Category Archives: musings

Sleepy smiles 

Enjoying a rare Saturday off. Lying in bed with no where to rush to is bliss :)Instead of the constant go go go run run run of our morning rituals, I lay in bed and watched my baby wake up slowly. First the face scrunch, the pouty lips start to move, rooting maybe. The arms go up and the little back arches, face scrunched up, three chins on the go. Then the wee noises, the snuffling and the grunting. And then suddenly, the big crazy eyes adjusting to the light! And the slow smile that says hello, you’re here. Heart melt.


Good morning! 

Advertisements

365 days later

What a difference a year makes!

#DIL2014

IMG_6003-0

IMG_5999-0

IMG_6002-0

A year ago, I was training for #hellandback and #DIL Darkness Into Light was introduced to Donegal for the first time. At the time, we did it because a good friend was organising it and it was a good “public” run as it were. It was fun, I made good time, I did it on my own.

One year later it was being staged at home and it wasn’t just a means to an end. It was an experience as opposed to a run. The whole point was going from Darkness INTO the light, to experience the camaraderie, the feeling of being part of something, that we aren’t alone. And no, that’s not just an excuse for taking twice as long to do it than the year before. Although circumstances have changed greatly since. I’m not running as much following an ankle and calf injury 6 months ago. I’m 5 months pregnant. The list could go on and on.

#DIL2015

2015-05-09 21.09.08

 

I forgot to turn my MapMyRun (too busy chatting) on but someone said it was about 5.37km.

2015-05-09 05.12.44

2015-05-09 05.03.57

2015-05-09 04.54.50

2015-05-09 04.31.26

2015-05-09 04.04.38-1

 

I am very lucky that no one close to me has died from suicide but I have close family and friends that have. I know the depression that lurks deep, that can spring from a slow drip to a gushing flood. That it’s paralysing and unstoppable. And for whatever reason people did or didn’t do it, i hope they take away the simple fact that there is someone out there to reach out to.

I want my kids to grow up in a house where we can talk and talk about anything. That depression and suicide aren’t dirty words, a whispered secret. That there is an illness that is so consuming that there is no light. So they can recognise it, they can be aware of it, they can ask for help.

It is difficult to approach in an age appropriate way but I got them a book a few years ago which very gently touches on it and I think its a good spring board for more mature material later on.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Huge-Worries-Virginia-Ironside/dp/0340903171

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 16.24.17

 

It’s another one of those things that I endlessly worry about as a parent. But I guess, time will only tell.

Heartsick

20140718-105034.jpg
photo by Reuters

I am so so heartsick about the downed Malaysian flight from Amsterdam to Malaysia. Air travel comes with it’s own set of risks, but for a plane to be brought down, for those innocent passengers to become a statistic in a war that isn’t theirs, It really is heartbreaking. I guess I’m wrong in saying that too, we are all collectively involved and responsible for these atrocities, no matter how far away from home.

I fear the repercussions that will come from this. I can’t even whisper the words. WW. Which will be the straw that will break the camels back? How much longer can these things go on unheeded?

Living in the country side, it seems we are so far removed from reality sometimes. It takes something of this magnitude to pierce the bubble we build around ourselves. Any one of us could have been on that flight. 15 years ago, before the middle eastern airlines came to Dublin, that route was one of the few available to go to Asia and Australia. It does strike close to home.

The tears I shed for those families are useless. Where do we go from here?

>

I made it thru!

I’ve been so disorganised lately that not only have I not been blogging, I’ve even neglected journalling. And there have been so many highs and lows over the last few months that I really need to get my thoughts organised.

I’m doing this now to put to words the utter elation and pride I feel in myself at the moment. I am so unbelievably chuffed that I need to hold on to this moment by writing it down for posterity.

I made it thru #hellandback last Saturday, June 14, 2014. A day for the history books. What’s that you say? And how did I get roped into something so hellish? It all starts with a man. (As these stories usually do). With my husband, in fact.

