Monday, September 22, 2014


It's a strange beast, the marathon.

I understand now why people compare it to childbirth. Not just because it can take a long time (my first marathon this weekend just gone took 4:26, longer than two of my births) or because it really really hurts, but because afterwards even while you are nursing your wounds, you kind of think yeah I would do that again.

Which is just as well, given I'm meant to be doing exactly that in three weeks time. I'm still not sure if that's inspired or insanity, to be honest.

Anyway the marathon. I wanted to write some things down before I forgot about them.

The Sydney marathon is really quite hilly, which pretty much sucked after around 20kms. I don't know Sydney at all well, but we ran through some really pretty spots and some not pretty spots and over the bridge and all that good stuff.

I'm sure a number of people had cottoned on to the fact that I was preparing to run the full marathon with Zoey, although I've been SUPER careful in all my updates not to LIE about not doing the half but not to let on about the full either. A 36km training run for a half is kind of excessive though.

We ran our first half together at the same event last year, and when I went to register for the half this year I just had a moment of madness I guess, and hit the full marathon rego button instead.

We've written a bit before our friendship and competitiveness and that kind of thing, but there was not one moment of this race where there was any question of either of us running our first marathon any other way. Each step we took, we took together.

I was not prepared for the level of pain in the last few kilometres, especially when we realised we could come in under 4:30 and really smashed out the last couple (as much as anyone can smash anything out after running 40kms). And the thing that struck me most was the mind game of it all. I spent most of the time running 3kms to the next water station and not thinking in numbers any bigger than that because to be honest, it is kind of scary.

Afterwards, when it was done, I took a moment to acknowledge that 42.2kms is a really really long way. I used to share a staffroom with a maths teacher who would ride to school each day and it was probably that kind of distance. I thought he was crazy.

I am sure any number of people think I am crazy too now. That's okay, I think I like it.

It just feels like a really big deal to me. I started running two years ago. I quit smoking one year ago. I am not the same, and I am nothing special. I'm not particularly gifted, I'm not a natural athlete at all. I just decided to start. I'm a Mum and I'm a small business owner and I'm a coach and I'm a motivator and I'm a student and I am an ATHLETE.

I am kind of proud of myself. I like myself. I never used to. It feels good.

And if I can run a marathon, just imagine what else I can do?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What are you so scared of?

I had an epiphany today, because I jumped on a box.

I'm not even kidding.

There's a whole long back story, and I'm not going to tell it because I suspect many of you know it and probably even live it already. It is about self-limiting behaviour and lack of self-esteem and comparison and jealousy and discontent.

Those things we all have, but don't like to talk about because in our own little shiny spaces of the internet we like to maintain our sheen of apparent perfection... we share the highlights reel of our lives and hope it is glossy enough that people won't see through to the dark and dismal places underneath.

I didn't learn to run until I was nearly 36 because I simply did not believe my body was capable of it. I thought my knees were weak, my knees a bit crackly, I was not built the right way at all. I held onto those beliefs for so long because it was so much easier than trying and failing. It wasn't really about my legs at all, it was about my soul.

It was about fear.

I was scared of getting hurt. I was scared that I would look stupid. I was scared that people would see me and wonder what on earth an unco like me thought she was doing.

But eventually the deep dark got the better of me and I had to so SOMETHING so I took a leap of faith in the privacy of my own lounge on a beat up el cheapo treadmill and I started.

Once I had a bit of confidence I started running outdoors and realised really quickly that actually no one even cared what I was doing. The only people who ever seemed to even notice me were other runners, and there is this whole secret code amongst most runners that means you smile and/or wave when you pass another one because you both know the secret... that running makes you feel like a whole person.

My biggest fear though, the getting hurt one? Well that happened. A few times. And it hurt, but not as much as not being able to run hurt.

And something a bit magical happened this last time. I'm only just back on track with my training having damaged a tendon in my foot, but while I was unable to run I faced up to another big fear and I went and joined a Crossfit Box.

