Fishing in tap water.

Posted: November 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

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The house I grew up in as a kid, didn’t have a bathroom. It was a tiny little house that had lots of us living in it. We had a loo at the bottom of the yard and a tin bath, that hung on a wall outside until Sunday nights, when it was dragged in to the kitchen. We moved to a bigger house when I was eight and the inside bathroom was a miracle. But I missed that outside loo.
As you can tell from that house, we weren’t very well off as a family and entertainment was creative, round our way.  The shit my Mum used to come up with to keep us both entertained and out of her way, was unusual. She’d produce little note books and a pen and send us to the local factory car park to write down number plates. We’d spend hours writing page after page of them.
We’d go camping to the outside loo. Now, this was handy when it was raining and I’d just sit on the loo, staring in to space and listening to the rain. The harder it rained,  the more relaxed I felt. 
Lastly, my favourite, she’d fill that tin bath, or a bowl of water, for me to go fishing in. She’d tie a bit of string to a stick or a pencil, or whatever, and I’d sit, for fucking hours, fishing in that water. No hook or bait. Tap water that I could clearly see was devoid of any life. Hours. I never even questioned it. My intention was to sit fishing,  so that I did. Not the brightest kid.
40 years later, and I now feel that I’m reaping the benefits of those pastimes.  The activities I’m enjoying are like fishing in tap water. I’m learning to sit still, just because that’s my intention. My on and more likely off practice of meditation is back with a flourish and I’m working to make it a daily thing. I’m finding mindfulness in as much stuff as I can. I went for a walk this morning in the pissing down rain, because when I looked out of the door, it was like sitting in the loo, camping. Being in the rain like that, wrapped up, is still an adventure.

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Perfect and beautiful snow.

Posted: January 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

NaziThis is a blog post I wrote after my visit to Auschwitz in 2006. Today’s the 70th anniversary of its liberation, and I wanted to post this.

My trip was split into two parts; the part that involves 41 teenagers and laughing my conkers off every two minutes, which I’ll blog about in the next few days and the afternoon we spent where none of us spoke.

We moan about the cold here, but we have no idea what cold is. That afternoon wasn’t just cold outside deep but inside too. Cold that I’ve never experienced before and that I’ll never forget. The deep snow made the place look somehow clean and very neat when we walked through the gates. I’d seen the gates before on films and it clicked into place for the first time where I really was: Auschwitz. The trip had been hanging over me for some time but I was standing here now and walking through those gates.

Because of the snow, we could only see what looked like a negative of the place. Just the pure white snow and the dark buildings. I think like most people I didn’t realise that the Auschwitz I’d seen on the telly was actually Birkenau, the second part of the camp where the train passed through the archway. Auschwitz was a more permanent camp, with mostly sturdy brick buildings unlike the wooden barracks of Birkenau. These are now the Auschwitz museum that house some of what was left behind. Pictures, clothes and shoes, pots and pans, human hair and the ashes of millions of people under your feet. You walk from one building to the next, up and down stone stairs that are worn from the thousands of feet that have trudged along them long before I was born. By the time we got to the second building, I think, we began to see rooms, and I don’t mean small rooms, full of belongings. Shoes, suitcases, toothbrushes and combs, children’s shoes and clothes and probably the most macabre: the hair. Before women were taken to the gas chambers, their hair was cut off with blunt knives because this could be sold to make fabric. In one corner of the room was a piece of wooden machinery used to weave the hair into fabric used to make suits and other garments. When you looked closely at the ends of the fabric you could see fibres, that eventually registered as human hair.

Each of these rooms full of belongings held it’s own emotion. When I saw the room of suitcases, thrown on top of each other, I couldn’t help notice the care and pride with which so many had taken to scribe their name, address and date of birth. Pride in the lettering that would only come from people who didn’t know that they’d never recover their belongings. The cases were taken to an area know as ‘Canada’ so called because in this time of history, people were beginning to emigrate to Canada and this was seen as a place to start a new life. The people brought here really did think they would not only survive, but would start again. They were told this all the way to the gas chambers to minimise the problems getting them in there.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the stories before, so I’m not going to describe what our guide told us that afternoon. But I will tell you of the two things I saw that I wish I had never seen, and that I’ll never forget. The first was block 11. This is where the cells were for people who had committed ‘crimes’ The people who died there more often that not had died of starvation. This was because they had been forced into the cell, and it had been bricked up for a few weeks before tearing down the bricks, removing the bodies and refilling the cell with the next people. At the end of the corridor in the basement were the standing cells. Imagine a tiny room about the size of the cupboard under your stairs. If they squeezed in, 4 people could stand, face to face in that cell. They would be worked for 14 hours a day, then returned to the standing cell at night. Until they died from exhaustion. No food, no toilet, no chance. I stood for as long as I could outside that cell, all of about 20 seconds, but I feel like I saw every detail in the brick and stone.

