Monday, December 30, 2013

Nature and Mindfulness - being in the moment

As I wandered around Waterstones; the only book store in my local shopping Mall, a title jumped off a table and grabbed my attention: Mindfulness & the Natural World by Claire Thompson. 

The concept of mindfulness has intrigued me, I have dipped into a couple of published papers I came across as my fingers did a keyboard tap dance but have yet to do a full on, research of the subject. So when Mr H found me wandering in book heaven, not only was I clutching a little gem My Cloud Collectors Handbook I also had the Mindfulness book tucked under my arm as I hissed my precious... I settle into my seat at the start of a nine hour flight to the Caribbean the sheer genius of the author unfolds as she effortlessly weaves the natural world and the concept of Mindfulness into one beautiful map of a happy healthy life! She has completed my research and more! 

I am surprised to discover that I have already been making the essential link between Mindfulness and nature in my life and some of my blogs...stopping on the way to the paper shop to drink in the beauty of a leaf...taking notice of the pattern on the bowl I use for my cereal every morning...spending more time studying the beauty of clouds as they perform their daily ballet in the sky...focusing on the intricacy of flowers in my photography...

...the jeweller on the ship thought I was joking when I said I would rather have earrings and necklaces made from shells and coconut found on the islands than any diamonds he may try to sell me...but when I returned the next day grinning he knew he was beaten...

I am able to just be nowadays with such ease. At the Symphony Hall in Birmingham last Saturday during a candlelit Christmas classical concert the pureness of the sound was like drinking cold water from a fresh spring. I focused on the sound of a bow moving across a single string, the frenetic arm movements needed as the musicians built up to a crescendo in the Spring storm of Vivaldi's Four Seasons...and when my relaxed mind wandered I calmly brought it back to the beauty of the music I was surrounded by...That's Mindfulness!

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nostalgia - new photographs from old slides

The last time I stayed with my Mum we pulled out dusty tin containers of old photography slides and clicked them one by one into the slide projector...oh that's you Dawn, you must have been about...oh let me think...two...look at the television it's still have that tea service Mum...yes a wedding present...

We had hours of reminiscent fun! But some of the slides were cracking and fading; so with not a moment to waste for fear of losing more memories we bought a digital slide converter and with hours and hours of oohing and aahing my brother transferred the pictures into jpeg files. Now all on a laptop, the name game has begun; who is that Mum, how old were you when you first met Dad....we didn't know you went to Venice...oh yes....!

Once they are labelled my job will begin...enhancing the colours, cropping, straightening, adding photograph edges, and more oohing and aahing needless to say...

People say I look like my Mum!

Take Care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.
- Bob Dylan

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Note to Self in the Christmas Tree Box

The note sleeps amongst plastic pine needles and tinsel until Mr H lifts the box out a year later. Today my nieces have arrived to help, well do it, put the tree up I mean. 

I started scribbling a note to pack away with the tree three or four years ago when I realised that it is better to measure changes on a long term basis because day by day, week by week or even month by month things always seem the same...still tripping; seizures still come and go; fatigue is a plague from which I have yet to find the cure!

As the girls empty the box and the tree goes up I spot the last note and whisk it away to read later. A snapshot of the year before... an allotment in Nov...loving it...developed a technique to dig some soft soil by hanging onto a fork wedged in the ground as a rail...lost two dear friends Joan and Jon...seizures restarted in March (2012)& had to stop driving... the nagging nausea is the worst bit...last seizure was this week on New Years Eve...

Last year was a toughie dotted with highlights!  

In my note this year I will mention that I started writing a Blog in March...stood on my tip toes for two seconds...still having seizures but through Epilepsy Action contacts on twitter I am beginning to accept...started swimming lessons...swam to the deep end & learnt how to roll in the water...

But for now I shall play Christmas Carols...

Try writing your own note...

Those random memories make me smile no matter what is going on in my life when, a year later I read the note again

Friday, December 6, 2013

New kitchen and downstairs loo but what about my briefcase?

I want one I tell Mr H

Want what?

a loo downstairs..and a new kitchen...

It has taken a long time to save enough shekels to pay for them, but now in the planning stage every morning is like Christmas when I imagine stepping into my loo downstairs instead of delaying the moment till I have to haul myself up my two railed, thirteen stairs...again! Sometimes my delay is too long, too tired to climb the mountain... then...oops!  Mr H has even found me in the utility having a virtual wee I am that excited!

The kitchen has become my excuse, apart from fatigue, not to cook. Well I do prepare meals but I regularly play the Ping tune. Too many red patches on my hands when I try to bend to pull food out of the low hot oven; too many pools of milk on the floor by the low fridge. I have so much blueberry rolling practice up my sleeve I think I will start an Olympic sport.

