How to fail

stuff

I recently started listening to Elizabeth Day’s podcast where she invites celebs to share 3 of their failures. It’s really great. If like me, you’ve been living under a rock, here it is and you only have 79 episodes to get through. God speed. Inspired by my new listening & my pal Imi’s post I thought I would share 3 of my own failures. Recognising where you’ve failed gives you the chance to celebrate where you have succeeded and more importantly recognise that failing is ok, that it is all part of being a wonderfully flawed human.

Doing a forward roll

I cannot do a forward roll. I never have and I never will. For the first 16 years of my life this was extremely stressful. Through the primary school ages, I dreaded the lessons when those squishy blue mats would be brought out ready for tumbling. Need someone to demonstrate a perfect teddy bear roll? Sign me up. Need someone to demonstrate a perfect forward roll? I suddenly really need the toilet. I remember once at a church BBQ I got all of the adults to take in turns to coach me how to do a forward roll. I wanted to be able to go into school next week and not feel sick with nerves that I’d be asked to do one and maybe I just needed the right teacher. It felt like everyone in the whole world to could do a forward roll except me and when I still couldn’t do one after 3 hours of coaching and a regular intake of hot dogs I thought my life was officially over. I despairingly asked my sister’s friend what I should do about the dreaded p.e. class coming up next week because I had checked the weather and it was going to rain which meant we’d definitely be on those pissing blue mats. He wisely suggested I forget my p.e. kit. So I did. Crisis averted. For now.

Through the secondary school years, the stakes felt even higher but luckily my forgery skills had come on since the age of 6 and I could get myself excused from any lessons that included the word gymnastics. Weirdly 10 minutes into the lesson I would suddenly realise I had a letter saying I couldn’t participate due to cramps (sorry Mum!). It goes to show that no male p.e. teacher had a good grasp of menstrual cycles because my periods lasted for weeks on end and none of them pulled me in for a chat, concerned about the sheer amount of blood I must be losing.

Luckily, since secondary school I have never been asked to do a forward roll and I have since met other people who can’t do one either (solidarity, my friends). This failure embodies my complete fear of letting other people down but in hindsight I don’t think anyone was particularly bothered by my lack of gym mat skills.. except me.

Driving

I am 29 years old and I cannot drive. I would much rather walk, run, cycle, get the bus, crawl or skip thank you very much. The thought of driving makes me feel sick and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the place where I actually want to learn to drive. I fleetingly did driving lessons shortly after my 17th Birthday and I think I got to the bit when you start doing manoeuvres and then my driving instructor quit and I convinced myself it was because I had let him down in some way. After that I did a few lessons with a new instructor who was so passive aggressive she made me cry and I vowed I would never try again. I hate being bad at stuff and I thought I must be the worst person who has ever tried to learn to drive. In reality, I had hardly had any lessons and it takes time to be able to safely drive a hunk of mental around the mean streets of the very small town I grew up in which in hindsight would be a much easier place to learn in than the big bad city of Bristol. Sigh.

I still feel frozen with fear at the thought of getting back in the drivers seat. I don’t think it’s too much of a big deal that I can’t drive until I want to do a big food shop or not get on a Megabus which always smells of feet.

Boundaries

Boundaries is such a buzz word at the moment and I use it a lot but I absolutely suck at actually implementing them. The queen of multi-tasking, answering emails at midnight and putting away laundry whilst also on loud speaker chatting to someone I definitely didn’t need to be chatting to. The nature of my anxiety means that I love having a packed diary because the more I do the less I need to think. My favourite days at work are the ones that whizz by because I just have so much to do and it’s only recently that I’ve realised how unhealthy that is. For years I allowed my time to be sucked up by everything and anyone and never carve out time for me just to be. I think I’m getting better at this but I can easily find myself slipping back into it because old habits die hard. I said to my therapist once that I was exhausted because so many people needed stuff from me, I was trying to keep so many spinning plates spinning and it just wasn’t fair. Rather than sympathising with me she told me that maybe I find my worth in needing to be needed and she’d absolutely hit the nail on the head. I am regularly serving from an empty cup & I.am.thirsty.



