Insomnia

Sadly not the CLASSIC 1990s Faithless track – and one of my favourites of all time – but the inability to sleep last night.

I’m not sure if that was:

  1. Being supportive of my friend who is going through similar sleep deprivation – hers caused by steroids as part of her chemo treatment for breast cancer.  You can read more about it on her fabulous blog – https://thedaviesdiaries.com/
  2. Excitement at attending (not actually running) the London Marathon on Sunday to support my sister in her first (and she currently reckons probably last) marathon.  You can read more about it on her fabulous blog – https://runningforasthma.wordpress.com/
  3. Someone has replaced the decaf tea bags in my tin with fully loaded caffeinated ones.
  4. Just good old sod’s law when life is really hectic and your brain can’t switch off.

All in all, I hope I get a better night’s sleep tonight – it’s going to be a long day being a spectator tomorrow (I am wondering if I need to wear a sports bra and Vaseline my feet?!?)

I get so emotional watching the Marathon – and other large sporting events – on TV from the safety of my lounge, that actually being there I am going to be a sobbing mess – but I am so excited! Massive good luck to everyone running tomorrow – but especially my baby sis.

Virgin London Marathon.png

Book Review: Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

Running Like A Girl

We’ve just been on holiday to Devon – and the owners of the holiday house had a huge selection of books to borrow – and this one took my fancy.  I devoured it in 2 sittings  – admittedly with a glass or two of prosecco whilst sitting on my bum in the April sunshine that flooded the decking late afternoon …..

Here’s the Amazon blurb for you…..

“Alexandra Heminsley had high hopes: the arse of an athlete, the waist of a supermodel, the speed of a gazelle. Defeated by gyms and bored of yoga, she decided to run.

Her first attempt did not end well.

Six years later, she has run five marathons in two continents.

But, as her dad says, you run with your head as much as with your legs. So, while this is a book about running, it’s not just about running.

You could say it’s about ambition (yes, getting out of bed on a rainy Sunday morning counts), relationships (including talking to the intimidating staff in the trainer shop), as well as your body (your boobs don’t have to wobble when you run). But it’s also about realising that you can do more than you ever thought possible.

Very funny, very honest and very emotional, whether you’re in serious training or thinking about running for the bus, this is a book for anyone who after wine and crisps for supper a few too many times thinks they might . . . just might . . . like to run like a girl.”

 

I really liked the writing style – it felt like chatting with a mate.  I also empathised with the large boobs.  I think I was all the more empathetic as my baby sister (she’s not actually a baby – just 6 years younger than me) is running the London marathon on Sunday.  I get super emotional watching it on TV – so what I’m going to be like being a spectator at the course watching someone I love run it, I dread to think!!  I wept a number of times reading this book – it was really inspirational – and I also felt it’s given me some top tips as a spectator and sister / friend of runners. I texted my sister to tell her I’d read an excellent book to prepare for her London marathon – and she replied to say she’d read it last year and loved it.  Great minds and all that!

Whilst the book is fundamentally about the author’s running journey (pun intended, and copied from the book) it also looks at family relationship and also mental health. The mental health element has been of interest to me for some time – as I know running has really helped a friend through his own mental health issues – his website is really inspiring.

There was also some travel – as Alex ran marathons abroad – even if her view of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francicso wasn’t what she’s hoped for!!  When the husband and I went to Boston last year, he had to have his picture taken crossing the finish line (whilst we were out shopping!)

Mark Boston Marathon

The section on  the history of women and long distance running was also really interesting – I am amazed that so recently women weren’t allowed to compete in marathons.  In 1967 Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (albeit not quite officially, as she’d registered by her initials and not her name – and officials tried to stop her – unsuccessfully – getting round.  Her boyfriend at the time barged the official trying to stop her to the ground).  Then a few days ago – spookily, as I was reading about her – Kathrine ran the Boston Marathon again on her 50th anniversary.  Now that’s ‘Running Like A Girl’!!