20140617-194104.jpg

I’ve been nagging justin for years that he needs to get a hobby. Business consumes him, body and soul and I told him that if he doesn’t take an interest in anything besides work, he will a. Drop dead the second he retires or b. never retire. Now I’m not belittling my husbands work ethic cos if he doesn’t work, we won’t eat. But I wanted him to have something just for him. No one was more delighted than I when he started hill walking and mountaineering in the last couple of years. So,exhibit a- Justin- super fit and super active.

Anyone who knows me knows that my physical activity is confined to the bedroom, taking the occasional basket of laundry down the stairs and shovelling food into my mouth as fast as possible. So, exhibit b, me- lazy and totally unfit.

So last December, I made the mistake of telling Justin that I would do something with him next year. Just the two of us. Now, in all honestly, I thought my husband would cash in some sexual favours, but it seems I underestimated him.

We’re going to do hell&back, he says.

What’s that, I say?

20140617-194233.jpg

From their website:

“WHAT IS HELL & BACK?
HELL & BACK is an off-road adventure event, featuring man-made obstacles and naturally occurring challenges over a variety of terrain, in the private Belmont Estate in Bray, Co. Wicklow.

WHY IS IT DIFFERENT?
HELL & BACK is not just a hill run / mountain run / assault course / road race / hill walk / adventure race, but a combination of the best parts of all these pursuits! The time it takes for you to complete the course is not important – making it thru’ the challenge in one piece is!!!”

So on one cold Decembers eve, he sat me down to show me what hell&back was. We watched the videos and I laughed. And l laughed and laughed some more. And I said, no way, no how.

And we would have left it at that, except he took out the big guns. Gabriella, he says, do you think mummy can do that? And she said no.

And by god, I was not going to be one of those people that their kids don’t believe in, it went against all my super mummy instincts. So I said, dammit, sign me up.

And my fate was sealed. All I had to do then was get off my ass.

20140617-194122.jpg

I have no willpower, no one knows this better than me and the cupboard full of diet aids, powders, tablets and gadgets in our house. I signed up with a personal trainer, Brian, from DT fitness and it was the best (even though it sometimes felt like the worst) thing. I presented myself to him one dark winters morning at 7am. This was a feat in itself as I’ve been suffering from insomnia for years and this makes me furthest from a morning person ever! Brian didn’t outright laugh when I told him where I needed to be in 6 months. And he didn’t cut me any slack and he didn’t baby me. It was my responsibility. I had to do it for myself. And I figured, I may as well give it a go. There were plenty of mornings I was at the gym when I didn’t wake up until my 45 minutes were up!

20140617-194113.jpg

We also started juicing daily. Bags of carrots, kale, spinach, you name it, we tried to drink it. I didn’t notice a huge health benefit with juicing until one day, 3 or 4 months down the line when I realised I hadn’t been sick once since we started. Even with the crappy weather and all the extra physical activity.

Slowly but surely, one week turned to 4. I was delighted with my progress and though I hadn’t lost weight, I did lose inches so it was a start for me.

And then Roy got sick, or more sick as it were. And the next few weeks were a blur of miles up and down the road to Dublin. We cried, we laughed, we reminisced and we grieved. And I can hand on heart say that training gave me focus.

20140617-194129.jpg
My first outdoors run

I have to note that transitioning from running on a treadmill to on the road was really hard for me. I was doing 30 seconds walking, 1 minute running or more like 2 minutes gasping for breath, 30 seconds running. And then one day, someone posted a link to the Irish Times couch to 5km. I clicked on a video for week 3 and just like that, something made sense. She said, if you can’t run for long, slow down. That was it. And that day, I ran my first continuos 3km. So I was absolutely delighted. And from there, I built it up and up.

I even signed up to do a 5km charity run for darkness into light donegal. A charity for suicide awareness. My first public run as it were. At 4 in the morning, no less!

