29 July 2013

Not missing, just unseen

25 July 2013


After the recent weeks when we've travelled backwards and forwards cross-country to spend time with my poor darling Mum, and the last week since we lost her, which has brought a welter of decisions to take and preparations to make, I'm exhausted. We're away again this weekend to finalise some of the details to make Mum's funeral the very best we can achieve.

Last week's phone call (heck, can it really only be a week?) to let me know of the rather sudden decline in Mum's health came late on Wednesday afternoon - just as I was leaving work. We set straight off in the heat of a very sticky day after throwing a few random bits and bobs in the car, getting there in the early hours. All the next day was spent with her, holding her hand, stroking her hair and talking to her, even though she wasn't responding to voice or touch or anything - not even blinking. Still, I think she was somehow aware that we were with her and that we loved her very much. She finally slipped away from us late in the afternoon.

Understandably, I am (like all of the family) feeling like I'm missing an essential part of me. I'm tearful, sad, heartbroken, bereft - all the words you can think of really. Although I knew in my heart that we wouldn't have my darling Mum with us for much longer, and as much as I had tried to be prepared, this has all still come as a shock.

Last night I had a small melt-down when I was in the midst of creating an order of service sheet for Mum's funeral. Now, Powerpoint is something I've used lots in the past but, last night, my skills seemed to desert me and I kept making really silly mistakes. On came the waterworks and I cried and cried. Being the perfectionist I am, and wanting to make this last thing I can do for Mum absolutely perfect, I did the obvious thing. I started blaming myself and calling myself stupid. Dumb as a bag of spanners - that's definitely how I was feeling last night.

Oddly enough too, although the scales are vehemently denying this, as well as  understandably down I suddenly feel fat (hmmm, perhaps bloated is more accurate). Almost as though I've suddenly gained a stone or two - even though I haven't - and that I'm dragging this with me everywhere I go. I guess feeling 'weighed down' is sort of what I mean and that doesn't do much to make me feel better about myself, or the situation we are dealing with.

Sure, sure, the 'logical' bit of me can rationalise it as a response to bereavement, tiredness and stress, and knows that it is 'probably' only a fairly temporary feeling, but... my emotions do somewhat get the better of me at the moment. Is this part of grieving?

What's more I've found myself doing quite a bit of the 'hey, let's beat myself up' thing for some time as, with all the travelling we've been doing, my regular exercise habits have taken a bit of a battering too.

Some of the constant negativity and non-constructive self-talk is, I'm sure, all part of a generally emotionally 'low' period (fuelled by long standing worries and now losing my beloved Mum). This seems to be a time where I'm seeing all partially-filled glasses in my world as half-empty not half-full.

None of this bodes well. My nemesis, that old black dog, lurks right there in the wings just waiting for an opportunity to jump on me and give me a bit of a savaging. So, it's about time I took an honest look at what I have been doing and AM still doing and give myself a bit of credit.

So, to the confessional - the exercise part. OK, here goes - I am not getting on the rower each morning. You'll already have figured out that I really don't like this at all. I do want to get back to it, but I just can't do it right now. My almost constant dragging tiredness just cannot be totally ignored. Yep, the fat lass is knackered and yet a full-night's undisturbed sleep still eludes her! Typical, eh? Another aspect of the grieving process, maybe?

But... what I AM doing right is to:-

1)  take time to think about and follow my darling Mum's guidance and count my blessings. Even in the finality of her death, there are positive nuggets to be found, if I only search for them. Yes, I've lost her, but her spirit lives on and she will never, ever truly leave me.

2)  stick with low-carb and sensible portions 'most' of the time - with no spiralling descent into the perils of wall-to-wall comfort eating.

3)  stick with my daily walking, though it's hard at times. That's mornings and evenings with the walk to and from my bus journey, and lunchtimes to get out and about and moving for an hour whenever possible (even in this heat, 'cos sweaty I can deal with).

4)  stick to my morning abs exercises... in fact, I've increased them a bit and added a variation or two.

5)  incorporate some weights work for my arms to my morning routine. This is a relatively new venture which I've just started, but I aim to continue doing this about three days each week. Basically, this consists of sets of biceps curls (with a 4kg dumb-bell for now) and triceps overhead extensions and one-arm kickbacks (with just a 2kg weight... until I can track down a 3kg one).

