So says running

And another thing I’ve learned from running – just because you’re sure you can do it, you still need to go out there and show you can.

There. Running and its mindset is seeping more and more into my life. Turning up unexpectedly just there as I finally get round to picking up my bass guitar again. The self talk is powerful.

It took me from playing the components of the song (just simple verse and chorus) and said I needed to practice it all the way through. And then, told me to play along with the track, well because if its that easy, or you have actually mastered that song, then it’ll go well. It didn’t. I struggled to keep up. I got in a muddle about where I was. It was disappointing. But I still enjoyed it.

Today’s running lesson was taught to the class of bass guitar. To challenge the school of thought that says I can play all the constituent parts, why play the whole thing all in one go?

The answer, my dear, is because it’s actually really hard to keep up the pace, rhythm and melody for the duration of the song. That’s what you proved just now when playing along with the track. It was a struggle and needs more practice.

Very much like going for a run. In a similar manner. I know I can run 5k, but I still need to complete the distance. To train that perseverance, improve the fitness, strengthen the capacity to do it. I must remember that.

Another running first

As a new runner, I get the pleasure of many firsts! Today’s culmination of head talk resulted in going for a run, outside, in public, on my OWN!

There was a lot of mental to and fro, yes I will / I don’t want to before the matter was settled. I got my running things on, warned the relevant people and quickly got out of the door.

From what I can tell, this deliberation is part of the normal internal dialogue of a runner! Unusually, I feel happy to fall within the parameters.

Every time I’ve run so far, has been parkrun – which happens at the same time each week. There’s less opportunity for me to say, I’ll go later or tomorrow. That works well.

There was one exception to this parkrun only running narrative – a run with my friend. An important friend actually. The one who is responsible for gently singing the praises of running and eventually persuading me to try it.

That’s what makes this an achievement. A small but important success. I’ve entered a 10k race and so need to make sure I can run that distance. Part of the training will no doubt mean I need to be brave enough to go out and run alone.

Hopefully, I won’t need to do that too often, because, despite normally being quite an introverted person, I do like to run with other people. Aspects of this will no doubt be covered in another post, because they represent challenges I’ve overcome just to get out there and run at all.

What about you, what’s next on your list for a running first?

Changing direction (follow up)

Looking back through my posts, the one titled changing direction, deserves some follow up about what happened next. And where I am now.

Whilst perusing job adverts for bioinformatics, I came across an advert for a trainee computer technician. At the local research park. For which I was definitely unqualified for with regard to the ‘required’ qualification. But everything else, I figured that I had. It’s a trainee role, I’m expecting to learn anyway. So I applied and waited and didn’t hear anything. No surprise. Ah well, I consoled myself, you weren’t qualified.

I had arranged to reduce my hours at the college and just work 3 days a week with the course believed to be happening on Mondays and Tuesdays to start with. That would be my 5 days a week sorted. The new academic term started and the date to start the degree was getting closer.

That is when I suddenly received an invitation to interview for the job! Imagination ran wild for while, suppose I got the job? It could side step the money worries of further study whilst putting me on some sort of career path! I decided that I wanted this. I prepared as much as I knew how to. So I went along but felt sure I’d made a total hash of the interview because I was so nervous.

A few days passed. There was a missed call. Then there was an email. In words in front of me, seemed to be then offering me the role! This was so unbelievable I felt sure they’d contacted the wrong person!

View of the river, winter, on a lunchtime walk

Here I am now and I’ve been working there for just over 2 years! I enjoy the work and I’m learning loads, some of it about computers. Sometimes I’m learning how to make a candle out of orange peel or using stepper motors to play Beethoven. I’m still convinced they picked the wrong person but I’m making the best of it and hoping they don’t find out. The amazing thing is, it means I get to meet any and all of the amazing people that work there from cleaners all the way up through various types of researcher and on to doctorates, professors and even up to dames and OBEs.

More than the work though, the site and area is great and it’s doing wonders for my well-being. I can walk in open green space, by a river, round a lake, through the woods, just during a lunch break! There’s cows and fish and birds to see. Back on site there’s sports facilities and a really positive attitude towards looking after yourself, by eating well or going for a run.

I’m so glad I took the gamble and applied for the job, still stunned that they offered it to me and even happier that it’s been going so well.

Running for happies

This is such a running cliché, don’t you think? But oh the run is so worth it for this!

After my Saturday morning parkrun, I do feel more positive, there’s a gentle flow that others the rest of my day. And I’ve had some difficult Saturdays, in the few months that I’ve been doing parkrun.