20140617-194503.jpg

20140617-194535.jpg

20140617-194600.jpg

I now run every other day. The day I did my first 10km, I crowed and crowed about it. Me. 10km! What dimension is this? 10km when I’ve never run in my life before. It was such an amazing feeling to achieve something of that magnitude. And by accident too! We had been mapping out routes and Justin had convinced me that it was only 5-7km, I needed a long run so I thought to give it a go. 6km came and went and then a sign that said “donegal 4km”. I kept telling myself that I could get kathleen to collect me and I nearly made that call. But instead I focused on telling justin I did 10km and just how I would humblebrag about it on Facebook. So I kept going and I’m so glad I had it in me!

2014-05-25 09.22.42

In the midst of all this, we lost Roy. And the aftershocks of that loss are still deeply felt, 2 months down the line. I do believe that the training, the very solitude of running saved me. It helped me compartmentalise my grief and also use it to inspire me to keep going. I would like to believe that Roy would have believed in me.

20140617-194047.jpg

I feel that it gave justin that same focus. He spoke to his dad about us doing hell&back, and hell and high water, I knew he was going to give it his best for his dad as well.

Last Monday, I did my final 10km before the big race and then I went to a sports therapist for a massage. I was at this stage still petrified about doing it. That little voice in my head kept telling me that it just wasn’t going to happen. In fact, very few people knew I was going to do it. I told Joanne I was scared stiff and she told me not to think like that. Faith and not fear. I put in the work, I had strong legs. She said focus on only one obstacle, the one I’m most afraid of and work on my strategy to overcome it. And so I told the voices to shush. Ten foot tessie was my nemesis. Was I afraid of submerging myself into a skip full of ice? Crawling through barbed wire and getting electric shocks? Did the thought of snipers alley make me freeze up where actual snipers shot actual pellets at you while you ran? Was I afraid I would lose a shoe in the swamp and wouldn’t be able to continue? Yes! Yes! Yes! But my biggest fear was that I would be too heavy for anyone to help get over a 10foot wall.

20140617-194327.jpg

20140617-194351.jpg

Up to the very last moment, when we started the warm up on the big day, I was still quieting my doubts. I couldn’t even talk about it. The energy though, was electrifying. It was such a party atmosphere. I was sure that the synergy alone would get me through it.

Justin and I always joked that it was every man for himself. And to be honest, I didn’t want to hold him back. I like to fail or succeed on my own terms. In fairness, I caught him looking back when we first set off to make sure I was ok and I waved him on. That first kilometer was tough. Virtually all uphill, as the next 4km were. I thought all those weeks i had been training were rubbish. If I were to do it again, I would teach myself to run up and down hills. Endlessly. With a bag of rocks on my back.

 photo chienhb_zps7733945b.gif
Thanks for the gif, manyone1!

And they put in a few psychological trips as well, the wrong signs so you think you did less than you had! It was torture. The obstacles themselves were piss easy, IF you compare it to the difficulty of that initial terrain. It was nearly a relief to get a break from climbing.

The camaraderie was infectious, there were several people doing it in teams or in couples. A few on their own like me who were determined to finish. No man left behind was one of their mottos. And I was so so grateful to all those people who helped me, either by helping me through an obstacle or by simply smiling and asking if I was okay.

I ran all the places I could, picked myself up each time I fell. Jumped head first into a freezing river, and sunk to my knees in the swamp.

I lost all sense of time, it was just a constant go, go, go. Where I should have felt relief when a Marshall said 1.5km to go, all I felt was trepidation that ten foot tessie was looming.

I can’t describe the feeling of coming out of the forest to hear justin and our friends cheering my name. I ran over for a drink and a bit of moral support before I faced the wall. And boy, that wall nearly broke me. I couldn’t even ask for help. All I kept thinking was that my fat ass would surely break these huge strapping men. Finally, one of them motioned over and said come on, we’ll get you over! There was no way I was going to make them do it more than once, so I gave my all to get over.

