It’s that time of year again, which comes around twice for a teacher at end of calendar year and end of academic year, where a scan through the diary reveals no blank spaces. In fact worse than that there are no blank spaces and double, triple, sometimes quadruple entries all glaring at you demanding you make a decision soon about which of those little penciled in appointments is going to take precedence when you know they are all equally important.
It’s hard enough managing work and life at the best of times but work, life and starting a new business and having a relationship to keep alive is pretty tough going but I’m keeping afloat thanks to the lovely people in my life who are acting as my buoyancy aids right now.
As ever deadlines are looming, marking and remarking is taking up so much time, giving unscheduled 1:1 tuition to students who have finally decided to do some course work saps what would have been desk time and so the workload which spills over into my home life and ‘free time’ expands until it has devoured every remaining second of time to be a mum, a girlfriend, a business woman and what is even worse is that it takes away the moments I’d snatch to spend being myself, doing things just for me. I’ve not had any salon pampering or a steam or blogged or written any of my book or shopped for me or even managed to throw a dinner party, go out for dinner or cinema with a friend or Nick or anything for so long and I’m craving a return to normality.
My son is 15 he can cope with a little negligence these days, he knows if there is a dire emergency I am here, he knows I disappear into a pile of papers and books to provide him with all that he has, he can reason now and I do find time to check in with him twice a day. We always breakfast and dinner together, nothing stops that and so he does get some time, just not enough time for my liking. Although being a 15 year old boy, it’s probably more than enough for his liking.
He’s finally reached that time in his life when his room is the place to be. I’d been pretty lucky that both of my kids liked to be in the communal family areas with me and each other and whoever else happened to be there. I never felt I lost them to their rooms but it seems this one is going that way but I’m not worried, it’s perfectly normal and healthy and as long as I’m still allowed in there, as long as girls are not in there for too long with the door shut and nobody else around, as long as there are no strange smells, vapours, behaviours or people coming out of there I think we’re safe.
My daughter gets a daily phone or Skype call and OK sometimes she has to instigate that when she realises it is probably time I took a break and enjoyed a quick catch up. I love to hear about her day, I love how well she is doing in her new life and how she’s made what appears to be a fantastic group of friends from all corners of the globe. She has a rich full and interesting life and I love that and feel happy that she is responsible and mature enough for me to not have to worry as much as I did when she first flew the nest.
Nick is feeling more like an employee at the moment or a work partner he has been a darling picking up the threads of my new budding empire and keeping the fires burning. I don’t want to launch my business fully until the new year but I couldn’t help but see an opportunity to make some quick money in the run up to Christmas. I was frustrated that I knew I would not have time to capitalise on that but with Nick’s help we are managing to do that without detracting too much from the original plan. He is more or less a permanent fixture here now and manages his own affairs from here and we’ve hosted his kids a few times and he’s been driving down to spend time with them regularly but comes back up more or less straight away. I did feel I was distracting him from his life but then I figured he’s old enough and open enough to say or do something if he wants to change things so he must like it this way, it’s not like I make any demands on him at all, he has always been a willing volunteer so I’m happy that it’s his own choice. He seems very happy, I believe that in spite of my lack of time i do make him feel happy, he says I do and I can see it, besides that I have no desire other than to believe him so that’s all good.
I don’t like to do things by halves and so I really didn’t want to launch the business until after I’d left teaching but sometimes with a push and some extra effort and by accepting help (my new thinner self finds accepting help increasingly easy) things are possible.
So on top of all that I still run the house and do all of the usual stuff, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, those jobs which never go away but again I am being assisted in those. My son’s really good at taking over after dinner and clearing everything away and making it look like nothing ever happened in the kitchen and dining room and I don’t have to nag. Someone, still not sure who, has taken it upon themselves to become my laundry fairy and as fast as there is some laundry in the basket it is washed, dried, ironed and returned to its owner. I’m not even going to try super sleuthing to find out who is guilty of that one, they are happily anonymous and I’m happily grateful.