Since then I've done bootcamp a few times a week. And it has been AMAZING.

I don't love it in the same way that I love running, but I can't imagine not doing it now. I'm a convert, as my abs and arms will attest.

And so I come to the epiphany.

In bootcamp we often do box jumps, which is where you jump on a box. In case you were wondering.

I have always chosen to do step ups, because I have a serious phobia of box jumps. I am terrified of slipping off the edge and hurting myself. That self-limiting fear of incapability, back again to taunt me.

Today, I went and got one of the smaller boxes. In the first round I think I stared at it for a good 4 or 5 minutes without moving. I felt like my feet were glued to the ground and I felt like crying. Or just doing step ups like I usually would.

Eventually I screwed up the kind of courage it takes other people to leap out of a plane and I bent my knees and I jumped. I didn't land it perfectly, but I landed it. And I kept landing it, getting better each round.

Once again I discovered that when you do something that is truly frightening to you, it changes your self perception immediately.

Yes sure other people can do box jumps on to really high boxes with ease. But those people aren't me. I had let fear stop me from even trying though, and today I remembered that I can't do that and expect to grow as a person.

I hold back on so many things in life because I'm scared of getting hurt or of failing. But if I'd never gotten injured this last time, I would not have been in a position to jump on a box and rediscover that I can do really scary things. And that regardless of the outcome, just facing up to those scary things is enough to free your soul.

So what are you so scared of? Are you scared to learn to run? Are you scared to join a gym? Are you scared to apply for that job? Are you scared to talk to that guy/girl?

And what are you going to do about it?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Money can't buy.

Things I would really love right now that money can't buy:

More sleep. I get up early to work, but I've had wicked insomnia lately and 3-4 hours is just not enough. It isn't. Yawn.

A crystal ball.
I just want to see where we will be next year and what my business will be doing and to make sure I'm focussing my efforts where I should be. That't not so much to ask is it?

Specifically, clarity as to where my big boy should attend high school. He goes into his last year of primary next year. I have no idea how that is even possible but thinking about high school is giving me palpitations.

A new earworm.
My 3yo discovered Frozen over the weekend. She discovered it, then she rediscovered it over and over. Whilst I love her cuteness in insisting that she is BOTH lead characters and no one else is allowed to be one, and her singing and dancing is insanely gorgeous, I need her to let it go. Let it go. The cold doesn't bother me anyway.

A teleporter.
Because I miss my people.

A new foot.
Maybe I could buy one, but that would probably be a bit excessive given that the one I have is just a bit injured. It is injured enough to be messing with my mental health though. Which also cannot be bought. Frustrating.

Oh hold on. That can be bought. Just as well really, it might be the solution to 90% of the rest of that stuff.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How do you keep your kids calm in the car?

Keeping Kids Entertained on Roadtrips – An infographic by the team at Europcar Australia.

Keeping Kids Entertained on Road Trips

I will admit that as far as kids and car travel goes, I have been extremely lucky.

All four of my kids travelled well as babies, and we've only had the odd incidence of car sickness so far. I'm pretty sure that is because I'm a bit hyper organised and have a car-sick kit in the back (bucket, towels, wipes, bottle of water) for just in case. The day I take it out will be the day I need it I'm sure.

Where we live we do a lot of driving just to get to our regular activities. I average around 500 kilometres a week and most of that includes at least one child in the car with me, so I was interested to see that the parents who contributed to the Europcar survey were pulling all the tricks that I've learned over the years too.

70% of kids being entertained with tablets struck me as a pretty massive number! You too? But then anyone who has sat next to our car on a Saturday morning in the freeeeeezing cold while my big kids play footy and netball already knows that we do this. When you have a 3 and 5 year old pretty much stuck in a stationary car for a few hours at a time, you have no expectation of them playing sing-alongs or I-Spy the whole time. And let's be honest, they really aren't that excited by watching their siblings no matter how many goals they might shoot or kick.