And the relief and bliss of landing on the other side was amazing. The tunnel of electric shocks was just a bit of craic after that.

And finally, finally, when I stood at the top of the slide at the finish line, the complete elation and pride that I had finished overwhelmed me. I saw the clock and I’d done the challenge in 3 hours, 5mins. Holy hell. I cried with joy all the way down.

Justin hasn’t stopped telling me how proud he is of me. Hell, I’m proud of me. But here I am, 3 days later. The muscles are still stiff and my body aches and I still have to quieten the voice in my head.

20140617-194218.jpg

The one saying that it wasn’t that hard because after all, I was able to do it. It was all just hype and anyone could do it, because I managed didn’t i?

I’m telling that voice to shush, I did do it. I earned my number. I owned that course. Regardless of the time I did it in and no matter what, I made it thru.

20140617-194145.jpg

20140617-194204.jpg

>

Cheesy goodness

Surely, given half the chance, I’m not the only person in the planet who would love a mac and cheese bath? Look at all that creamy goodness!

20140124-222741.jpg

#tbt #throwbackthursday

I know the whole concept of #throwbackthursday is to reminisce on days gone by and bla, bla, bla.

But this week, it gave me pause.

The other day, Arjay sent us a package from Sydney. A few presents for the kids (if you have reading age kids- check out Anh Do’s book WeirDo- the kids love it, it’s HYSTERICAL), a present for Justin, an Aussie cookbook (Australians have indigenous food? ;)) and a pack of old photos. The photos were from schoolies week and it was a real kick seeing them. We graduated the day before, mom and I got mugged and traumatised for life and the next day, I got on a plane with my best buds and had a week I hardly remember because, hello, that was the whole point of schoolies week! I’m still friends with the people in the photos, albeit mostly on facebook, and it really brought me back. It also made me realise that there are photos from decades of my life that I can’t show my kids until they’re at least 16 lest I need to answer awkward questions like, why are your eyes like that? what’s the green stuff? Why are you on the floor/hugging the toilet/passed out on a bench in the dark?

Anyway, this is my #tbt photo this week.

TBT

Mom was 39 in this photo. 39. That’s 3 years from now for me. At that time, I was already 18. When I turn 39, Gabriella and Max will be 10 and 7 respectively. I remember when that was still a lifetime away.

photo 1

Most days, I still feel like this is me. Obviously not on the outside (that was about 30 pounds ago), but i’m still waiting to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

photo 2

But these monkeys won’t wait until then.

photo 3

I guess we never really gave much thought to our parents then. About who they were when they weren’t our parents cos really, that’s the only thing that defined them for us (and face it, kids, especially teenagers are selfish). I have a great relationship with my mom, I like to think so anyway. But back then, I never gave a thought to who she was besides my mom. What sacrifices they made, the struggles as well as the triumphs. I guess, as a child, it’s just way out of our sphere. Everyday I worry about my kids, how we are raising them, if the choices we make will help or hinder them when we send them out to the big bad world. But when I see a photo of her at nearly the same age I am now, still so unsure of what I’m doing, it really is terrifying.

Obviously, we turned out AWESOME so they’ve done something right.

I only hope my kids will be as forgiving and understanding (and don’t forget well adjusted). Eventually.

Sleeping beauty

Let me preface this post by saying that I am by no means referring to myself as beauty! Or sleeping for that matter.

Well, what’s the point then, you ask?

Do you ever get stuck in a rut and think, I need a change. I need to do something! And then you do and you think you are being so brave and adventurous doing this new thing and then you think one day, about 10 months later, hmmm, lets see if this old thing ever worked for me. And all of a sudden, you are transformed! Shazam! You are that person you had been looking for all along!!

And it’s like waking up from a deep sleep, a revelation. You were there all along. You’ve found the self you were meant to be.

Well, let me tell you. I had one of those moments yesterday.

Everything in my life is a big round of firefighting. I just can’t seem to get ahead of myself so I’m chasing my tail. With my husband, my kids, the house, work, etc etc etc.

