I love learning. I wish I had realised this more at school and college which may have enabled me to knuckle down more, but what I didn’t realise at the time was that I was only interested in learning about things I was passionate about. It was no coincidence therefore that I was able to get my highest GCSE marks in English and History (both subjects I enjoy immensely) and I was dire at everything else. I was lucky enough to obtain a merit in my Business and Finance qualification (Karen Brady eat your heart out!) and this has set me in good stead throughout my career and for that I am grateful.
However, there is something that I has always been interesting to me my whole life, and it has taken me a long time to finally
realised this could be my destiny. It has evolved over the last couple of years and has left me feeling the healthiest and happiest I have ever felt in my life, thus wanting to “pay” this feeling forward to others. I have finally entered into my dream to become a Personal Trainer (with a few specialities up my sleeve!) and the very steep learning curve started late this year.
I would like to credit a few people who have made this decision easier for me; my husband and family for their amazing support with this decision who have given me the courage to finally take this step; the people we have loved and lost who
have given me the “life is too short” attitude and just go for it and the people in the fitness industry who through their blogs, podcasts, articles and inspiring stories have made me realise that this IS possible and to make a real go of it!
I realise the level of commitment I am taking on. As you know I work full time in a job I am also passionate about, and I have two young children that are my priority. I am also training for the London Marathon in April, and after writing that I do realise that I am quite QUITE mad! But life is for living, taking chances, and spending it as happy as you can. This decision makes me happy.
So as I say goodbye to a very testing, yet wonderful 2013, I welcome 2014 and the changes it will bring. I look forward to sharing my journey with you and there will be a few changes to this blog as I venture through this journey.
I wish you a very Happy New Year. May it deliver all your dreams.
There is something about doing the same thing over and over that takes the sparkle from it. Work, for example. Yes definitely work. Unless you are blessed with the kind of brain to switch off and do a menial task day in day out this is the first thing that springs to mind. The second perhaps are holidays. If you visit the same place year on year it must soon begin to lose its appeal.
The third for me has to be the London Moonwalk 2013
Readers of my blog will know that I was excited to do my “double” this year. My personal challenge was to run the Brighton Marathon and then four weeks later, walk the London Moonwalk. Both personal challenges and in turn raising a few pennies for two well deserving charities.
The Brighton Marathon was the first run I have done of this distance which made the experience was not only exhausting, but extremely exhilarating. Exactly the words I would have used to describe the Moonwalk the first time I did it.
I am the kind of person who likes to be alone when faced with a challenge. I am never one to have a friend with me at an important doctor’s appointment, and I shooed my Mum away whilst I was in labour with my two children choosing only my husband to be present because he had to be! It does not bother me to eat dinner alone in a restaurant, nor to sit alone in the cinema. May be that is a compliment to myself, that I enjoy my own company.
The latter may have been the reason that for the second time in as many years I decided to take myself off to London, spend the evening among a crowd of thousands and spend the night walking 26.2 miles around London – alone.
This was perhaps many of the factors pertaining to why I didn’t find the Moonwalk that interesting this year. I find it hard to say that. I know there are thousands who enjoyed the challenge and have registered their interest straight away when they returned from the walk. After all, the reason I chose to do the walk alone this year was because I really enjoyed it alone last year right?
The first problem I found was that the venue had changed. Normally the walk starts in Hyde Park, which was me is extremely easy to get to by train. This year the walk started at Battersea Power Station, not so easy.
I decided to use a clever website that allowed you to book someone’s drive for the night and then walk from the house to the start line. This meant that I drove from home; through the centre of London to park up in a residential area I didn’t 100% trust. I was aware of the neighbours looking at my car, and then looking at me wearing my t-shirt that guaranteed to most that I would be away from my car for at least 6 hours of the evening, with the said car sporting a Home Counties radio sticker in the rear… I double checked the locks and set out on my way to the Power Station.
Typically of me I was early, so I joined the back of a very long queue. I kept myself busy by looking at the fantastic ladies (and men!) and the efforts they had made with their bra’s, I also did my good Samaritan bit by taking photo’s of the groups of ladies who were struggling to get photo’s together.
Finally the tent doors opened and we were on our way. I had a bit of a star-struck moment when I brushed against Nina Barough (the founder of the Moonwalk back in 1996)
but that soon went when she raised a megaphone just above my ear to welcome the Moonwalkers (she is quite short and I am quite tall so the end of the megaphone met quite beautifully with the bottom of my ear!).
