30 October 2014

Post-holiday blue meanies

Oooh we had such a wonderful time away last week. Spending time together somewhere remote, quiet and beautiful, relaxing, reading, listening to great music, walking (mostly without getting too wet), meeting great dogs and their owners, buying and cooking lovely local food and imbibing the odd glass or two of delicious Spanish red wine.

But all good things come to an end, and apparently so quickly, and it's been back to business as usual (in spades!) this week. We've both had a few work problems to deal with and I guess the inevitable has happened... so, post-holiday, we're just a bit 'down'.

Oh well, just you think of Mum's blessings my dearie! We had a super time and have some lovely memories (and photos) to look back on. At least the sun is shining this morning, the autumn colours are gorgeous and I'll be off for a lunchtime walk before too much longer.

Onwards, ever...

14 October 2014

Changing my perspective

Monday morning was wet and rainy. In fact it was very, VERY wet, and you can add windy, dark, chilly, and decidely... bleh to that. Having trogged into work (in the blasted rain), towelled my soggy self down when I got here and then set to the beginning of my week, it was still wet, gloomy and 'orrible outside.

Thus I didn't start the week with my mood in the most positive light in the first place. Guess what? Then I was hit by an unexpected Monday morning 'thing' to deal with (right now !), just as I was trying to get prepared for one of our regular group meetings for which I write and circulate an agenda, then chair, contribute to, note-take and minute! (oooh dear, what a 'poor me' sentence that is).

Best laid plans and all that stuff... so by now I was a bit growly, and while I waited to get into our meeting room, I grumpily mentioned the 'blasted rain' and resulting autumn miseries to my colleague. Oh gosh. What he said in reply stopped me dead and made me rethink.

He's from Africa - and from an area not noted for copious amounts of precipitation. The ensuing droughts obviously had a major impact on him and his family as he grew up, and he very gently reminded me that he sees things rather differently. He told me that in his eyes rain is a great gift from God. Rather than something unwanted, it is actually something desperately needed to sustain life.

His kids were born in the UK and sometimes they moan about the British weather to their Dad, so he said he tells them that they mustn't ever complain about the rain, and reminds them why. When that next happens I've asked him to remind me too - so I don't forget either what a blessing the rain can be.

In a funny way, he reminded me of my darling and so very much missed Mum, and this brought into mind her favourite hymn, particularly the verse about the seasons:
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Then there's the chorus (which reduces me to tears as I hear her voice singing it) goes:
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— 
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Autumn blessings indeed.

13 October 2014

The Black Dog and the Brat

Having been moving along this personal journey now for a fair few years (I started on my 'serious' weight loss path way, way back in 2007), I thought it was probably about time... so I'd like to introduce you to a couple of my travelling companions.

Actually that isn't strictly true, since I don't recall ever asking either of these guys to accompany me, and can't say that I really care for either of 'em. So 'I'd like to' isn't exactly what I mean...

However, despite trying to shake off these un-called for 'mates', I do rather appear to be stuck with the ungracious pair, who will suddenly decide to step up and join me for sections of my journey. Maybe that happens to everyone - I don't know.

They really can be quite persistent, these disagreeable beggars, but thankfully they don't follow along with me all of the time. They are more like those strange people you meet now and again on public transport, who home in to plonk themselves down in the seat right next to you and then proceed to bore you rigid with their life's woes and their bizarre but heartfelt beliefs on all sorts of odd and esoteric topics, without any apparent pauses to take a breath (or does this kind of thing just happen to me?). Anyhow, they make a journey much less pleasurable and are not what I'd describe as welcome company.

Each of them, even when they show up on their own, is quite a handful. Together, and one of them does seem to bring along the other all too often, they can be an absolute nightmare!

That darn Dog I've mentioned many times in the past. He's not a cute fluffy puppy by any means. More the slavering, hot-breathed, snarling sort of creature who slinks in the shadows and prowls around on the edges of consciousness to push and nurture the darker side of life. He's extremely difficult to shake off at times, and I never quite know when to expect him to show up (although sometimes the triggers are pretty clear). Still, recognising his influence is at play and then remembering to look out for and actually list my blessings (determinedly!) is usually enough to dissuade him from hanging around... eventually. Laina has a few great tips to share for dealing with this chap - all good stuff.