It hasn’t *quite* inspired me to run anywhere myself yet (I’m hoping I don’t get too excited on Sunday and over commit to anything!!) but it did make me go off for a march from the house up to the beautiful Baggy Point near Croyde – only a couple of miles, but you have to start somewhere, and Alex herself started with walking – so who knows……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

An armful?!

I grew up going with my parents when they donated blood –  it was a special treat (mostly because as the daughter of a donor you could blag biscuits!!)  As soon as I turned 18 I started donating – particularly as by blood was useful.   I’m O negative –  ‘the universal donor’ – because anyone with any blood group and rhesus negative or positive can be given O neg (to sound like I’m in ER!) blood, so it’s often used in an emergency before the blood type of the patient is confirmed.

Right through university years I carried on donating – although I would be wary of what alcoholic proof content these years of blood contained!

Like my mother, I am a slow bleeder (it gushes out of my Dad) and so sometimes I would time out before giving a whole pint – but it was still useful (although probably not a full armful!!)

Being a proud Brummie you can’t mention donating blood without reference to the famous Tony Hancock (who was born in Southam Road in Hall Green where I used to have piano lessons) sketch…….

tony-hancock

“A pint? Have you gone raving mad? I mean, I came here in all good faith, to help my country. I don’t mind giving a reasonable amount, but a pint? Why, that’s very nearly an armful.”

I remember when I started work as an accountant that one Friday lunchtime everyone else went for a pint, whilst I went to give one *polishes halo*.

When I had my first child we found out that the husband was O negative too.  This meant that our children had to be O negative – and also meant I wouldn’t have the complications some mothers can have if the child is rhesus positive (something to do with antibodies #notadoctor!)  Interestingly I was believed that my husband was the father of my children in all 4 cases, and so wasn’t forced to have the anti d injection post births (their faces as well as their blood groups definitely confirm their parentage!!)

My first birth was pretty traumatic (there’s a whole separate blog post in that!) but I lost a lot of blood and had to have a plasma transfusion. All was well – thankfully – but that now means I’m not allowed to donate blood any more. It’s all to do with CJD – more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease (and let’s face it – it’s probably something I’ve been referred to at times!) – and other diseases that may not have been screened for historically.  I thought there might be a time limit on giving again – but 13 years on, I’m still not allowed to.

I’m quite sad that I can’t donate any more – as the relatively painless procedure can save lives.  So many people have to have transfusions – be it post accident, operation or going through other treatments for diseases like cancer – that blood supplies often run low.

I never looked at the needle going in to my arm (I look at operations etc through my fingers on the TV – I am ridiculously squeamish) but it wasn’t an unpleasant experience – and you really could save a life.

Not often you can say you’ve saved a life by lying down for a bit and then consuming a biscuit and a cup  of tea!  Definitely my preferred way to be a superhero!!

 

blood

 

 

 

 

 

Not Just a Book Review: There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell

I have been a huge fan of Emily McDowell’s empathy cards over recent years – and have, unfortunately, had cause to send them to a number of friends who’ve been going through tough times.  I then saw that Emily had written a book – along with her friend Kelsey Crowe – the title being pretty self explanatory!

there-is-no-good-card-for-this

I read the Amazon blurb and thought I’d pre order it for my Kindle some months ago.

“The creator of the viral hit “Empathy Cards” teams up with a compassion expert to produce a visually stunning and groundbreaking illustrated guide to help you increase your emotional intelligence and learn how to offer comfort and support when someone you know is in pain.

When someone you know is hurting, you want to let her know that you care. But many people don’t know what words to use—or are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. This thoughtful, instructive guide, from empathy expert Dr. Kelsey Crowe and greeting card maverick Emily McDowell, blends well-researched, actionable advice with the no-nonsense humor and the signature illustration style of McDowell’s immensely popular Empathy Cards, to help you feel confident in connecting with anyone experiencing grief, loss, illness, or any other difficult situation.

Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all-been-that-deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. It is a helpful illustrated guide to effective compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.

There Is No Good Card for This features workbook exercises, sample dialogs, and real-life examples from Dr. Crowe’s research, including her popular “Empathy Bootcamps” that give people tools for building relationships when it really counts. Whether it’s a coworker whose mother has died, a neighbor whose husband has been in a car accident, or a friend who is seriously ill, There Is No Good Card for This teaches you how to be the best friend you can be to someone in need.”