2021 and Lockdown 3.0

stuff

We glugged the sweet fizz of prosecco as we saw in the New Year with (the rightful King of the Castle) Jordan North. We grabbed panettone by the fistful and danced to 80’s pop and I allowed myself to feel quietly optimistic about 2021. Like a modern day Cinderella I wanted the stroke of midnight to mean something and instead of leaving my shoe on the staircase as I ran outside, I wanted to leave the pandemic and all the other shit we’re carrying and firmly close the door behind me. But no such luck. We opened the door and outside there was a thick frosty fog filling the streets. You couldn’t even see your hand infront of your face and it didn’t feel like a very good omen. But hey, stranger things have happened and maybe 2021 really will be the year that all my dreams come true.

I have a love/hate relationship with new years resolutions. For a long time they would be a reason to berate myself into a new diet or exercise regime to shrink myself as much as possible. In more recent times, they would be an opportunity to say ‘THIS IS THE YEAR I WILL LOVE MY BODY NO MATTER WHAT OK’ and then 3 days later when I am squeezing into some leggings and not feeling so kind with my inner thoughts, I would have officially ruined my resolution and face planted the entire contents of my fridge. Rules don’t work for me, even if they’re positive ones.

So instead of resolutions, this year I’ve put our 3 hopes into the Universe. One is a big one and the other ones are a little bit silly. If I don’t achieve any of them then everything will still be ok and the world will keep on turning. This is the first year I didn’t even consider making any resolutions that revolve around my body which is extremely refreshing. So instead..

A house

I would really really like to buy a house this year. It would be nice to have more space and a garden but if that doesn’t work out, we have a little flat which is home and a place I feel safe in and that is more than enough.

Olio & Duolingo

I would really really like to use these apps a bit more. But if I don’t collect ‘x’ amount of bags for life full of gone off pastries or complete a 300 day streak of learning french.. c’est la vie!

1 second a day

I would really really like to remember to record my 1 second video every day so on the 31st December 2021 I have something nice to look at and if I don’t remember one day that isn’t a call for me to give up completely and instead just to pick it up when I remember again.

The stakes of all of these hopes are low, lower than low, the lowest because none of them actually really matter. If seeing the 1st January as a blank slate works for you then you do you but I am done with the pressure. Besides, I think we all have quite enough to be dealing with right now trying to keep up with if we are allowed to hug our nan, meet up in a pissing cold park, or stay 1 or 2 meter’s apart from the lurker in the corner shop.

God speed into lockdown 3 and again, please don’t invite me to your Zoom quiz.

In review: 2020

stuff

The year filled with so much hope will end in 13 days (how apt). I have 30 hours left of work until I put on that sweet out of office and pour myself an extremely large gin. This year has been fucking awful but I am determined to find some glitter in the grey. So here we go.

  • I got a girlfriend
  • I got a girlfriend who likes sharing out chores and emotional labour
  • My family didn’t abandon me when I told them about aforementioned gf
  • I had therapy that helped untangle my issues around dependency
  • I made real leaps and bounds in my eating disorder recovery
  • I bought more shoes so that I don’t only wear one pair of running shoes all day every day
  • I decided I liked marmite after 29 years of thinking I hated it
  • I started swimming again in rivers, lakes, lidos and swimming pools
  • I got a tattoo!!!!!
  • I bought a bike, had cycling lessons and didn’t fall off…yet
  • I read a shit ton of books. Currently on #60
  • I went in a float tank and it kind of felt like I’d taken mushrooms
  • I made a real effort to ditch fast fashion and have massively reduced my spending habits
  • I gave lots of time to volunteering
  • I learnt how to speak French, 100 day streak on Duolingo baby
  • I stood up for myself more
  • I think I ate peanut butter every day (potentially fake news)
  • I climbed a real actual mountain
  • I got to live in 2 v.different parts of the city that I love
  • I completed an award winning amount of levels on Candy Crush
  • I discovered new nice green spaces to explore
  • I fell in love with new music, tv, poems and podcasts
  • I am the proud owner of a ladder bookshelf
  • I finally found out what is wrong with my feet and how to help them
  • I stopped wearing make-up and feel liberated by my fresh face
  • I did some half arsed calligraphy
  • I got paid to do some writing
  • I got paid to do a focus group about vaginas
  • I proved I’m an adult by buying a sofa on credit
  • I managed to keep my job and business despite having 98541 melt downs
  • I managed to get some decent dollar into my savings account
  • I connected with new and old friends in meaningful ways
  • I kept my sanity during a worldwide pandemic yeaah woooo!

