I would walk 10,000 steps

You know you’re going to be singing the original now all day don’t you?? 🙂

I was determined this week to do well on my diet so for the first time in a good few years I decided to exercise. I’m completely skint at the minute so that means looking for free activities and what is freer than your own two feet.

So I decided to set myself a target for the week of 10,000 steps a day each day for 6 days. The week before I’d had my pedometer on thinking that as a community worker that gets the bus all over I’d have easily managed 10k steps each day. Slightly naive thinking there. To be fair on a Tuesday it’s easy but the rest of the week my day rarely got above 5000.

So I was going to do this somehow. First day I did this was Sunday. Sundays are usually lazy days. I get up, iron, either study, read or catch up on TV and then go back to bed so this was a huge culture change for me. I managed to rack up 3000 steps with the ironing. I turned on Spotify and decided to dance my way through the job. Lots of knee bending, bum wiggling and arm waving. It all adds up.

As the estate that I live on is a little self contained thing with a main road cutting it off from everywhere else I went for a walk round it to count the steps (approx 3500 – a lot less than expected). Walking through the graveyard next to my house on the homeward stretch I forgot where I was. Music blaring out loud I’d been thinking of ways you could make walking more fun including pretending to be on a cat walk and the John Travolta walk from Saturday Night Fever. Passing someone else it was then I realised I had been blissfully acting out my thoughts and giving it my best strut as I went along! Ooops

Monday I needed 2500 to make up my day so I counted the other side of my estate – exciting scenery of B&Q, Aldi, the graveyard and a hill. I still needed a few extra steps so decided to zigzag walk up the hill to get the count up. I really should check for others before I do these things. The man out with his dog now thinks I’m bonkers.

Tuesday & Wednesday were easily filled at work. My busiest days full of pottering around Leeds to various venues.

Thursday I got stuck working from home. By now the idea of getting my steps in was entrenched and the idea of not being able to achieve it was for the first time in my life unthinkable. Who was this person and what happened to my lazy old self??? I ended up wandering the graveyard again (twice). People are really going to start wondering about me soon….

Friday and my final day. Time for a big finish so as I don’t work I went up to the next district and walked home. A whopping 6500 steps in one go. I’ve even bought myself some trainers and am working out a plan for how to move forward and try eeek running

To be fair some of it I think has been to take my mind off of the death of a good friend last week. Ever since I heard the news I’ve been restless so it was also a good way of burning off that nervous energy. Normal procedure whenever I’m sad is to eat. I’m an emotional eater and can find an excuse anytime to stuff my face so choosing to go out walking rather than eat cake is a huge deal.

I really feel like I’m turning a corner. So next week I’ll try and do the steps but want to at least try and run and I’ve also found one of those shaker torture instruments at the back of the cupboard that apparently work on the arms so I’m going to play about. The important thing is to keep going. It brought great results this week and I want more!

Anyone for a poem?

I’m a good mood today so here’s one of the poems I wrote from my OU course

Over the Rainbow

The shoes

up on the shelf –

Red sparkles in a sea of black.

Take them down.

Try them on.

Take yourself away to a magical land.

Where will you go?

Who will you be?

A young girl at her debutante ball.

A princess running from her prince.

A heroine whisked away

to a castle in the clouds.

Tap tap tap your heels,

Say the magic words.

I want to go…

Somewhere over the rainbow.

The right shoes

Can take you anywhere you want to go,

Help you be anyone you want to be.

Who will you be today?

Getting out there and Moving on

At the beginning of the year one of my resolutions was to start getting out more, going to places and going back to saying ‘yes’ to offers as they came my way. It’s worked before and so far, 5 weeks into the New Year it’s had amazing results.

Not all of it may sound good on the surface. A few weeks ago I went to a housing organisation for an appointment and ran into the ex-best friend of my -ex-husband. The meeting brought back some very bad memories and caused a fair bit of upset. However I spoke to a couple of people, talked about my feelings and moved on. This is something I could not have done a few years ago and actually showed me how far I’ve come from my old self. So although not something enjoyable but it did show me some positives.

Then I started working at a new job club. There I saw an older guy that looked very familiar. To cut a long story short after some conversation around old pubs and drinking grounds the guy turned out to be my late father’s cousin! Someone who I last saw around 12 years ago and then only for a short while at a funeral. This in turn led me to finally contacting my half sister who’s number I’ve had in my phone for a long time without contact (you know what it’s like, you mean to do something then life gets in the way then the next thing a year has passed).

Anyway we are now linked up on Facebook, planning a coffee catch up and I have also done the same with my half brother, yet another one I had originally lost contact with. You put it out there to the universe that you want to let people in and look what can happen.