So, fat lass... listen up and take this 'positive' stuff on board.

  • You will ALWAYS have Mum with you.
  • You are NOT the lazy mare you've been calling yourself.
  • You are NOT 'stupid' nor that 'failure' your mind sees.
  • You have NOT stuffed up completely like you've told yourself.
Yes, there's been a blip, but that's what it is... a short-term blip with some pretty deep roots in a lot of stress and worry. It will pass and, in the meantime, I must keep reminding myself that life can still be good.

So, stop trying to be 100% 'perfect' for 100% of the time, and stop hating yourself for anything less. Start loving yourself for the positive things you've achieved and are still achieving, and for the good in you that comes from the lovely lady your darling Mum was!

OK, self-talk over. Onwards, if slightly tearfully, ever...

22 July 2013

Goodbye, my darling Mum

May you sleep peacefully in the arms of Jesus, who you trusted and relied upon for support and comfort for so many hard years.

May you be reunited with those you most loved - my beloved Dad, and your dear sister. I can almost see the three of you setting off happily on a long awaited fishing adventure together, rods and sandwiches in hand.

My tears are for me - I'll miss you so much. For you, I feel relief that you no longer have to struggle on.

Rest in perfect peace. I love you.

11 July 2013


Yep, I did spell it right, and I'm talking about lunch. My mid-day 'fuel'... which I'm really looking forward to today. Hopefully, my lovely hubby is too, since he has got the other half of it.

It all came about because Waitrose, bless 'em, had a silly reduction last night (boy, had they ever overstocked!), with their big bags of mixed salad leaves reduced to a mere 19p. Couldn't pass that by, eh?

I had half a big carrot in the fridge, left over from a BBQ salad at the weekend. Hmmm, OK, grate that into the leaves. Oooh, and a bowl of chopped chives. Both of these things have been looking for a good home. Yay, they've found it!

Fancy a few tomatoes? Nah, not really - it'll spoil the look. So, instead, add a tin of tuna, a great healthy squeeze of lemon juice, the last spoonful of Greek yoghurt, a dollop of olive oil and some garlic pepper and... voila! Lunch, quick and easy and ready to pop into a box for work.

Darn it. Why haven't I got my camera here...

09 July 2013

Cool, clear water

Yep, that's what I need... and in rather greater in abundance at the moment.

I've been drinking quite a lot during the day recently, so that's all well and good and is reflected in a nice pale straw-coloured wee... but more often than not it's been lemon tea, or coffee, of late. Whilst they are indeed liquids (and so do help a bit), I could do better if I just drank water again.

So, a reminder of why water is important... 

...and a reminder to myself that filling that big bottle at the side of my screen (and emptying it a couple of times a day into the fat lass) is a better habit to re-establish.

08 July 2013

Today's blessings

After another full-on weekend, and in no particular order...

  • A nice 'thank you' card from a neighbour (that made me feel lovely)
  • A cuddle with my lovely hubby before I left the house this morning
  • Sunshine (I'm relishing this hot weather - think I must have some lizard blood)
  • Pretty flowers in hanging baskets
  • Crisp, crunchy white cabbage stalk for lunch, with a yoghurt & tahini dip
  • Buying a little gift for a colleague with a new baby girl :-)
  • Avoiding the chilli salted nuts on the stall at the market (they'd put tasters out!!!)
  • A humorous and kindly meant (I hope) 'addition' to a notice left on a desk at work (er, not done by me, I might add) which made me grin
  • Remembering better times with my Mum (and there have been LOTS)
Just keep on thinking of 'em fat lass... onwards ever.

05 July 2013

Life may not be fair...

...but it's the only one we're going to live.

I particularly need to remember that and make the best of it... and be sure to count my blessings every day. Just at the moment, this is turning into a pretty constant mantra for me as I find myself struggling to deal with life's various worries and crises.

Heck, that sounds pretty 'down', doesn't it, but I'm not going to moan - I am doing my utmost to stay positive, look at things practically and not let those lurking blue meanies get a grip. But why is this necessary, you may ask.