The second was the gas chambers. I really didn’t think you’d be allowed in there and wandered in already in shock and on autopilot. I think most of us by that point were only sort of listening to what our guide was saying to us. We all seemed to see the same thing at the same time: The walls were covered in finger nail marks, from the people who had hopelessly tried to scratch their way free from certain death, in the 20 minutes it took them to be gassed. 12 thousand people a day were gassed here. We walked into the next room where the bodies were thrown into the furnace and then into the bitter cold and snow outside.

We were then taken to Birkenau, the more recognisable face of the death camp. By this point the weather had worsened even by Polish standards to -21 and we were told that we would only be able to stay for about 15 minutes as they were going to have to close the place for the day. We saw the flimsy wooden barracks that housed thousands of people as the snow drifted inside. Wherever you were, that building with its terrifying arch that so many people passed through loomed at you. So black against the miles of white.

It was the most perfect and beautiful snow I’ve ever seen.

T-Rex arms

Posted: January 11, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

t rexAs I mentioned in my last blog, I kind of came by yoga by accident. I was just looking for a different kind of exercise, because I had legs like a body builder, and arms like a T-Rex. I’d thought Pilates sounded like a good way to go and saw a sign outside a supermarket advertising ‘Yogalates’ lessons in the Buddhist center near me. Perfect. I had no idea what to expect, but I spent an hour grinning from ear to ear. It felt like I’d found something ace, and I had.

I’d been to Tai Chi lessons in the same place some time before, but didn’t rate the teacher. Lessons where the teacher isn’t good usually end up bad lessons. Well, Nikki is like a twinkle in a dull World. She has a way of explaining stuff that just sits right. There’s probably a pun there somewhere. She has the body of a Playboy Bunny but is so friendly and down to Earth, that she makes every class a lovely experience. She brought me, quite by accident, in to yoga, and it has changed my life. Yoga isn’t just exercise, it’s a big bag of goodness that just jumps from one part of your life to another, making it better.

When I first started reading blogs and stuff about it, I thought it was bollocks. Surely it’s just a load of positions you get in. Might be good exercise, but surely that’s all? People going on about it being a whole body, mind spirit thing and so on just seemed a bit far fetched. I was just a few weeks in when I was following an online meditation. I was lying on the floor and had to put my hands on my chest and belly and thank my body for looking after me. Sounds like tosh, I know, but I did as I was told! Well, I started to cry like a fucking banshee, and realised at that point how amazingly grateful I was to my own body for sticking with me. It had been through so much shit and had stayed with me though all the weight loss and was now coming through the other side. I’d realised for the first time that this yoga thing might just be giving me more than a workout. It was a change of everything. It’s just spiraled from there.

If you live in the Runcorn/Halton area and would like to join one of Nikki’s many local classes, that set me on my path, drop me a comment and I’ll let you have her details.

Along with my ace teacher, Nikki, I also follow Adriene, a lovely online teacher who has a global following. Most of my yoga is my home yoga practice, and I get up at 5am for my morning session along with my meditation. Like thousands of people, Adriene sets us on our way and stops us from taking it all too seriously. If you’re interested in trying yoga at home, give her a try. She’s currently offering a free 30 day program from YouTube.

thMy yoga and meditation practice have brought so may good things in to my life. Many subtle, but hey, this stuff takes time. I know I’ve learned ways to stay calmer and be less negative when talking to myself, and that’s huge. I know I’ve brought a new kind of discipline in to my life.