Being one the first into the tent meant that I could head straight to the massage section and get warmed up. This brings me onto my next problem. It was VERY cold. So the thought of taking off my t-shirt to expose my carefully decorated bra was not very appealing, and given the sights before me the other ladies were feeling the same. But I managed to prise my shirt from me to enter into the spirit of things to get a massage done, and get a temporary tattoo applied.
I calculated that I had about 3 hours in the tent to occupy myself before we set off for the walk. I knew of about 10 other ladies there that night who were doing the walk. I should have text them to find out their location and met up. I should have been social and I SHOULD have made more of an effort to soak up the atmosphere, but I didn’t. I sat on the ground, shivering and read my kindle. Stopping only for minutes at a time to glance at the time and check my phone.
At this point it sounds like I was having quite a miserable time. This isn’t true. I was just cold, and dare I say it, a little lonely. I just wanted to get going, complete the walk and get home to bed.
There was a poignant minute’s silent for absent Moonwalkers, a quick cuddle with strangers next to me and I was on my way to the start line. I would like to add again that it was EXTREMELY cold. There had been a heavy downpour an hour before so the ground was damp adding to the coldness. I don’t normally feel the cold too much but even I couldn’t bring myself to take my t-shirt off. As I looked around me it was clear that I was one of the brave ones. People were wearing their coats, gloves, hats and scarves. To the spectator this didn’t look like a mass event that was raising awareness by having people wear brightly decorated bra’s, this looked like a big crowd of people walking through London, for reasons unknown.
This brings me onto another problem. As I said earlier the event is normally held in Hyde Park. This is a busy park in London and as you pound for the first two to three miles of the walk there are a large group of people to support you. Many are there to support friends and family who are walking, but many are also passers by who are enjoying their nice day at the park and are hanging around to see what the event is all about. The change of venue to Battersea meant that the only supporters were the ones for the friends and family. So as we set off (at this point I really had to stop myself from breaking into a run to get warm as quickly as possible!) to the sound of a claxon and pleads from Nina to take our shirts off to expose our bra’s, it was head down, walk fast and lets get the job done.
In past Moonwalks, the route has always been breathtaking. Not to say that is wasn’t this time round, it’s just that in my opinion they got it round the wrong way Historically you were taken round the monuments of London first (Big Ben, Embankment, Buckingham Palace) where the crowds were in abundance and cheering you on. The second part of the walk is normally spent watching drunks fall out of nightclubs, and avoiding the puke and leers of the young men out and about. That in itself is quite amusing. Having this round the other way, made the walk quite boring for the first half. There wasn’t even the token group of lads to wolf-whistle you along (may be it was the fact that we all still had our tops on!), just long dark streets with the odd car rolling by to give you a beep. This too was quite concerning. There were points at the start of the walk where I was walking in down a back street alone, with only a few lamps to guide me along. It was then that I realised the risk I was taking being alone, and this made me walk that bit quicker.
I seemed to be “cat and mousing” with a lady for a good two miles around this time. She would reach me and then pass me, only to slow to get a drink or some food which is when I would catch her until she slowed again. It was at the stage where were walking next to each other that we began to strike up conversation. It is amazing the things that you will find to talk about to a stranger when you have to. We were both alone, both cold and both bored. Before long we had put the worlds to rights and we were at mile 22 where she stopped for the toilet and I carried on the last 4.2 miles back alone again.
I was grateful for the distraction but now I just wanted to get the walk done. I was aware that I would then have to walk the 2 miles back to the car from the finishing line and drive home from London (the lady I was walking with was from Scotland, she was flying home that afternoon, it stunned me that people would make all that effort!), so as much as I was annoyed at my extra journey I found comfort in the thought that I would hopefully be home and tucked up in bed in a couple of hours.
I crossed the finishing line alone, without any jubilation and scowled at the lady who tried to give me a medal for the Half Moonwalk (13.1 miles). I glanced up at the time and realised that I had completed the walk in just less than 6 hours – exactly the same time as I had the year before. Yet, the feelings I were experiencing were completely different.
Last year I hung around the tent. I got a hot chocolate and I stretched my legs out in a short walk back to the other walkers to cheer them on, proudly flashing my finishers’ medal. This year I continued to walk to the exit and hot-foot it back to my car. Once home I showered quickly and climbed into bed with a sense of satisfaction that it was done.
Before the walk, I had been toying with the idea of it being my last Moonwalk for a while, and my feelings throughout the event and after confirmed this for me. I cannot work out if it was the event that has lost its sparkle or me who has lost enthusiasm. Deep down I suspect a bit of both. Either way it does not take away the amazing achievements of all the walkers on the night, not to mention the volunteers who stood in that cold weather cheering us on.
