Wednesday, 19 November 2014

If You Care, You Can Say What You Want

We've all seen things like this, haven't we? This one is about people who have been abused                                                                    

Here's another one:

These are both symptomatic of a trend that I am starting to really dislike, and here's why. I had 'liked' a Facebook page called 'The Grief Toolbox' because it was really helpful and a comfort when my Dad died, and had remained so for a long time. I finally was prompted to 'unlike' it recently, after yet another piece written about 'what not to say/do/think when in the presence of the bereaved' came along, and with it yet more comments from people bemoaning how cruel and unfeeling other people are/how dare they say that/no-one understands unless they've been through it and even then they are still arses etc etc.

Well bollocks to that. 

I am grateful for every last thing anyone took the time to say to me when my Dad died. Even the things that were a bit 'off', the things that I didn't particularly agree with, the things that really didn't make any sense to me. Cos you know what? Those people tried. They saw I was in pain and they tried to make it better. I'm also grateful for the people who said nothing because they didn't know what to say. We've all been there and I know they don't love me any the less just because they had no clue what words to string together. Who can blame them really, when the Grief Fascists are out telling people they are the lowest of the low if they tell you they 'know how you feel'?

Same with depression. When I was depressed, it didn't matter what anyone said to me, I wasn't going to feel any better. And in the same way, I wasn't going to feel that much worse either. Again, you know the people who love you, even if they don't say the right things. And you also know the people who don't give a shit, whether or not they remember not to look at their watches.

And as for being abused - well, I am just grateful for anyone who put up with me and my enduring capacity to completely ignore all the good advice I was given whilst in an abusive relationship. I don't give a teensy little rat's ass what words came out of their mouths - and in fact, the views that least chimed with my own were probably the most useful in the end. 

To me it seems like it is all part of a victim mentality that is ultimately dis-empowering. It's as though being a victim of something means you should have special privilege to be a delicate flower that the world and his dog have to tip-toe around just in case they upset your little cotton socks. Well thing is, shit happens. And shit happens to everyone - the people being slagged off for being insensitive about grief may well be depressed people themselves. So slagging them off makes the slagger themselves a bit of an arse, doesn't it? We are all human, and we all have our own crosses to bear. A lot of times when people screw up what they are saying about your situation, it is because they are extremely uncomfortable, they think you are too, and they are trying to make you and them both feel better. What on earth is so wrong with that?

Wouldn't it be better for groups and meme-makers to encourage people to be a bit less touchy and a bit more tolerant of eachother's failings? Not everyone has been bereaved. Not everyone has been abused, or depressed, or raped or mugged or whatever. But we have all been in situations where we haven't known what to say for the best. Why make it harder for eachother? Why not take whatever comes out of a person's mouth (or whatever doesn't) for what it is? Because usually what it is, is an act of love.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Sorry, I'll Sponsor You When You DO Something

Actually, I'm not planning on drinking tonight at all. I often don't, and haven't for the last couple of years. There have been several times during those 24 months that I have gone for maybe 6 weeks at a time without drinking. Whilst training for the Moonwalk, I barely drank from February through to May, because I really took that walk seriously, and wanted my body to be in peak condition.

So it comes as a surprise to me to find that 'not drinking' is apparently considered a way of raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Now I am usually only too happy to sponsor people. I may only give a little, or I may give a lot, depending on the state of finances, but I'll always give something, because I know that people put a lot of effort into their endeavours, and what better motivation to do something challenging or scary than to know that if you do, you are raising a shed-load of money for charity. Even dieting - I've sponsored people to lose weight - because it is HARD. But to sponsor someone for not drinking alcohol??? Maybe if you are an alcoholic, but otherwise don't even bother to ask me. And CERTAINLY don't ask me to join you - calling it a 'challenge' does not make it one; and I'm not a person to ask for sponsorship for pure inconvenience, otherwise I'd be asking for sponsorship for cleaning up my cat's endless puddles of pee.

