on my million steps towards a healthy life day one

Yesterday was the first of July, and the day I began to walk a million steps to raise money for Diabetes UK.  Well Diabetes will benefit from the cash my sponsors will donate, but the biggest winner here is going to be myself.

I am soon to be a whole decade older, and given I have taken almost no exercise for at least ten years, walking anywhere was going to be a challenge.  I started in June, to practise for a few weeks and soon found 10,000 steps a day was difficult but doable. Walking early in the morning soon became the best way to start the day, and as the first of July approached I was feeling confident.

So, yesterday, I am in Wales, with my very good friend, who has sadly lost her husband of just a couple of weeks.  We filled our time dodging the showers and walking in the sunshine.  I began, as ever, with an early morning walk, clocking up 4,000 steps.  Later we drive to a tiny town, tucked in the midst of Snowdonia and start to explore.

The first bridge we crossed  passed over the torrent of a river in full flood.  We stood watching the water crash against the rocks, swirling and foaming, slamming against the bridge and working its way angrily downwards.  We crossed the bridge and from the other side we saw the waters emerge into a calmer river, the foaming breakers settling into gently lapping waves.  It seemed to us that this was very like life itself.  My friend commented that she had, at times, felt as if she was in the midst of the angry waters, and it was comforting to remember that everything does calm down eventually.

With a further 5,ooo steps under my belt we are once again back in the car, this time heading through the mountains towards the sea.  The rain started falling heavily, so we headed to one of the fine Welsh castles and spent and happy hour in the dry, looking around the fabric of long dead people’s lives.  Thankfully the weather cleared, the sun shone and we were able to walk around just a bit of the beautiful gardens, finding surprises around each corner.  A water lily pond over here, a fountain over there, all surrounded by flowers and foliage of every colour and tone.

Once back at our base I checked my step counter to see I had managed to complete over 17,000 steps towards my million target.  I had walked almost eight miles, and enjoyed every step.

So, day one is done.  Spent with my friend who is living through her own challenges, I have just another 998,300 odd steps still to do.  I wonder where they will take me?



on a second self

this weekend my hubby and I gave our good friends a lift to the station where they were setting off on a weekend away to celebrate a birthday.  As we drove off from the station watching them carry their bags onto the platform I was filled with happy thoughts.

These people are more than friends to me.  In the darkest hours, in my worst moments they have stood next to me and held on tight.  In the happiest of times there they were in the middle, getting on with making everything even more wonderful than it was already.  They have also been there on the mundane, dreary days when nothing much happens. Together we have watched our children grow and have delighted in their successes. We have worried about nothing and laughed more than I ever would have known.

Shared memories, investing time and a helping hand.  These are the mechanics of friendship.  If you have such friends then you too are lucky, you will know the power of acceptance, you will understand how it is when words are not needed, when you have as it were, ‘a second self’.  Me but not me.  That is my best friend.


on generosity

to be generous is a gift.  To give to others what they need and not think of yourself is one of the happiest things anyone can do.

There are so many people who have very little, so many struggling to survive and to live a life worth living.  From those sleeping on the streets of our cities to the families landing on beaches running from war, their reality is not what anyone would hope for.

No one plans for this sort of life, not one person wakes up and thinks today I will make my life truly difficult.  Whether it is bombs and bullets or family breakdown, mental health problems or despair, those in need, need help.

How wonderful it is then, that there are many people, often who have little to spare themselves who are generous of spirit and offer the helping hand.  The pensioner knitting hats and scarves for cold babies on beaches, the young Mum who is collecting duvets for homeless people, the children giving a favourite bear to a child who has left all their toys in a war zone. Small gifts with great consequences.  Then there are those who give money, lots of money to support and help where it is most needed.

I think it is fair to say that these generous acts make us all happy.  Happy that we can do that one small thing to show another we care.  Happy that people are coming together and together are making a difference.  Those in need,  I hope are also made less miserable, they must know that someone cared, cared enough to write a note, to bag a teddy bear, to pack new underwear and to say, here is our hand, take it and we will hold you.

So, to be generous is to be the best of humankind.  Everyone has something to give, their time, their friendship, their money, their Teddy Bear, all will make the difference.

Maybe we will never change the world, but we can make it better one Teddy at a time.

on finding friends

Today I had an unplanned visit from a dear friend, who bounced into my kitchen with her usual enthusiasm for life.  This is a person who has always followed her own road, who is compassionate and intelligent and huge fun to be around. Sitting in the sunshine with a cup of tea we chatted and caught up on several months of news and views, and I was reminded how lucky I am with the friends I have.

Everyone I know in my home town I didn’t know less than twenty years ago.  It was then we made the decision to uproot the children and start a new life in a different county, a new town and a new way of life. I arrived in my new home, alone, with four children and that first morning I awoke to the thought that beyond the front door I knew nobody.  This seems incredible now.

I have great people in my life.  I have people who have challenged me, who have cared for me and with whom I have laughed and cried in equal measure.  I cannot imagine not knowing them and having them in my life,

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if we had chosen a different town to make our home. All the people I love and consider friends, would not be in my life.  I then start to wonder if there is a parallel world, in which all my potential new friends are living and loving, in a town we didn’t move too, and not knowing me or me knowing them.  Thoughts like this often make my head hurt.

So, did I just get lucky?  Did I chose the place where I would find my friends, or would I have had similar relationships with other people, in a different town?  I have no idea, but lucky I am.