Monthly Archives: April 2011

Menopause moan



Years ago I would have been dropping weight by now, and I don’t mean a healthy pound at a time!
I feel as if I am pushing against the tide to get my metabolism to kick into gear. I can feel myself getting fitter and enjoying moving my body more. I can tie my laces on my trainers without giving myself a hernia which is progress.
I’m know everyone says its harder to lose weight post menopause, and the fat on my tum is evidence of middle age spread, but c’mon godesses of crones I need a bit of help here! Send me a few suggestions, give my metabolism a little spin, show some sisterhood girls will you?
Ok in the meantime I will keep working this body and working on affirming that I am slim and fit and toned.
Here’s my ‘now photo’. I’m going to look back on this in 6 months time and say “Yes!”

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So who just wanted to see The Dress?


William and Kate

Pretty much everyone I know over here is under-whelmed by the whole Royal shindig. There are the feminists, the anti-Royalists, the socialists,  the grumpy old ” what a waste of money and resources” crowd and the rest. Every primary school child in the country though has been pretty much indoctrinated with Royal princess fever. Most have turned it into a Project incorporating every part of the national curriculum into their orgy of festivities this week. Little girls and boys have been voted, nominated or picked by class or teachers as The Bride and The Groom and had their own wedding ceremony under the guise of ‘cultural studies’, ‘citizenship’ or whatever Religious Education is now called ( Philosophy and Ethics at my son’s school).

Of course this well and truly supports the ‘every little girl wants to be ; a) a princess and b) a bride. I’m pretty sure this is socially constructed except that its o engrained we can’t work it out. Already the streets round the route the procession will take are lined with happy campers who pitched their tents to claim a spot at the front. London is heaving. The day has been officially designated as a Bank Holiday aka a Big Day Off but a lot of shops and organisations seem to be staying open so I’m sure there will be assistants glued to a portable TV in every cafe and gym.

What makes me smile is that we all want to see The Dress. Even amongst my circle of non-royalty following friends we all say that. Well the women do mostly. Oh yes that must be that princess/bride gene thingy again.

However here are some suggestions for what to do instead of the Royal Wedding:

join us for a Royal Weeding Party – our garden will love you

listen to The Sex Pistols really loud

Make alternative bunting

Spend the day in bed

Do not under any circumstances turn on the tv, open a newspaper or turn on the radio – appreciate silence

Get thee down to Oxfam and find yourself a wedding dress and wear it for a picnic in your garden ( why should they have all the fun?)

Join me for a cup of tea, a quick look at the dress and a fair amount of surreptitious peeking.    

Tea anyone?

Take the opportunity to have a thoroughly romantic, sentimental, dressing up fest. Wear your own wedding dress/outfit/wig, get those heels out ( yes you at the back too), bake a cake, cry a lot, say “Oh doesn’t she look lovely” and sigh, make your partner propose all over again ( ok do it yourself if necessary), see how much Royal celebratory tat you can buy on the internet and buy all of it, make the children wave flags, put on their tiaras ( yes the boys too obviously) and enjoy. Remember your most precious, romantic, glorious passionate moments and thank your luck stars.

Our Day

I love a good wedding myself. I love the sheer audacity of two people being willing to stand up and say to each other, their friends, family and the world, “I love you, and I want to stay with you for ever”. But that doesn’t mean I think everyone should/ needs to/ or wants to do it. Relationships are just as passionate, loving and for ever without those legal ties that bind. And we have all said ” I love you” and lost.

So at the end of the day I’m glad if William and Kate can have a great wedding and hopefully a long and loving partnership that brings them joy. I wish that for everyone who gets married/moves in together, handfasts or jumps over a broom. And I hope that this day celebrates love wherever and whoever you are, boy, girl, man or woman, old or young, gay or straight.



Zumba class Bradford

I was a little nervous of my latest fitness plan. The ladies at my aqua-fit class are mostly older than me but when they encouraged me to join the zumba class on a Wednesday night I couldn’t refuse. Plus the instructor, Karen, is the same one who teaches aqua so I knew Id be able to work at my level. I did worry that I might expire from lack of oxygen or that my rickety right knee wouldn’t manage the moves. My partner went to the gym whilst I was at the class, with instructions to come and find me after an hour if I didn’t appear as I might be lying somewhere on the floor unable to walk!

I know that I just can’t lose weight unless I up my exercise. I think my body has gone into a sleeping metabolism rate after years of not much activity and , let’s be honest, too much food! But its pretty hard to do exercise unless its : a) fun b) rewarding. Now I can see the benefits and long-term goals but sometimes I’m a bit of a ‘I want it NOW’ princess and delayed gratification is just too much to expect. So the Fun bit is pretty important for me. I also know that I like routine in a ‘I do this on a Wednesday’ sort of way. If I can plan it onto my calendar and have reminders on my phone that’s all to the good. So I reckon classes are a good idea for part of my fitness plan.