At work we have all of the seasonal demands, attending shows and fayres and promotions for the college and meeting prospective new intake and of course as I am heading into my last three weeks as a teacher I am preparing my replacement to take over the helm as well and finishing off loose ends as well as thinking about Christmas gifts, parties, leaving parties and everything else.
But, through it all I am still eating healthily, I’ve resisted all chocolates in the staff room and I have continued with my exercise programme. The weather is so mild so biking to work is still happening and my daily run up and down the stairs still takes place and I actually have two companions who come along with me now… my example is contagious. I remember the first day I tackled all of those huge flights from top to bottom and how I thought my lungs would implode when I was half way and how my legs were shaking when I reached the top and the pain… I was in pain, every joint was aching, I was sweating, my heart was pounding and yet now I jog up them and down again and could easily manage more than once.
I still have my personal trainer sessions 3 times per week and Nick and I have a tai chi session every evening, even if sometimes it is near midnight when we get around to it.
I’ve started to notice my body changing shape these last couple of weeks. The strength training and toning (I started working in some pilates with my trainer) are really pulling things in and toning things up and my body is beginning to feel quite powerful now and I am aware of all parts of it in a way I never was before. It’s hard to explain but when I’ve exercised and I stand and drink some water for instance it’s almost as if I can visualise all of those muscles that have been worked still working and I can see the water rushing through my body, hydrating, carrying away toxins, I’m aware of my heart rate, of my breathing of my liver no longer being distended due to fat, I just feel clean, healthy and in good working order and that feeling is priceless.
I think this awareness of my body as a machine is something which is sustaining me, it helps me to avoid bad stuff and focus on good. Nowadays when I’m tempted to eat something bad I visualise, without conscious thought or prompting, how that will affect my body, I visualise fat settling around my organs and I sense the acid reflux that will occur as my stomach struggles to process garbage and I feel the irritation in my bowel at the thought of having to let cake pass through it and I just find selecting healthy options easy now as a result.
There is a lot to be said for getting to know your body as a machine, to understand what food and drink does to it, getting to grips with how it should move and function and seeing what you put in your mouth as fuel and nutrition. It does work and I think it works better when you go to a trainer or a gym and talk to people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about these things and when you take time to research what food does to your body and the true benefits of exercise. I felt that as an eternal dieter I knew everything there was to know about diet and nutrition and exercise but there is always something new to learn and new ways to look at things.
I wouldn’t class myself as a health freak, I don’t think I am but I really do care about myself now and I’ve found that caring about yourself helps you to love yourself and if you love yourself (something I believe a lot of people who struggle with over eating have an issue with) then you are on the way to healing yourself. If you can love you, then you have found your greatest ally in this war with food.
What is more, I’ve found that the more I love me, the freer I feel to love other people. I’m a nicer person now, I wasn’t too bad before but I am so much more easy going now and forgiving and accepting. I think that is because I’m not subconsciously looking for someone to bounce my own feelings of self loathing off of. I’m not critical anymore, I love everyone and that is the sweetest thing. That sense of love fills my heart and keeps me happy and makes me a better person and gives me strength to pour into improving myself. I’m truly becoming a better person in every respect, when I set out on this journey almost 8 months ago I had no idea of the treasures I was going to uncover, and those treasures were all inside of me, a part of me which had been buried under fat, food and unhappiness, self loathing was robbing me of even seeing let alone using the fabulous gifts I’d been given. Every pound lost unwraps another special part of me and I’ve come to see myself like a big exciting game of pass the parcel, it’s so amazing and such fun and what is more it will never end. It’s not going to stop when I reach goal, I have the rest of my life to find new bits of myself and to love new bits of myself and to learn new things and develop new talents and to love more people and to experience more places and to enjoy my family which will hopefully expand. Life is very good. I thought it was OK before, but now I realise it wasn’t, this is living… well at least it will be once I get past this term!
You can do it! If I can unlock my true self anyone can. Be committed, visualise what you want to achieve, see food as fuel not a hobby and take help and advice, be strong and remind yourself every day of the reasons you have to keep on living.