One in particular stands out. I’ll try to describe. My stepson is currently living with us. We are storing his things ready for when he moves into his own place. We’ve been in our home less than a year and have a garage. Not had a garage before. After heavy rains during the week my partner goes to the garage to find some tool or something or other but discovers that the garage roof is not actually watertight! We had to set about getting everything out and rearranging everything. Lots of things were already water damaged, mouldy and unsalvageable. While doing this the stepson is acting blissfully ignorant and assuming we’re doing this for fun or or own benefit. I really have no idea what he was thinking. It is really hard sifting through all of someone’s things, worse when it’s keepsakes and mementoes that are ruined. Compounded by the owner’s lack of interest, even though he was nearby and occasionally ventured out to smoke and watch us work. His dad, my partner, was angry and upset with the situation and the lack of bother from the lad. All in all, one of those run of the mill moderately stressful Saturdays.

There was that. I cannot imagine how I would have crumpled on an average Saturday. But having completed, I think my third parkrun, I was well and truly experiencing a gentle runners high and was able to weather wave after wave of the task. Supplying the hot drinks, providing manpower and support (and finding a dead hedgehog in the way, arranging for my son to remove it, hanging out washing and welcoming my daughter back after 3 months traveling). It was quite a day!!

I am convinced that my 5k run that morning have me greater mental strength to handle all of this. With some patience and positivity and energy.

That is just one, stark example.

What are your examples of what running, or exercise has helped?

Slowing down time

One of the ways we can affect time is by doing new and different things. I strongly believe that it is in the repetitive nature of our day to day lives that has the effect of making time go more quickly.

We fall into patterns and habits, some by necessity – if we work regular hours for example, others, by choice, like where we go for our Sunday afternoon walk. Consider your usual week, which might consist of groups you or your offspring attend on certain days, which day(s) you go shopping, go to the gym, visit your family, meet up with friends and the routes we take to get to all these places. Mentally there can be little to distinguish one week from another and so one blends into another, into a month and so on.

Whilst I do have many patterns and routines, I do try to change things up when I can to give me the feeling that I’ve actively participated in the passing of time.

This is one of the many reasons I’m continuing with my new ‘like’. Opportunities to go to new places, varying experiences and weather conditions when I go out and no doubt, different goals as time passes. At the moment, I have a goal set for July this year. From the way I feel about it, there may need to be another when that is completed.

What do you do that has the effect of slowing down time? Any tips or life hacks as they seem to be called now?

New like!

Purple likes has a new like. A new interest, hobby, sport! I’ve been at it long it enough now that I’m confident I do like it and will carry on, working at it, and getting better and stronger.

This all contrasts strongly with the shock of trying it and goes counter to years and years of avoidance and inability to understand why people would indulge in this, even whilst able to see its popularity.

This is something I’ve not done since leaving school.

Something I’ve never considered that I’m any good at.

Lots of other people do it and I couldn’t fathom why!

Running. I’ve started running. And continued.

Last October on a date etched in my memory, I bravely arrived at the start line of my local parkrun. I spent many weeks (mostly afterwards) questioning how I’d persuaded myself to get there in the first place, and the culmination of all the little factors, so glad I did. In fact, the final nudge, more precisely, repeated nudges, came from a good friend who seemed to go on about running and parkrun especially at any given opportunity! It is thanks to this person that I went along at all.

Since then I returned every Saturday and even went to my nearest Christmas Day and new year day runs! I’ve got better at it, more comfortable with the idea but most important of all – I understand why people run and that is the biggest hook. What it does for me. Each Saturday, I get a head boost, sometimes it gently feels like the fabled runners high and I love it.

There’s so much more I want to add here, but will instead try to add the details in subsequent posts. This is another amazing thing in itself – I feel like there’s so much I want to and can say, so many things I want to understand, to explain, to discuss. For once, I’m full of words!!

Runners give me a shout! Parkrunners give me a cheer! Bystanders, what’s going through your head?

There must be dozens of runners who blog… Which are your favourites?


					

Changing direction

I need someone to talk to.

However, I don’t know quite what I want to say or exactly what the questions are so I can’t decide where to go for support.

This marks a period of great frustrations for me. Questions. Uncertainties and fears. Moments of hope, excitement and dreaming. The first big step towards my future starts in a little over a month. But… what if….?

What if this is too much for me? What if it’s too difficult? What if we run out of money? What if I hate it? What if it doesn’t work out the way I’m hoping? What about my morals and values?

Who can I speak to? Who will listen and hear me out? Who can spot what I’m really asking between the words I say? Who can pinpoint what I need to feel more at ease?

Back track a moment to hear where this is coming from. I decided that I need to take decisive action. My current job is pleasant enough and has many useful perks, but it doesn’t offer any future for progression. Unless, that is, I wanted to train to be a teacher. Which I don’t. I know that is not a career for me.