I would like to think that I’m pretty empathetic anyway.  My husband would probably say you can forget the ’em’ with the amount I get upset about the situations friends and relatives find themselves in.  But I have sent cards (Ms McDowell’s, obviously!)  / made meals (in fact my sausage casserole – or rather one of the sausage casseroles from this cookbook – is now known as the village ‘cancer casserole’) / helped  out with childcare and other jobs – but still, it’s so hard to know what to say and do when family / friends / acquaintances are going through a tough time.

Then between pre ordering this, and it arriving on my Kindle, my Aunt and one of my best friends were diagnosed with cancer.  Rubbish.  So the book had even more resonance when I started to read it.

Now I should hold my hands up at this point and make a confession – the first chapter has quite a lot of activities to do that seem quite ‘American’ and in true British style (and because I was reading it in bed without a pen and paper and burning materials to hand) I kind of skipped over the activities (although read it thoroughly).  Maybe I should head back to them at some point………

A good chunk of it was about being a good listener – and it really made me stop and think.  I do listen – but I’m often also over processing at the same time and thinking about what I should respond.  I’m definitely planning for more silences in the future (in a good way!)

Another thing that resonated with me was about the Empathy Menu.  Saying that there are loads of different roles that you can fulfill when helping someone through a crisis – and you don’t have to personally do all of them.  I am a control freak, who likes to try and be all things to all things people.  I don’t need to be.  And I need to ‘put my own oxygen mask on first’.  Definite learning points for Libby!  It also reminded me of the empathy card I gave to my friend last week:

just-so-you-know

As she got to the bit that said ‘cleaning your place’ she laughed out loud and pointed out that she was the one with breast cancer, and I didn’t need to have a personality transplant – but then when she opened it I’d added the caveat inside that I’d send a cleaner round not do it myself!! #thethoughtthatcounts

Another thing that resonated was offering to help people.  As the book pointed out a generic ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do’ whilst great in principle – is often not the most helpful thing. People going through a crisis don’t need to be worrying about what you could do for them.  You just need to do something.  I recall a friend whose son died last year saying exactly that – her brain was too full of what her child was going through to worry who could make what meal etc.  And when I had a much less significant crisis last summer when my husband hurt his thumb lots of people said ‘let us know if there’s anything we can do?’ – but she just said ‘I’m coming round now to tidy up for you’ and took charge, with my sister, of clearing up the empties (there were a lot!) and the general state of the house whilst I was at the hospital with my husband in surgery.

The book says it takes a whole village to care.  I am so pleased that the village we live in is so caring.  It seems to have had a run of crises over recent years – but every time, we villagers strap on our big girl pants and help each other out.  It makes me proud to call this little part of Worcestershire home.

I would recommend this book to anyone  – in fact I’d quite like to email the link to certain people, but they may not take it as it’s intended (or they may take it as intended and be offended!) – but most definitely worth a read.

Let’s just hope we don’t have too many more situations to apply it to in 2017……………

 

 

 

 

My name is Libby and I like a drink…..

champagne-bottle

My name is Libby and I like a drink!

Prosecco and gin are probably the favourites but wine (white, pink, red, green, fortified), beer, cider, spirits (except perhaps Pernod after an ‘incident’ with it at the Glen Bar at Southampton University in the early 90s that resulted in me throwing up in a soon to be boyfriend’s sink in his university room – but maybe after a quarter of a century I should try it (the Pernod, not the vomiting) again?) are all imbibed on a reasonably frequent basis.

The husband is also a fan of a post work beverage – and it had got to the point where we were drinking most nights.  I’d spoken to a GP friend about alcohol in general – and her view was you need to have at least 3 dry days/ nights a week to not have an issue – and we weren’t hitting that target.  It’s not like we were hiding vodka bottles in the airing cupboard, or needing a glass of wine to start the day – but still we knew we were drinking too much.