No-one sponsored me for my abstinence during the Moonwalk training. No-one sponsored me for my abstinence during pregnancy and breast feeding. Should I ask for sponsorship in retrospect? No, cos you know what? It wasn't hard. It didn't hurt. It required no training or preparation. It didn't scare me.

So what the hell is the sponsorship even FOR?

It's like Movember - what a non-event to sponsor someone for. Man grows moustache. Whoopy-fecking-do. And chucking ice water over yourself. MY GOODNESS that one pissed me off. A work colleague has spent a couple of years raising money for MND (British for ALS), during which time he has climbed to Everest base camp and swum to the Isle of Wight. Were people jumping out of the woodwork and crawling out from under their rocks to sponsor him in these valiant efforts? Were they heck as like. But all of a sudden there they are, all cold and wet 'for charideeeee'.

(Although in discussing this with friends, it did occur to me that maybe I could do Movember. Man grows moustache isn't a story or any form of effort. Vain woman grows moustache and beard is a real discomfort as it would force me to challenge gender stereotypes whilst facing daily mockery. There's a difference)

But back to Stoptober - the whole thing has managed to combine two concepts that really get my goat - people being sponsored for nothing AND waiting for a specific time to change your life. I mean, if you want to stop drinking, why wait til October? Stop now. If you want to lose weight, why wait til Monday? Start now. If you want to get fit, why wait til the New Year? Start now!

It's like New Year's Eve - don't tell me when I should be having fun! And even more so, don't then come on all righteous in the New Year going on about how I should be giving up alcohol (snore) and fatty food etc. Especially as it is my birthday month, you bunch of utter killjoys!

Tell you what, here's an idea - you go about your life however you want, and I'll go about my life however I want, and let's not ask eachother for sponsorship for our lifestyle choices. Deal?

Friday, 9 May 2014

It Always Rains on Barnhurst Lane OR Things I've Learned Whilst Training for a Moonwalk

For this is what I have been doing since I last blogged - training for the Moonwalk London. Yup, tomorrow, on 10th May I will spend my night walking a marathon through London in my bra. Not only that, but my walking buddy isn't able to do it, so I will be walking alone. With 17,000 strangers. I'm SCARED!!!

More importantly though, before I even get to the Moonwalk itself, the training has taught me so much. It occurred to me whilst walking my 'big' practice walk of 20 miles, that I was walking it just coming into the Cardinal Grand Cross, and that actually, ever since I'd begun walking training, it's as though I've been walking away from my past and into my future.

Now let's be clear - as an exercise, I HATE walking with a passion. It is so, so SO BLOODY BORING! It's not like Insanity, where you get in there, get sweaty and breathless to the max, and are done. It goes on and on and on - and by the end of it you don't feel out of breath, but every damn bone in your body aches and your feet are covered in blisters.This is most definitely Not Fun. To make things better I always take my iPod with me and catch up on podcasts of radio shows I've missed in the week. Always except the time when I was horrified to find that I didn't have my iPod headphones, and I was already five miles into a 17 mile walk. So what else to do, but to think, and think, and then think some more?

13 Miles is Nothing Special
The first thing I got to thinking was how my view of distances has changed. 6 miles used to be an achievement, and leave me with aching muscles. Now that my 'usual' walks are 13 mile, 6 miles is a skip down the road, an evening ramble, certainly not something to consider 'training'.

I Don't Have a 9-Mile Hip
For as long as I can remember I have had a '9-mile hip' - whenever I go for long walks, it will kick-off hurting at the 9 mile point without fail. So of course, on the first 13 mile walk, it started hurting at 9 miles. Well, it started aching at about 6, due to me walking at a much faster pace than I usually would. By 9 it was proper spasming, and I was feeling a bit apprehensive. By Barnhurst Lane (more about that road later) it was absolute freaking agony. Every step sent a jolt of sharp searing agony through my whole leg, and I was visibly limping. I somehow made it the last two miles - even though I discovered that my other hip was a 12-mile hip, and so it was all I could do not to cry out loud as I struggled that last mile. It was not good. In fact, it made me doubt my ability to complete this thing.

