Believe

Find a challenge that makes you smile. What have you got to lose? What might you gain?

On the 26th February 2017, I ran the Brighton Half Marathon. Non-runners, exercise haters stay with me, this is not actually about running, I’m just using it to demonstrate a point. I won’t be posting any pictures of me in tight fitting fluorescent clothing, don’t panic.

I started running again after my son was born in May 2015. I needed something for myself, some ‘me time’ and I wanted my body back, for good this time. I never managed it in the three years between pregnancies. It was sort of like my body said, “Well you’re going to grow another human inside you again, you might as well not bother”.

Hmm fair enough.

So I started running and my husband (aka Marathon Man) really encouraged me, making time for me to go, where there was none. So I went.

The next year and a half went something like this:

Him: You should run a half marathon to give you something to focus on with your running.
Me: Ok yeah why not? (13 miles seemed a long long way back then but I was feeling good).
Him: You should train to run it in under 2 hours.
Me: Hmm that sounds alright. I don’t just want to run it; I want to run it well. So sub 2 hours feels like a decent time and just about achievable.

So I went for it, I signed up for the Run Reigate Half Marathon.

I trained, I ran and I did it in 1hr:56m:16s. I was elated. I punched the air as I ran over the finish line (thank God that wasn’t caught on camera). My very next thought, after, ‘I need a drink’, was, ‘I can definitely do that faster’. Why? Why, why, why would I say that?

Half Marathon Medal

One month later I signed up for the Brighton Half Marathon.

Him: You need to aim to do this one in less than 1 hour 50 minutes 
Me: Meh…
Him: I’ll run it with you, pace you round?
Me: Hmm well, we don’t really get to spend much time together just the two of us anymore, so running along Brighton seafront together sounds nice, let’s do it.

I trained, I ran (with Marathon Man) and we did it in 1hr:49m:52s. (Yes, just 8 seconds to spare!) It nearly killed me, I cried a little bit as we went over the finish line. I was ecstatic!

Half Marathon Medal

I have condensed the story so not to bore you but in doing so I’ve made it sound really easy, which it was not.

I am not a born runner, know that.

These little legs were not made to run fast! In order to get into a position to achieve my goal, I had to work really hard. And with any challenge like this, it takes a lot of dedication and willpower. You need to do your training no matter what. You go in the rain, you go in the wind, you go in the cold (for one of my long runs it was -4oC). You go when you really don’t want to, you just suck it up and you go.

Then on the day, you focus and you get your head straight, ready for the physical and mental battle to the line. And most of all, no matter how you have felt prior to that moment, you believe the hell out of yourself. Believe, believe, believe you can do and you will.

This is just a half marathon (13.1 miles), it’s not a big deal, most people could walk it in 3hrs. But it made me feel:
A huge sense of achievement
Happy
Proud of myself
Knackered (good knackered)
Like I’d set a good example for my kids
Relieved (in a good way)
Not to mention the ongoing health and general wellbeing benefits

“And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to feel like that every now and then?”

You know when you’re having a bad day and you might say, “Gosh I wouldn’t wish this on anyone”, well this is the opposite of that. “I wish this on everyone”.

So, find your thing, your goal, your reason and go for it.

It could be anything, not just a physical challenge.

What do you like to do? Do you have a hobby? Do you paint or sew or play an instrument? What do you want to change about your life? Do you want to learn a new skill? Find something just for you and then define a goal, some kind of target to aim for, one you can quantify in some way.

Yes, I know time is our ever-dwelling nemesis, especially if you have children. So can you enlist someone to help you, so you have time to practice? A parent, a sibling or a friend? Can you do it in a lunch break at work? If you truly want to do it, you’ll find a slot somewhere.

And this isn’t a Hollywood movie, if things aren’t going great, adjust your targets and then slowly work back up to the ultimate goal.

What have you got to lose? What might you gain? The positive impact on your physical and mental wellbeing after achieving your goal, I would imagine in most cases, will be well worth any perceived risk.

So find something that makes you smile, go and do it and believe in yourself.
 
 

 
 

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Apologies, Aspirations, And the Small Matter of Making the World a Better Place…

I’m late. I’m always late.

The 2017 goal setting party started bloody ages ago and I’m just rocking up now. Looking dishevelled, with no gift and no real excuse.

Whereas everyone else arrived on time (or early), wearing a well thought out outfit, furnishing this new year with a lovely bunch of flowers and a slightly smug look on their face. Dammit!!

