Friday, 22 August 2008

Running in a skirt? YES!

As most of my readers know (and if you don’t – here’s a catch-up) I was doing a lot of running last year, preparing for the WDW marathon, my first ever.

I won’t cover old ground but training for such an event brought its own special kinds of challenges: physical of course but also time challenges (trying to fit all the training runs in, while still living my life), weather challenges (I run in the UK, enough said), and clothing challenges.

YES, clothes. Before I decided to sign up for this race I had been to the gym before but never really run. So I had a lot of jog pants and guy tops and stuff like that, that just isn’t suitable for running, especially outside. So little by little I purchased bits and bobs to build up a pretty respectable running wardrobe.

However, the girls training for the same thing over in the US kept talking about ‘running skirts’ in the forums at disneyrunning.com. I followed a few of the links they gave, had a look and thought that they indeed looked cute but I couldn’t find them at all in the UK so I just gave up.

The day of the marathon I noticed that a LOT of my fellow female competitors were wearing these cute running skirts, which wasn’t surprising as I knew they were popular, but as the race wore on I found myself feeling quite jealous and wanted one of these skirts. But I had my doubts: would the shorts rub? And what about the ones with panties underneath, would they be too revealing? So I did nothing about it…

Flash forward a few months. The running skirt thing has been in and out of my head but as they are impossible to find in the UK I’d kind of discounted them again… until something happened. I started changing shape, putting on weight very quickly and my waist disappeared: I discovered I was pregnant. But I still wanted to get out and run! Little by little all my running clothes were getting too tight and something had to give. I started searching online for maternity running clothes and what did I find? Running skirts!

I found the perfect solution – the Fit Momma skirt. I ordered it and it quickly arrived (from Canada, no less) and as soon as I could I put it on and WOW. Not only does it fit beautifully and will fit me nicely in the months to come, but it is so cute that it actually makes me want to get out there. Even though these days a ‘run’ is more of a misnomer as more walking happens than running but I love, love, love my skirt.

Because this style only comes in black I do feel a bit limited but no worries – I’ll just have to get a few more of the ‘normal’ running skirts, which come in so many lovely colors. I can wear them now before I turn into a baby elephant and will be nice to wear once the baby pops out, when I really will need to work hard at losing all that weight.

So I finally got my skirt and I really love it. I was not at all sure of running in a skirt, after running in tights for so long but it makes me feel better and actually want to go for a run so a worthy investment I think!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Goodbye, baby

Before I had my baby, I had my first "baby":



Ever since I saw one of these in London, circa 1999 I wanted one. It looked so cute, was so unique yet included all the comforts of more expensive cars. So after pining for one of these, I finally got mine in November 2001. It was brand new with 4 miles on the clock and I was the happiest girl in town!


Over the years this car has been loved like no car before: it has always been lovingly hand washed (none of those rough machine washes for my baby!), kept in a garage most of the time, all services done on time and fluids kept topped up and has always been kept very clean on the inside and out. I love driving this car, I love the fact that it’s left-hand drive, I love the color, I love the panoramic sunroof, I love the way I can use the gears but then push a button and turn it into a full automatic… I just love this car.


Circumstances are forcing me to sell and although I know that it’s a sensible decision and one I don’t have much choice about, I am still heartbroken and devastated. I feel like I’m giving up one of my children! I have been through so much with this car that even now, writing all this I am getting a lump in my throat. I also know that the car I’ll be getting to replace my Smart is a very wise choice, it is a very nice car and I will love driving it, but for the moment it’s like a marriage of convenience. I am not in love with that new car and I hate having to give up something I love.


Last weekend I spent a few hours getting the car spotless so that I could take some pictures and get the ball rolling with the sale. As I was rubbing the car down and taking the photos I took the opportunity to think back to all the wonderful memories I have of this car and silently said goodbye to him.


I am trying to approach the whole thing from a very practical angle but I do know that when I sell the car and watch someone else drive it away, I will be in floods of tears. I also know that whoever buys my car is getting a very, very good car and I know that they will be very happy with it. I only wish I didn’t have to sell at all.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Reflection

(Two posts in one day! After this morning's very fluffy one, here is one that is a little more thought-provoking)

Yesterday I was driving from work with my MP3 player on and I was merrily singing along to a pretty eclectic collection of tunes… and then one particular song came on, one that I know well and have heard many times, and I suddenly started to really, really listen to it.


Look at me
I will never pass for a perfect bride
Or a perfect daughter
Can it be
I'm not meant to play this part?

Now I see
That if I were truly to be myself
I would break my family's heart

It hit me hard. All of a sudden the real meaning of those lyrics became very apparent and I started to cry. In my car. With other people watching but I didn’t care. I suddenly felt Mulan’s pain when she realizes she is only playing a part in life but deep inside she knows she is someone totally different.

I have been questioning my own role in life lately and I’ve noticed that who I am in public is not really who I am. I sometimes coast through life and make choices that have little or nothing to do with what I want, but I make these choices because others depend on me and those very same choices. So I make those choices willingly, but knowing that deep down those choices are not necessarily my choices.