I considered various avenues for what I would do for work instead. I answered all the quizzes on the National Careers Service website (which makes job suggestions that should be a good fit for skills and interests), I looked at job adverts in the field I thought I wanted to pursue and attempted to think a lot. It seemed that whatever was next for me would require training (even teaching – if I allowed the dangling carrots of a £30k bursary to sway my judgement). Teachers need a PGCE. Scientists need doctorates and years of experience. Even to make progress in my former type of employment, the administrative profession, would require training.

More education then. Can’t get away from that. Fine.

So, I applied for and was accepted on a Master’s degree. The university gave me an offer to study with them! I was surprised and grateful. And this is where the doubts and worries and questions began in earnest. In September I begin study for MSc Computing Science with a view to working in Bioinformatics.

Looking at the job adverts for Bioinformatics employment, I began to think about who I might end up working for and whether my principles would mind. It also began to worry me that the human race may do something that will seriously change our day-to-day lives, in the reasonably near future, rendering a newly acquired skill totally irrelevant. The fears also got a little morbid. In my opinion, I have no more than another 30 years of life left. I want it to mean something. I want to make a difference. I want to use my skills and energy to provide something of benefit to society as a whole (oh the cliché). But I also need the new career move to pay substantially better than the existing role, whilst not devaluing things that matter to me.

To demonstrate things that matter: I do not buy Nestlé products for their attitude towards California water supplies (and just yesterday, a similar stance regarding a spring in the UK). I boycott products from Israel because I want to see recognition of the Palestinian state and peace in the region. I don’t shop at Next and a number of other retailers because they don’t pay their full share of corporation tax. My heart is drawn to issues like mental ill-health, homelessness, slavery, and domestic abuse where I add a timid comment here and there, signing petitions when it seems meaningful but generally just noticing and absorbing the anguish.

I don’t want to climb the salary scale points because I’m helping to furnish the pockets of heartless corporations who only care about their profit margins. But the hope of having a little more money, for the children to be a little more comfortable is extremely enticing. And I know, at the same time, that many people are focussed on simply getting the next meal on the table and the things I want to be able to give my own children are things they want to give theirs. In that sense, although life has never been easy, neither has it been so terrible that we have had to spend the winter in a tent inside our home.

Then I feel guilty that my wishes are things like them being able to choose a phone instead of waiting for grandparent hand-me-downs, to take them on family holidays (have managed one, last year), to have enough clothes for the week at school, to consider fresh fruit and veg a requirement rather than a luxury. I’d also like things for myself. I’d prefer a different hairstyle, but I don’t get it done because I would need to go to the hairdresser every 6 weeks or so compared to once a year at the moment. I’d like to enjoy an occasional meal out without worrying about how much struggle the cost will cause for the next week. I’d like to only work one job so that I can spend time with the children, like a family should.

So there’s some real wrenching going on there. Before even getting to the hurdles of the next 2 years studying part-time for the Master’s degree and choosing the options within that which will most suit my needs. I am hoping for a reasonable and increasing salary without disproportionate moral and value costs.

This means I don’t know if this is the right course to study or where I should steer afterwards and whether I can make a difference, even a small one. If you think you can help with any of this in any way, I would love to hear from you.

I want to be remembered in some way, without false niceties that I think people would be forced to make pretences about if my funeral were held tomorrow.

Working title

I usually seem to find it easier to write things that I wouldn’t feel so comfortable to say. This is difficult for my husband. And for me!

I can appreciate that it would make things easier were I to say what is on my mind as soon as it gets to be on my mind. But I seem to need to stew on worries for a few days first. Generally, the hope is that the concern will simply go away. Then another issue is the idea that I’m being silly, over-reacting in some way. Other times, I worry that, what I say or think may be hurtful and I don’t want it to be.

I’ve been feeling low, incredibly low for some time. Not exactly sure how long. It dips, dives and soars. My mood changes, but overall, I feel like I’ve been low more often than not. I did say a while back that it just feels like ‘everything’ feels wrong. I pause here, I was about to name specifics, maybe I can’t even write about how I feel.

If I start with one thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the most significant issue I’m struggling with. I am struggling with life in general. Feel like I just want to go somewhere where the world has stopped. Step outside of it all for a while. As long as it takes until I feel like I can face it again. Don’t feel able to deal with any day, let alone today. Want everything to go away, leave me alone, let me just be until I’m ready to get back in.

Take music as a starting point. I love listening to music. But I haven’t put any music on the stereo for a while. I quite often switch the car stereo off as well. That’s not like me. I love hearing music, love having tunes playing and yet…I’m not choosing any. I use music to reflect my mood, echo how i feel, help me express what words do not. But my world is silent. I’ve got 4 bass guitars. Seems the best way to describe that is that I used to love playing bass. Used to have a desire to learn stuff and be better. And now? where’s it gone? Feel really low about that.

Want to share my whirlwind of emotions, but don’t know where to start. don’t know what they are. Don’t know what to say.