Ok that did actually make me feel a little bit better and I highly suggest you give it a go and tell me in the comments if you want but don’t if it’s going to make me feel bad. Just kidding. Sort of.

24/7

stuff

A few days ago I found out by the power of a judgmental app that in the previous 7 days I had been on my phone for 24 hours, the equivalent of one whole day out of my week. During this time I had – chatted to friends, learnt French, ordered things, did online banking and for the remaining 90% of the time, doom scrolled on Instagram. The app even showed how long I was using my mobile each time I unlocked, ranging from 7 seconds to a full hour.

I have always had a complex relationship with my phone and feel like I am continually trying to work out what works best for me – removing social media completely, letting myself a set amount of time to go on my favourite apps, alarms to tell me I have been on my phone too long or just turning it off completely. When I go cold turkey and put my phone away in a drawer, I feel great but as soon as the time creeps nearer for us to be reunited I literally get a rush of adrenaline, my heart starts beating and I can’t get off it until everything has been seen, responded to and completed which is impossible because as soon as you’re done someone does another bloody Instagram story.

I wrote this blog post where I concluded that a 7 day detox had changed my relationship with my phone for good and I would now be a lot more mindful with how I use this annoyingly intelligent piece of technology but lets be honest, it didn’t stick. I’m not mad at myself for being addicted to my phone because that is literally what they are designed to do. I watched the Social dilemma a few months ago and decided I would never use social media again and then the next day I posted what I was eating for dinner.

I feel my main ties to my phone lie in Whatsapp and Instagram. I have increased the amount of people I follow on Instagram which might sound counterproductive but when I follow less people I feel like I need to be up to date with everyone’s dull antics. Following more people has made it literally impossible to do that so now I can pick and choose the content I engage with. Whatsapp is a bit of a beast, I miss the days of saying ‘ptb’ at the end of a text message and then having to wait 3-5 working days until my mate had saved up their pocket money to get a top-up and then finally got back to me. Messages were long, squeezing in the absolute maximum of characters instead of the constant dialogue that Whatsapp encourages. I tried to use my Whatsapp account like old school sms, spending time before I responded and then sending a full paragraph to engage in more meaningful comms but that isn’t ideal when your gf just wants to know if you want salmon for dinner.

I don’t have the answers but I do know I need to use my phone less. These last 2 days the judgmental app tells me I have used my phone around an hour each day which means my usage has been reduced dramatically since I was presented with the cold hard facts and a graph to rival those on BBC news when a new covid announcement comes (next slide please). I’ve realized that when I have days when I have seen friends in person, I don’t reach for my phone as much. I’ve noticed that I am constantly craving connection and the best way for me to do that is to be present and irl with the people I want to chat to..which isn’t ideal when there is a global pandemic making it illegal to be close enough to have a chat without shouting.

So I’m going to be kind to myself whilst I muddle through this and not put any hard and fast rules about how I use my phone. As soon as I make a rule I want to break it. I can only use my phone for an hour a day? Watch me use it for seven. The thing I want to do is just use it a bit less and that’s something I reckon I can manage. At the end of the day if something is important, they will call you, promise.

In review: 10 books that you need on your bookshelf (pt.2)

books

Reading continues to bring me comfort, an escape from my busy every day life and a chance to completely engulf myself in someone’s world. Reading a good book is pure magic. In September, I shared 10 books that you need on your bookshelf and now I am back with the next installment. I am storming through books at the moment and have been lucky to happen upon some right crackers. With libraries closing there doors I have been relying on my bookish pals to provide me with excellent reading material and they have seriously delivered. This may well become a regular feature on my blog. To keep up with what I am currently reading, check out my StoryGraph account.

My brilliant friend & the Neopolitan novels by Elena Ferrante
Oh boy I loved these books and felt genuinely heartbroken when I finished the 4th installment. Ferrante is an incredible writer and no one knows who she is. The characters she creates seem so real and I was completely enthralled by the story. The novels follow two central characters – Elena & Lila from childhood to adulthood. I had to keep referring back to the useful character list at the start of the novel to keep track of who everyone was but by the conclusion, they all felt like old friends. It is almost like an incredibly well written Italian soap opera with so many twists and turns that it pretty much took my breath away. Perfection.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing is a historical fiction novel which with each chapter follows a different descendant of an Asante woman. The book starts with her two daughters, who are half-sisters, separated by circumstance. Subsequent chapters follow their children and the following generations. The novel beautifully explores the slave trade and imagines life in Ghana at that time, and as we move forward through time we see what slavery becomes in the US, and how it changes Ghana. I couldn’t put this book down.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
We found this book for 50p in a charity shop just before lockdown, impressed that it had won the Booker prize in 2008. The White Tiger felt different to any book I have read before. I was transported from my sofa to the underbelly of India as I journeyed with the protagonist, Balram. Over the course of seven nights, by the light of a chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life. I’m really pleased this book is set to become a film as the imagery felt so clear in my mind – I hope it lives up the novel!

