The one where I become a confirmed running bore ;-)

I’ll apologise now if reading about running is just not your thing. You should probably just click away now to be honest…

On Sunday I reached a major running milestone. I ran 10km.

Looking back at all the runs I have saved on my nike plus app, I haven’t run that distance in a very long time. In fact, my nike plus goes all the way back to 2008 and there’s no sign of a 10k in there at all. So that makes me think it must be at least 10 years since I ran a 10k. My eldest was born in 2006, so chances are it was 2005 that I last ran that distance…possibly even 2003! (we got married in 2004 and I’m pretty sure I was a committed gym bunny that year, so no 10K races).

So I’ve managed to build up to 10K in under 8 weeks. I’m so delighted and proud of my progress. It was a cracking run too. I’d added some new tunes to my running playlist – a bit of Basement Jaxx, some good disco numbers (my taste in music is undefinable. I like everything with a good beat and love a bit of cheesy pop), it was mild enough that I didn’t need thermals on under my running tights and there was even a bit of drizzle to cool me down (yes, it was that mild).

I did start to flag around the 5K mark, but a quick rearrangement of layers soon revived me. I hate being cold but being too hot when you’re running is horrid – the Marathon de Sable is certainly not in my future.

There was even a spot of impromptu dancing around the 7k mark. The aforementioned Basement Jaxx came on just as I ran over a little footbridge and onto the footpath surrounding the unlit, black dark rugby pitch. Turns out, shaking your booty while wearing a headtorch is hilarious but not the easiest to co-ordinate while trying to maintain a decent running pace. Can thoroughly recommend it though.

I don’t think I stopped grinning all day. I know that to many runners 10K is nothing – to many it will be a short training run. But to me, it was a massive milestone. I proved to myself I could do it and I proved to myself I could easily do more. In October I turn 40 and I’ve decided that I’m going to celebrate by running a half marathon on my birthday. Obviously there will be cake and champagne afterwards, but I honestly can think of no other way of celebrating that would give me greater joy.

Yup, it’s confirmed. I’m now a running bore. Jog on!

 

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The bug

dream4Before the children, a long time ago, I used to run.

I’d hit a point in my life where I was unhappy with my body and deeply embarrassed by my lack of fitness. I walked to the train station or to the pub, but that was about it. So in a mad rush of enthusiasm, I signed up for (what I think) was the very first Nike 10K in London. I had 12 weeks to learn how to run. To go from slob to runner. It was brutal.

At one point, I can remember running around my local park with hubbie riding alongside on his bike, urging me not to stop. I was minutes and seconds away from completing my first ever continuous 20 minutes of running…and I thought I was going to die.

But I finished that very first 10K in 1 hour 12 minutes. I cried half way round Richmond Park because my knees were screaming, my quads burning and my hamstrings no longer felt attached. But I finished. I was a hero – my own hero – and it felt amazing!

Fast forward 11 maybe 12 years and here I am again, learning how to run. There have been brief flirtations with running over the years, but I always found an excuse not to push myself. Then hubbie caught the running bug in 2009, promptly knocked out 2 marathons and stole my running thunder.

But I’m ready to claim it back. I’ve worked myself up to 8.3 km so far and have 20km in my sights. In October I turn 40 and I fully intend to celebrate by running a half marathon on my birthday. I refuse to be fat and unfit at 40.

No, I will run full pelt at 40, take it by surprise and knock the stuffing out of it. I will be Fabulous at 40, and that’s a promise.

2015

I think that was possibly the hardest year I’ve ever lived.

A real roller-coaster of daily life, where we lurched from amazing memory-making days to the depths of despair (or so it felt at the time) within the space of 24 hours.

I’m hoping 2016 is calmer. More peaceful. More coherent and less volatile than 2015. I’m hoping for less solo parenting and more family togetherness.

Time will tell. We have a lot that needs to be fixed, resolved and restored before that happens.

I’m staying positive though…just about hanging on by my fingernails.