I meditate every day and a great tool for this is Headspace. I’m currently on a ten day focus about acceptance and the reason I started on this was to allow me to be more accepting of the people around me, who I want to fucking kill most days. Breathe. Count to ten, aaand breathe. I’m on day three and I’m starting to see this is about accepting me. I’m trying to be zen and maybe that will come by day six or maybe eight or something, but day three is about accepting me. And my shittiness. And being confident in who I am and that’s sometimes a little judgmental. A lot judgmental. Luckily I’m not the only one and have lots of partners in crime to enjoy this with, enriching my skills. So, for your very entertainment, I’m going to list some of the stuff that boils my piss, in a cathartic, group session type thingy, of course.

Thick people

There are two types; firstly those who know they are and either use it as a way to get out of shit, (which makes them manipulative rather than thick) or because they think it makes them look ‘cute’ (in which case they are thick) and secondly thick people who have no idea they’re thick. Adults who’ve never heard of Hitler. Adults who use text speak. This also includes people who write the way they speak, because they think that’s right. eg “When use lot done it” (meaning when you all did it) Woman who have eyebrows like this and people who go on Jeremy Kyle. And so on. I could bang on about this all day.

Nasty people

People who think it’s OK to add comments to stuff on Facebook or YouTube that are just horrible and mean. So someone posts a picture of themselves dancing because it makes them happy, and someone just calls them fat because they feel like it. I may think horrible things about you, but I’m not going to poke you and say them, just to be mean. I’m nice enough not to insult you to your face. Mostly. People who look down on what you’re doing because ‘they know better’ about you than you do. Go and fuck yourself.

Racists come under this, big time. They also come under stupid people. UKIP and Britain Fucking First idiots. I also like to bang on about them.

People who let their friend/partner/relative wear leggings as pants.

Sisters, sisters. I can guarantee that no matter how much I’ve paid for leggings, if I bend over in them, you can see my knickers. But it’s hard to see that yourself, so as a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t wear them unless under something longer. so, if you can see the bottom of my arse cheek below my top, its too short. I know this. I know other women who know this. So why don’t you all fucking know this? You can see your bits, love. However, the people I really blame are the people you’re with who don’t stop you and say “hey, you’re my mate/girlfriend, and I don’t want you to go out wearing crap where people can see your gash when you move your arms.” I’ve seen full pubic bush and total knickers up the arse, walking next to somebody who’s let you go out like that.

Shit on Facebook.

There’s a lot of this. I really like Facebook and use it in many ways, but mostly as entertainment. I have a lot of yoga stuff on there and funny cat videos and stuff women seem to like. Also following what some friends are up to and general lighthearted whatever.

What I don’t like is people thinking that pressing ‘like’ or sharing bollocks has magical powers. ‘I have an amazing Aunty, if you do too, like and share this.’ Why? People sharing warnings about scams that happened two years ago. In another country. (Just in case, obviously) People who just want attention. “Just can’t believe why this has happened” followed by a list of people saying ‘what’s up Hun, are you OK?’ and so on, with no explanation, or maybe something like “its OK, ignore me”. Fuck right off.

And racist shit- you moontwats!

Yeah, day eight on my meditation thing might be the day I start to be more accepting of others. I’ll let you know.

Say ‘no’ to numbers.

Posted: January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Neon Numbers 6The weight loss thing is so last year. It came off and it’s stayed off, so nice one. This massive (no pun intended) change has led to other changes. I’ve written about what a lifestyle change has really meant, and how little of it was actually about food. Its all about this *points to temple.

So, the exercise was the key, the positive focus rather than the negative one. I’d been walking for a good while and was walking a daft amount of miles. I’d got to ten miles a day and was loving it. I wore my UP band and recorded every fucking step. It’s what got me started. Then the week I walked 65 miles a week, I felt like a failure. What’s that bollocks? I battled for a while then took it off. It was just another number to negatively focus on. Miles had stopped inspiring me and was a bind. Miles, calories, pounds, stones, whatever. Numbers can move you forward, or hold you back. They can inspire you or depress you. If they’re the latter for you, you might want to think about that.

So, I decided Pilates might be a good way to go. And swimming. Well, more Aquafit more than swimming. (Only in Runcorn can someone be kicked out of Aquafit for being drunk. Not me, no.) And I took swimming lessons, that we’re a hoot. One; Because I just enjoyed it, and another because the people in the classes were a black comedy waiting to happen.
Pilates from YouTube led to a class locally that was more yoga than Pilates. I smiled all the way through and that was that. Yoga is the absolute shits. I started as an exercise and it led to a while load of stuff. Meditation, Gratitude, different perspective and a much more positive perspective. It’s become a daily practice and a total joy. I’m not going in to it all now, it’ll come out in bits.

