Monday, 30 December 2013

2013..... My Best Bits








It's that time of year again when I trawl through the years photos, put them all together, find a suitable soundtrack and tag you all. Due to my lack of techie knowledge and severe dislike of Movie maker on windows 8 I shall be doing this year a little differently.
 When I look back on the past year I think it has been one of the better, well in the past 5 years anyway!!
I feel I have achieved so much on a personal level as well as physically.
I have made some good friends online, one I managed to meet up with in my hometown in the Summer, and have never felt closer to my Sisters and their Children.
The New Year began with the removal of the screws in my hip, something I was going into with slight trepidation and a bit of a 'what If it hasn't worked' mindset!! Well I had nothing to worry about as by March I had set myself up with a personal trainer and signed up for a walking marathon later in the year.
The training for the Marathon I originally dreaded, but as the weeks went on I looked forward to an evening of power-walking, especially combined with the beautiful Somerset sunsets.  I am blessed to live in such a picturesque part of the country, something which I probably took for granted in my younger years. 




February was a very special and emotional time for me.  Coinciding with Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I decided to publish a collection of blog pieces and poetry and donate the royalties to Somerset & Wessex Eating Disorders Association.  I am so grateful for all the support shown throughout this process, to Bee for doing endless hours of edited and to my friends for putting up with my constant 'going on' about it. 
So far the books has made over £100 for sweda. Not a huge amount I know (royalties are rubbish!!) but more importantly was the message being spread to others abut Eating Disorders.  I even managed a radio interview!!! 



A huge highlight of 2013 was being asked to be an Ambassador for Body Gossip.  This involves promoting the message of positive body image for everyone and has included being involved in their Flash-mob in London and also interviewing people for their body stories to be told in a stage-show at the South-bank.
Two people I interviewed were chosen for their stories to be told. I was gutted to not be able to see the show as was working, hopefully the show will get enough backing to promote it in 2014.  Throughout the interview weeks I heard so many unique, funny, sad and empowering stories, It was an unforgettable experience.




 My elder Sisters diagnosis and subsequent treatment for Cancer saw me travelling back and forth between Somerset and London most weekends during the Summer Months. I spent sunny days picnicking in the park, in the kitchen  making cake pops and evenings chatting, drinking wine and watching horror movies.
Thankfully after surgery and treatment my Sis is well again. It really shouldn't have taken something like that to contact each other!!









So a quick run down of my best bits of 2013, in no particular order.

  • Publishing My Book.
  • A radio interview on BBC radio Somerset.
  • Meeting my friend Heather from America after 31 years.
  • Body Gossip Flashmob.
  • Meeting the Shoreditch Sisters W.I and interviewing them.
  • Walking 26.2 miles for Cancer Research at night and meeting some wonderful and inspirational people.
  • Doing a 5k run in Bristol and being showered in powered paints.
  • Going to a cupcake decorating workshop ( sad I know)

Photos Of The Best Bits









So what does 2014 hold for me? No idea, but what I do know is there will be NO New Year new Me.  I will be the same person but taking on different challenges.  Starting January 1st I have set myself a blog post a day challenge.....  think I can manage it?  I hope so. 
See you on the other side.   Happy new Year xxxx

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Wishing You All A Very 'Elfy' Christmas

Tis The Season To Be Jolly, Fa La La la La La La la Laaaaaaaaaaa




'It's the most wonderful time of the year,' 'Eat, drink and be merry,' are two of many expressions used at Christmas. For me Christmas is about family and friends, spending time with those you love and care for, along with having time off work mixed in with some wonderful food and a decent bottle (or three) of wine.
I will not forget those who are no longer with me......  Mum and Dad will be remembered, possibly with a few happy and sad tears. 
I will also be thinking of my friends who have lost loved ones over the past year. The first year is the hardest, but it does get easier. Remember the Christmas you had last year or the year before and smile. Keep that thought and they will be with you in your heart :)
I think about those in the Eating Disorder community who are still battling a dreadful illness. Christmas is possibly one of the worst times, food is just everywhere. Try not to focus on the food but focus on the positives of spending time with your loved ones. Speak to your parents/partner/friends and have a varied menu that you have some control over so you are not under too much stress. If you have a food plan, try and stick to it, It will be worth it. Have a buddy to help you out at parties, especially if you are confused about portion control.
 When you eat Xmas Dinner don't beat yourself up thinking you have lost control, remember you can be the one in control and by having lunch you have controlled your eating disorder. You have kicked its ass!!!
If you feel guilty afterwards and feel the need to purge, say to yourself 'this too shall pass.'  The feeling won't stick around forever, think distraction, distraction, distraction.
Text a friend, have a funny game of charades, take a walk and take in the peace of Christmas Day.
If you are on your own this Christmas think of all the things you like to do for yourself. Make the day about YOU, because you are important and worth the time.

