FITFARMS: GETTING THERE

Well, I made it! Among the many, many things I felt nervous about embarking on this new adventure, actually getting from my home in Essex to FitFarms in Derbyshire was high up on the list! In the past, such a journey would have been second nature but these days it is totally out of my comfort zone.

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However, the walk to the station was so peaceful and calming, I needn’t have worried.  I don’t usually get to see Wickford so early, the sun only recently risen and the town bathed in beautiful, soft light.  Everything looked fresh and new, perfect for the beginning of my new adventure.

I arrived at the station with time to spare (which is highly unusual!) only to find my train had been cancelled and I had to ‘hot foot’ it over the bridge to catch the replacement bus!  After it finished pounding out of my chest, my heart sank at the thought of a long, frustrating bus journey that would make me late. I was really glad that I had paid the extra 90p when booking my ticket to make it an ‘any train’ journey!

As we pulled into Billericay station, the guard jumped on the bus and advised that the train was actually running and, if we wanted to catch it, we had THREE minutes! I was grateful to him as it meant I would be back on schedule but I really could have done without a second mad dash with my suitcase.

When I arrived at Liverpool Street Station, it dawned on me that I was feeling unexpectedly calm! I realised that, as it was still so early and a Sunday morning, the huge crowds I’d been dreading were not there! With a sigh of relief, I continued my journey across London, on the tube, to St Pancras Station.

While on the tube I had a surreal experience. I heard some giggling teens squeal and as I tuned to look down the carriage, I saw a pigeon flying towards me! I’m not a lover of lowing flying birds (they seem to feel the need to ‘share; when near me!), so braced myself for attack and/or target practice. I need not have worried as this dude was a savvy, city pigeon! Although the following video is not my own, this is pretty much what happened!

It was really an odd moment but one that helped me to feel amused and, importantly, to remain calm on my big journey.

The remainder of my journey was pretty uneventful, really what could compare to a tube using pigeon?! I even had time to write a mini blog, which you can read here. I arrived into Matlock station just after lunch, excited, nervous and full of hopeful anticipation!

RUN, MIRIAM, RUN! (Part one)

Just over 10 weeks ago, after an evening that involved too much wine, a lot of emotion and a haircut, I woke up and decided enough was enough! It was time, time for a drastic and life long change!

I have had weight issues for years, which I touched on briefly here, and have been on a hundred different diets with varying success but nothing that I was ever able to maintain.

So, what is different this time? For years I’ve heard the same thing, you have to do it for yourself. I always thought I was but I think a) I was doing it for the approval of others and b) I was doing it because I wanted to look better rather than actually wanting to be fitter and healthier. So this time, it is not about what anyone else thinks or how I look but how I feel – I now really understand about doing it for yourself.

That night ten weeks ago, could have ended very differently. I have struggled with mental health issues since my mid teens. I’ve had very low points before however, that night I really frightened myself. It took every ounce of strength I had not to stop my struggle. I can’t give you details of what I did to stop myself as, due to the alcohol, I only have flashes of memories but the important thing is I didn’t end it all and it turns out that life really begins at 41 and a bit!

I woke up the next day and my new life began. I decided I needed to loose weight and get fitter, not for the approval of others or to look more socially acceptable but to save me from myself.

Morning after the night before

After my self styled hair cut had been sorted out by my very understanding friend and hairdresser, Jane, I started to make plans. First thing on my to do list was to get back to the gym, taking it at my own pace, two days on, one day off, using the treadmill and recumbent (isn’t that a fabulous word?!) cycle.

While all this was going on I was looking for somewhere I could go to give my new, fitter lifestyle a real kick start and to get me really motivated and focused. I didn’t want a Bootcamp – who needs people shouting at you and making you feel even more worthless? I didn’t want to be starved as that is just not something I could maintain when I returned home. I wanted somewhere that looked at all of me, body and soul. After googling ‘fitness health farm NHS‘ the first place that came up after the adverts was FitFarms. Why did I add NHS to my search? Well, my thinking was if a place had links with the NHS then it should be reputable.

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When I saw they had also featured on both the BBC and Channel 4, with links to the videos on their website, I felt even more reassured.

FitFarms provide retreat style breaks with the addition of lots of varied exercise, nutritional food, a range of informative workshops, a mentor and three months after care programme.