Writing prompt: Broken

It’s hard to tell when it started. Looking back, the signs were probably there from early on. The odd hairline crack here, a ragged edge there. Every now again, they would both notice that all was not perfect and frantically fight it out to see who could assign blame first. Or maybe he always knew it wasn’t perfect, but was too fearful to say anything. She forged on in ignorant bliss, believing that the cracks were part of their charm and what kept them together in a bizarre sort of way.

It was them against the world until suddenly the world was against them.

She always said they were soul mates, best friends and meant to be together. She used to feel lost when he wasn’t there. He was the one she thought of first and the one she told everything to. But now, he can only see her flaws. The quirks that were once charming and a magnetic draw for him are now the bane of his existence. She lives in a fantastical world, full of lofty goals and burning ambition. His world is grey and dull, void of any joy. She used to bring him joy. He used to make her laugh.

But not now.

Now there is nothing. No affection. No whispered endearments. No flirting. Just raw hurt, which if left to simmer for long enough will be verging on hatred.

She feels numb. He feels angry. They carefully dance around each other, going about their daily lives, avoiding the need for physical contact. But she wishes he would reach out for her. That he would circle his arms around her waist and squeeze tight. She wants to know he still needs her.

Can they be fixed? Do they need to be fixed? Maybe this is what it’s like after all these years together…everything that needed to be said has been spoked, all their stories have been told. Maybe this is as good as it gets. Maybe slightly broken, slightly mediocre is good enough. They’re still together. They still work, sort of. Maybe it’s time to make do (if not mend).

For now.

Desperately seeking adventure

Friday nights really are not what they used to be.

Once upon a time, a Friday night marked the beginning of The Weekend. For a whole academic year, Friday afternoons marked the beginning of The Weekend. That was the benefit of having biochemistry lab sessions opposite the student union bar – it’s amazing how swiftly you can set up gel electrophoresis when you know there’s a pint waiting for you.

The as life moved on, Friday nights were celebrated in trendy West London cocktail bars or cozy South London pubs. In the summer, it was down by the river in Richmond, Pimms in hand. Or alternatively, if we were feeling antisocial, Friday night was beer/wine/cider and takeaway pizza.

These days, Friday nights are spent negotiating with exhausted children who desperately want to spend another hour swimming (because 3 hours swim training per week is not enough for my amphibian children) but can barely string a sentence together because they’re so tired.

This Friday was different though. This Friday saw us sitting in our cavernous, slightly retro town hall, eagerly awaiting tales of adventure. Despite inter-railing through France and Italy when I was 19, I never really caught the travel bug. Truthfully, Inter-railing terrified the 19 year old me. My entire experience of foreign travel previously had been 2 school trips to Venice on a bus. Family holidays were few and far between and usually to Edinburgh or Aviemore. We did make it to London once, very briefly. But holidays were not something my family did really, nobody did. Flights from the north of Scotland to anywhere were beyond the means of most average working class families. So travel was not something I’d ever really contemplated. I was happy enough travelling to far flung times and places through books really.

But anyway, back to Friday night. We’d gone to listen to the intrepid adventurer Alastair Humphreys, a man who had cycled around the world solo, rowed across the atlantic, swam in the arctic sea, walked across India and ran across the Sahara. Hearing his stories of these amazing adventures was both entertaining and inspiring, but I came home with these golden nuggets of advice:

  1. An adventure can happen anywhere, between 5pm and 9am, between Friday night and Monday morning, up a hill, on a beach or in a forest. It doesn’t need to be in a desert or on a different continent.
  2. The world is full of mostly good people.
  3. Anyone can cycle around the world if they have enough spare time on their hands. You just need a bike and the ability to cycle.

A recurring theme that Alastair talked about was grabbing opportunities. Sometimes things can seem like really stupid ideas (like rowing the atlantic with 3 strangers when you’re not even a rower), but what if you said yes anyway? Alastair spent 45 days rowing the atlantic with 3 strangers. What have I done over the past 45 days that I’m immensely proud of? Have I made 3 new friends? Have I inspired hundreds of school children? Have I even inspired my own children? Nope, probably not.