The Brat can be a challenge to deal with too, and she often rocks up for a little attention in the wake of the Dog. She's a particular problem to handle, most importantly because she's my own worst side. She throws temper tantrums to get her own way, and her mantra is 'I want, I want, I want'. She's demanding and selfish and lazy, and has her eye firmly on the pleasures of 'now' and to hell with the consequences. She's the persistent voice that whispers in my ear that 'just one' little lapse in my normal sensible diet is OK and won't harm me, or there's 'no need' to go out for a walk when the weather is bad, or get on the rower, or... She's generally vanquishable by a decent dose of willpower, but... I don't always have that to hand right away.

I guess what I'm leading up to here is that my weight loss journey (and maybe yours too) was, and still can be, hampered and stymied by unexpected and unwanted companions like these. Worse, they don't politely give up and push off when the weight loss part stops and maintenance takes over.

But, the good news is that we are not completely powerless in the face of the blighters, and we can defeat them - or at least give them a good bashing (even if complete victory isn't assured). OK, it might not be easy - but it is possible.

Even if (hmmm, make that 'when') we stumble and fall, with a bit, OK sometimes a lot, of effort, we can get up, dust ourselves down and get back on with our journey. Their arrival is not game over. The cartoonist Stephen McCranie captures this idea pretty well when he says:
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried”

So, despite whatever or whoever shows up to obstruct us, let's plan to be masters, eh? Or, in other words, onwards, ever...

06 October 2014


Worries and delights. It's sort of been a week or two of both, but I'm grateful that I can (for the most part) look at the 'blessings' aspects and say that the delights outweigh the worry bits.

So to start with the worries, why have I been fussing and fretting and getting myself all in a dither? Well I don't really know specifically - the black dog hasn't been very far away but it's all been pretty nebulous 'ifs & maybes' stuff, and I daresay most of it triggered by various bits of bad news we've had in the last few weeks.

I've recently lost one former work colleague too young, have another in a high depedency unit following a stroke (still only in their twenties!), various friends have developed all too many medical and other problems, and us...? Well, I guess we're pretty much OK - thank heavens, but it does kind of make one think.

When I ponder all this a bit more deeply, probably most of this worry is rooted in 'growing older' concerns. You know, those 2 a.m. thoughts about the inevitable (and detrimental) effects of the march of time. Cue quavering soundtrack of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be".

Yep, I've been worrying quite a lot about what will become of my lovely hubby and I as we get older and less able (it does, after all, come to us all). How will we cope if one of us gets ill? What happens if one of us have to give up work? Where will we live? Those sorts of things - I know it's silly as I have no idea what is likely to happen, let alone when, but it does sometimes get me down a little.

But those delights... ah, now they've been lovely. So just keep thinking about them, not the bad stuff, eh fat lass!

Shiny conkers and the bronzing of autumn leaves. The contrasting warmth of the afternoon sun and the chill of the morning - scarf and gloves weather on the way. The full(ish) moon in the clear night sky. All things to be thankful for.

Despite a change to the most appallingly soggy weather when I look out of the window right now, we were blessed by the most gorgeous sunrise this morning. Deep streaks of oranges and reds, shading to golds and pinks across bands of parallel clouds stretching to the horizon. Who cared that the 'red skies in the morning' portended rain - simply stunning!

Other pleasures too - like the first roast Brussels sprouts of the season, crispy brown, with bacon lardons and Stilton cheese. Fantastically satisfying dinner, to the eyes as well as the tastebuds. Snuggling up in our warm winter dressing gowns and sheepskin slippers at the weekend - it might not 'really' be cold enough to justify it yet, but a treat anyway.

And we've something very special to look forward to... a whole week in the wilds of nowhere (OK, deepest Shropshire) with my lovely hubby, to celebrate birthdays and our eleventh wedding anniversary. Gosh but waking to the early morning fog in NOLA seems a long time ago.

And the weight? Well, it's at the top end of my happy band, but I'm OK with that. It's stable and I know that if I can be bothered to put in the effort I can reduce it a few pounds to where I'm happiest. Right now I'll live with the 'what is' and worry about the 'what could be' later.

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