So yes, if I was truly myself “I would break my family’s heart”. I don’t want to hurt them so I carry on, taking on the act of someone else and little by little I feel that the person I really am is vanishing.

Who is that girl I see?
Staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection someone I don't know?
Somehow I cannot hide
Who I am, though I've tried
When will my reflection show
who I am, inside?

When indeed? When will the time come when I can be true to myself and also ensure that no one is hurt with that truth? Will I ever manage to reconcile these two personas into one single, truthful person? If I remember correctly, Mulan at the end of the story was able to achieve this and her family was proud. But this was Hollywood and the happy ending is de rigueur. My life isn’t a movie (at least not that I know of!) so the ending is far less likely to be similarly happy and tidy.

I don’t have the answer and hence my tears: I was frustrated and sad at the same time – I want to be able to be who I really am but, in the harsh light of real life, things are not quite that easy. The easy choice indeed is to do nothing but what about me? The right choice is probably to be true to myself but what about everyone else? I can’t make everyone happy and it is this that frustrates me.

Eventually the song’s last notes faded away and I wiped away my tears and carried on with my life, as I always do. The Reflection was over and it was time to move on, hoping that someday the girl looking back at me in the mirror truly is ME.

Questions and answers

I don't often post these interview-like questions but there were some good ones on this one so I thought I'd pass it on. I also don't like to 'tag' people but feel free to use it in your blog if you wish!


1. What is your occupation?

Online Marketing Manager and I must say I love my job.


2. What color socks right now?

No socks, wearing lovely brown Mary Janes that I bought in Spain.


3. What are you listening to right now?

My MP3 player, it’s shuffled but right this moment it’s George Michael and “Somebody to Love”


4. What was the last thing that you ate?

Lunch ‘al desko’ which was a roasted veg Panini with cheese and rosemary. Very nice.


5. Can you drive a stick shift?

Definitely. I can also drive my car which is a semi-automatic, just like a race car.

6. If you could be a color what color would you be?

Blue


7. Last person you spoke to on the phone?

I honestly can’t remember! I hate phones so it would have been something to do with work.


8. Do you like the person who sent this to you?

Yeah, she’s nice. She didn’t send it to me either, I just ‘borrowed’ it from her blog


9. Favorite food?

Pizza! I also love good Mexican food and eggs Benedict.


10. Favorite drink?

I quite like milkshakes but if they have some alcohol they are even better.


11. What is your favorite sport to watch?

Baseball – in the park. I hope someday to be able to see a game in the US.


12. Have you ever dyed your hair?

No, but not because I don’t want to but because I can’t decide WHAT color would suit me. Suggestions accepted.


13. Pets?

A black cat named (imaginatively) Gatita.


14. Favorite Author?

Bill Bryson. But I read more non-fiction than fiction so generally anything like business cases and biographies go down well.


15. Last movie you watched?

Wall-E. Loved it.


16. Favorite Day of the year?

Whenever it’s sunny and warm. Sometimes these days happen outside of the UK because it’s rarely sunny and warm over here.


17. What do you do to vent anger?

Write! Or hold it in and then suddenly let it all go at once, over something silly.


18. What was your favorite toy as a child?

My books and journals. Seriously.


19. What is your favorite time of year?

Whenever it’s warm and sunny!


20. Strawberry or Blueberry?

Strawberry. But blueberry in muffins.


21. Do you want your friends to participate?

Of course I do.


22 Who is most likely to respond?

Lynsey I’d guess.


23. Who is least likely to respond?

Rachael.


24. Living arrangements?

Live at home with my husband and son and our cat.


25. When was the last time you cried?

Last night.


26. Who is the friend you had the longest that you are going to tag?

I’m not really tagging anyone, so can't answer!


27. Who is the friend you have had the shortest that you are going to tag?

See above


28. Favorite smell?

It depends but I really do like the slightly salty and moldy smell of buildings near the sea. I don’t like the actual sea air, just the smell of the buildings near it (weird right?)


29. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers?

Cheese, but veggie please.


30. Favorite car?

My Smart! I also was very fond of the first car I ever had, a Ford Topaz in silvery blue.


31. Favorite Quote or motto?

I have lots but today’s one is:

If your heart is in your dreams, no request is to extreme


32. Number of keys on your key ring?

One! All other points of entry appear to be buttons…


33. How many years at your current job?

Nearly one and a half.


34. Favorite day of the week?

Whenever it’s sunny, even if I’m at work. I hate the rain.


35. How many states provinces have you lived in?

Well, I’ve only lived in one US state but I have lived I three countries…


36. Which political label most closely reflects your views?

Conservative Liberal, if there ever is such a thing.


37. Worst injury you've ever had?

HUGE bruise on my butt once I fell down the stairs. I’ve never broken anything although once I injured my knee quite badly too.


38. What is your favorite book?

Too many to choose from… I have a bookcase full of ‘my favourite book’


39. What were you doing at 12:00 last night?

Asleep!


40. Famous person, dead or alive, that you would most like to meet?

I’d love to meet Stephen Fry, George Michael, Bill Gates and Walt Disney.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Did you notice I haven't scrapped for a while?

