Move on.

I sent this picture to a friend the other week, a friend who was having a tough time with something, someone.

FB_IMG_1471436966821

It’s spot on. Easier said than done, of course. I’m sure we’ve all been there. Toxic relationships, toxic friendships, maybe even toxic family or toxic work environment.

And sometimes, we cling on, even when we know we shouldn’t. Feeling bad, even though the brain tells us not to. Ending up not feeling good enough for someone, or understanding why something won’t go our way or someone won’t feel the way we want them to.

Relationships can be really fucking complicated. Or they can be easy. Or both. So many people stay in relationships that aren’t healthy, that are toxic. Relationships they really need to get out of. But yet they stay; for a variety of reasons. Scared to be on their own, scared they won’t find anyone else, children, financial reasons, sometimes abuse and control. Sometimes people don’t really realise they’re unhappy, but maybe they know they’re not happy but perhaps don’t feel it’s enough to do something about it. You know, sometimes people are looking for a reason to leave, and that if there’s not a big ‘thing’ that happens, then low level shit behaviour is not enough to leave or end a relationship/friendship etc.

Bollocks.

Just not being happy is enough of a reason. Of course it is. Yep, easier said than done, but also easier done than said sometimes. Short term pain, long term gain. If a relationship, friendship etc is making you unhappy, then you can do something about it. You don’t have to stay with that person. You don’t have to make a go of things, or make an effort.

Because that’s the ‘sunken costs fallacy’ that causes people to make poor relationship decisions. “I don’t want to throw away X years together” for example.

Are you basically saying to yourself that you’ve invested so much that you cannot notice your thoughts and feelings telling you to end this relationship? This divorces you from you inner thoughts and the quiet feelings that might guide you in your life and you can end up in a neglectful relationship with yourself. In other words, thinking about what already has been may prevent you from deciding what you want your life to be.

It’s a mistake to think that the amount of investment in a relationship automatically adds value to it. It doesn’t. The value of the relationship consists of what is happening in the present and in the future. The past is done. The past is useful in predicting the future, but the past by itself doesn’t actually add any value. The length of a relationship or the amount of effort put into a relationship doesn’t actually add value. If it’s clear that a relationship won’t serve you in the future, your previous investment in the relationship won’t change that and you’ll still be in the same position.

Yes, it’s hard, but don’t let the rest of your life be dictated by what has been. It doesn’t have to continue to be. What your future contains is down to you.

And so to my friend, I told them, yeah, I know you can’t just turn off feelings and all that, but you can try to look at things objectively, look at what’s been and what could come, think about your own integrity and self worth and realise you’re worth more, much more than that little crapbag who wasn’t the person you thought, who wasn’t the person you fell in love with. That person never existed. You don’t need someone else to validate you or make you happy. That comes from you. Other people just compliment that.

Go be a bourbon drinking dancing unicorn instead.

 

 

Old memories.

I’m sitting here tonight wanting to write a post about the end of an era – the sale of my childhood home. I kind of know what I want to write, and how I want to start it, yet the rest of words aren’t there quite yet in my head. So I’ll have to save that one for another time.

Instead, I’m listening to the album 21 by Adele. I know most of the songs off by heart, because I listened to this CD (yep, back in the shiny disc days) over and over again in my car driving to and from work when I was going through my separation (that and Katy Perry, but I’m after chilled out music right now). I’m thinking whether the songs are tainted now with those memories. Because well let’s face it, it was a pretty shitty time for me back then. Came to the conclusion that no they’re not now, but it’s taken a while. 4 years to be exact. I look back on it now like it was someone else’s life. Feels like a whole different lifetime ago, and I was a different person, just ask anyone that knew me back then. I don’t tend to try to look back too much, I’m a bit of a live in the moment kinda gal. I hate planning too far in advance and just tend to go with the flow, maxing out life where I can. But my ‘previous life’ seems to pop up loads, I can’t bloody escape it. I remember going to Peru in 2012, meeting lots of new people and my recent divorce would pop up in conversation, and I remember wanting to escape it. Thinking that it was just because it was so new, and such a big thing in my life back then and one day I could almost pretend it never happened. But I can’t. Now I’ve realised it’s likely to always crop up, for one reason or another. Whether meeting new people or chatting to old friends. And that pisses me off a bit. However. It’s made me who I am now. I can’t complain. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be the person I am now without going through all that.