We’ve tried the ‘not drinking in the week’ thing – but more often than not something would crop up – bad day at work, kids being a pain, seeing friends – that would result in a bottle being cracked – and ‘the week’ would become a random Tuesday.

I’m also trying to lose some weight – and whilst my eating is fairly good, and I exercise at least 3 times a week – I have been stuck at the same weight for ages – probably due to the huge amount of empty calories in booze!  I wouldn’t dream of sitting on the sofa eating a huge box of chocolates (well, I would dream of it – but I wouldn’t do it) – but necking a bottle of wine would have a similar calorific effect.

So – last weekend we decided we’d stop drinking completely – and 7 days later we’re still going strong.  I think the fact that we’re both doing it has really helped – and the fact that the standard of non alcoholic beers and wines has dramatically improved over recent years.

My liver seems to think I’m pregnant again (which I’m not!) but some R&R for it must be very welcome.  I was rarely waking up with a hangover – but to wake up without a slight fuzziness is great.

I’ve managed to be strong willed in the pub with friends for an afternoon, at friends’ for Sunday lunch and at an 18th birthday party – as well as just at home in the evenings.  Strictly without fizz was a revelation this weekend.

I’m not sure how long this abstemiousness will last (we’re off to Disneyland Paris for half term – and the thought of Disney or French people, let alone a combination of both, without booze, does not sound tempting) – but we shall see.

And in the meantime I will be smug and teetotal.

The husband sent me a text last week saying as the alcohol free week was going ok, he thought he’d go vegan too – I think he was joking………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Memoirs of a Former Fatty by Gemma Reucroft

Memoirs of a former fatty

 

“Four years ago, I was obese. I was also so chronically unfit that I couldn’t manage more than one flight of stairs without getting seriously out of breath. I was eating my way to a whole host of health problems and my knees were knackered.
Now nearly four years on, I am over 80lbs lighter and a whole heck of a lot fitter. I’m now training to be a Personal Trainer so that I can help other people like me. This is why I have written this book.
Along the way I learned a lot, and came up with some ideas of my own about how and why people lose weight….or don’t.
This is my story.”

Yet again I downloaded this upon the recommendation of a friend – the same friend who recommended “The Strong Woman Trap” and “Putting Social Media To Work” – in fact the author of this book is also one of the authors of the latter.

I’d really enjoyed Gemma’s style of writing (and I follow her on Twitter) and so expected to enjoy this – and I wasn’t wrong!

It basically talks about Gemma’s own experience (or journey if we’re being X Factor about it!) from being overweight and unfit to being a size 10 half marathon runner.

It does not contain a magic wand, or secret formula for this to happen – and Gemma is very upfront that basically it’s eat less and move more (something most of us know, but many of us struggle to do in practice) – but it is her own personal experience.

Lots of it – about why people fail (with weight loss and getting fit) is stuff I’ve read before – but still rings true, and always good to reinforce this (says the Queen of self sabotage – well we’re on holiday / it’s so and so’s birthday / it’s the weekend / the day has a y in it – all excuses I’ve used for cracking open the prosecco and then eating the entire contents of the children’s chocolate stash……).

I’m also inherently nosy (part of the reason I love social media) and so hearing how someone else has achieved something is very appealing to me – and Gemma sounds like my kind of girl (we have a mutual friend – so I suspect this is even more likely to be true!)

I really enjoyed reading this – and it’s definitely motivated me in my own weight loss / get fit campaign.  (I am pleased that Gemma fannied about a bit – technical term – before finally knuckling down, I feel I’ve been at the fannying stage for a little while now, and really need to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak!)

And – I’ve signed up for Race for Life with various female members of the family on 17th July – and want to try to run all 5km.  Baby steps and all that!

 

 

 

 

Knees!

When I was growing up my Dad was a sales rep for a silver company – and family trips often involved him combining visiting customers around the UK with our holiday (tax deductible mileage I guess?!).  I remember on one such trip, Dad going off with his sample case to see a customer – leaving Mum with us 3 girls in the car.  One minute Dad was crossing the road between 2 parked cars – the next minute he’d disappeared.  Basically he hadn’t noticed the tow rope between the 2 cars and had gone a purler.  Poor Dad!  In fact – he’s due a knee replacement very soon, and maybe that was the start of his knee problems.