My main worry is for my poor sweet Mum. We've just found out that, after the fall a couple of months ago and subsequent problems, she won't be able to return to her own home. Her physical condition has deteriorated to quite a degree, she's unlikely to improve hugely, and she now needs round-the-clock care. This physical set-back has also led to a slowing in mental acuity.

Getting old just isn't nice. She always did say that 'old age doesn't come alone' and often added the rider that she wasn't too keen on it's choice of friends! Perceptive, wasn't she, my Mum.

Whilst all of this isn't a particular surprise (in fact I was getting scared about the prospect of her going back home and being alone for most of the time) there's a lot for us kids to plan and organise for her... and at a distance! Then factor-in that our family's 'communication' record isn't the best... which makes it all so much more difficult.

Crucially though, this will be a massive change for poor Mum to adjust to. She's SO wanted to go home and it just can't happen now. She's going to need all of our support and help and this will require us to set aside our various baggage and differences and focus purely on her needs. Easily enough said... rather harder to get active co-operation from all concerned.

The real shame of it is that where she is right now is fantastic - she couldn't have better, more empathetic, personal and caring support, from all of the lovely staff there... but she can't stay there as it's only a short-term rehabilitation unit. We HAVE to move her and put her through the whole readjustment period once again and, to be honest, wherever she moves to will really have their work cut out to live up to current standards.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I absolutely HATE living so far away from her. I desperately want to do more for her and have to fight the feeling of 'failing' her somehow on a pretty regular basis. Sure when I consider this logically, I know there are many, many people in similar situations, dealing with the self-same concerns but... this is happening to MY Mum, and to me she's the most special lady in the world.

Of similar concern is a new health issue for my darling lovely hubby - oooh, what great timing, huh? I won't go into the detail, but he had surgery for this very darned thing about four years ago and the problem has raised its ugly head again. It's returned with a vengeance and, this time, it hasn't progressed slowly but has accelerated quite rapidly from a minor niggle into a fairly major worry. He's been referred to a specialist and I'm sort of holding my breath at the moment. I'm on tenterhooks about the appointment, and living in hope for a good outcome.

All of this 'stuff' has an impact way beyond the obvious stresses. Sleep is not a given these days. Regular exercise has been hit quite hard as we're travelling across the country pretty regularly and this means we are both dog-tired. I have been trying to keep up with some of it, at least, but my best-made plans don't always come off! Meals have been a whole lot less 'sensible' than we'd like too, for all we try to eat well and healthily. To be quite frank, supermarket picnics eaten in the car during the long journeys are beginning to lose their appeal!

The good news is that having gone low-carb, and been eating this way for quite some time, helps a lot. Really, really, really helps! I truly thank heavens for a low-carb lifestyle as I'd be sunk without the help it gives me. You see, there are days when I feel quite overwhelmed and could easily dive into a comfort-food-fest and stuff my face until I burst.

But, even on particularly 'bad' days (like Wednesday, after we found out about Mum) when I find myself reacting to the latest stress point and standing in front of a vending machine with a coin in my hand... everything inside, however prettily packaged in shiny wrappers, looks like inedible sugary crap. I honestly don't want any of it - even though I'm desperately craving 'something'. Strange eh?

What I have had to do though, is strictly limit the snacks I keep available to me at work - even the 'good' snacks like nuts, for example. Eating too much, or rather mindless emotional eating which leads to eating too much and which I obviously have not managed to conquer, is a potential problem. Low-carb or no, I could still find it all too easy to munch my way to oblivion.

So far, my weight remains around 55kg - a wee bit higher than my 54kg 'happy' number, but not too bad... considering. It's still very much a learning process, this maintenance business, and the review, adjust, adapt cycle is on-going. But I'm happy to keep at it as it keeps me from throwing away the years of hard work to get where I am with my weight and health. Er, stating the obvious I may be, but gaining weight right now would NOT help this fat lass.

So, a few of my blessings for today:
  • The sun is shining and the sky is blue.
  • The river looked lovely on my way to work.
  • I'm still strong, healthy and (mostly) happy.
  • I have a wonderful lovely hubby, a fabulous sister and brother-in-law and the best Mum in the world.

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