Within all the chaos, noise, expense, mess and stress remember to take a little time for yourself. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope to catch you in the New Year.




Thursday, 12 December 2013

Next Year I Will........


I am very good at making New Year resolutions, and even better at breaking them!! This year I was given a different way of planning resolutions by an online friend and I will do my up most to stick to them!
The idea being is that they are sustainable all year round, they are measurable and above all they are not a chore!! This list of resolutions will not only be fun to do, but will make a difference (I hope) to my life, my health and my relationships.
Here goes..........
1.  Write a blog post a day.
Just recently my blog has been neglected for many reasons. lack of time, lack of inspiration or just something more important crops up. I owe it to myself and those who have been following my stories to bring it back to life and give it the care and attention it deserves. Even just a few sentences, a quote or a picture can make a difference to someone reading or to how I am feeling. I may need to think ahead when I'm off on holiday but that can be worked on.
2.  Take a photo a day.
I love taking photos and sharing photos, often to the point I'm sure of boring others!!  Photos tell a story, they trigger memories and evoke emotions. Not sure yet if this will be incorporated in with my blog, I will have to think on that one.
3.  Have a date night with Hubby once a month.
Something we don't do enough of is spend quality time together on our own. We have plenty of nights in front of the TV but fall short on the dinners out, cinema evenings, long walks and weekends away. This is one resolution I am seriously looking forward to and hoping I can  motivate the other half.
4.  Eat dinner at the table with no TV at least twice a week.
Self explanatory really. Something we got out of the habit of when Toby grew up and started to fend for himself.
5. To have Toby, his Girlfriend and Son round to Sunday lunch once a Month and eat at the table.
6.  Write a letter to an online friend and post it every Month.
I have made lots of friends online from different walks of life and from around the World. I enjoy sending cards and gifts for Birthdays and Christmas but would love to write and receive letters. if anyone reading fancies joining in, let me know.
7.  Walk for an hour at least twice a week regardless of the weather.
8. Carrying on from number 7, train for the cancer research Shine Walk 2014 and beat this years time.
9.  Stop going into work early to get things finished.
Firstly, if I need to work more hours to get my work done my time management or the system is crap!! Secondly, I don't get paid for the extra time.
10.  Get up 30 minutes earlier for work and eat breakfast.
Are these sustainable? Will keep you up to date. bring on 2014.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Adios






Goodbye to the thoughts that keep me from my sleep,
Au Revoir to the memories that make me weep,
Farewell to toxic friends who take more than they're giving,
Adios to pain and emptiness, Hello light and living.











Thursday, 10 October 2013

I am the 1 in 4






Many years ago whilst as a student at college, my tutor told the class that 1 in 4 of us would at some point in our lives suffer from a mental illness. I remember visually scanning the room trying to hazard a guess who would be the 'nutty' one. For one minute I never thought it would be me!
I cannot pinpoint at what age my mental health problems began, but thinking back it was probably at quite a young age. I was always a very emotional and highly strung child, my medical records noted 'attention seeking,' but not once did anyone ask me what was gong on in my life. 
I was taken to many appointments when I was in primary school, non of which I can remember much about but I was always told to tell the teacher it was 'personal.' The clinic I attended was attached to a local psychiatric hospital, the place my Mum always said I would drive her to...........
My teenage years weren't filled with the angst you would expect, they were filled with sadness, fear and dread and on reflection I can now recognise the beginnings of stress, anxiety and something I rarely discuss, self-harm.
As I left home and moved from my early teens to my late teenager years the feelings I had remained.I didn't know what to do with them or how to cope with them.....so I self medicated with alcohol.....and lots of it.
When I think back to the times I sat just numb, feeling nothing and then switching to hours of crying. I had no idea what was going on in my life!
I remember having a really positive period then sinking again. It was at this point I realised there was a difference in my behaviour and a dramatic change in my mood but still I didn't do anything about it.
In the late 80's there was still a huge stigma around mental illness, it was something that wasn't really discussed and therefore I didn't seek any professional help. It wasn't until I was in the depths of an eating disorder that I realised only with the help of friends that I had a serious problem, and sought help.
This was where my 'recovery,' albeit unsuccessful at the time from Anorexia began.
I am now recovered from my eating disorder but at times do have bouts of self- doubt mixed with anxiety and stress. I am very much a people pleaser and perfectionist. I hate to get things wrong and over think, worrying constantly.  Recently I have been feeling quite depressed again and it can hit me with no warning.  I am very mindful of this and am working to put self care strategies in place to not let it eat me up.