I found out all the details and how soon I could go, which was a couple of weeks away at the end of June, and spoke to Mr F – if I went away, it would be big financial commitment as well as an organisational challenge for us.

Although Mr F was very supportive of my new, more energetic lifestyle, he obviously knows me very well and raised a couple of valid concerns. His main concern was that I would return from the course initially full of motivation but that as time passed, that would wain or something would happen that prevented me from going to the gym and I would start to feel guilty, to think I had failed again and wasted everyone’s time and all of that would lead to another big depression.

Initially, I took this on board and agreed it was not for me but in my heart of hearts, I knew this was the life line (literally) that would save me. So, I came up with an plan that would hopefully a) prove to Mr F that I was committed to this new life and b) give me something to focus on and aim towards when I got home. So what was the idea? Run a 10k event for Mind, obviously!

Needless to say, Mr F was duly surprised and impressed and supported me and my new plan 100%. Feeling excited and nervous I booked my five night course with FitFarms, bought my train tickets,  juggled the children between Mr F and some fab friends and signed up for the Kew Gardens 10K*. A new chapter, a new beginning and I was RUNNING towards it with my mind and heart open to all the new possibilities!

*If you would like to sponsor me you can by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=MoreMiriam&faId=624097&isTeam=false

RUNAWAY

Today, aged 41 and a 1/4, I ran away from home! Suitcase carefully packed, lunch made, and with a spring in my step I practically skipped up the road.

The last time I ran away, aged approximately 6 and 1/2, it was a different story! Suitcase stuffed with random, fistfuls of socks and pants, nothing to eat or drink I dripped, yes dripped, my angry little self down The Dip to the bus stop. I can’t remember the exact details but they included me getting up from the Sunday lunch table, hand on hip and telling my Mother “You wouldn’t dare!” as she threatened, initially as a joke, to pour her glass of water over me. Needless to say, even the might of a 6 and a 1/2 year old’s fury cannot match the power of The Mother One!

I had no plan. I was going! Leaving my horrible, smelly family FOREVER!! Luckily for me, my family quite liked their 6 and a 1/2 year old so they gave me ten minutes to calm down, then  came and took me home. Luckily for them, the Sunday bus service was shocking!

Today, I have a plan! My family is not horrible or smelly, well most of the time! I am not, in fact, running away. I am running towards… 

…towards a healthier, happier me!

Let the adventure begin!

I NEED A MATINÉE

According to OxfordDictionaries.com, the definition of a matinée is:

An afternoon performance in a theatre or cinema

However, for me, it has two additional and totally different meanings.

The first has been used in my family since I was a child. It refers to the fact that my lovely Mum (funnily enough pictured with me in front of the Gielgud Theatre about to watch the matinée performance of Blythe Spirit staring the fabulous Angela Lansbury) used to sit down to watch the Sunday matinée after cooking us a yummy, if sometimes ‘interesting’, family lunch and five minutes into the film, would fall fast asleep! To add to our amusement, she would wake up five minutes before the end, give the newspaper she had been ‘reading’ a shake and ask what had happened! This happened with such regularity that, if we feel tired during the day, we say we could do with a matinée!

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The second meaning is one that, I think, only I use. It is directly linked to the very same matinée films mentioned above. I have such fond memories of childhood Sunday lunches – the whole family together around the table, talking and laughing and critiquing Mum’s latest concoction. And these happy family get togethers were always followed by a matinée and, if we were lucky a box of Milk Tray or Dairy Milk chocolates. Sometimes it would be a glorious Technicolor musical, others a more serious black and white drama. Either way there were, more often than not, tears. Sometimes tears from laughing so much at a funny scene or one of us joining in, tunelessly, to one of the big numbers. Sometimes tears triggered by the moving, often war time based, story. Either way, most weekends I’d have a good old cry or, as I now call it, a matinée.

My life today, while in no way hard, is full of pressures and tensions that the little girl of my childhood could never have imagined. I often get to a point when I know that the best way to move forward is to have a big cry and just let it all go. There really isn’t anything like letting all your emotions flood out of you, the relief and release is truly cathartic. It won’t change the situation or the things I have to deal with but releasing all my emotions and tension helps to face my troubles head on, a stronger and more in control woman.

So, should you need a matinée, be it the need for a good film, a nap or a good cry just do it, you will feel better for it!

RITE OF PASSAGE

Well, that was fun! This evening I had the, erm, pleasure(?) of watching the sex education video that my ten year old will soon be seeing.