So off I go in my jogging bottoms and white T and large water bottle. Some of the slim, fit people are wearing cut-off lycra, this makes me hyperventilate slightly until I see a couple of women from aqua and my heart rate returns to normal ( for the last time tonight). Karen has the music pumping, the African/salsa/Marengo mix is enough to get your toes tapping although I’m not sure my hips will do that wiggle to order. And off we go. Somehow I end up at the front of the class. This was NOT the plan. I wanted to be tucked away nicely where I could follow everyone else and not feel like the fat clumsy one. Ouch, so Im kicking that negative self-talk into touch and wiggling my hips and shimmying with the rest of them.

And guess what? I kept up ( mostly). I didn’t die ( I’m still here). And, miracle of miracles, I can walk this morning! I can actually tell that the things I’ve been doing over the last few weeks have made a difference. I got out of breath, but I wasnt gasping like a fish out of water. I didn’t feel like I was going to have a heart attack. And apart from avoiding the jumpy bits my knee held up ok.

One of the great things with zumba is it seems to have taken off everywhere and with all ages and sizes. I gather from friends that classes vary according to speed so it’s probably worth checking out that the one you want to go to is flexible enough to let you go at your own speed without feeling like a stranded turtle. But if you like a good rhythm and dancing and having a laugh as well as a workout I’d say give it a go!

Mum’s new hat


Mum - Easter 2011

Mum was sad this weekend, over and over. “I just want to cry” she said, time after time.

We went for distraction – lunch at the garden centre. She didn’t want to eat. “I just want to cry and i don’t know why”.

We checked she wasn’t uncomfortable and dealt with her physical needs. She was warm enough, cool enough, clean, not thirsty or hungry.

She perked up a bit for cheesecake with ice cream, a;ways a winner. I felt slightly guilty for giving her a bit of a sugar high.

Still sad. We reassured. She said, ” I just want to cry and I don’t know why. I have everything I need and everyone I want with me” We said, “Its ok, everyone has sad days”.

We went shopping. Two pairs of cotton pull-on trousers for summer with two pretty blouses and a two necklaces to make her look special. We Talked about how she can be all dressed up for the Royal Wedding party on Friday! She smiled.

We sat in the glorious Easter sunshine. It felt like the middle of summer. We had skinny iced lattes, she had a Cornetto. We chatted on, but still she was sad.

I took photos of her wearing her new turquoise sun-hat and looking beautiful. That made her happy for a little while. She loves to be admired.

When we took her home I asked the staff if something sad had happened. Her next door housemate Lily, died las Saturday.

Mum didn’t remember. She can’t remember Lily now. Bu she is still sad. I’m sad too.

The new hat is on the shelf in her wardrobe. Next time it is sunny it will be a new hat all over again.

Weekly Photo Challenge- One


The First Dandelion

Simple and fresh and fair from winter’s close emerging,

As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,

Forth from its sunny nook of shelter’d grass–innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,

The spring’s first dandelion shows its trustful face.

Source: “Leaves of Grass,” by Walt Whitman

Dandelion Clock

Bluebell woods


We went looking for bluebell woods. Every spring since I can remember as the sun starts to warm the earth and the spring flowers come the possibility of bluebells comes closer. I love these little flowers. I think part of their joy is that feeling of having discovered a secret. There they are deep in woodland, carpets of blue,  with their delicate bell heads hanging. Sunlight filtered through the trees in this ancient woodland. Apparently bluebells on the forest floor are a good indication of ancient woodland, which seems to make them all the more magical.

One of my earliest memories of visiting my grandparents in Sheffield was a walk to the nearby ‘Bluebell Woods’. In those days of naiivety we came back bearing armloads of the flowers to pile into jugs and vases for Granny, for whom t was too far to walk. Back for tea and blackberry and apple pie with custard, naked on a plate and with pastry that tasted better than any I have ever had since.

It’s funny how walks bring back memories, these woods remind me of when my kids were little and they would race ahead playing Cowboys and Indians ( sic) or Robin Hood games. Usually one or the other would slip in the muddiest part or at the edge of the string of ponds just for the fun of being wet and excited. On quieter walks I have seen squirrels chasing up the trees and once a heron sat calmly across a pond tucked away deep in the woods.

Today we took a book of British Wildflowers and had fun identifying and mis-identifying as we went along. My favourite is the Yellow Archangel just for the name, although the Mexican Flea-Bane and the Bastard Toad-Wort do deserve special mention!