But yesterday, I tried on some red lipstick. I’ve always known that I’m a red lipstick kind of girl. I’ve even sung it’s praises on this blog. It was my secret weapon. But a while back, I needed a change and I listened when someone told me to try something else. Try this rose lipstick, they said. It’s different but it’s you. And so I did. And it was great for a time, a long time. Until yesterday when I put the red lipstick on again and BOOM! I was a different person again.

And I KNOW I’m talking about lipstick, ffs. But it made me realise a bunch of things.

– You can have more than one lipstick at any given time! Yes, this is obvious. But I’m so lazy and complacent that I tend to stick to one thing all the time. So this needs to change. It’s not about changing one thing forever amen. It’s about developing and realising that maybe you were there all along. And incorporating the new colours with the old. And changing it up now and again.

And not losing sight of yourself in the meantime.

20130815-103838.jpg

This is probably the most ridiculously convoluted post I’ve written in a long time. But it just had to come out.

This morning, after putting my face on, I turned around to Gabriella and asked her what she thought, not really thinking she’d notice. And she said, “Mummy! You’re you again.”

Bzzzzzzzz

I was sitting at the computer, half working, half telling the kids to turn off the tv and go to bed but I wasn’t paying much attention though it was way past their bed time, so engrossed was i in my work.

Gabriella came up and it didn’t occur to me for ages til I started to get annoyed that she was hovering around me buzzing in the most irritating fashion. I turned around to snap at her when she suddenly said, “that’s how annoyed I was earlier, mummy”.

I burst into laughter. She was referring to a conversation we had earlier that evening when I scolded her for not eating all her lunch at her field trip and she said it was because the wasps were annoying her.

It also made me pause, so often I get frustrated with my kids for “not listening” when in reality it’s because I’m the one whose not paying attention. Just a note to myself.

Digging for treasure

I am equally delighted and dismayed by yesterday’s unintentional discovery.

I had a rare half a day off yesterday. Had an awesome shoot in the morning followed by what was meant to be mommy and gia day. Then we got a letter in the post to advise of Max’s last developmental health check with the PHN for that very same afternoon! (Eeek! Where did the time go? But that’s a story for another day) So I got to hang out with my kids anyway.

Their cousins are over from England so we headed out to see if they were home to say hello but they weren’t there so we headed for the beach.

After a showery afternoon, it was a gorgeous evening. Warm and sunny with a cool breeze. It was low tide, the beach felt eerily deserted after the weeks of local crowds descending on it with the good weather. I had emptied the beach gear out of the car just that morning to put in my photo props so we didn’t have a single bucket or spade.

20130730-223118.jpg

But we weren’t stopping long, just a quick walk before we headed back to see if the cousins were home.

20130730-223226.jpg

We foraged for unusual shells to make a beach collage which kept them occupied for a bit.

20130730-224333.jpg

Then Gia headed off on her adventure while max was extremely whiney about the green sand. The tide was so far out and the sand had mossy pockets which he thoroughly disapproved of! He kept demanding I pick him up and walked on his tippy toes the whole time cos he didn’t like the dirty sand. He was driving us bananas so we headed back and I noticed a man with a bucket and I was instantly intrigued. What is he doing? What is he collecting? Can I eat it?

I crept closer and started to eavesdrop when I spied a bucket full of seaweed. He told the lady who stopped to chat to him that we was collecting it for his wife for a foot bath, there was chat about healing properties but I half tuned out and max was still whining, until he bent down, plucked something out of the sand and then ate it.

Oooh!! This was more like it. I asked him what he was eating and he said cockles! As if I should have known. Then he bent over again, found another one, opened it up and offered it to me.

And now you’re probably thinking, wtf? I read all this for cockles?

