, this is hard to do.

Gradually I remembered this, I began to talk rationally with people I trust, who began to listen and to reflect back to me the things I was worrying about.  Once said out loud, these problems seemed to diminish and my reaction to them similarly reduced.

Mid week and I am ready to do something different.  A trip out, a rare visit to a cinema to see a film that made me laugh out loud, suddenly things start to feel better.  The initial problems are still there, I just feel more able to deal with them.  Perspective has been altered, I am seeing the world as it is, not as my mind was beginning to conjure up.  The dark spaces are still in the distance but the good bits are once again coming forwards.  It is not over at all, but it is getting better.

My worries are still there, all stored safely back in my head, and I am feeling more myself.  I have to accept that there are some things I cannot change, no matter how much I want to. I can however change how I deal with them.

I am fortunate to have people in my life who care about me.  Those who ignore my anger, knowing it is not directed at them but at my inability to fix things.  Those who ask how I am and who mean it, and are prepared not only to listen, but to reflect back my thoughts, without judgement or favour.

Today is another day.  We will walk along beside the sea later and I will remember all that is good in my world.  This will always be tempered with sadness for those who are unable to find the good in their world. With concern for those I love and who are hurting, with anger at a world that doesn’t help, but hinders good people trying to live their lives.  I will remember that there are more good people than bad in the world and that together we can change things.

So, I was down and I got up again.

on moving towards new beginnings

the saying goes that a rolling stone gathers no moss, I am sure there is truth in that.  I also know that a rolling snowball attracts more snow as it moves.  I, on the other hand, had not moved at all for years and yet now I am on track things are moving all around me.

As I began my journey to fitness early this year I had no clue where the road would take me.  At best I thought I might lose a bit of weight, feel a bit healthier and perhaps get more mobility.  All that happened and more.  I am now, some six months on, fitter, lighter and happier.  All is well.

So, here I am, still in my kitchen, sitting at the table writing my blog.  I have just come in from a two and a half mile walk, mostly in the rain, and I am realising that one of the most positive things I get from walking is thinking time.

In my busy life there is always something that needs my attention.  I go from place to place, from space to space getting on with stuff, a hundred different things to remember, a dozen jobs needing doing.  In the background there is noise, the radio, tv, people chatting, my ears are full of sounds that assault my thoughts.

This morning walking in the cold, damp Peak District air, I saw almost no one else. A couple of dog walkers on the other side of the street and me, walking in the world, alone with my thoughts.  It is mighty powerful stuff.

Today my thoughts are on my plans to help and encourage others to walk well, as I have done.  On how I can reach out and motivate those who believe that they cannot exercise at all. I am mostly thinking of how my life used to be.  The days I couldn’t walk for pain in all my joints, when I sat on the sofa with chocolate, kidding myself I was happy with me.

Well, I am happier now for sure.  It would appear that I am not a rock gathering no moss as I move, I am much more the snowball, attracting like minded people as I roll on down life’s hills and dales. Things are coming together, but I am under no illusions.  I am still me, I still worry about stuff, still get cross about injustice and unfairness in the world and I need time to think about all of this.

Walking gives me this time.  To just be.  Putting one foot in front of another towards the rest of my life.

me walking through cows!!!

regular readers know that I am afraid of cows.  Ever since my friends were caught in a stampede which killed their dog I do everything I can to avoid them.  Until today.  Out walking with hubby we had to cross a field full of beef cattle.  There were loads of them, all different sizes and shapes and it was very, very scary.  I coped by talking my way across.  It went a bit like this

‘ok, I can do this, they are only cows, there are not many, omg there are dozens, it’s ok they are miles away, no, no they are not they are coming this way, omg they are huge…it’s ok I just won’t look at them…omg how big is that one?  the one staring at us, right in the middle of the path…..what do we do??  we can’t go that way there are even more over there….omg they are running this way….we might die….there is no one about but us… they are running…oh, ok they have run passed us.. that’s good…. they are playing….they are only young….omg that one isn’t young….it looks angry…do you think it looks angry….what do we do….keep walking…keep walking it is fine…they are ignoring us…..it’s fine….not scary now…..are we nearly passed them all…..omg there are more running this way…..phew they have gone passed too….there is the cattle grid….quick let’s cross over….well that was ok really wasn’t it?  not even sure why I am scared…..

Hubby couldn’t stop laughing at me, which wasn’t very supportive, but he did hold my hand all the way through the field, and he has the crushed fingers to prove it!!

Proud that I did face my fear, did cross the field and feel good about it now.  No, I have no intention of doing it again any time soon.

on children all alone

as I write this in my warm, safe kitchen, I have watched children making their way to school.  It is a chilly morning today, most are wrapped up in warm coats, strong school shoes protecting their feet as they walk over the muddy playing field. A day of education awaits them.  Playtime with friends and a warm meal at lunchtime.  Maybe a story or some art before parents call to collect them and bring them home.  These children are at junior school, most are between 7 and eleven years of age.  They have backpacks with books, PE equipment and a hand to hold to keep them safe.