After weeks I have finally broken out of my scrappers' block and put some layouts together! It was a combination of busy evenings, no crops due to summer and a lack of photos that meant that for an entire month I did zero scrapping. I hadn't 't even unpacked my bag from the last crop I had, back in late June.

But anyway, my monthly all-day crop was back and we had a very pleasant Sunday and I even managed to find some photos to work on. As I didn't have an awful lot, it meant I could slow down and spend a bit longer on these layouts. I also challenged myself to use embellishments and a few techniques, so in general I'm very pleased with the results.

When I printed out the photos from Croatia I quickly realized that there were endless photos of gorgeous scenery and I just would never get a chance to put them all in my scrapbook (unless I wanted to go crazy, of course). So I decided to print a lot of those in a collage and then use that in my layout, so here is the result - there are 56 photos in this layout!

I also printed out a large-format photo (something I never do) and challenged myself to create a layout with a single large photo. I also wanted to use embellishments in that lovely bo ho style that seems all the rage. I think it is a good layout and I love the muted colors of the papers that seem to go verywell with this lovely photo. It's not often I don't journal on a page but I felt I'd said all I needed to say about our vacation in other layouts so these two did not get any journaling, because I also felt the photos said enough.

Back in the UK, I had some photos of a sponsored 'brolly walk' that we did around one of the lakes locally. The idea is to decorate an umbrella with the theme (which in this case was 'around the world') and then walk around the lake, stopping at all the different 'countries' around the lake.... hmmmm, what a good concept, sounds very familiar! Anyway, it was a good job we took an umbrella (decorated with flags of course, as my son just loves flags) because the weather was pretty cold and rainy even though it was July. Still, we had a nice time and Samuel enjoyed walking around the lake and seeing all the various exhibits that represented various countries, and of course seeing all the flags.

A few weeks ago we had Samuel's best friend Luke come and stay with us for a sleepover. Luckily it was a sunny afternoon so the boys spent a lot of time playing in the garden, decorating 'their' house and just having a nice time. This September both boys will move out of nursery and on to different schools so they won't see each other every day. I hope that they will remain friends but if their lives move on, they will always have these photos to remember these carefree days. By the way, can you see all those flags in the garden? I tell you, Samuel loves them!

These last are a double layout and besides using photos from our recent trip to Peterborough to see the trains (and Thomas!) I wanted to put together a page using nothing but cardstock and a few embellishments. This page was the ideal one to do because Thomas has such distinctive colors and other than buying themed paper (which I wasn't going to do) I thought I could put together something suitable with colored cardstocks. I am quite pleased with the results and think the colors work well with the photos and the theme. I also used a page map for the first time to plot out the scheme and save time and I think it worked so well I'll be using those again.


So not a ton of layouts but enough to make me feel satisfied. This does mean that I have now run out of photos again though so I'd better get snapping as I'm meeting a friend next week to crop and I'm not sure what I'll be doing then!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Skinny Bitch


The book “Skinny Bitch” is definitely NOT to everyone’s taste but I think that everyone should read it. It’s not just the tone of the book (VERY straight talking and with some mild swearing) but the harsh truths that it delivers - mainly that eating meat is simply eating rotting carcass and isn’t terribly good for you. I happen to believe that is true and am about 90% vegetarian but I need reminding of just WHY I am doing a good thing by avoiding meat and sticking with fruits and vegetables.


There are of course other books that cover the same subject, some with more depth (and less shouting) like “Diet for New America” by John Robbins. I read this book by accident about 5 years ago and from the first chapter I was hooked. It is a very compassionate, gentle book that tries to teach you about the truth behind the animal products we eat. The book covers every angle: health, social consequences, economics, ethics, etc. I can honestly say this book changed my life and was the catalyst that made me take that decision I’d been wanting to take for years – to become vegetarian (I haven’t tried going vegan yet).


I will occasionally re-read “Diet for New America” (and the follow up books) to remind myself that I am doing a good thing and that all the hassle and irritation is worth it. I like to think that I eat generally quite healthily but I do have some weaknesses (like chocolate and cheese) and I have to keep these cravings under control. I also struggle with my weight (it’s probably all that cheese) but I don’t like dieting because I think it’s unnatural and even unhealthy in the long run.


So when I heard about “Skinny Bitch” I was interested: here was a book that advocated some sort of healthy eating with the ultimate result in losing weight and feeling great. I started reading it and soon enough found myself being reminded of all those reasons why I gave up meat in the first place. I wasn’t expecting the book to advocate a vegan lifestyle because it’s rare that a book written by Americans and that is popular includes these ‘radical’ ideas. Especially when the premise of the book is to lose weight, which is as mainstream as health books get these days.


I enjoyed the read very much, even though it suggests some changes that will be very, very hard for me to do (it’s that cheese again) but with such rational and strong arguments I can hardly defend myself. But I need reminding about all the consequences of eating animal products and I was nodding along as I was reading, agreeing with everything the authors are saying and resolving to make changes to my life – not necessarily because I want to get skinny but because I want to improve my life. If weight loss follows, then that’s just good karma!

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