We've also done our fair share of road trips over the years, and way back in the pre-tablet dark ages when my sister and I drove my then not-quite-two-year-old-son and 6 week old daughter to Canberra we spent an inordinate amount of time singing Wiggles songs and hoping they would sleep. They were too young for most games, but my son was quite old enough to demand 'Rock a Bye Your Bear' 78 big zillion times, interspersed with endless snacks.

Having grown up doing what felt like an impossibly long road trip interstate each year, squished into the back seat with my siblings and with very few of the luxury features that are now standard in most of our cars, I will confess I've been known to pull the 'back in my day' card if my kids start cranking it up.

It doesn't work, any more than it ever worked if my parents said it to me as a kid. But it does make ME think about how much easier those trips are for us than they must have been for my parents. At least we have the space in our car to divide and conquer!

So how many of those things up there do you do too? Does tech play a part in your travel plans like it does ours? And do you ever wonder how your own parents survived with their sanity intact, without the mod cons we take for granted when we're on the road?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I'd tell you.

I shared this on my Facebook page last week:

The comments were so beautiful. One really stood out for me though. Kim, who I have the great pleasure of knowing in real life and who often looks out for my boy when he gets off the bus at school of a morning, said this:

"I remember it like it was yesterday. I wish I could wait outside the door of every 
doctors office and when each newly diagnosed family comes out let them 
know its all up from here. This is the lowest point."

It really struck a chord for me.

As the psychologist told me that my son had autism, I bit my lip and tried to hold back the tears even though I knew it was coming.

I attempted to smile, paid her and walked out to the waiting room where my Mum and baby daughter were waiting.

My Mum knew. I didn't need to say anything.

We went to a nearby coffee shop and looked over the reports which picked apart every element of my son's behaviour and development. I spoke to my husband who was sad but stoic and unsurprised. I called my bestie and wept. I messaged my good mate who was away on holidays, and had trouble speaking coherently when she called me back.

It was, as Kim so succinctly said, the lowest point. Confirmation of our deepest fears. The moment where you know what is wrong but have no idea what or how to deal with it.

It was freakin' hard. We had great love and support, and it was still freakin' hard.

But that was it. The hardest day was done.

Knowing that he was autistic didn't make my son any harder or easier to cope with, it just put his behaviour into context. It didn't change any of the day to day challenges, but it did give us a term we could share with others when they didn't know what to make of something he was doing.

And in time (and sadly not without a fight) it gave us access to services and support.

If a diagnosis is imminent or has recently happened for you or someone you love, this is what I'd tell you.

It's okay to feel like shit about it. Put on a brave face by all means, but give yourself the space to grieve and feel sad and angry and disappointed and confused.

NONE of those feelings say anything about how much you love your child. They do not make you a bad parent. Your baby is still your baby, but you are being forced to face a reality different to the one you envisioned and it is okay to feel whatever you feel about that.

I would also tell you this:

It will be okay.

I didn't believe it back then, but time has passed and here we are. It isn't a walk in the park. We have hard times. But I don't spend every moment of every day with autism hovering at the edges of my consciousness any more. It is just part of our lives now.

We move forward. Some things get easier, some things don't. But we move forward.

For me, learning to run and embracing a lifestyle so far from where I was when he was diagnosed (pack a day smoker, 15ish kilos heavier, tired, resentful, a martyr to my life) has been instrumental in my ability to accept and cope. It forces me to put myself first a few hours a week, and I am a better parent for it.

Find one thing that is just for you; that makes you feel healthy and whole.

But most importantly know that how you feel now will change. It will be okay.

And that child is still and will always be your baby. Nothing, no diagnosis, can ever take that from you. In the odd quiet moments, hold them tight and know that you are a really good parent.

You're doing a tough job as best you can. You are okay. It will be alright.