I’ve never been into goal setting, not as a proper exercise anyway. But this year I wanted to put a bit more thought into it. And here’s why:

Last time out, I wrote this…

Oi 2017 – Our Children Are Watching. And No, It’s Not OK. I was and still am, upset & disillusioned by the current state of things in the world. A world my children will stride out into with less & less of my protection as each year passes.

I can’t change the world on my own but I can have an impact on my own little corner of it. So that’s where I’m going to start. I want to feel like I’m doing some worthwhile things that will benefit others, not just me or my immediate family. I want to lead by example, I want to try and spread some positively. Which for me can be difficult. I’m such a ‘glass half empty person’, sometimes, so this is taking me right out of comfort zone.

I’ve put some goals together for 2017.

Some personal ones and some family ones but then also a few focusing on other things that I can do myself (with little resource or spare time) as part of my one-woman mission to make the world a better place. Because you can’t moan about something if you’re not prepared to take any action to change the situation.

Being out of my comfort zone is exactly what I need right now, so here goes.

Here’s a snapshot of what I hope to achieve:

2017 GoalsNone of these are revolutionary, I know that. For some of them, the only real challenge will be finding the time.

Personal Goals
Reading & going to a gig – I know, big deal, right? But the sad fact is I haven’t properly read a whole book or seen any live music since my daughter was born almost 5 years ago. These are two things I love and that I need to make time for.

Family Goals
I’m excited about these. My daughter can’t get her head around going to another country, so if we make it to France for a camping trip this summer then that will be a great experience for her. And growing some veggies in the garden is such a fun thing to do with kids, plus we are determined this time after last year’s failure!

Other Goals
Many of you will have done some of these, or perhaps do them regularly? Like giving blood for example. I can’t fathom why I haven’t done that before?

I love running, it’s my thing, so I’m going to do one of my events for a charity this year. And my daughter is keen to clean up the old toys and give them away. Two easy no-brainer ideas right there.

These are small things.

I know that, but just imagine if every adult in the UK (or even half that) picked a couple of things to do this year that benefited others? What a huge difference that could make, don’t you think?

“I’m hoping I can inspire a few people, then perhaps they could inspire a friend, who inspires a friend, then hey presto! We’ve started a revolution……”

Kindness Cost You Nothing. So give it away frivolously...

What is everyone else doing this year?

I’d love to hear about other things you’re doing with your families or an interesting personal challenge. And especially ideas for helping others. Please leave me a comment.

I’ve written these down and shared them simply because I want to be held accountable. I want to be able to look back at this year and say ‘yeah I did those things’, I tried to make a difference. I tried to teach my kids some worthwhile values.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not perfect.

And I don’t believe that thinking this way makes me better than you but what it does make me is human. I think we should all take a little time to think about what that means these days. The person standing next to you in the street, that you don’t know, is similar to you in almost every way. And all the small nuances that make them different are all the bits that make them interesting, that help them to tell their own story. You will most likely have much more in common with them than you imagine. So let’s be kind to each other.

Before you go, please take a moment to watch this, it’s quite brilliant. It’s a TV commercial but the sentiment regarding humanity is so relevant right now.

TV 2 | All That We Share
TV 2 | All That We Share

Right, I’m off, need to get busy if I’m going to get all of this done! First stop is a goal just for me – Brighton Half Marathon, Sunday 26th Feb.

RUN MUMMY RUN….

 

  
  

 
 

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Oi 2017 – Our Children Are Watching. And No, It’s Not OK.

I’m upset with The World.

I’ve been upset with the world since the middle of 2016. Yes, this does stem from the whole Brexit/Trump drama but this is NOT about politics. I understand that change is unfolding as a result of established democratic processes. And I also understand that people in positions of enormous power have difficult decisions to make and that there will always be a group of people somewhere, that disagree with them. This is not about any of the complex issues related to either of those two events, it’s much more basic, it’s a reflection on the pre-event build-up and the post-event fallout, this is about humanity.

For me, the last 6 months have been a seemingly never-ending showcase of everything that’s bad about the human race.

“The open promotion of intolerance, racism and sexism has made me feel sick”.

In democratic societies, everyone (of a certain age) is entitled to vote, they are entitled to an opinion and debate is healthy, but, this culture of brutally attacking people over social media whilst hiding behind a computer screen is abhorrent.

The media have so much to answer for, flooding all channels with dangerous & divisive headlines that will sell a paper or get a click. These messages then land directly into the hands of young people, in their Facebook feeds.

When did this all suddenly become ok? It’s 2017, not 1940.

What is Humanity anyway?