I always said that one year I would like to volunteer for the event which I will think about for next year. I do know for certain that I don’t think I want to walk it for a while.
Where you there? What did you think of the event?
So for now, its time to hang my marathon trainers up and look forward to my balmy summer evening runs and early morning gym sessions.
Winter training – DONE!
I have never been particularly academic. That's not to say I wasn't smart. I firmly believe there are different levels of "smart".
I know someone for example who is an extremely bright and academic Lecturer yet it took her seven attempts to pass her driving test. Something that I proudly did first time (just..!).
I guess in life I have been lucky to have been able to climb the career ladder from a combination of drive, and people I know.
Let me take you back to my first "proper" job. This was working for 12 hours on a Saturday for a large chain of bakers. This job was offered to me by an old friend of the family who managed the shop at the time. Before long I was Head Saturday Girl (this is the drive I was talking about) but also gazing wistfully across the road at another large chain of cafes who I knew paid slightly more than the £1.45 per hour I was on. I was friends with a girl who worked there, who put a word in for me and before long I was waiting tables and sweeping carpets for 10p an hour more than I was used to.
Back to the "drive" that I have. It was becoming apparent that I had no interest in making waiting tables a long term career path for me. With my late teens became a sense of vanity and before long the smell of grease and burgers seemed to seep from every pore.
A friend of my Mum's told her at this time that as soon as I was 16, I was able to start working at a Call Centre with her. This Call Centre were crying out for flexible staff so I found myself happily hanging up my apron, and donning some rather swanky (but second hand) office wear. It was from working at this Call Centre on and off for the following 4 years, that I was able to make the contacts I did to start working for a Global Pharmacuetical Company as an Adminsitrator, which lead to working as an Account Manager and subsequent Business Development Manager (there's that drive again!) and now onto doing a job that I love as a Marketing Manager.
I could (if I'd had the brains) lead a very different career path. If I had managed to scrape higher than 3 GCSE passes I would have gone onto do A-Levels rather than a basic business course at college. If I had passed the A-Levels I would have perhaps gone onto University and got myself into masses of debt and permanent liver damage. But this would have meant I would not have had to oppurtunity to work aboard and thus broaden my horizons.
No, I am happy with the brains I was born with. And ever happier with the friends and family I have been blessed with! Its them I have to thank to be leading the life I am today. Thankfully, because its not like I could have relied on brains alone!
Last week I received a picture via email from my sister. The subject was "Crocodile tears or what" and when I opened it, there in front of me was couple crying in front of a gaggle of press. I had no idea who they were.
Shamefully, I replied "whats all this about then?"
After receiving an email back asking where the hell I have been the past week, I then googled the names. I found out it was the story that rocked the nation recently of the house fire in Derby which claimed 6 innocent lives, all children.
Of course I had heard of this. I am surrounded by media. Whether it be on my phone, online, through Twitter, Facebook, News App etc. But then it dawned on me. When was the last time I actually sat down and watched a News programme?
When I was younger it was all my parents seemed to want to do. 6pm came (signalling the end of Neighbours) and on came the News. I then had half hour of boredom whilst they sat glued to some boring story or another, before the weather came on and it was then time for me to get ready for bed.
I remember this routine very clearly because it was just that, routine. It helped that there were only 4 channels on the television back then. And it also sticks in my mind so vividly as I was a human remote control - "Colette, can you just pop it onto 1 for us love".
Because of this routine, when I was an adult and able to make my own television choices I rebelled against the news somewhat. I would catch it when I had to. Whilst having a cigarette in the company's smoking break room (those were the days) for example, or glancing down from the glossies to read the headlines. Current affairs mattered to me of course, but back in my 20's it was on a need to know basis.
I did some growing up and found myself reverting back to the old routine. I now had a steady 9-5 job, my own flat and watching the News of an evening whilst having my evening meal was a way of winding down and catching up with the world.
Then the kids came.
It all started with Baby TV and progressed from there.
Now unless the news is inbetween Ben 10 and Peppa Pig, I will have no idea of the worlds' current affairs.
This is a fact that I am ashamed of so I am now making a point of watching at least 10 minutes of the morning news before work. If this doesnt happen I grab 10 minutes at my desk at work and flick onto a News website for a catch up.
I now feel this helps me feel a little bit a part of the grown up world.
Have you found that balance?
Recently, I seem to have a lot of pregnant women in my life.
I am not a midwife, nor anything medical (although I DO work for a Medical company) but many of my friends are expecting their little buns at various stages in the year.