The main thing is, the very premise of me starting this blog years ago was the ‘before and after’. There’s never any after, there’s only now. I’m moving as much now as when I started losing weight, so I’m still banging on about my own shit.

Lifestyle change

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Going off the rails

responsibilityThat’s a term we hear all the time: ‘It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Bollocks, it’s a diet. Until very recently, I thought I knew what a ‘lifestyle change’ was, but I didn’t. Not until my lifestyle changed.
I’d heard the term related to diet more than anything else, but that’s where it falls flat most often. People focus on one element of their life, and seem surprised when that shit fails or just ebbs away. If you just change the way you eat, other stuff will happen; your body will change, your energy will change and so on. Thing is, if you ONLY change what you eat, those things won’t happen for long. over a year and a half ago I started to change my attitude. That’s the ticket, you know. Your attitude, not your eating. Change the way you approach life and your life will change.
I had an operation, so I started to lose weight, but that hasn’t got me to where I am now, at half my body weight. That’ll be. Exercise and everything that comes with it has. A sense of achievement, seeing myself as more than the numbers on the scale, a sense of worth, a feeling of freedom, new goals, new positivity. That’s what walking has done. I walked to lose wight, but the walking has become the result.
The way I live is so fucking different now, it’s a miracle. These things have just developed on their own from feeling this positively- my home is so much nicer because I love cleaning up. Every time I brush the floor, I’m pleased that I’ve achieved something. Every time I do something I’ve put off, I win. Each time I get up early to enjoy the sunshine, or go to bed early, or eat something better, or DON’T eat something, I win. Every mile I walk, I fucking win like a winning thing, winning something. But for you, it could be something else; riding a bike, jogging, shoplifting*, whatever.
People are kind enough to tell me how well I look, and I can never repay how grateful I feel to all those people who continue to support me. But I look the way I do because of the positivity I feel and how good my life is now. I look how I feel. It’s because of the lifestyle change and anybody can do that. you just have to be prepared to actually change the shit that’s holding you back.

*Probably not shoplifting.

Shit.

Posted: April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

shit-storm

So, dear reader, you my recall from my last post that I was wrestling with the shit-witch. well that bitch is winning. I’ve been off work for a month now and signed off for another two. Now that’s what I call the shits. I’ve had a parade of tests that include me giving blood, peeing in bottles and crapping in tubs. Its not the first time I’ve had to do that, and no doubt not the last, but its only when you do, and are horrified by the contents that you realise that there’s something actually wrong. Whoever has to open that sample bottle isn’t being paid enough. Nowhere near.

The results so far have come back with nothing apart from a random infection of christ-knows origin. I was hoping it would be just a run of the mill stomach bug, followed by antibiotics and hey presto. That’s a no. Then liver issues, followed by whatever medication. That’s a no. As well as my well documented toilet antics, I run a fever, ache and have some flu symptoms, just to stop me getting bored. It all comes and goes, so just as I think I might be getting a bit better, that witch flies right back at me. The favorite now is C.Diff. Everything points to that so far. Fingers crossed its that. Fairly easy to treat, although might not be so quick.

In the mean time, I’m battling grumbling depression and a full on dose of mega-loneliness. I can’t go out so much as I worry that I’ll not get to the loo in time. For the last year I’ve loved walking but now I just can’t do it. So my World is this house. Often this sofa, and that’s a small world. Telly is shit. After you’ve seen Breaking Bad, you’re ruined for everything else. Game of Thrones and Walking Dead is all that’s left, and Walking Dead just ended. Crap. I’m trying to find little projects to keep me busy, including cleaning stuff, staring in to the distance and crying over stupid things.That’s a big project, for sure. Moving small items three foot along is a good one too. Unfortunately eBay is like crack at the moment, so believe me, I’ve bought some shite recently. If I’m not careful I’m going to end up selling hand-jobs down the docs to pay for lip balms and toe rings. Again. Alternatively I can keep on selling my fat clothes on eBay to keep my head above water.

My weight is up and down like a hooker at a rodeo. I’ve lost and gained about eight pounds three times. When I loose it, I eat like hell to try and get it back. I’m worried about loosing too much in the wrong way. Maybe i should make hay while the sun shines. But Nothing about this feels sunny to me.