Fat girl slim


I want to lose weight. I want to get fit and be healthy for a long long time ie the rest of my life! I think I’m pretty focused on that. I have been watching what I eat ( complex carbs, good protein, no sugar, lower fat) and doing more exercise.

And guess what? It works. I have lost 20 lbs and I can tell I’m noticeably fitter and have more stamina. So you think Id be celebrating, right. Wrong.

I realised over the last couple of days how much my head gets stuck in negative thinking. I like to see myself as a positive, cup half-full sort of person, but in this instance I have to admit the evidence is against me. I beat myself up internally with negative thoughts like, ‘I’m not doing this fast enough’, or ” Im going to end up not able to walk and using a mobility scooter if I don’t do something’. I think I get stuck in being scared of what ‘might’ happen to my health if I ‘let myself’ carry on being fat and unfit.

But as my friend and partner kindly pointed out to me this morning this is all very negative thinking. The facts are, I’ve lost weight and am getting fitter. Somehow I don’t want to let go of the negative images. She on the other hand is using creative visualisation many times a day. And feeling positive, successful and losing weight steadily and happily every week. Go figure.

So as the queen of talk about affirmations and positive imagery I feel put in my place! Seriously, it was a gentle wake up call to ‘walk the talk’.

So I’ve been doing a bit of research and come up with some helpful bits and pieces.

Barbara Hoberman Levine, author of “Your Body Believes Every Word You say” talked about one man who read about hypnosis and began to affirm to himself, “I am not hungry.” He actually gained weight. Each time he told himself “I am not hungry,” he focused his attention inside to see if he was hungry. He thought about hunger so often that he put conscious energy into being hungry. He was more hungry when he used an affirmation denying hunger than when he didn’t think about hunger.

“Telling yourself not to do something, you focus attention on the very thing you are avoiding, making it harder to avoid,” says Barbara. The mind and imagination must focus on the positive goal.

The wording you use is also very important. You must use statements that your conscious mind can accept. In order for Affirmations to work they must be reasonable, believable and acceptable to the conscious mind, lest the mind dismiss the affirmation as mere wishful thinking. The mind must hear an affirmation and really believe it could be true or become


The next thing I found was about The Law of Attraction, or ‘what you focus on grows’. I know this. I believe it. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. So now I need to apply it to myself in relation to being slim, fit and healthy. My focus has been too much on being fat, unfit and ill. Well, duh as Homer would say!

To use affirmations successfully with the law of attraction you must:

1. Use them build your beliefs as it is your beliefs that create your experience.

2. Engage your emotions in the affirmation process: let yourself feel what it be like to have what you want.

3. Make sure you have worked through the ‘ecology’ of what you want.

4. State the affirmation in the NOW.

5. Do ten minutes per day only, then forget about them.

I used the term ‘ecology’ in number 3 and this is very important. Ecology is the beliefs ‘around’ the changes that want to make.

And here is another:

The Law states: I attract to myself, whatever I give my focus, attention, or energy to; whether wanted or unwanted. If you think about being broke, poor, lonely and believe your thoughts guess what? That is exactly what you’ll be. This Law applies to your life and every other person’s life on the planet. Like all laws, it is impartial and impersonal, which means it works when you want it to and when you don’t want it to.

Everything comes to us through the most elemental law of physics – Like Attracts Like! Like Attracts Like is nothing more than the Law of Attraction. It is absolute and has nothing to do with your personality, your religious beliefs, being a “good” or a “bad” person or anything else. No one lives beyond this Law. It is an unquestionable law of the universe.

So now to apply what I know.

To lose weight I must :

eat less and move more!

Set my target weight ( done!) I want to be in a healthy BMI ( Body Mass Index) range for my height so tha takes me to 11.5 stones or 161 pounds at the top end of the scale

Decide what I want to change, focus on it being in the present tense, first person and being action oriented, Then rehearse. Most guidance suggests rehearsing at least on waking and before going to sleep. Writing your intention out every day also helps and repeating whenever you can in the day.

Some writers suggest that affirmations that focus on ‘losing’ weight might not be as helpful as ones that focus on being slim and fit. This might be because our minds interpret ‘loss’ as something negative. Anyway, to not take the risk I think I’ll go for the positives and here is my first attempt.

I am slim and fit

I love being slim and fit

I walk with a spring in my step

I love exercising and eating healthy nutritious foods

I am going to work on these this week and report back!  If you have any other affirmations or suggestions please let me know. I love getting your comments and feedback and any encouragement will help spur me along 🙂

From now ………… to the slimmer version ………….to ……………………………………..