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
I found this book in a phone box which has been repurposed by the community as a free book shop. I had heard about the novel a while ago but had never got around to reading it. I love books that take me somewhere new and this book captured 1850’s London brilliantly. This is a richly dark and gothic book about art, love and obsession. It is an unsettling immersive read, with its elements of horror, ideal for those who love historical fiction set in Victorian times. Previously, I hadn’t read many novels of this genre but I really enjoyed The Doll Factory. Shoutout to the phone box.

Fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe by Fannie Flagg
Yes that really is the author’s name. This book is full of Southern American charm and made me feel very hungry at the descriptive passages about the food that was being eaten (luckily there is a recipe section at the back for the novel’s signature dishes). It’s a love story, a friendship story and so much more. There’s survival against the odds, murder, and plenty of humour. I did find some of the racist dialogue hard to read but I understand that this is very true of the time that the novel is set. I wish I could visit the Whistle stop cafe.

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
At the Port Eliot festival a few years ago I heard an interview with Amy Liptrot about her new novel, The Outrun. I fell head over heels for Amy and knew that I needed to read her book immediately. I was v.sad I hadn’t read it before so I couldn’t ask any insightful questions. I digress. The Outrun is a memoir that at times feels like poetry. Amy leads a hectic life in London and recovery from addiction leads her back to her home on Orkney. Through these new surroundings she comes to terms with what has happened to her and finds new hope in the land around her. This book started my love of wild swimming and I could read it again and again.

The Stationery shop of Tehran by Marjan Kamali
I’ll admit it. I haven’t actually finished this book yet but I love it so much that I know that I want to recommend it. This book is a reflection back on a love story that took place in 1953, Tehran. With a country who fought for democracy; for a couple who fought for it within their family. A couple who are destined to be together until torn apart for reasons unbeknownst to Roya, the lead character. Fifty years later, she gets her answer. I am still waiting to find out what that answer actually is but I am completely confident in the author that I won’t be disappointed by the novel’s conclusion. I will edit this if I turn out to be completely disappointed by the novel’s conclusion.

& Now for some of my favourite fluffy books that aren’t too hard on the brain and feel like a hug.

The Flat Share & The Switch by Beth O’Leary
The Flat Share is about two people who share a flat, with one working in the day and sleeping at night and the other sleeping in the day and working at night. It’s a frivolous romanic comedy that I can definitely see being turned into a film. For lots of non-reading friends, this book has got them back into reading. The Switch is about a grandmother and granddaughter who switch lives. The story is slightly predictable but I didn’t mind that because I wasn’t in the mood for surprises to be honest. These books would make excellent holiday books. In a word they are: lovely.

The Summer seaside kitchen by Jenny Colgan

Oh how we laughed when I picked up this book from a charity shop. The cover looked like a classic book for middle aged women to read on a sun lounger and I wasn’t expecting much at all. Then I couldn’t put it down and had to eat my words. The Summer seaside kitchen is the beginning of a series of books set on the fictional island of Mure. The books feel cosy and safe and include delicious food and likeable characters. I have Colgan’s latest Christmas installment which I am very excited to read next month.

We got covid-19. How’s that for clickbait?

stuff

Last Thursday we were watching TV when Zoe said she had a headache. We thought it was because of our plug in heaters that turn our tiny flat into the Bahamas but smell a bit weird so we turned them off and decided to get an early night. Before we went to sleep I said that Zoe should book a covid test because she felt really hot. Luckily we managed to book her one for the next morning in the car park of our old University. We woke up on Friday and Zoe felt back to normal after a good sleep and I now had a headache and felt hot but the heaters weren’t on so we couldn’t blame them. I decided I should probably get a test too but couldn’t get one in the same time slot as Zoe so she went for hers then drove home and got me and took me for mine and all of the staff said funny things like ‘Back again already?’. It wasn’t very funny. Swabbing your tonsil and up your nose to your brain whilst gagging and trying not to sneeze is a pretty sexy activity to watch your partner do. A guy in full PPE came and collected my test using litter pickers and we headed home feeling slightly guilty that we got tested because we didn’t really feel ill anymore and maybe I was just hot because we sleep underneath a mountain of blankets.