Because of this, a lot of the conversations I have with them tend to lead to their fluctuating hormones and subsequently how it affects the others in their lives.
This got me thinking. As much as I am a little bt more in control of my hormones than I was when I was pregnant with my little bundles, there are certain things that do affect my mood. Here I go:
This has to be top of my list as its the place where I spend the most time.
I can be in the best of moods when I awake, but all it can take is to open that first email on Monday morning to alter that in a click of a mouse.
Its not that I dislike my job. Quite the opposite. I am lucky that I am in profession which is both creative, administrative, managerial and responsible. This keeps things pretty varied but I am also a control freak (my words, if anyone else says this I flip!) so if my carefully laid out plan for the day does change direction for whatever reason, this annoys me. But this is also how it tends to work in Marketing.
I love my family. They are what inspire me, drive me, love me and support me. They also happen to drive me crazy sometimes.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter, will often see my tweets of dispair when I get in from work and spend the ENTIRE time (pre bedtime that is) disciplining the kids. As with work, I can have a brilliant day, and look forward to sharing that with my children and hearing about their day. Then I will walk through the door and see one sat on the naughty chair, and the other sobbing in the corner after yet another fight and I physically deflate.
This can work in the opposite way of course. Skulking through the door after a day from hell, I am faced with two gorgeous little cherubs who excidedly fight for my attention to tell me about their day. It moments like these that I know the reason why I go to work and this makes me happy.
I am lucky that on the whole, I love driving. The huband and I often bicker before a long journey as to who will be the one to drive. He often wins because he is a bad passenger and gets bored easily. But this is fine as I can happily read, tweet and sing along with the kids to keep occupied.
But whilst in the car alone, I am in my element. The radio is on (loud) and I am happy to drive wherever as long as I have a good radio show and good traffic.
Then it will happen. The sea of brake lights ahead on the motorway. A lollipop lady (oh thats a WHOLE new blog post..!). A push bike too far out in the road or old ladies gossiping at a zebra crossing. Thats my mood changed.
So aside from hormones, there are things that affect my mood on a daily basis. What most affects yours?
Like most people in Britain, this weekend was spent enjoying the sun.
The added bonus of course that I got to spend lots time with my husband and children. This quality time is somethng that I treasure as I spent a lot of time out of the house (work, nothing too exciting) and therefore away from my family.
Whilst I was in the home, it made me think about how I would be if things were different. If I was able to spend my full time working hours, being a full time Mum and Housewife.
My current role of Mother is polar opposite to how those 1950's housewifey type Mums were portrayed.
I work full time for one. So I do not have dinner on the table for my hard working husband when he returns from the office. The reality is that I am walking in the front door whilst my husband and children are finishing their dinner. I normally rustle up somethng quick and easy for me, and wolf it down before starting the evening chores. 1950's housewifey wouldn't have done that. She would have been able to produce an amazing meal from rations, whilst looking everso glamourous (so not the smeared mascara and frown lines I seem to sport after a day at the office then?).
There are however, signs that I possibly COULD be that 1950's housewifey if circumstances were different, and actually (feminists be warned...) quite enjoy it.
Yes I am busy from the moment I step through the front door, but I still insist in making my husband's packed lunch up, and my kids lunches. And as much as this could be seen as part of my controlling nature of knowing they are eating well, its still a nice "Mummy" thing to do. I can stand with the other Mum's at the school gates knowing that I have contributed just a bit to the lifestyle they seem to lead so effortlessly.
I sort socks. Yes I moan about this, and spending the best part of an hour recently sorting the socks and a weeks worth of washing certainly didn't inspire me with well being (or to do the rest of the housework, I grabbed a beer instead and watched Eastenders), but again I did feel that I was fulfilling my duty as wife and mother.
When we go away, I will be the one to pack the picnic to ensure we are all fed. When on holiday, I start the day for my family with a large brunch to fill them up until we (hopefully) eat out.
Its not just the household chores and food. My husband and I seem to have fallen into certain roles wth our family life.
This weekend I was thinking just that whilst watching my two boys trail behind their father walking across the cricket field. When we sat down to watch I was happily laying back in the sun watching the boys play a game of cricket with their Daddy.
As the kids get older, its clear now that they gravitate to wanting to spend more time with their Dad. This doesn't upset me. Their Dad is their hero, this is a good thing. Im boring. I sort socks and make the packed lunches up. But for now this suits us. For once, I am ready to conform, and embrace the 1950's concept of motherhood and being a wife, with a little modern twist.
i would be interested to know how many of you, given the choice would happily conform the the housewife role?
This morning I had a feelng of liberation.