When Alastair finished his talk, he spent the night sleeping under the stars in a ruined medieval castle on an island in the middle of one of the most beautiful lochs in the highlands. Because it was the solstice and why the hell not? (I swear this guy is the coolest person I’ve ever met) You see, Alastair now gets his kicks from Microadventures – mini, bite-sized adventures that anyone can achieve if they just stop procrastinating and making excuses.

I’ve been trying to summon up the courage to take the boys on our own Microadventure since February. But I wanted to find the perfect camping spot in the forest…then I decided we should sleep on a deserted beach but I wasn’t sure I could carry all our kit through the woods to the deserted beach…then I decided it should be near another beach, but tucked away in the woods a little bit…then it was too cold/too windy/everyone was too tired…

So we asked Alastair where we should go for our first microadventure…his answer was simple. The garden. Sleep out in your back garden. Just do it. If it’s truly awful and you hate it, you can just get up and walk through your own back door.

This was what I loved about his attitude. Keep it simple. If you have a bike and can cycle, you too can cycle around the world. If you have a garden and you want to sleep out under the stars, that’s where you should do it. You don’t need fancy kit or months of planning to have an adventure. It’s out there, just waiting for you to find it. Even the road outside your front door is full of possibilities…it could be the road to China if you want it to be or simply the road to an unforgettable adventure just round the corner.

So next Friday night, we’re going to have our own microadventure. I’m putting the fun back into Friday. If it’s raining, we’ll sleep in the tent. Ideally I want bivvy bags for us all, so I don’t need to carry a tent. Or maybe some hammocks that we can hang between some trees in the woods, with a tarp above us to keep the rain off us…but that’s complicating matters. No, next weekend we’ll sleep in the garden and that’s all the planning we need. Fun Fridays here we come.

This. But with some wine. And a duvet.

This. But with some wine. And a duvet.

Belief

Ever since I bought my first iphone, I have always had a photo of my boys as my screensaver. They are the light of my life after all and just one glance at those cheeky faces is enough to brighten even the dullest of days.

But this year, I changed it. I know, radical right? What a crazy thing to write a blog post about!

But hear me out. This year, for me, is all about bringing some long held dreams into reality. Now, that sort of thing doesn’t happen overnight. It requires focus and planning and a truck load of self belief.

So this is now my screensaver:

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And every time I pick up my phone, I’m reminded of those dreams I’m cultivating. I’m reminded that only I can make those dreams come true and I need to put energy and planning into those dreams to bring them to life.

It also reminds me that I’m all about the sparkle. But you knew that already, right?

Sparkle brightly guys and girls.

Writing for the pure joy of it

So, I’m having a bit of a breakthrough this week. An epiphany if you will.

It started with the rediscovery of Leonie Dawson. Now, I stumbled across Leonie a couple of years ago, maybe even just last year…I have no idea. But I had followed her on Instagram at least and possibly elsewhere. Then I decided I didn’t want to follow her anymore. So I stopped. I just wasn’t ready to hear her.

Then last week, I was looking for some blogging inspiration and I remembered that the lovely Jo from Dexterous Diva had some pretty nifty hints and tips. So off I went to her website in search of them and lo and behold, who was she talking about but Leonie Dawson. Hmmm…this got me thinking. If Jo, who is super successfully and knows heaps about blogging and being an entrepreneur had found Leonie’s workbook super useful, maybe I would too?

So instead of dithering and analysing and wondering and procrastinating (which I am pretty awesome at by the way), I immediately went off and downloaded a copy of Leonie’s fabulous “2015 Create Your Shining Year Workbook”. I didn’t get distracted by the talk of tarot cards and crystals (I like to think I have hippy tendencies, but I’m still a scientist at heart), I just let the lovely bright illustrations talk to me and off I went. I starting filling it in immediately (still ignoring the tarot cards).