Writing 101 – Day 5: Be Brief Fiction (this isn’t)

The tiniest hint of a chill shivers through my body but I continue looking at the sky. Absorbing the beauty that is changing imperceptibly through shades of orange and red while blues, greys and purple streak higher overhead. I cannot stare deeply enough to feel satisfied and yet as I watch the air and clouds are quickly caught up by a deepening blue reaching from behind me.

A soft awe-filled sigh leaves my lips and picking up my sandals, I reluctantly stand. Feeling sand shift under my feet I step down towards where waves are gently lapping the edge of their domain. For a sense of proportion, I look for the horizon beyond the waves then lift my eyes again. Still watching the changing sky I walk ankle deep, following the curve of the bay before hesitantly turning away from the ocean and climbing the ramp to resume daily life. The beach helps me feel recharged, energized and lighter in my heart. Every time.

With the hour’s holiday over, I sit for a moment to sandal my feet and check for the car keys, then I’m back amongst the world.

Picked up by a rising breeze I notice a rectangle pressed against the grey flint garden wall. Without knowing why I stop for a moment, marvelling at the crispness of the rectangular edges and how it is holding its flat shape instead of hugging stones in the wall. Another shiver reminds me that I’m getting cold so I continue to the car. I turn once to glance back at it, still leaning against the bottom of the wall.

I am curious, wondering what it is and why, as I often do, why rubbish hasn’t been put in a bin! So moments later, I bring the car to a stop and pick the rectangle up. It is an envelope with a letter inside. The envelope has been opened before but my initial reaction is that I ought just to put it back and hope the owner realises where they lost it. So I do.

It is still there the next day. I pick it up as I approach the sandy retreat. I slip my sandals off and settle comfortably on warm sand. The envelope is addressed to someone a hundred miles away. I wonder how it got here. Overcome by intrigue, I gently slide the letter from the envelope, someone has already read it, I reassure myself, it is already open, maybe reading it will help understand how it got here.

The paper is plain, like the envelope and the handwriting. I start by trying not to look at the letter, just who it is from and to. Then I glance through looking for references to location but trying not to read. It is impossible not to read words in front of me! I didn’t realise I was reading every word until I was hooked. Absorbed in the exchange of thoughts between two people who were strangers to me but not each other.

images-9

I reach a loving sign off and name at the end of the letter, but there were more pages behind, and the handwriting changed. 3 more pages, containing the start of a reply. I helplessly continued to read beginning to feel like I knew both writers now.

I watched the sun fall behind the sea, always different, somehow, always fresh, always followed by light sapping away. My mind drifting to the letter, the reply was coming from nearby, I decided to find it.

I made for home to check my map. I needed to eat, my housemate briefly borrowed the car, I found the map, my housemate returned and ate dinner with me and we swapped stories of the day. We agreed to go together to hand the letter back.

After wrong turns, U turns and ambiguous directions the house was there. I parked nearby and reached for the letter in the door pocket. In my hand were several sheets of folded paper and receipts that I expected to be holding. But the envelope was not among them! I checked again, but still it wasn’t there. Looking at me from the passenger seat was an apologetic face.

Photo credit: http://hannah_thornton1232l.loveitsomuch.com/stores/lost-letter-beach-wall-decor-photo-of-1409365561,984426.html

Writing 101: Day 3 – commit to a writing practice

Hmmm, 15 minutes and choose 3 songs, just 3 songs.

For me to love a song I need to connect with the lyrics in some way. I can enjoy instrumental only songs, but not usually with any depth of emotion, thus far. So here goes:

1. Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls is definitely one of my favourite songs of all time. It expressed me and continues to express feelings I couldn’t voice sufficiently… ‘…yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive…’ The idea that nobody seemed, that I felt that no one took any notice of me, that I didn’t matter to anyone or impact on anyones life. Looking back I think I was gripped by depression. Its a song I still turn to when depression catches up with me again.

Another line I love ‘I’d give up forever to touch you’ is certainly how I feel in my marriage, should anything befall either of us.

‘And I don’t want the world to see me, cos I don’t think they’d understand’ is a sensation I seem to come back to again and again.

Such a heartfelt song to me.

Full lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/googoodolls/iris.html

2. Feeder playing Yesterday Went Too Soon

This is definitely another of my favourites. Again, it expressed emotions I struggled with identifying in words, they just engulfed me with feelings and held me. The songs I turn to again and again fit this niche of being very meaningful and expressing the depths of darkness that I found myself stuck with.

Again lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/feeder/yesterdaywenttoosoon.html

“…wish I could show you…wish you could see through my eyes…I’m still missing yesterday…”

Finding it difficult to choose a 3rd song so I’ll leave it there for now. What happens when you find one song connecting you to another and then another?