But I seriously cannot explain how amazing this was to me. He may as well have offered me ambrosia. This little raw morsel of bivalve was like gold. It was briny, like the sea. It was sweet and fresh and it evoked memories of my childhood and my dad. I wish I was as eloquent as Anthony Bourdain when he recounted his experience of the first time he ate an oyster. It was that kind of revelation. Joy, closely followed by utter dismay that I’d been coming to this beach for the last 13 years and was unaware of the treasure that lay just beneath my feet.

20130730-231335.jpg

20130730-231624.jpg

Sure, I’ve eaten cockles before, but they came out of a jar. This was digging your fingers into the sand to comb through it to grasp these little molluscs to eat. Raw, on the beach, with the smell of sand and sunshine around you.

It brought me back to summers with my dad when he would bring home bushels of “butil” (a smaller, similar clam like food- I don’t know it’s real name) from cavite and we would sit outside eating it, just the two of because nobody else could be bothered cos it was so tiny and tedious. In fairness, most shellfish have very little ROI when you factor in how hard it is to pick it out of their shells, etc. But it was like “our” thing.

I promptly abandoned my kids on the shore while I had a forage for myself. He taught me how to open them, like turning a key. And my excitement must have been evident cos his wife made her way down to us to see what all the commotion was about. I was that thrilled that both my kids were enticed to try it. My kids! Gabriella with her clean fetish ate something that came out of the ground without disinfecting it to within an inch of its life.

My new friend told me not to tell all and sundry where it was lest the hordes descend on our wee beach but any local will know exactly where this is. I wish someone had shared it with me years ago!

I could wax eloquent for pages yet but this was truly a memorable day 🙂

So much so that I went back today, sans children, with a bucket and spade to dig out my dinner.

The beach was blessedly deserted, I didn’t fancy scaring anyone away with my enthusiasm if they made the mistake of asking me what I was doing.

I had a million things on my to do list today, but the hour I took for myself to dig around in the sand was nothing short of therapeutic. Plus, I got dinner to boot 🙂

20130730-233024.jpg

Again, the return on investment isn’t that great, but it made it all the sweeter. This is how cavemen must have felt. I get food. I feed family.

But, in this case, I kind of forgot to share 🙂

20130730-233053.jpg

20130730-233741.jpg

20130730-233931.jpg

I googled loads of recipes to try but in the end, I ate them standing up over the counter, fresh out of the steamer, no condiments, juice running down my arms. Heaven in a bowl.

Bad mummy

I’ve had a sick feeling in my tummy all day. I yelled at Gabriella (a lot) this morning. We were late, I couldn’t sleep so I couldn’t get up. She was up with the birds as usual and dressed and ready to go before I got downstairs. The usual what to feed my exceedingly picky kids for breakfast game started. She wanted boiled eggs, he wanted fruit trees. So I got breakfast ready and went up for a shower. She came up and asked could she have another egg and I told her to go ahead. She only eats the yolks and we don’t have it that often.

When I got downstairs, she had peeled and discarded all the white bits off all over the table and her tea set and had wiped her dirty hands on her clothes.

I lost the plot.

It seems so petty now but I was so cross and they weren’t paying attention cos they were watching cartoons and I freaked out more than I should.

A lot of it is my own fault. I should have prepared something the night before, I should have got up earlier, I shouldn’t let them watch cartoons in the morning, I should have stood my ground years ago and made them eat whatever I cooked, should have, would have, could have.

Max was delighted he wasn’t in trouble for once and started taunting her. Little @&3*%! So I yelled at him too.

Gah!!!!

So I apologised to Gabriella for yelling at her and rushing them but to be honest, I feel like it was a passive aggressive faux apology which she’ll probably remember in therapy years from now.

So I feel sick to my stomach and eaten up by guilt for being such a bad mummy. I’m working all day and I have a shoot this evening so they’ll probably be asleep by the time I get home. 😦

I need a day off from my two jobs, I need sleep, I need to stop chasing my own tail, but most importantly, I need to reconnect with my kids. To turn off my phone and all the other iDevices and just be. With my kids.

Just be.

20130718-122344.jpg

20130718-123707.jpg