IMG_20150820_193309

Because you see, now I absolutely love the person who I am. I’m back to being me, true to myself and happy inside and out. In control of my life and my destiny. And having no idea what the future holds.

IMG_20150824_214203

This weekend just gone was a bit of a whirlwind tour of London, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Loads of travelling and catching up with loads of mates and family. Squeezing in as many people as possible for a hello, cup of tea and good old chin wag. Reminiscing about old memories and catching up on life right now.

I have SO much to smile about right now it’s unreal. So many good things happening, so many awesome people in my life. So many exciting opportunities and possibilities there for the taking. Life is awesome.

Sorry, I have no idea on the point of this post, or the direction it’s taken.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say, or whether anything is making any sense really. I’m very tired, I’ve not stopped for days and have driven so many hundreds of miles I don’t really know whether I’m coming or going. I guess mainly it’s that I’ve had a few days of revisiting old memories. It’s been great to see lots of lovely familiar faces. A visit to Lincoln always stirs up old memories, it always will. So much happened there.

But it’s also a reminder that everything changes – Note: Take That reference 😉 – and nothing stays still. As much as you might not want things to change, they will. It’s inevitable. No point in fighting it. Change is good. Change is exciting. But, it can also be scary. Frightening. Sad. A massive mixture of emotions. Just gotta roll with it. It’s how you deal with it that matters. All about how to think about stuff.

If you know anything about Buddhism, then a massive part of it is around impermanence. Worth reading up on if that’s your bag. I learnt about Buddhism, suffering, attachment, impermanence etc. when I did a 10 day silent retreat at a Buddhist meditation centre in India. Absolutely fascinating stuff, and helps with all kinds of shit in every day life for me. The point being that everything, and I mean everything, is not permanent. Is changing, every single second. Even that solid oak table. And if everything is changing, then nothing is permanent, and so how can you be attached to something that is changing all the time?

It’s all about how you look at things, and how you choose to react to them. What you let go, how to forgive and the difference between attachment and love.

impermanence quote TNH

No standing still. Don’t stand still. Embrace change.

Runs around the world #10

Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

This was my most favourite run so far. Yep. That’s right. It was fan-dabby-dozy. Bloody amazing. There are lots of reasons why. Probably the setting. Or the people. Or the weather. Maybe the view. Or the dark. Or the food and beer afterwards. Or maybe just ALL of those things.

This was my first accompanied run around the world. A few months ago I’d noticed that Nic Tinworth had started to follow me on Twitter, I think he had seen my articles on The Running Stories website. I’d noticed in Nic’s twitter bio he was from Hong Kong, so, knowing I’d be wanting to run when I got there I tweeted him asking for advice on where to run. A few tweets later and a bit of advice had turned into an offer to join him on a run when I got there. So, a few emails in Hong Kong led to arrangements to meet him and his girlfriend at the top of The Peak in Hong Kong at 8pm outside Starbucks. Following Nics directions I got the #1 green minibus to the top of the peak and waited, enjoying the view. Nic and Rachel turned up, having just RAN up to meet me. I started to feel a little bit worried; I hadn’t run since Beijing, they were both ultrarunners and now here they were already warmed up having ran up the peak. I wondered what I’d let myself in for!

But, Nic stayed true to his word and they went easy on me. For which I was very grateful. We had a slow, leisurely 10K run down the Hong Kong trail by headlamp, chatting away as we ran. Running through spiders webs, over tree branches and rocks, streams and mud, all just lit by the torches on our heads. I’ve never ran with a headlamp before; it was fun. Quite exciting and exhilarating. And  I managed not to fall over. The run was all mainly through woods, save for the odd break in the trees where I’d see a glimpse of the skyscrapers that make up that Hong Kong harbour skyline. Stunning. Atmospheric is probably the word I’d use. Imagine it. I think I actually got goosebumps as I was running in 30+ degree heat.

It was great to run with other people again too; not only was I meeting someone new and finding out all about them, I was running a route that I’d probably never had known to run had I just ran by myself. Even trying to find information on the internet wouldn’t have led me to do that route. One because I don’t have a headlamp, and two, because I wouldn’t have been able to direct myself as well as run. Especially at night. And it had to be at night, because it was so hot and humid in Hong Kong. It was bad enough running then, I’m not sure I could have ran any earlier.