Thing is, I'm a physiotherapist, wasn't this a case of 'physician, heal thyself'? So I read all I could about power-walking technique, analysed my own gait, and came to the conclusion that I needed to shorten my stride quite dramatically. Guess what? It only bloody worked! Not had a problem with either hip since, it's like a miracle! If only I had found this out 20 years ago!

It Always Rains on Barnhurst Lane
I don't know why I hate walking Barnhurst Lane.

Maybe it's because in my memory it looked like this:

whereas in real life it looks like this:

Maybe it's because my secondary school is on that road, and there's something about walking past it and seeing all the woodland that I remember as seedlings that is inherently depressing.

Maybe it's because it is a very straight, poorly tarmacked pavement through an un-scenic housing estate. 

Maybe it's because I am haunted by the memory of the 9-Mile Hip Incident

Maybe it is because it is two miles from finish and it is so near yet so far

Or maybe it is because it always, always, without fail, rains on Barnhurst Lane. No wonder my teen years were so dispiriting.

 © Copyright Gordon Griffiths and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license

There is always a little smile though, when I reach the bridge above. For just the other side of it (on the right as you look at this picture, on my left as I walk it) is a house. Just a normal house, like all the others on the estate. But it's occupants have no idea that during its construction it was the scene of a famous 'flasher' incident, when Loraine Powis memorably exclaimed, 'why's he holding those raw sausages?'

I Am Grateful For Steve
This is something I don't think I ever thought I would say, but my 20-mile walk was dogged with thoughts of him - and not bad ones.

It was an absolutely beautiful Saturday, bright sunshine, but chilly,about 4 miles in and I was feeling incredibly happy. It crossed my mind that this was something I never would have done if I was with Steve - that I'd have been having to lie in bed until he felt like getting up, probably some time about 3pm. Then almost immediately that thought was replaced by one of how actually he started the process that had led me here.

You see, for all that I lost myself in the relationship with him, being with him gave me back a part of myself that had been lost years before.

Recalling the good times with Steve isn't something I've allowed myself to do before, because usually it immediately calls to mind the fact that he was faking all of it: all the love, all the fun - all fake. It's what sociopaths do. Yet because of refusing to think about the good times, I'd missed the massive thing that Steve gave me - he gave me back the confidence to do things I used to enjoy. With him I dressed goth, I went away for weekends, I went to V festival, I went to see bands. So now I am able to remember those good times without feeling upset, because whilst I walked I realised that for me it wasn't fake. I was there, I was in love, I was rediscovering things I'd forgotten I loved, and I HAD FUN. The truth of those good times was that they were nothing to do with Steve, because he was nothing like he pretended to be. Those good times were all about ME, about how I felt doing those things - exactly how I felt whilst walking that day - exhilarated, alive, full of joy, totally in the moment. Had I but known it at the time, Steve was showing me what it was to follow my joy. He was also showing me that I could do it alone - because, after all, I always was.

It's Possible To Feel Sorry For a Road
Especially when it's an orphan:

I'm Not a Born Fundraiser
If this were X-Factor I wouldn't have a chance - I don't have a reason to raise money for breast cancer. If I'm perfectly honest I decided to do this for the challenge to myself, to see if I could do the distance, to see if I could do it when people are sleeping. That I can raise money for charity is an added bonus, and this doesn't make the charity any less worthwhile. If you can spare anything, even a pound or less, it will be going to a good cause, to help those who contract a disease that could affect us all - yes MEN get breast cancer too! So please, if you can, go to my Moonwalk page, and donate! Many thanks to all that do, and thoughts and prayers very welcome tomorrow night!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Chin Up!