Towards the end of 2016 I really struggled to get past how utterly depressing all of this was, it made me fear for my childrens’ future. The fact that basic human kindness seems to have been forgotten?

Humanity

I am just one person, what can I possibly do?

I am one small person, but I am also a parent and this is an important factor because it means I’m now going to go all Lioness on you, because, THIS SITUATION IS NOT OK.

I cannot stop words coming out of the mouth of people like Donald Trump or it being broadcast across the world but I can arm my children with the best defence possible, which is knowledge & education. I will simply not allow them to believe that it’s ok to act like this towards other human beings.

As a lioness, a parent, an uncle, an aunt, a guardian or an educator…

We can help our young people to understand and value:
Kindness.
Compassion.
Tolerance.
Generosity.
The importance of telling the truth.
How to get your point across intelligently.
The art of disagreeing gracefully.

And we can make sure that they know:
It’s OK to be competitive.
It’s OK to have an opinion.
It’s OK to disagree with people.
It’s even OK, on occasion, to fight back. But remind them, it often takes more courage to walk away.
And, that they simply will not get on with everyone they meet, which is OK too.

But we can also help them to understand that:
It’s NOT OK to disrespect someone because of the colour of their skin.
It’s NOT OK to abuse someone because of their race or gender.
It’s NOT OK to make assumptions about someone because of a God you think they might believe in.
It’s NOT OK to dislike someone purely because their appearance doesn’t fit with your own idea of ‘image’.
And, that anonymously abusing people online is an act of pure cowardice.

The majority will probably be nodding along with me? This is common sense, right? And you’re probably annoyed I bothered saying it? This is just ‘bringing your child up as a decent human being’, isn’t it? But I did want to vocalise this as I feel so passionate about it. Most of us can only realistically impact our own little corner of the world, but let’s do it and do it well.

Kindness costs nothing.

I can hear the voices –

“Yeah Michelle, let’s all just be really nice to each other. That’ll fix everything!”

Well no, it won’t and I’m not perfect, but, I feel like it’s OK to openly encourage kindness. And I also feel like it’s OK to suggest that we could all probably do more in this area to enhance our own lives and the lives of others. Kindness costs us nothing after all!

I, of course, know there is so much good in the world, despite what I’ve said and it’s also full of truly wonderful people. So let’s end on a high here.

This is David Tennant, (who I adore), from last week’s Last Leg on Channel 4, telling us, in a reassuring voice, that:

“Everything will be OK”.
“But it’s up to us to make it ok and just generally try not to be dicks.

David Tennant

So perfectly and eloquently put.

Here’s to 2017. The year of humanity and kindness.
 
 

 
 

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Father Christmas Needs A Wee!

“Father Christmas needs a wee, he’s been drinking drinks since half past three”.

As many of you will know, you don’t need to say a lot more to a four-year-old to make them chuckle. This had their attention straight off, as did the hip-hop entrance of Father Christmas onto the stage for this adaptation of the popular Nicholas Allan children’s book – Father Christmas Needs A Wee!

Here we meet Elfie, the Chief Elf, she is charged with helping Father Christmas ‘FC’ (her abbreviation) get everything ready to deliver Christmas presents to the world’s children. He’s a little disorganised shall I say and slightly distracted…by everything! So Elfie is there to help him focus on the task-in-hand, it’s a big job and the delivery window is short, it requires expertise on a ‘magical’ level.

After telling FC she doesn’t want a repeat of last year, in the same sort of tone I speak to my 4-year-old about shouting, jumping & sharing, Elfie and FC are set to go. (*Last year he ate and drank every tasty treat left out for him so before they had finished he really really needed a wee!).

Father_Second_Image.png

They work hard together all night, singing & dancing their way through each present drop-off. But FC can’t help himself and each time Elfie turns her back he tucks into the treats & drinks, including ‘Mincey P’ mince pies10 cups of tea at No.10. And so inevitably it happens again, before the night is through Father Christmas needs a wee! His efforts to ‘go’ are foiled by small children waking up and guard dogs on the loose.

In fact, he is so distracted by needing a wee (I mean who wouldn’t be?), he actually forgets to leave the presents behind! 

“What with all these drinks in mind, I forgot to leave the presents behind”.

Can he rescue the day by dropping off the presents in time and make it home before having an embarrassing accident?

There’s singing, counting, clapping, cheering and a lot of wiggling. This is the perfect build up to Christmas with its pantomime feel & audience participation. The songs are creative, funny and wonderfully silly, which I applaud. If you can’t be silly at Christmas, when can you be?