My last run was 7 miles in Beijing but that was about 3 weeks prior, and so I was hoping my legs would hold out. I know I’ve lost fitness, that’s for definite, so I wasn’t sure what would happen. But they did me all right. Just. One section was very steep downhill, and I could feel muscles in my legs complaining towards the end of the run; muscles that hadn’t been used in that way before because I’ve never ran downwards that steep or for that long before.

But I didn’t really notice it that much, because I had too much of a grin on my face and a mega awesome feeling in my body from the endorphins swimming around to care. I just wanted to keep on going. Forever. Or for as long as my legs would keep going. Sensibly though we stopped at 10K. A nice round 6 miles on my Runkeeper app.

And what else to do afterwards but go for some thai food and a beer, where I got to know a bit more about Nic and Rachel and all their running achievements. And, wow, what an inspirational couple. They’ve certainly inspired me to try longer distance running when I can get back into a routine, and I’ve realised that maybe, just maybe I could do it. With the right preparation and attitude, maybe I could. So, that’s one of my goals for next year. When I stay in one place for long enough!

And damn, that beer tasted good. The running high I got was the best I’ve had for a while. That smile didn’t leave my face all night.

I can’t thank Nic and Rachel enough for taking me on that run, and giving me one of the best runs I’ve had in a long time. They are truly lovely people, and a real inspiration. Who knows, maybe I’ll be running an ultra with them in Hong Kong one day. Stranger things have happened.

IMG_5993

 

IMG_5999

 

IMG_5996

Skinny fit.

I’ll admit it. I want to be skinny. I always have. I’ve never been overweight, but I’ve never been skinny either. I used to want to be bony skinny, especially as a teenager and into my twenties. That little bit too thin. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because it’s what society says we should be. All those pictures in magazines and on TV. Maybe the teenage me thought that’s what was attractive or it was what I should look like for other people. Maybe it was my own brain saying that’s what I find attractive.

Whatever it was, I never was. I never had the willpower to not eat a lot. Because generally, that’s pretty much what it takes. Unless you’ve got natural genes, metabolism and small bones.

But, I still want to be skinny. Well, actually now, I guess it’s not really ‘skinny’. I want to be lean. Healthy. Toned. Thin but not bony. And, well, I guess I’m pretty much there. I’m happy with the way I look. And feel. I judge my well-being on how I feel inside, what I see in the mirror and how I feel when I run or do exercise. I’ve never owned a pair of scales, and doubt I ever will. I feel pretty healthy, and know I eat [mostly] healthy stuff, exercise a decent amount and don’t smoke. Ok, I probably still drink a little bit too much but hey, I’m not perfect. And I’ve realised that if I feel healthy and do all those things, I feel good, and I’m happy with what I look like in the mirror.

That’s not to say there’s things I wouldn’t change. Of course there is, everyone’s got them. The bits they’re not that keen on. But really, I can live with them, and overall I’m happy with how I look. It all makes up me. Character, as my Dad would say (generally about anything that’s a bit different, wonky, not quite right or imperfect).

But why do people, women especially, get so hung up about what they look like? Why are women never happy with the way they look? According to surveys, most women are unhappy with their bodies. One, commissioned by REAL magazine, found that only 3% of the 5000 women surveyed were totally happy with their bodies. 3%? 3%? That’s bloody awful. (Link here, sorry for Daily Mail link but it’s the only write up I could find)

Why ladies? Why so negative and down on yourselves? Do you treat others that way? Would you say the kind of things apparently said to yourself to someone else? I doubt it. The survey found that 91% of the women surveyed were happy with the way their partners looked. So what do you think their partners think about them? They’d probably say the same surely? But if you told some women that I guess that wouldn’t make any difference. Whatever they were told they wouldn’t believe it because those thought processes are so ingrained. They don’t want to accept compliments. Don’t believe them. Unfortunately it’s not a new thing either.

Interestingly, a survey conducted for Fitness magazine shows slightly different results. Still not great, but a bit better. The numbers and % seemed to be a bit better. I’ve read before that people who exercise tend to feel better about themselves and their bodies, whether they look different or not, the fact they are doing something seems to help the way they feel about themselves. And this can only be a good thing.