So there I am, merrily working my way through this beautiful workbook, just cracking on and pushing away any subconscious desire for it to be ‘perfect’, setting my goals for 2015 and daring to dream my biggest, shiniest dreams so that I can make them reality. Then who should pop up in my Instagram feed with an awesome and perfectly timed new venture but the supremely talented Rachel Lucas with her new website Write For Joy. On the same day that I wrote about blogging for joy. Spooky or what?

I can tell you, I may not be a fully paid up hippy, I may not believe in tarot cards or crystals but when the Universe sends me a sign like this, I’m a believer in all sorts of magic.

Write For Joy. Hell yeah. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

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Just for the sheer joy of it. No other reason.

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Sunbeams. See, pouring out of my head already.

Am I still eggdipdip?

Sunbeams. See, pouring out of my head already.

Sunbeams. See, pouring out of my head already.

For months now I’ve pondering what to do with this blog.

It started off as somewhere to safe to write. Somewhere to be creative and write whatever I wanted to write. Then in turned into a way to document our ‘journey’ (sheesh, sounds like I’m on X Factor or something. We’ve been on such an amazing journey dude) as we tried to completely change our way of life, focus and what we wanted our lives to look like and find a way to make it all happen by moving home to Scotland.

But then what?

I decided I did have a novel inside my head after all, after laughing at that very prospect for years. So my writing became on offline activity. But then the novel got a bit stuck, so I published a few bits here to give me some motivation.

So what does that make my blog now? A mishmash I guess. It’s lacking focus and drive, feels unloved and needs a makeover I think.

This year, I’m working my way through Leonie Dawson‘s Create your Shining Year in Biz and Life workbooks. I’m building a list of 100 things I want to do this year and it’s going to be freaking awesome.

Blogging for fun is going on that list right now. Oh yes. 2015 is going to be fabulous darlings.

So am I still Eggdipdip? I think I am. But just shinier, with a bit more glitter and sunbeams shining out of my every pore.

Another chapter perhaps?

The day Aunt Dot died had been a day like any other really. It was early summer, or late spring, depending on how you looked at it. Warm enough to give the tube trains that unique aroma of slightly sweaty bodies mixed with years of discarded food detritus and yesterday’s copy of The Metro stuffed behind the seats.

Thankfully Janice usually managed to avoid the tube. Five years of working in London had taught her that avoidance was the best tactic for coping with London Underground. Every morning, her train spewed out its over-packed contents at Victoria station and Janice made the dash across the station concourse with hundreds of other frantic travellers. A quick side step and a swift negotiation around the smokers hunched over their post-commute fix at the taxi rank, then she was able to set her course past Buckingham Palace, through Green Park and up Bond Street to Hanover Square.

Janice could have chosen any number of routes to get her to work, but from early November through to Christmas, the windows of Tiffany’s were irresistible. There was just something about the entire length of Bond Street actually, a certain mystique and aloofness that Janice found magnetic.

On the day Aunt Dot died, it was shoes that caught Janice’s attention. Bright yellow Swedish Hasbeens. They looked so pretty and odd, Janice was sure Dot would adore them. With their wooden clog like soles and pretty leather embossed straps, they straddled the line between funky and frumpy and would need a certain confidence to carry them off. Janice quickly snapped a pic of them on her phone, mentally promised to send it to Dot later and hurried on to the office.

The day passed in the usual blur of dull meetings, duller spreadsheets and the usual condescending, slightly offensive ‘banter’ her boss liked to throw around the office. Just to prove he was one of the lads and not the under-achieving, overgrown undergraduate drop out he really was.

She managed to escape at lunchtime and headed over to Liberty’s for a quick fix of the most expensive haberdashery department in London. Janice could barely sew on a button, but the row of Liberty print fabrics in colours drawn from the far flung corners of the old British Empire soothed Janice like a lullaby to her senses. It was her secret little Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The call came at 3pm. Janice had just finished assembling yet another laborious PowerPoint presentation when her phone started vibrating. Janice answered immediately, glad of the distraction, only just registering her mum’s name on the screen of her phone.