I know it's not quite a home gym, but it's a start. It's been there quite a while, since I started P90X in fact, and although I hoped to be able to achieve a chin-up by the end of that, it didn't quite happen. Oh no. My body saved that big achievement for Christmas Day, when I was showing my nieces how to do it, whilst saying 'I can't actually do one yet' AS I DID ONE!!!! YAY!!!! It turns out that in breaking the kitchen door off its hinges, Steve did me yet another big favour. So the next goal is an overhand pull up, which I am nowhere near.

In other fitness news, I've now been through Tapout XT totally, (as a hybrid with Insanity and P90X), and I have to say, of those three programmes, it is probably the most complete and the one that suits me most. My favourite will probably always be Insanity, but it doesn't have the best results for me. Yes, cardio-wise my fitness went through the roof, and has pretty much stayed there even though I'm now doing Insanity only 2 or 3 times a week. But doing pure Insanity, I lose muscle mass.

Once I added P90X, things got much better, I got stronger, I lost weight, I stopped being starving hungry, and my Insanity performance really improved - my knees really are coming above my hips on high knees now, for example. But the disadvantage of P90x was how SLOW a lot of the weight work was. As I've mentioned, I've printed off the routines and do them myself, much more quickly, now.

So TapouT - it's a similar proposition to P90X and Insanity, which is unsurprising, as the trainer, Mike Karpenko, is ex-Beachbody. It uses resistance bands rather than weights, which is more practical for me, and has loads of different routines focussing on different body parts or fitness aspects, very similarly to P90X. Where it is way better than P90X is in the speed and continuity of the weight workouts. For someone who has done Insanity or similar, it's at the sort of pace you are looking for to get a proper cardiovascular workout when doing weights.

There are disadvantages to TapouT, but they have nothing to do with the quality of the exercises or the teaching - more to do with the poor production of the DVDs, but bear in mind they are significantly cheaper than Beachbody DVDs.

The main disadvantage is that whatever the exercise, all the participants will be doing it at their own rate - and when the camera cuts, there is no effort made to keep the exercise rhythm visually constant. Once you are aware of this, it is easy enough to take your cue from Mike at the beginning and keep that as your own pace, and not worry about what is being shown on-screen.

And the music - it is too quiet to be motivating, and again, has no bearing on the exercises being performed. Whereas with P90X and Insanity you can use the music to keep your exercises at the right rhythm, in TapouT the music is completely random and nothing to do with the exercises, so again, best to ignore it and just crack on!

But Mike is a personable enough trainer, and the exercises are interesting enough in their own right, to keep me enjoying using this in my rotation of DVDs. If I had to do a Desert Island Fitness Programme, this would probably be the one, results-wise, that I would choose.

Also, in the spirit of keeping things changing so that I don't get bored, I've been adding in some Ballet-fit stuff, and thus happened upon the BEST workout for abs that I have ever done. Bear in mind I've been doing some serious ab work via all the aforementioned DVDs, yet after doing Leah Sarago's Ballet Body Core, I was in AGONY the next day! I knew at the time that I was working all my core, but didn't realise quite how hard until that next day. I don't know how, but it had worked muscles I'd not known existed; even going to the loo hurt, and as for coughing, YIKES! So that one is going to be a permanent fixture on my  routine now.

Finally, I've had a BROKEN MY SCALES shocker! I got on them a couple of days ago, and they quite literally broke apart! I'm telling myself that it's because I recklessly simply stood straight on them, rather than doing a few gentle warm-up 'leans' on them first, or that the plastic had gone brittle after all these years. But I cannot discount that maybe it was my hefty Christmas bulk that did it :-O  So I got some new ones today, and either I've put on half a stone over Xmas, or they are just weighing differently to my old ones. Neither really is a problem, I know if it's extra weight it'll be off soon enough, not gonna stress about it.

That's a huge difference in my psyche. In the past, the emphasis has always been on weight. Now it is on fitness. In the past, the fitness obsession was all about how long I spent in the gym. Now it is about how to get the best results for me in at most an hour a day. That has to be a change for the better.