Then it was the weekend and we stayed inside like good girls and laughed about how we definitely don’t have Coronavirus but then we did. Zoe’s test came back on Sunday morning and mine followed on Monday. We were really shocked because lots of friends had had more intense symptoms and had tested negative and I even said I would put all my savings on us not having it. Thank God we didn’t shake on it. From Monday I felt progressively worse – really fatigued and with complete loss of smell, taste and appetite. I’ve been sleeping for 12-13 hours a night and every small activity makes me need to go and sit down for a while after. I am eating in response to a stomach rumble but am getting no enjoyment from food and it all feels very strange. Luckily, Zoe has continued to be asymptomatic and has been able to work from home and deal with me moaning every waking hour about how tired I am and how I wish I could taste. Yesterday she had a delivery of the most delicious looking fudgy brownies and it made me so sad because I might as well just eat a raw green pepper.

I am trying not to worry about my symptoms and believe that they will pass but it is hard when pals keep texting to say their mate still hasn’t got their ability to taste back since March and the many articles about long-covid fatigue. I feel really grateful that my symptoms have been fairly mild in the grand scheme of things but I still feel extremely shit. Zoe is allowed outside on Sunday and me on Monday and I am really looking forward to some fresh air but I don’t feel like I am ever going to have energy again. I hope I will.

I guess I just wanted to put this out there because it is easy to think it won’t happen to you or the effects won’t be too bad because we’re young and healthy but even the mildest symptoms can be really debilitating. Also, if you have any of the headline symptoms, even a little bit – please get a test. Neither of us have had a cough at all and I know that I thought this was the main indicator that you need to get tested. Please be careful. We were lucky that we had only had close contact with 3 people in the window before our test who have needed to isolate and they are currently without symptoms, but we might not have been so lucky.

Stay safe and still don’t invite me to your Zoom quiz because I’m busy sleeping.

PS – A huge thanks to friends who have dropped round food, prescriptions, sent lil gifts, kept me company over Whatsapp and been all round good eggs. I treated myself to this little smiley sunshine too and look how cute it is:

Lockdown 2.0

stuff

On the eve of the lockdown 1.0 I was bubbling with enthusiasm of the all the things I could do with my newly awarded free time. Dreams of finally getting through the never ending lists of hobbies, to-dos and activities finally seemed like they could become reality. I managed to ignore the fact that there was a huge virus travelling around the world and instead saw it as paid time off to do what I want, as long as it involved staying indoors and not seeing anyone. On the eve of lockdown 1.0 I moved in with my girlfriend which brought a new and exciting space to exist in, walls to be painted and drawers to be organized. I was ready to get shit done and I did. I painted and read and swam in rivers and cleaned and enthusiastically took part in video calls.

On the eve of lockdown 2.0 I feel numb. I’ve gotten back into the swing of being at work, seeing friends and had finally managed to achieve a pretty good balance of life stuff. I’d re-launched my business and people were hyped about it. I have no energy to be excited about another round of free time. I went to the library on Monday and found no books I wanted to read. Nothing is grabbing my attention. I already feel bored and we are only on day one.

Things that felt exciting in lockdown 1.0 which I now couldn’t care less about:

  • Having free time
  • Animal crossing
  • Zoom quizzes
  • Zoom calls
  • Anything about Zoom
  • Wild garlic
  • Banana bread
  • Sourdough starters (rip)
  • Being productive
  • Being positive

So I guess this time round it isn’t about thriving and it is about surviving. My only goal for each day is to eat and breathe and not look at the news too much.

God speed & please don’t invite me to your Zoom quiz.

I never want to be told to gargle with warm salt water ever again

stuff

I suck at being ill. I hate being off work, I hate being told to do nothing and I hate not being able to eat anything more solid than soup or on a good day, mashed potato. I do, however like attention and being sick gets you plenty of that and an excuse to write a blog post about being ill where you have no idea where it is going to go. I am also heavily medicated so this could be a wild ride. Tonsillitis creeps up on me atleast once a year and no it not just a bad sore throat, it is actual hell. Once my throat finally stops feeling like it is being stabbed I am going to order an XL Papa Jon’s pizza and as many of those sweet garlic dips that my bank account allows and it’s going to be the best night of my life since I realised that all 121 episodes of Glee are available on Netflix.