Anyway, I’ve never been able to recount that story without laughing hysterically – but tonight I did practically the same – whacking my knee* on the tow bar on the back of Mark’s car whilst squishing between that and another parked car and going flying.  Thankfully my children didn’t witness my escapade – so won’t be able to laugh at the story in a quarter of a century.

 

*And it was my good knee!   I am now of an age where my knees are described as good and bad rather than right or left. Clearly my right is good and left is bad as my OCD meant the sentences had to match. #geek

Time to step off the wagon?

So – my 30 days are up (well, they are tomorrow morning).  I’ve managed not to have a drop of booze for a month. I am pretty proud of myself.

I have to say I may well have given up if I hadn’t been so public about it – or said I was doing it to help Fin fundraise but I have stuck to my guns (despite people trying to tempt me, and the universe conspiring at times) – but a month on the wagon is done.

I am going to *try* not to slip in to the bad habits of wine every night, as I feel so much better for not drinking – and have even lost a bit of weight – but it will be nice to share a bottle with my husband, have a G&T with visiting friends, or numb the frustration of a child with tonsilitis refusing to take her medicine!!

But you can still make a donation if you’d like to recognise this achievement – and help raise money for Brain Tumour Research.  Thank you to those who already have too.

Concorde Room - with vintage champagne!
#Cheers

Grrrrrrrr

Today I parked at the ‘wrong’ side of a railway bridge, so I could march up the stairs and across it and walk down into the village to go to the Post Office whilst waiting for my daughter’s train home from school.  Part of this was to rack up lots of steps and flights of stairs on my Fitbit.  A great plan.

Fitbit

Until I got half way back and went to check my steps and realised my Fitbit was still plugged into my computer at home being charged.

Grrrrrrrrrr.

Times when I would like a drink

As I wrote a few days ago, I have given up booze for 30 days.  This shouldn’t be too onerous – but I keep coming across situations when a nice glass of wine would not go amiss……

  1.  Half term.  Juggling 4 kids and work over half term is fun. The nanny being on holiday for the week is making it even ‘funn-er’.  Doing all of this whilst knowing I won’t be sinking into a large glass bottle of wine each night is just like the funn-est thing ever……………….
  2. My sister visiting.  I have 2 sisters, and the middle one of us has the occasional glass of wine, but isn’t the hardened drinker that the youngest sister and I are.  My little sister (she is 35 before you get the impressions she’s underage!) did ‘dry January’ this year and reckons it was one of the toughest things she’s ever done – and made her think about booze ALL OF THE TIME.  She came to visit on Saturday, and normally we’d share a bottle of prosecco or two – but this time I wasn’t drinking!! My brother in law tried to get me to drink ‘Go on, have a drink, we won’t tell anyone’ and ‘Have a drink now and just add on an extra day at the end’ – but I held strong – just look at me with my mug of  tea whilst the BIL is on the beer!!Mug of tea
  3. Christmas cake making.  In fact, anything Christmas related. The reason the aforementioned sister was visiting is that we make Christmas cakes with all of the kids each year. I am renowned for my lack of Christmas spirit – which I offset with spirits during the cake baking process – but not this year.
  4. 4 year old’s birthday party. I was attending this party as a punter – and it almost drove me to gin.  I have realised that my own youngest daughter’s 4th birthday party – to be held at the same soft play centre – is going to be within my 30 abstemious days.  Oh dear………….
  5. Parties in general.  I spent Sunday afternoon at a party where all of my friends were drinking beer / wine / prosecco / gin – and it was very hard to resist!  But seeing as the guest of honour at the party was Finlay – whose fundraising I am supporting with my attempt – I couldn’t really fall off the wagon!

I fear I am not cut out for a tee total life of sobriety forever.  Still time to sponsor this effort if you so wish?! My mother told my yesterday that if I actually manage this (nice faith in me there parentals!)  they will make a sizeable donation!!

Just the 20 days to go………………