Moving – Lessons Learnt from Injury

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I move.

I’m not naturally sporty, fitness doesn’t come easily. I sat in the ‘arty’ corner of the common room at school, not the ‘sporty’ one. As an adult however, no longer bound by once comforting school-time cliques, fitness is important. I run – I’m no ironman but I regularly run 12k  and sometimes the occasional half marathon. I surf – I’m not very good at it but I have a lot of fun being tumbled in the waves whatever the weather. I walk – I love a good stomp over the cliffs when my legs ask me not to run.

The best advice I was given about parenting was ‘keep them moving’. Don’t tell them to exercise, just keep them moving: rolling, splashing, stomping, tumbling. Chase them, fly them, spin them and whatever you do, never, EVER tell them you’re going for a walk. An adventure, a hunt, an explore… but never a walk!

This has all become a given to me, balancing moving with working, parenting and drinking coffee with friends is life. And it’s a good life…. when the balance is right. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago why I exercise, I would have told you that it buys me the right to eat biscuits, to drink guilt free wine, it keeps me fit enough, and is a good example to the children. Truth. But not the whole truth. It’s taken me until now… 40 years into life’s crazy journey to really understand WHY I move, and what happens when I don’t. Three weeks ago I broke my ankle, not just broke but shattered it. An unfortunate accident with a skateboard and with the help of a hefty amount of metal, it will be fine.  I try to keep perspective and remember how lucky I am – I don’t have to live with this forever.

I fight the guilt of feeling sorry for myself, guilt for my permanently disabled dad who lived and died with a body that didn’t work properly, guilt for the millions of people living with disability without hope of healing, guilt for people who suffer these injuries in parts of the world where they don’t have the medical care we have, who can’t get prescription painkillers to get through the day. But even with the voice in my ear telling me to be grateful JEEZ it’s hard! The reason it’s hard is not the pain, it’s not the inconvenience, it’s the NOT BEING ABLE TO MOVE! Of course I can hobble about and go out in the back of the car when somebody is kind enough to take me, but I can’t push my body until I feel it working hard. I can’t pull on a wetsuit and feel the freeze of the winter sea biting my face. I can’t get out of breath and feel my lungs burn. More than these physical sensations though are the emotional ones. I can’t escape when life/work/kids drives me crazy, I can’t step outside when I’m facing a problem and walk until I’ve confronted it, I can’t let the sea wash away my worries, I can’t run until that decision I have to make has been made and it’s hard. Suddenly the scales that keep me…well… me are wonky, the balance is wrong. My head is foggy, I’m more short tempered than normal, I can focus on nothing, working (I, conveniently, work from home) is like wading through PVA glue with skis on, I cry at the drop of a hat, laughing feels like quite hard work and things which normally don’t really matter to me suddenly matter too much.

My mental health has been affected by my accident as much, if not more than my body, and that has been a real shock and an amazing revelation in equal measure. Now I understand why I have to keep moving! Why I have to keep the small people moving! I am giving them (and myself) much more than a healthy body, I am giving them a healthy mind and the ability to cope. I suppose I’ve always known that, but now I REALLY know that, and I know too that I AM lucky. I have the luxury, even through my less-than-sharp brain, of perspective and of a future full of movement. Call me optimistic, but I’m expecting to swing back the other way in a few months and experience the mental agility of Einstein, and bounce and happiness the like of which is only experienced by Tigger.

Here’s hoping!

Guest Post by my lovely friend Abbie – wise words and I hope very much she is mended soon.

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Weekend Read and Listen

 

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Forrest Ride – Bluebells and Berries

As a writing platform, the internet is a mixed blessing, with some wonderful, creative well written offerings that nestle into the  – well, the less so… Pondering on this, I thought it would be worth using this as a platform to expose the content I enjoy. Please join in the conversation – share your likes and loves.

The first site is the wonderful cycle stuff  it’s beautifully put together, simply laid out and well written. I’m a cyclist – for transport, for fitness, for fun and many of the more obvious cycling resources fail to hit the spot, this one I love and look forward to the new offering arriving in my inbox.

Aeon magazine is a great source of inspiration – and now and then something really sparks my interest. This essay on the advantages of looking at parenting in a wider way certainly spoke to me with my eccentric, wonderful, crazy brood and our supporters.

Alloparenting – Is There A Better Way Than The Nuclear Family

 

And finally – some zone out music from a young contemporary Norwegian composer – really beautiful. Thanks to Rod Adams for sharing this.

Northern Lights – Ola Gjeilo

Parenting Paddington

It’s been a remarkably peaceful few days in my household and without too much statistical analysis, I’ll hazard a guess that this is as a result of the absence of one of the smallest members of the tribe who I shall refer to as Paddington Bear.

I’m not a huge fan of children’s films – they are usually too loud, too vibrant and too overwhelmingly active for me and result in me leaving the cinema in a state of frenetic exhaustion. A couple of weeks ago however, I found myself unwittingly in front of Paddington The Movie. I enjoyed it – but perhaps more importantly something resonated with me which took a while to recognise. I realised that somehow, completely apparently by chance, Paddington himself, he of the marmalade sandwich and hard stare – or at least one of his relatives, had taken up residence in my house a few years ago…..

The curious brown furry creature is one of the most endearing children you could imagine – but also one of the most exhausting, infuriating and exasperating. A wonderful mixture of affection, curiosity, individuality, logic and persistence with an insatiable appetite for almost everything food related, a special interest in the footpaths of Southern England and a hugely exuberant need to express himself physically and in words to pretty much everyone he meets.

I veer between immense reverence for his individuality and his sunny life view and complete despair at the task of bringing up one so at odds with the conventional quiet well behaved child. I have to admit that when things get really tough, almost always because I’m tired or some other life event has interceded to put the pressure on, I do end up rolling down the familiar victimhood root, why me? Life would be so easy if he was “normal”…. you get the picture.

The realisation that Paddington had taken up residence has had some interesting consequences, not least, there has been a shift from myself and the other younger members of the clan, in the treatment of our errant one. It’s as though our judgement of him has softened. Instead of interpreting his chaotic often clumsy disruptive behaviour as a problem we are tending to see it more as part of the idiosyncrasies of a large and furry mammal trying to make sense of a chaotic world not really designed for creatures like him. Instead of constantly chastising him for his eating habits – which incidentally closely resemble that of a particularly hungry chocolate labrador, we are more gentle, reminding him now and then with a half smile, that knives and forks are laid by the side of his plate for a reason.

So what to learn from this.

The biggest lesson is that it is a choice to see someone in a particular light. All too often an unconscious choice made as a result of hundreds of past encounters which have shaped our reality. A slight shift in perception can have dramatic results in terms of the quality of our lives and in particular in terms of our relationships with others. If we view life as inherently positive and people as trustworthy we will certainly have a very different experience from people who view life as a dangerous jungle inhabited by savages who are out to get them. Of course the reality in this situation is probably somewhere in between – but by looking on somebody as a problem, in your own reality this is what they become and since we suffer when we want things to be different from the way they really are, we then seek to solve the problem or suffer in our desire by wishing what is, was not.

As for my own personal Paddington. He has become less of a problem and more of a pleasure. The films underlying messages about tolerance and acceptance and the dry British wit with which it was delivered made it an unexpected favourite in my book.

I’ll leave the last words to the films eponymous hero:

“I’m not a criminal” said Paddington hotly. “I’m a bear” – Michael Bond. A Bear Called Paddington