Things that tonsillitis is worse than:

  • Repeatedly stepping on an upturned plug whilst your barefoot
  • Accidentally smashing a family heirloom
  • Wetting yourself in public
  • Losing the school Guinea pig that you took home to look after for a weekend
  • Booty calling your ex who cheated on you
  • Mistakenly using hair removal cream instead of shampoo
  • Being hungover and downing a glass of vodka, thinking it is water
  • Fracturing all of your toes

I like to be entertained. As a child I hated playing on my own, I would count down the days of half term longing to get back to school. As an adult I pack my social calendar full to the brim, pretending that I just loooove being busy when really I just don’t want to be by myself. When Zoe goes out for the evening, I watch TV whilst messaging as many people as possible on WhatsApp and redesigning my cabin on Animal Crossing. As soon as I take annual leave and allow myself to relax I get I’ll or if that hasn’t happened in a while then I am left to push push push until my tonsils swell up like golf balls and I break out into cold sweats. Being busy is the dark side to my ongoing struggle with high functioning anxiety. As my Mum says, I’ve got to stop burning the candle at both ends and for the sake of my tonsils and for the sake of my sanity, something’s got to give.

When the lockdown restrictions started to ease I said to myself that I would remember how much better I felt when the government ordered to stay inside and do nothing (bear with me). I thought a pandemic would wreak havoc on my mental health but years of catastrophising weirdly worked in my favour and now that a lot of other people were doing a whole lot of nothing, I allowed myself to do nothing too.. whilst I wasn’t busy thinking of excuses as to why I couldn’t attend your Zoom quiz. Now that life is returning to normal, I am struggling. I have let myself go from 0 to 100 and ended in a state of having to gargle warm salt water and take 6x tablets every 4 hours and I want to do everything in my power for this to never happen again. I feel like my tonsillitis has got tonsillitis. I know that prioritising time to do nothing isn’t going to cause a supersonic boost in my immune system but it’s surely going to help, right?

No time like the present, I’m going to stop endlessly wondering when life can get going again and instead focus on being quiet, still and saving £2983 to get a private tonsillectomy. Google tells me that a brave tonsillitis warrior before me has asked how to remove their tonsils at home, so that’s always a budget friendly option if the going gets really tough. But for now, rest.

Finding my safe, healthy and happy running feet

running

If you have ever been within a 10 meter radius of me you will have probably heard about that one time I did an ultra-marathon. Just incase you somehow missed the memo, I ran from Padstow to Landsend in 3 days and it was so hard but I didn’t even get one blister which is a mystery to this day because I hadn’t even worn in my shoes properly. Eat your heart out Mo Farrah. When I crossed the finish line and burst in to tears I decided that I would categorically never run again. Once I’d eaten the amount of food equivalent to feeding a small village, had a massage and slept for a week I thought at some point I would probably want to lace up my trainers at some point.

After a long rest, I decided to start running but I very quickly struggled with searing pain in my heels (I spoke about it briefly in this post). For a long while I pushed through the pain but in the end I hobbled up the Bristol foot and body clinic and accepted defeat. Rehabbing for plantar fasciitis has been an interesting time. I’ve been forced to slow down, have loads of acupuncture and wear insoles and a sexy foot splint when the pain peaks. I was told it was likely I’d have to live with managing this pain & running short difference max 2 x a week but miraculously, right now, the pain has gone. I am sure that this is something I will struggle with at different times in my life but now I feel like I have the tools to manage it and the mindset not to berate myself if I have to stop exercising for a while whilst I heal. As a side note, I highly recommend Louise at the Bristol foot and body clinic. She is an absolute angel.

A few weeks ago my friend Maria was telling me about the Maffetone method of running which is in a nutshell: running slower to run faster and make sure you are running slow enough by staying in your aerobic heart rate zone which is where you most efficiently exercise – to calculate your basic aerobic heart rate it is 180 minus your age and this should be the max you’re hitting during easy runs. At first it is likely you will be running slower than you ever have before to keep your heart rate down but with progress it has been proven that you can run quicker within the same HR zone. It also means that if running like this through training, on race day you have the reserves to push harder, go faster and comfortably stay at a higher HR. A lot of runners don’t run slow enough on their slow runs and I am 100% guilty. For years I have been tied up in numbers, pace, miles ran and this means I have had to undo the thoughts that tell me that a run is only ‘counted’ if it hits a certain target. I knew I had to give this method of run training a go!