Small steps at the lakeside

Small steps at the lakeside

We just walked alongside the lake and back. It is hot in England this lovely long Bank Holiday weekend. Much more like June than April. Summer has come early. The weather certainly seems to be changing consistently. Last winter was a hard one with temperatures plummeting to minus 20 whereas the summers seem to arrive early. I’m not going to complain about that! But I do think about the effect of global warming and how our world is changing.

Water does it for me. I love lakes, rivers, streams. I adore the sea. I think I am lucky living where I do, there are several lakes in easy reach even if we are a fair way from the sea. The sea needs a day trip whereas a walk by the lake is possible any old day. And then there are the canals. We live near the Trent and Mersey canal, and canals are an important part of our industrial heritage in this country as well as a source of pleasure. Nowadays its easy ( though not cheap!) to hire a barge ( narrow boat) and sail slowly along the waterways for a day or a holiday. But I love just walking along the canal tow-paths. Smiling at the boats and their cheerful livery, seeing the birds peeping out from the undergrowth.

So today we walked along the lake. I was using my sparkly pink walking poles and find I can walk so much better with them. I’m a bit unsteady on my feet, and last winter I had a lot of falls in the snow and ice and they have really knocked my confidence. I find myself feeling quite tearful occasionally when I’m going downhill as I’m so scared of falling over. But I reckon that practice is what I need and the poles are definitely helping there.

Always on the lake and in  noisy groups along the edge are the Canadian geese. The other day I heard a little boy of about three years old say to his mum, “Look BIG ducks. But they aren’t swimming ducks, they’re Statchoooos“. I was grinning all the way back.

In the middle of the lake is an island where the herons nest and breed. Today the RSPB were there with their fancy telescopes so we got to see the herons as if they were sitting right next to us. I love those birds. So graceful in flight and so regal as they sit high up in the trees or on the lakeside watching for fish.

The largest European heron. It can stand with neck stretched out, looking for food, or hunch down with its neck bent over its chest. In flight it holds its neck retracted and has large rounded wings. It is usually solitary although several birds may feed fairly close together. It stalks its food, often standing motionless for some considerable time. It usually feeds close to the bank or shore, but may wade out into shallow water.

I am feeling a little fragile today. Grateful for the sun and long weekend. Blessed by the peace of the lake and the sight of those herons. I think the feeling of unsteadiness on my feet makes me wobble a bit emotionally. I want to be able to walk steadily and with confidence again. Today was a little milestone for me. It’s the first time for a long while I have had the energy and stamina to walk the whole length of the lake and back again. That’s pretty special. Sometimes its easy to get bogged down in feeling tired, achy and a bit wobbly, feeling fat and unfit instead of recognising the gains and celebrating them.

        Louise Hay’s Wisdom Cards : what came up today

Just when you think it’s all going swimmingly…


Just when you think it’s all going swimmingly ……..or Life Happens.

I can be a little like the duck. On the surface all is calm. People think I’m doing great. That’s just because they don’t see those feet flapping away underneath. Mostly that’s a strength. Sometimes I can keep swimming when I should dive for the weeds.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this. Maybe because I’ve just been revelling in the sense of having got a life back. The last 2 years have been Hard. Not all the time, but a lot of it. And I don’t want to go on about that. I’ve been there done it and cried the tears, worn the t-shirt and ranted and raved. Ive hidden in my bed. forgotten to shower and had to make myself lists of whats important to get me through the day. yes honestly. They are on my phone as daily check lists and this time last summer I was still working through them every day to get myself going. Some days it worked.

Here’s the list:

  • shower
  • eat breakfast
  • pack lunch
  • wear something nice
  • put earrings in and a bit of make-up ( work days)
  • try to do something to make me smile
  • have a walk
You see how it was? You may have been there too. I know I’m certainly not alone here. Depression and anxiety can affect any of us and I never quite realised before this time just what hard work it can be to come back from that.
Anyway I’m not interested in looking backwards here. Life is pretty damn good right now. I’m working less and my job stress has gone down, waaaaay down. I’m enjoying my job, hold the front page!
Those of you who’ve been around here a while know Ive been getting back into the garden, spending good time with my family and starting to play more. I have a great plan for this year. Its summed up pretty well as get fit, lose the fat.
Then today at work I got a bit of a bolt out of the blue. Something from my previous job came back to haunt me. I am going to be involved in something that might be pretty stressful and complex. If I let it.
And I realised I need to grab this opportunity with both hands, give it a good shake and say ‘I am not going to get stressed over this’. I am choosing to have a great life and its going to stay that way. So I am putting myself on the line here. I will deal with it on the day. I will do what I have to do as well as I can. And I will get on with being grateful for getting this life back and having as much joy out of it as is humanly possible.
How does that sound?!