The main reason for this post today is in recognition of World Mental Health day and to stress that we are not all knife wielding crazy people like some tabloid newspapers like to make out!!
There has been a recent scandal with 2 major Supermarket chains selling 'Mental patient,' costumes for Halloween, suggesting that these patients were scary and you would run away from them!!
Some people have said that protesters were overreacting and it was political correctness gone mad. Take it from me, I understand the stigma of being a patient in a 'mental' hospital. I have had to be treated by a dentist whilst an in-patient who was visibly frightened to treat me!




Mental illness is scary, mental illness is isolating, but try to remember we are people just like you and I and sometime we just need to be asked if we are ok.........xxxxx

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Passion



Passion

A want,
A need,
A desire.
Bodies entwined,
Pulses racing higher.
Breathing as one,
Slowly,
Increasing,
Gently then racing,
The tension releasing,
Soft lips on rough,
Leather and lace,
Biting,
Caressing,
Finding 'that' place,
Back arching,
Blood rushing,
Cheek flushing,
Pleasure ascending,
and then......
The summit is reached,
Volcano erupting,
and someone gets to sleep in the wet patch. :)








No mean feat




Well I actually did it. After several months of training I finished my first walking Marathon in 7.5 hours.
When I initially registered for the walk I did it for a personal challenge as well as sponsorship for Cancer research. 18 months on from having a major hip operation I was determined to push myself to do something I previously couldn't have contemplated. 
The training schedule was not too bad but trying to fit in in with working full time and life in general was tough.......but not as tough as spending weeks or months having  treatment and suffering drug side effects.
When the day came I caught the coach to London, armed with a bum-bag full of plasters, glucose tablets, flapjacks and loo roll!!!  Victoria station was filling with people from all regions (and countries) wearing the recognisable purple Shine T-Shirts with optional coloured wigs, leg warmers, tutus and neon makeup; and that was just the men!!
A short train journey away and I was at Battersea power station, along with 16'000 other shiners and I was petrified.
The atmosphere was beginning to hot up, the stage was lit and we were entertained by belly dancers and the London Rock Choir. The electric atmosphere was inter mingled with moments of quiet, reflection and tears as the big screen showed us testimonials of cancer survivors. It was difficult not to be moved.........


 The Shiners started walking at around 8.15pm and as a 'strider' I started making my way towards the start around half an hour later. It was bottle neck for a while but after the initial stop start myself and several thousand others, were on our way around the 26 mile route, and London began to be lit up with a sea of glow sticks, fairy lights and flashing bunny ears. Me, I took the safe option and dressed for comfort.
At first the weather was kind to us but throughout the course of the evening it rained several times, and no sooner had we dried off it started again!!! Trust me, rain, dyed red hair and glasses is not a good combination.  The organisers had pit stops every 7 miles where we could grab a pee, water and snacks.
but after queueing at a portaloo for half an hour I decided that would be my last toilet visit' even though I was finding it difficult to keep my wind to myself!
As a 'lone' walker I was nervous, but plucked up the courage to chat to a fellow walker. She was called Lyndsey and had come over from Holland. This was her second walk and soon she was setting the pace and telling me about why the cause was so important to her and her family........this woman was my motivation throughout and I was so thankful for her support and spurring me on when I was tired. The Dutch sense of humour is rather funny and I admired her bluntness!
The route was amazing,passing many London landmarks some which were even more beautiful in the moonlight.