My first run trying this was a huge test as I knew it would mean allowing myself to walk when I needed to and stop completely if my heart rate jumped too high. Strangely on my first run I managed a consistent plod and didn’t need to stop. I spoke to Maria about it and we thought maybe my love for slow runs might have put me in good stead for this style of running. However, on my second run, my heart rate spiked massively and I had to take walking breaks and complete stops to bring my HR back to an aerobic level. So many things play into our heart rate such as heat, stress, lack of sleep and this way of running forces me to properly tune in to my body and it’s capabilities at that time. I am nowhere near as exhausted after my runs and running in this way actually makes me want to run more. Hardcore Maff-er’s also focus on nutrition but this is something I haven’t and won’t delve into.

On Sunday I had my first race of the year. I decided not to check my HR or any other numbers and just enjoy the run at the pace which felt good for me (and not race it) and it was so much better than any event I’ve done previously. When I finished the run, I drank some water and ate a Twirl, I didn’t frantically try and upload the run to Strava so everyone could praise me or instantly check how many calories I’d burned to work out if I’d ‘earned’ the contents of the post-race treats table. My relationship with running is a constant work in process but this method matched with not checking my pace or amount of time ran by turning my smart watch into a stupid watch feels like a real step in the right direction.

Turns out I was so chilled with my new running mindset, I even managed to nap on route.

This is your life

stuff

This weekend I returned to Cornwall to see my parents and finally get round to sorting out my bedroom. Alexa, play Adele – Hometown glory. In my naivety I thought I had already done this when I left for University but it turns out that looks can be deceiving. My bedroom on first glance may look organized, tidy and grown up – minus the fuchsia pink carpet – but the cupboards and drawers and under my bed painted a different picture. Piles of clothes, photos, 1000 chunky belts and many silk black clutch bags stuffed with Marlborough lights were unearthed and separated into charity shop or ‘for the tip’ black sacks. I might be 29 years old but I still hid the crushed up cigarettes from my parents because it is important they still believe that I am Sandy before she had the makeover.

Sorting through these objects made me feel like I was on a low budget version of This Is Your Life. I used to have dreams that one day I would be famous and be surprised, but not too surprised, when I was presented with that iconic red book. Judging by the current trajectory of my life this is eXtremely unlikely. It felt kind of funny meeting my past self in journal entries of scathing tones that XYZ boy didn’t fancy me and the black silk clutch bags (why did I need 7?) that were an essential item for a successful night out, obviously paired with heels and intensely back combed hair. It felt kind of nostalgic meeting my past self in school reports from the celebration of when I first wrote my name to the recurring theme that I would be really capable if only I would stop talking so much. It felt kind of sad meeting my past self in love letters from a boy who used to make me cry at every six form party, push me around and smashed up his iPhone on the Oceana dance floor after seeing me weeks after I finally plucked up the courage to dump him.

Through this process I had the chance to meet with myself from child to teenager to adult, facing up to past worries, triumphs and regrets as I filled black sack after black sack with my history, tied up in broken hair bobbles and garishly coloured tights. I could let go of things that I had harbored for years and recognising that these no longer have a hold on me. I’m free.

During that weekend I saw from a distance, people who once were placed with great importance in my life. The girl who used to fill me with fear when I walked down the school corridors now played with her children on the water slide at the local leisure centre and the boy who used to tease me for being tall now walked with his 2 year old son desperately trying to get him to take a nap. Instead of placing these people into a black sack never to be seen again I had to face up to the fact that I am going to see these people over the years when I visit home and instead of feeling that knotted stomach feeling like I did walking to my English class in year 9, I had to let go. My Mum used to try and appease me when I went home crying, desperate to be in the ‘popular gang’ who in fact were a group of people who weren’t popular at all, they were feared. She would say that these are their glory days and one day when I was a grown up I might even be thankful for how these experiences had shaped me. I never believed her. Until now. I walked past them, looked them in the eyes and smiled. I have absolutely no idea if they recognized me and if they did, I hope they know I forgive them. Boy that smashed his iPhone, I forgive you too.

Life’s too short. I’m happy.