People come in all shapes and sizes. We should learn to love ourselves for who we are and what we look like. Character and all. We should look after ourselves, eat healthy stuff, do a bit of exercise and have the odd bit of indulgence. Give ourselves the credit we are due. Accept compliments. Take pride in who we are. And if other people don’t like it? Well, it’s none of their business is it? Their problem, not yours.

Confidence. It’s a powerful thing. Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. So, go forward, accept yourself and your character and always realise this: “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”.

Addiction.

My name is Paps and I’m addicted to sugar. Yep, sweet stuff, chocolate, cakes. You name it, I love it. I’ve always had a sweet tooth but I know that really it’s a sugar addiction. Which means I find it hard not to eat it. Really hard. Similar to any other addiction. I know what I have to do, I know it’s just in my mind but my willpower can be crap sometimes. I know I can do it, I’ve gone times before not eating sweet stuff but it never lasts.

It makes me feel crap, gives me headaches, I put on weight but yet I just can’t give it up. I can’t just have a bit either. I’m not one of those people that can eat a square of chocolate at once and save the rest for later. No way. Every other aspect of my diet is good. Healthier than it’s every been. There’s just this one last little thing to sort.

And the problem is now that because I’m more aware of my diet than I ever have been, this seems more of a problem than it ever has before. And I don’t want it to be a ‘problem’. Something that needs to be sorted. Because I don’t want my diet/weight etc. to become an issue. Something that’s on my mind. Because that’s not me, I’m actually really happy with the way I look/feel/weight etc. I just wish I could be one of those people that doesn’t eat shit. That eats healthy without thinking. That doesn’t need to eat chocolate or cake. Because let’s face it, it is bad for you. But yes, I know, a little of something you fancy does you good. Which would be fine if I could just do a little bit. Every now and then. But I fear I can’t. I suspect I am one of those all-or-nothing types.

One day maybe I’ll crack it. Until then, pass me a creme egg. Or two.

The ancient art of JFDI.

I went for a run today. I love running. I started running properly back in about April 2011. I’d tried it before, a few years ago but didn’t stick at it. I’d never really like running; I hated it at school. I was always a sprinter, could never hack the longer distances. Didn’t really enjoy cross country. And certainly DIDN’T join Mr Forster’s Friday lunchtime running club. Although, I think that was his running leggings putting me off rather than my dislike for running.

But now, now I love it. Really, truly, properly LOVE it. What changed? I have no idea. I really don’t. I was bitten by the running bug, I think that’s all there is to it. But, I’m not a serious runner. It doesn’t take over my life. Yes, I compete in races, but for fun. Yes, I try to watch what I eat but not to deprivation. Yes, I try different types of ‘training’ but to keep it interesting, rather than following a regime. I’m not all about chasing that PB, trying to knock seconds off my time, rather i’m about finding those ‘different’ races. All for FUN, and to keep fit and healthy.

So, today was a glorious morning for a run; not too cold, no rain and the sun was shining. So I headed out to do at least 6 miles (10K). It was a tough run though. And I know why, it’s all my own fault. I’ve not fuelled myself properly this week. To much chocolate and not enough fruit and veg. So, it was hardly surprising when my legs started complaining before I’d even reached half a mile. They felt like lead. So much effort to put one foot in front of another. But, I’d come out to run, so run I must.

I’ve got a little route that is about 4 miles on one lap. I can add in extra loops of about 2 miles (and a hill, but that was definitely off the table today). So, two loops is about 6 miles. That’s what I’d planned on today, although halfway round I did think I’d just do one lap. 4 miles is still a decent run. But, I thought I’d see how my legs felt at the end of the first loop. Because at the end there is a path, and a decision point where I can either go left or right. Left: go home, right: do another loop. My legs felt OK, but I was still having a bit of an internal battle. So easy to go left and home. Easy option. Go right, and it’s another 2 miles. Not a lot, but enough to be tough on already tired legs.

So I had to deploy the Ancient Art of JFDI. That’s Just.Fucking.Do.It. Don’t think, don’t analyse. Because if you do, you’ll talk yourself out of it. JFDI. No time to think. And so, last minute, I turned right. And did it again on the next loop. I ran 8 miles in the end. And you know what? My legs were fine.

I JFDI quite a lot, in all sorts of situations. Very handy thing to be able to do, gets you out of your comfort zone and helps motivation. Less thinking, more doing. More people should JFDI. And SUMO. But that’s another post.