“Hello?”

“Janice. It’s me. Mum”

“What’s up mum? Is dad ok? What’s wrong?” Janice could sense immediately that something was up. For a start, her mum never called her during the daytime and certainly never during work hours.

“It’s Dot darling…” Janice’s mum started to say, before the tears that Janice could already hear in her mum’s voice started to fall.

“What about Dot mum? Mum? Mum! What’s happened?” Janice could feel the panic rising inside her, her eyes wide with frightened anticipation and the prickle of fear starting to work its way up her spine. Dot was the big sister substitute Janice had always wished for. She was the fun aunt that you always read about in sassy, coming of age novels. Dot was a friend, a confident, and a safe haven. It had never mattered that Dot was older than her mum; Janice had enjoyed spending time with her for as long as she could remember. Dot had been the family’s go-to babysitter from when Sarah and Mark, Janice’s older twin siblings had been babies. When Sarah and Mark embarked on their weekly whirlwind of swimming, judo, running club and music lessons, Janice would sit and drink tea with Dot in her chaotic kitchen instead.

Dot had always been there, as a never aging, never judging, and always-welcoming constant in Janice’s life. Her mind froze, refusing to think the worst but suspecting that the worst was exactly what had happened.

“She’s dead darling. Dot’s dead” whispered the broken voice of Janice’s mum.

“But…what? How? When? Are you sure mum?” begged Janice, frantically hoping her mum had made a terrible mistake. Maybe she’s drunk, Janice thought. That’s it. Mum is drunk and confused and there’s nothing wrong with Dot.

“Mum have you been drinking?” Janice asked.

“Well your dad’s just poured me a Balvenie, but…Wait a minute! I’m not drunk you know Janice. This is real, honey. Dot is…” Janice’s mum broke down in tears again and Janice could hear her gulping back the sobs, trying to regain her composure.

Janice could picture her, sitting at the oversized farmhouse style table in the middle of their family kitchen. Her dark auburn hair would be piled up on her head, held almost magically in place with a Biro. She would be twirling any escaped loose ringlets of hair with her right hand, a habitual nervous response that only the family recognised. An effortlessly stylish dresser, her mum looked comfortable in whatever she choose to wear, whether it was wellies and a waterproof or heels and a feather boa.

“I’m sorry mum, it’s just…are you sure?” Janice muttered, her cheeks burning with the shame of offending her mum.

“Yes, we’re sure darling. I’m sorry. I just wanted you to know, I didn’t want to wait until this evening.” Replied her mum as kindly as she could.

Janice sat, dumbstruck, the tears silently tracking their way down her cheeks. It felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. “Okay, thanks mum. For letting me know I mean. I’ll call you later. I just need to…” Janice’s words caught in her throat, if she didn’t get off the phone soon, she was going to vomit. Janice took a deep breath and said goodbye to her mum. “I’ll call you later mum. Love you.” Janice’s words trailed off, floating on a swell of sadness that threatened to overwhelm her. She slowly put her phone on her desk and covered her face with her hands.

How could Dot be gone? How on earth could that be possible? Janice glanced at her phone and accessed up her recent calls list. Sure enough, her mum’s number was right at the top of the list. She hadn’t imagined it unfortunately. Janice had a vivid imagination and could spend hours running through scenarios in her head, rehearsing conversations and imaging the outcomes. One day, she might just put all those mad ramblings down on paper and give everyone a good laugh. But this was one scenario that had never occurred to her. This wasn’t her imagination at work.

Dot was dead and Janice suddenly found herself physically craving her home-town of Speymouth. She needed a dose of the hills and an injection of sea air. She needed to see her parents and stand in Dot’s kitchen, see Dot’s things and say goodbye to her best friend.