A year ago I would not have thought twice about these children.  In my sheltered world, children were always protected, kept safe and looked after by adults who love them.  I wouldn’t have noticed the nice strong shoes, the backpacks and the rosy cheeks in the Autumn chill of morning.

A year ago I knew nothing.  Nothing of the children, exactly the same as the children I watched this morning, who are living in refugee camps. I had no idea just how many small people are struggling to live any sort of life, alone.

Now it is one thing to consider death, war, famine all the usual tragedies of life, when they are on the other side of the world.  The connection is not strong.  The news is short, scenes of people struggling hovers somewhere between sadness and the feeling it really isn’t our problem.  Now in 2016 this is no longer acceptable.

I visited Northern France and the Calais camp.  I saw for myself the conditions in which people are trying to live a life well. It is this that is keeping me awake at night.  For all our hopes and dreams for them, the children living there are children who are alone.

The youngest on the census in Calais is eight years old.  My eyes again are drawn to the field opposite and the playground, there, later today will be eight year olds, and nine year olds, and children of all ages, playing safe and well.  Imagine for a minute that just one of those children was living alone in a tent, perhaps with adults they don’t know.  Imagine the little girl with the pink backpack is sleeping on cardboard, surrounded by people who don’t speak her language.  Imagine the boy who plays for the school team has no shelter and is spending the nights in the rain under tarpaulin. What we we do?

I suspect there would be police, social workers, teachers and the support of local people offering help.  I think that the children would be removed from the shelters, the tent and the tarpaulin and given foster homes, warm and safe, with people who will look after them.  I expect the papers would be full of outrage and people would talk about it everywhere you went.  The children alone in Calais do not seem to attract such sympathy and action.

So, when you see on the news the faces of these children what will you do?  Will you look the other way,  will you shrug your shoulders at the news report and say it’s not our problem?  Our country is full, we have no space.  Or will you be the person who cares?

It is that simple, it is our choice, we need to take care of children everywhere.  While one little girl is sleeping alone in the cold, I cannot rest.  Join me, write to those with power, sign petitions and rise to the challenge.

This is the holocaust of our generation.  Don’t be the person, who in twenty years time is asked by your grandchildren, what did you do in 2016 Mum? and you have to answer nothing, I did nothing. Perhaps you will argue you didn’t know, but we know that you do know, and you have a choice.

Wake up and do something.  Now.  Today.  These children need us all.  #DubsNow

on not walking

the million steps are behind me, I think the latest total was over 250,000 more than that required.  Yet I can see no reason to stop walking.  A daily total of between five and seven miles makes me happy.  The air is fresher now each morning, a cold frost at times, but as ever the start to the day makes everything that much better.

So, when on Monday, last week I noticed a strange sensation at the back of my knee I tried to ignore it.  Not a pain, more of a tightness, it was annoying at best.  By Wednesday I am in the gym, yes I actually do that too now, and talking to my instructor about the strange pain when he suggested some exercises I can try.

Feeling very smug on being able to sit on the floor I gamely try to stretch the leg and hope all will be well.  It seems it is.  So, back on the treadmill I go.  I walk fast, just short of a jog until, with a sickening rip my leg goes into spasm.  I slow the belt down and continue to walk. This was a mistake.

Later I leave the gym to walk home through the park.  It is a sunny day and there are lots of people about.  I get no more than 50 yards from the gym and my leg gives way.  I cannot move.  I stand, wondering what to do next.  Luckily my hubby answers his phone, and is on his way to collect me.

So, that was the end of my walking for the week.  It has been a strange few days.  My mornings have been spent in the kitchen not on the street, my days have involved using my car to get from A to B and I do not like it.  Not at all.

Patience has never been a strength of mine.  I understand that I need to rest my leg, but I so want to be out and about.  I think I am afraid of what will happen if I stop walking.  I fear I will return to the old ways, the days of biscuits and cake, of not walking, of gaining weight.  This cannot happen, I have given all my large clothes away!!

Luckily by today my leg is feeling much better.  I decide tomorrow is the day I get back out and about.  I am not going to go far, I may revisit my first ever walk around the field in front of the house, and see how I get on.  But to be sure tomorrow I will walk.

It has given me time to reflect on how habits are made.  Once my habit was to sit and surf the net, playing on social media and eating.  Now, my habit is walking in the real world, eating healthily and feeling alive.

There is no better way to start my day, this I know, than being out in the air, looking at the world from within the frame, in the moment, and tomorrow I will be back.