I also decided to join the local book clubs. These have been around for years and are run and co-run by some friends but I hadn’t either the time before or the confidence to attend. I have been to a few events with them before though which led to the funny (to us anyway) scenario of my being classed as a regular rather than a newbie when feeding all the information back to the book club head-honcho. I’m a bit of a regular newbie! It’s sweet though to be thought of as a regular and a friend without having to do much work 🙂

It’s a lovely environment at the book clubs, full of wonderful, like-minded people. I’m so glad I took the chance to go properly and have even ended up co-managing one of them!

Not bad for a month’s effort. I wonder what will come next?

The trials of saving money – hairdresser edition

Fifteen months ago I decided to go part time at work and dropped to 4 days. I’ve never been good with money but could just about manage the change. However with no pay increase but a hike in both general utility bills and pension contributions (a big civil servant woe) and Christmas I’m now feeling the pinch and have been looking at cost saving measures.

My monthly bus pass was easy enough by switching to the deal my employer has with the bus company I’ll be £13 a month better off. Then I made the decision after a decade of loyalty to swap hairdressers. This will save me £156 a year which is a lot of money when you’re skint.

After today I can see where the extra money goes into where the more expensive one is concerned. With my old hairdresser I would be greeted at the door, given a cup of tea and had a little chat while I waited. For the new lady it was obvious that her bread and butter customers were older ladies wanting wash and blow dries. I was stuck in the middle of a blue rinse production line. And no offer of tea at any point.

The whole thing felt very rushed. However checking afterwards I was actually in the same amount of time. It would seem that the smaller venue, lack of chit chat and endless supply of old lady rinses.

The old hairdressers would lovingly apply the hair dye, the new one slapped it on at a pace that Lewis Hamilton would be proud of. I then had to have most of my face washed down to get rid of the slap dashed dye. I looked a bit like a child left alone with the paint (my hair is red). Old hairdressers would then give gentle massages while washing out the dye that left you relaxed for hours afterwards. New one was scrubbing dirty clothes on a washboard. I’m still getting the cricks out of my neck.

Then came the cutting. Old hairdresser had this little plastic mat that she draped across my shoulders and cut accordingly using the measurements on it. This new woman….well hacked. I was quite frankly terrified. Very little checking for evenness. Just …whooomph chop it off. She also has a very different opinion of what is an inch to the old hairdresser.

Old one would generally cut half an inch then work her way up. The end result was often that it was longer than I would have liked but had got bored and just agreed it was ok so I could go home. New hairdresser started at nearly 2 inches and kept going! Yep truly terrifying. On the positive side it’s now a short length I haven’t had in about 4 years but liked.

My fringe is a different matter. I’ve not had one in about 5 years and only recently had it put back in. Old hairdresser as always cut it too long so it grew out very fast and as I’ve not had any money to cut it in the last few months went back to pushing it to the side. New hairdresser went with hold up hair, hack, then hack a bit more to even it up then get out the softening scissors (whatever they are) to chop even more off. The last time my fringe was this short was when my mum used to cut it with the pudding bowl for guidance.

I’ve had a play with it since and a bit of styling wax and the hair straighteners and its slightly more preferable but I am going to wish before I go to sleep that it grows fast.

So was it worth it? It’s easy to see how in a posh salon they have the time to give extra customer service and you pay extra for that and I loved it while it lasted. The smaller salons do what they need to survive and some things get lost with that. But she was nice and apart from my fringe I don’t really have any complaints (except for the tea! I really wanted a brew) and at a saving of £156 a year it I can cope with a few less creature comforts.

To Buy or not To Buy – April Lane Benson, Phd #bookreview

This book took me a while to read. It’s a simple enough book and like some, not full of jargon and psycho-babble but it doesn’t hook you in enough to be one you can’t put down. I often put it to one side to go read something else.

I saw a review that said it was only for people with addictions to shopping and wouldn’t suit anyone else. Well, first the book is aimed solely at over-shoppers so that makes sense to me that it would only be suitable for those people (me formerly included). However for me I think the content would also be suitable for over-eaters and maybe other addictions as well. Not the whole book but you can fit it in to other issues. There are plenty of sections about re-building confidence, mindfulness (more on that in a second) and discovering just why you do the thing you do whether that is buying too much, eating too much, drinking too much..

There are exercises to do and a shopping journal to keep helping you track how you are spending money and hopefully start spotting patterns of behaviour. My favourite one is an exercise to find out your 5 biggest strengths and then use them in some way more positive than overspending. Examples used include a woman whose strength was creativity and joined some pottery classes. She then channelled her energies into making gifts. Other strengths may not be so obvious but it does give you some things to think about.

The bit that I found niggling was the chapter on mindfulness. I have no problem with it and have tried it myself. However it’s starting to feel like the therapy du-jour and like every self help book has it tacked on in an effort to cash in. It’s just not original anymore to see it in a book and I’d like to see a bit more variety.

Overall I enjoyed this book. It’s not the best self help book I’ve read but it does provide some interesting insights into people’s behaviour and I, for one, learnt a few things about mine.