The atmosphere in the crowd and in the city was just something else. All of us were there for the same reason, it wasn't a race it was a group of people united in telling Cancer where to get off.  Revellers coming from pubs and clubs were cheering us on and clapping. The Marshall's who I swear must have sore hands from all the high fives were giving us that boost we needed at each corner and junction.
Despite all my training this challenge was tougher than I expected. The first 10 miles were a breeze, but after that the tiredness kicked in. After 15 my thoughts were turning to bed whilst my legs were turning to lead. My regular check ins on facebook came back with messages of luck and they added a bit my fuel to my furnace. The worst was around the 20 mile mark. 20 miles was something I had managed at home, but after a good nights sleep and in day light!! trust me night walking is a different ball game. The final miles seemed to take forever, which each step getting heavier and heavier. Lyndsey told me a story of her walk last year, where her brother was in front with a photo of their Mum on his back....this was all the motivation she needed.
I thought of my Sister, I thought of the Lady on the start line who was walking on crutches, the lady being supported by her Husband who was using a stick, the elderly couple who were walking at a snails pace...and I kept going. As Lyndsey said, the pain and discomfort we were going through at that time was nothing compared to the pain a cancer sufferer is going through, and she was right.
Stepping over that finishing line was a wonderful feeling, and a massive personal achievement, and I've never been so grateful to take my trainers off and have a hot cup of coffee.
To all those who supported me a huge thank you.
And those who thought walking a Marathon was no big deal......put your money where your mouth is and you do it next year :)



Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How to be BeYOUtiful.

#BodyLove Flashmob on South Bank, London

A little update on what I have been involved in recently with Body Gossip. Many of you replied to my request for volunteers to be interviewed about their bodies. A huge thanks to those who I managed to get to and an apology to the volunteers that I couldn't get to do. But don't despair, Body Gossip are still wanting to hear your body story, details of how to do this can be found at this link. 
A lot of your body thoughts made me smile and laugh, but there was a common ground as most of you were not happy with parts of your body because of how they look....and this makes me sad :( 
The reasons for you feeling this way were many, but mostly down to life experiences, growing up or from external and media influences. 
Positive self image is so important....I have had many years of feeling ugly, too fat, too thin and generally picking myself apart. I know how it feels.
Throughout my recovery from Anorexia I had many conflicting opinions in my head about weight issues.
I will admit in the past to possibly being fat phobic and buying into the media tales of overweight people being a drain on the NHS or being lazy. I wasn't born thinking this, the same as people are not born racist or homophobic...these are attitudes you learn and they are attitudes that can change...you can also help make that change.

 This is why organisations like Body Gossip are so needed. They promote the message that every body is beautiful, no matter what size, what age, what race, what gender, and no matter what anyone else tries to tell you.
If you want to dye your hair pink do it! (school holidays only!!!) It you want piercings, do it! (remember health and safety ;) If you want to lose weight, do it! If you want to wear socks and sandals, do it!!  
All  joking aside, whatever you choose for your body do it for YOU, because YOU want to. Not because the magazines or TV tell you that you need to look a certain way, dress a certain way or be a certain size. 
This is YOUR life, this is YOUR choice, this is YOUR body!! You are an individual. BeYOUtiful.

I first came across Body Gossip when I was in recovery, and the first thing I saw was this video.  From there I came across their website, sent my body stories in to their Body Gossip Book and that's where my involvement started.
If you haven't checked out the You Tube channel I would highly recommend it. As well as the videos, Body Gossip run a Gossip School which are self-esteem classes organised in schools across the country.......
but back to the original story, the interviews.
Now the interviews have been collected from lots of people across the country, they will be turned into a stage show. Imagine that....... your body thoughts could be on a stage in London (South bank centre currently, not Drury Lane) and acted out by Celebrities.   Cue the, "who would play you in the story of your life?" question.  Blooming amazing........
If all goes well and the projected can get the funding, the show could tour and your voices could be heard across the UK....doubly amazing.
In a way, I could now say I have seen it done it and got the T-Shirt......  how could I forget the T Shirts

Picture of me wearing my BG BeYOUtiful TShirt after the flash mob

Body Gossip Ruth & Curvy Kate lingerie models showing off their T-Shirts. Wearing of trousers is optional

I love this design



My Favourite......



And for the little ones....





      
Body Gossip Shirts are available from Supadupa.com. They are a practical, stylish and fun way of supporting a positive body image campaign. Lets see if we can make a positive change together. xxx