I stepped into my office, switched on my computer, and then put my mobile phone in my hand bag.
Not an unsual routine surely? I hear you ask. Well for me, and my recent lifestyle this is.
You see since obtaining my Android Smart phone almost a year ago, my life has been slowly governed by Apps, Those perfect little squares of information that distract me every minute of every day. And today, enough was enough.
My normal routine is this:
I get up and switch my phone on. Whilst its loading up I get myself, and the kids ready. I proceed downstairs where the kettle goes on and I get the kids their breakfast. I then hear a familiar cluster of beeps and buzzes from my phone. I recognise each and every one.
Whilst drinking my first cup of tea of the day I scroll through my notifications. Its normally Twitter first, then onto Facebook, a quick flick to Instragram. I then tap onto LinkedIn to see whats been happening in the 8 hours that I have slept, and then off I drive to work. I set my phone down on my desk, get my first cup of coffee (I drink coffee at work, I think its a neccessity to get through the day, tea is for pleasure and to relax at home!) and I repeat the same routine. Because now I have missed at least 50 minutes of the action.
At my fingers tips, right next to me on my desk at work I have the following:
- Words with Friends
- Google +
- Linked In
- Mail Online
- Word of the Day
These are just the ones on my first home page, because they are Apps that I use regularly. And it needs to stop.
So today I made a stand. I went cold turkey and worked to rule. My husband was under strict instructions not to text unless it was important, and if that was the case, to ring me.
Every 20 minutes or so I could hear a buzz, a beep or a dingdong with my notifications coming through, but I continued on with my day. Frantically wishing the hours away til lunch when I was "allowed" to check my phone. Which I did, and spent the ENTIRE lunch hour returning tweets (ok, I was harsh on myself today, it was #FF after all!), "liking" Facebook statuses and using my dictionary in the desperate attempt to win a match of Words with Friends.
I did all this whilst on my lunchtme walk, where I normally read my kindle, which I didnt open once.
So what did I learn today? That I was a slave to my phone? That I am a socal media and App "whore?" Well yes. I am by my own admittance both of those. But I was also reminded of the good old days (ah yes, here come the rose tinted glasses...) where the only distraction at work was the odd personal email or colleague popping to your desk for a tea break natter. Both of which happened today and they were a welcome break.
I actually enjoyed my phone free work day. Are you brave enough to try it?
I attended a 5th brthday party recently (nothing unusual in that - Its widely known that my children have a better social life than me!). This party was the classic kind, you know with pass the parcel, musical statues and musical bumps. The kind of party we have all had the pleasure of attending as children ourselves and now drag our own little darlings along to.
What stood out to me at this party was just how much my eldest son has inherited my competitive streak. (chip of the old block). Having nearly given himself severe cramp all over from standing as still as he could, he made it to the final two of musical statues. If it wasnt for another eagled-eyed Mum spotting his flickering eye lid (Hayden, WHY did you have to blink!?!) he'd have won.
So as he skulked off leaving the other child basking in his victory I said all the things I was supposed to:
"Never mind darling, you did really well" I enthused.
"I wanted to win Mum" he barked.
"I know angel, but you were very good and it was only because he didnt blink", I encouraged.
Content that I had done enough of the "encouraging Mum" bit, I let him trot off.
However, I was seething.
He SHOULD have won. He was the BEST! And whilst I was sat there with a silly proud grin on my face throughout the game, the grin was actually a grimace. Willing it end so that I could see my son, yes MY son the best musical statue player in world win a bag of sweets.
Yes I am aware I have a problem......I am fiercely competitive. This is perhaps not a bad thing. My competitive streak has seen me through many (and subsequently successful) job interviews. I have exceeded sales targets and improved on many a race time when running. I have also lost sleep over getting the best report for college, got stressed over the quality of my work, and literally thrown up whilst crossing the finishing line at one particular 5k race whilst having to get past a runner from the rival running club.
This streak has lessened over the years because it has had to. Becomng a parent has calmed me because being the control freak I am, I cannot control my children's personalities. I can no longer flit from one job to another to achieve more, because my family life requires some stablity (and locality).
I can however adapt my competiveness to suit my current lifestyle. I recently took part in the London Moonwalk and managed to get a personal best on my time (without throwing up or causing any injury). I am able to get the most hits on my website at work because I can control the content, and I can also work on my running speed at the gym rather than competing in 100's of road races.
The kids sports days are coming up soon. Most parents are excited, maybe a little nervous for their children. I on the other hand am staying focused and have only one race in mind. The Mum's race that I WILL win.
God help my boys....!