My favourite part (yes, at 37 years of age) was this little ditty.

“You’ve got to wiggle. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, cross your legs and then you’ve got to Jiggle. This is the song that stops you needing a wee”.

I am still singing it a whole 24 hours later and will most likely at some point in the near future get to test out this theory. Let’s hope it actually works!

Find more family shows from Worthing Theatres here >

Tot Rockin’ Beats

What Are You Doing On New Year’s Eve?

To be honest I’ve always hated N.Y.E. When you’re young you ‘have to’ go out but everywhere is twice as expensive, you can’t travel far as transport is twice as expensive and you’re normally too pissed on over-priced cocktails to make it to midnight anyway.

Then when you have kids you ‘have to’ stay in, nobody wants to babysit for you and anyway, your children haven’t mastered the delicate art of laying in in the morning, so you’re normally too tired to make it to midnight.

It all feels too much like hard work for me, with little reward.

So, has Dan Flanagan found the solution to this age-old problem, with the quite brilliantly name ‘Tot Rockin Beats’ event? A big N.Y.E party in the afternoon (4pm – 7pm) that everyone can come to; you, the kids, the babysitter, the next-door-neighbour, the dog and your Gran (*maybe don’t quote me on the dog thing?).

This isn’t the first instalment of this brave adventure, I have been invited to two others in 2016 but unfortunately couldn’t make it to either. You know that feeling when you couldn’t make it to the party and then everyone’s talking about it the next day? Yeah, that.

So I now have my Tot Rockin Beats tickets for N.Y.E and based on the huge success of the last two, I feel like the 16-year-old who finally has a ticket to the party of the year. I should say ‘whoop’ or something like that shouldn’t I? Oh and furiously boast about it on Facebook and SnapChat (though, at 37, I don’t have any idea what that actually is?)

So what does my first N.Y.E out in 7 years have in store for me?

  • At the Worthing Assembly Hall, with 1000 other people – #1in1000
  • Dancing to classic 80’s & 90’s tunes played by real DJ’s (Yes!).
  • Karaoke with Dave Benson Philips. (Legend!).
  • Soft Play. (Apparently it’s not sweaty or smelly, hurray!).
  • Authentic Sicilian food, ice cream, face painting, art and Jive dancing.
  • Welcoming in the New Year at 6pm (no painstaking ordeal to stay awake until Midnight).
  • And a bar……praise the Lord….there is a bar people.

Something for everyone, no?

We’ll be home by 8pm and the kids will be knackered – everyone wins.

I’m most looking forward to dancing ‘like no one’s watching’ with my daughter and getting away with being very silly under the guise of being an ‘active’ parent.

I’m taking my husband & our two children, my sister, my niece and nephew. We are all really excited about going ‘Out-out’ on N.Y.E for the first time in years! And then when I fall asleep at 11.56pm I won’t feel so bad about not welcoming in 2017, as I’ll already have done it, in style, surrounded by (nearly) everyone I love the most in the world.

Come and join us –  Tot Rockin Beats N.Y.E > 

Tickets are £15 for adults, £10 for children, £5.00 for OAP’s with under 3’s free of charge and available from the box office on 01903 206 206 or from Worthingtheatres.co.uk

Alfie White Space Explorer

Round the planets, round the rocket and round the fire. What’s in the rocket ship? So so so off we go! Is what my daughter sings to me when I tell her we are going to see a show about a Space Explorer. I think that means she’s excited?

On arrival we are transported to 1967, the era of the big Space Race. Not important to a 4-year-old, it could have been set in any period of time but to the more advanced in age, this makes sense.

We meet Alfie White, a young boy obsessed with space. Alfie lives with his grandma, in a flat on the 8th floor and is scared of alien invasion. His dad mysteriously disappeared 2 years ago and he’s a bit of a loner. His classmates don’t really share his love for space and all this makes him quite naturally a bit sad. But, he gets by.

What starts with a tall tale gone wrong, turns into a wonderful space-inspired adventure to find Alfie’s dad. And ends up with him actually finding much more; new friendships, a love of singing, dancing & Jazz music and a rekindled relationship with his grandma.

Alfie’s co-pilot for this mission is Meg Harris (the most beautiful girl at school), she ignites a longing in him to find out what happened to his father, so together they set off to look for clues to his whereabouts.

Alfie White Space Explorer

We are whizzed, whirred and rocketed through the story. Spurred on by an old photograph found in Alfie’s grandma’s bedroom, of the mysterious Eddie Dark, who Meg recognises as a Jazz musician. Our pair then land their spaceship at the Jazz club to find important information, they then zoom off (AKA take the bus) to a record shop for more investigation.