Immediately, I’m showing my age as I think of it as a video when it is in fact a DVD. To add to this, the cartoons and somewhat cheesy 1970 footage of Mr and Mrs X making whoopie have been replaced by CGI images that where far more detailed than I had anticipated, making me feel somewhat prudish! All this, whilst sitting in the school hall surrounded by fellow parents and teachers…why did no one warn me of this?!

I obviously knew that, at some point, I would have to have the talk with my children but in none of the practice runs of this most awkward of chats that I’ve played through my mind did I anticipate a practically 3D image of boys and girls bits would be a visual backdrop to our conversation!!

Equally, although I obviously knew there was a video DVD, I hadn’t anticipated that I would be viewing it with people who I’ve seen twice a day, every week day for 36 weeks of the year for the last five years!! All in all, I think we all did very well, considering!

Unfortunately, we also got to see part two of the DVD which will be shown to them next year. In this section we not only get to see, thanks to more CGI, a simulation from penetration to conception but the footage of an actual birth of a baby – head crowning, delivery, the lot!

Needless to say, after such an enlightening yet somewhat traumatic rite of passage, I think a large one is most definitely deserved!!

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THINGS…

Every so often I get overwhelmed with the amount of things that surround me. I feel them moving in closer, piling higher, suffocating me, almost burying me alive and I just want to shove it all in black bin bags and throw it all away.

Conversely, I often NEED to buy things, NEED to have them. I feel that I shall cease to exist if I don’t have a certain item be it a button, some fabric, something for the house, that perfect Christmas gift for the children. I just NEED it, regardless of practicality and finances.

I often wonder why? Why I have these feelings of suffocation and desperate need? I guess the need to have things goes back to my childhood and things I experienced while growing up.

I remember stories of how my maternal Grandmother gave all my Mum’s childhood belongings away, without asking, shortly after she married my Dad and the loss she felt as a result. And, even more devastating, of how my parents and siblings had to leave everything behind in Uganda when they had to escape from a military coup in the early seventies.

I also had first hand experience of losing belongings, firstly when our family had to move abroad for my father’s work and we had to be reduce the amount of things we had. And, then when my Dad and I found ourselves fleeing another military coup in Uganda in the mid eighties.

I can remember as clear as if it were this morning rather than nearly thirty years ago. My Dad sat me down and explained that he had heard the army would be opening the airports and that we were going to try and get a flight out.  He told me that if we didn’t manage to get a flight, that we would have to make a run for it and try and cross the boarder into Kenya. He said to pack a small bag, with only essentials.  So, of all my belongings, what did I take? The necessities like a pair of knickers and toothbrush, Ted (my teddy!) and my camera. It may seem odd to take a camera but I wasn’t sure if I would see my Mum and siblings again, so to ensure I would have something to hold onto, I took photos of all the family portraits in the house.

These experiences explain my fear of losing my belongings and, I think, my need to surround myself with things in order to feel safe and secure. However, I am confused as to why, despite my eleven year old self realising that things didn’t matter and that it is people who matter, why my adult self can’t seem to let the things go.

A life long, family friend decided a couple of years ago to try and reduce his belongings to 100 things.  I watched on with admiration as he sold or gave away his belongings and felt inspired by his feelings of freedom as he did so.  He did not get down to 100 items (questions like is a pair of socks one or two items did cause some difficulties) but I think the process helped to ease his situation. He tells me that he feels the process began as a reaction to his Mother’s death and the realisation that ‘stuff’ has little importance.

Again, I find myself back at the same conclusion as my eleven year old self – it’s people not things that matter. I also find myself back at the beginning of this post and considering packing all my stuff in bin bags and getting rid of them but I know that once I start the culling process, I will find myself reliving past memories that are attached to certain items and being unable to let go.

So, the point of this post? I have no idea other than I wanted to voice my confused feelings in the hope that I would come to some sensible conclusion or plan of action.  I have not.

 

GUEST BLOG…NUMBER 3!

I am SO very proud to be featured on The Sewing Directory today!

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I was extremely surprised and pleased and terrified when the lovely Fiona chose my project to be one of two she would use to showcase the glorious Oakshott fabric.

I really hope you enjoy reading the tutorial and, hopefully making, my striped tie. If you do, make sure to comment and post photos – I’d love to see them.

To see the tutorial, click HERE