The show is incredibly engaging, heartfelt and funny.

The two actors fill the space so well, the dialogue and constant movement are fast-paced and full of energy, holding the attention of my daughter throughout. There really is no time for little minds to wander off, as they do sometimes.

After finding out who his father really is, Alfie is much happier at home and at school. He sings, he dances, he has real friends and is finally comfortable in his own space.

Mission Control: “Thank you for a lovely afternoon”. “Over and out”

Find more family shows from Worthing Theatres here >

NEWSFLASH: Modern Family Life Is Hard Work!

The need for a good work-life balance is a shared struggle for so many of us.

Annoying inside-my-head smug voice:
Wait, you signed up for this right?
Me: Well yes…
Nobody forced you to have two children, did they?
Me: Well no…
You knew you’d have to go back to work right?
Me: Yes…
Well quit your moaning then Doll Face
(Yes my annoying inside-my-head smug voice calls me Doll Face, so it’s not all bad).

“Parenting (like Ronseal) – does what it says on the tin”.

OK, OK, I’m not really allowed to moan but can I just for a bit, a teeny tiny bit, please?

Since September this year we have been adjusting to a new routine with one child now at school and one at nursery.  This is nothing short of a massive pain in the ar*e. Kindly allowing me the opportunity of arriving late at not one but two separate locations in the morning *sigh*.  A standard week is like a full-on military operation. Involving meal planning, online shopping, bag packing, shooshing, rushing, sighing and swearing (under my breath). And transportation by various combinations of car, train, pushchair and foot. Mixed with some pulling, pushing and on occasion, dragging.

By the time I get to work I’m completely exhausted, from just existing.

In all seriousness though, the biggest stress, I find, in the life of two working parents, is spreading yourselves so thinly. The feeling that in doing so much & performing so many different roles, you end up not doing any of them very well. The feelings of frustration and guilt (more guilt, just what we need) are there daily. Sometimes you want to ask (politely) if you can get off, to just catch your breath for a bit.

Yes, I want the bloody moon on a stick, who doesn’t?

I want to feel like a better parent. I want to be able to carefully answer all my daughter’s questions each morning without rushing her or stopping her half way through by shoving a toothbrush in her face.

I want to have more energy for her reading and writing.

I want to let my son play for longer in the morning. So happy with his trains before I engulf him in shoes, hats & coats and plonk him in a car seat.

I want to give more to my job. I take pride in my work, I’m not a person that can just clock in and clock out (thanks, Mum & Dad for making me annoyingly conscientious). I care and I want to be the one to make good suggestions, come up new ideas but some days I’m so drained I can just about remember my system password.

I want to do more on my blog. Much more. I want to write more, promote more, interact more, take all the opportunities that it might bring but there is just no time.

I want a clean & tidy house. It’s filthy, honestly, I cringe at the thought of this. I can just about manage a little tidy each day but cleaning is a nightmare.  No, I can’t afford a cleaner and I just, you know, don’t like the idea of it….

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you get to win, God I love those weeks, feeling like Super Women. I arrive on time, I forget nothing, I eat healthily, I answer questions, I write (I still don’t clean, but hey ho…). And there are very limited amounts of rushing, sighing, swearing and dragging. And for us, the weekends bring welcome down time. But in amongst the sometimes overwhelming stress of what it takes to ‘exist’ as part of a working family of four, I find there are all these moments, where you feel like you’re actually doing a good job. Happy, sad, challenging, all different kinds of moments, where in your head (or maybe out loud?) you give yourself a little high five, a tiny fist pump or do a little jig, whatever works for you.

Some moments are big and some are very small…

Recently my son had a nose bleed in the middle of the night. After cleaning everything up, despite being a major Daddy’s boy he wanted me and only me.

So I cradled my son in my arms, heavy now at 18 months. We rocked back and forth in the subtle orange glow of the night-light in his bedroom, a room that I know so well now. I’m pretty sure I could rebuild it with alarming accuracy anywhere. We listened to the soft lullaby of Ewen The Sheep, the only other sound was the padding of my bare feet on the carpet.

He was very unsettled, I kissed him on the head and stared at his half illuminated face. My arms hurt and I felt brain dead until suddenly I realised that this was one of those moments and I smiled to myself, a smile just for me.

Because as I rocked this small boy that couldn’t sleep, in that moment, right there, I was doing a good job.

I was everything I needed to be.

And it felt good.

 
 
  
  

 
 

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