I will have to do the kitchen and utility sort out in dribs and drabs so it will be a longish term project. I even conned Mr H into clearing out the garage by telling him the kitchen fitter said we couldn't have one if it wasn't empty. Ha! One skip later and the job is done!

I found a plastic carrier bag with over three hundred cards and letters I received when I was first poorly. I re read the cards and letters with a chimney of tears running down my cheeks then decided they had to go, time to move on.

But when I pulled my briefcase out of the back of a cupboard it started a tug of war.  Keep it? Give it away? It was a treasured gift from work colleagues. I think I was given this prize possession when I moved to my job in Wales, but I am not totally, no doubt kinda sure.  My brain does that nowadays; creates black holes in my memory. The briefcase has worked hard. It held onto my university student card and carried my papers when I studied for my MSc, cared for work papers as I travelled to and from meetings and still wears it's leather shiny coat.

Trouble is I don't think I could carry it any longer. When I walk I need my stick and a free hand because my left foot smugly decides at a moments notice to glue himself to the floor (notice it's an awkward male!). Last week I launched forward and grabbed the arm of a lady in front who turned with a scathing stare to see me gathering my balance. I thanked her for unknowingly stopping my fall and she went on her way.

So the briefcase. You've got to let me know, should it stay or should it go (The Clash!)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Now that's what I call progress

..last Wednesday, like a poolside conductor Bill waves his hands...swim to the middle on your back, OK now try and stand...chin down, knees up, bum back...let the water do the work...oops keep your chin on your chest.  I lie back and with a wet smile try again...

Each week I add a new trick to my swimming bag, last time like a floating log I learnt to roll from my front to my back while still moving. Bill has rehearsed the minutiae of today's trick; rolling from my back onto my front. I stand hip high in the water to follow his instructions...

...bring your left arm straight up above your head, turn your head to the left....then bring your right arm over your chest.. we look like we are at a waterside rave... then submerged I try. And try. And the twentieth try I have it in the bag!

OK are you ready to swim down to the deep end and back up?

Yes (aha my plan....)

Slowly. Breathe. Don't rush Bill says as the darkening water reminds me I am now out of my depth. At the end I clasp the rail. I tell Bill. I want to swim back up on my front but I'm not sure how to let go without the Tiger of fear pushing my head under water.

 I am desperate to tame this tiger. Today! (Rule 1 - Act Boldly Today)

OK deep breath, get your shoulders below the water, then you'll stay like that, head too high and it will go under, 

I stare ahead and nod

Bill adds; now push forward from the wall with your right leg...

On the way home, a bus ride in the rain cannot straighten my grin. I am now sure that in the early days of my recovery; hydrotherapy would have sped up my progress. But it was never mentioned and I never thought to ask...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nature enriches my life...

Mr H smiles as he walks through the door...what are you up to? 

...Two years ago during the watery summer my sunflower seed began to sprout from the sides of the bird feeder so as the window cleaner watched with a smirk on his face, hands on his hips, I  picked out the 'sprouters' and gently eased each one into a pot filled with seed compost. my delight they threw out a sunshine display in my kitchen garden despite the constant deluge of wet stuff.

Mr H said why don't you collect the I left the flower heads to dry out and this years sunflowers were born. This summer down at the allotment, with a golden smile, I told inquisitive passers by ...they are all grown from bird seed.

So here I am picking my way through this year's harvest to discover the seeds which the flowers have made. 

Since my nursing career stopped growing, I am occupied by the richness of Time and the Magic of nature...

...yesterday I said to a friend who was trying to juggle her busy life : take a few seconds in your day to see the colour of the sky, take in the detail of a leaf, stop to feel the wind on your skin or listen to the birds sing before you get into your car...when you add up these seconds it's as good as any holiday

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
— Albert Einstein

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow
- Helen Keller

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Never, never give up... on becoming a ballerina!

Mr H look at me....look now.....Nooooow


Watch my feet

I stand in front of him on the lounge floor. A grin pirouettes across my face as with outstretched arms I slowly rise onto the balls of my feet...and count...

...1...2....3....before, like a wobbling weeble, I dive head first into his lap.

Mr H has a tear in his eye as he says  When did you realise you could do that? 


I thought my ballet and tap dancing career was done and dusted but as I Tame another Tiger, Rule Ten roars: Never, never give up

"You are writing the story of your life. You are holding the pen. Is the tiger roaring yet? You have a choice-what are you going to do next?" Jim Lawless

Yes that's Me!
Buy ballet shoes....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Memories and Martin Luther King

I came across the transcript of Martin Luther King's speech 'I have a dream ...' when I was sorting through some papers at home... 

 I recall the events which led up to Mr H printing it out for me...

Dawn do you know what day it is
um.. it's..  I think it's still Wednesday

Do you know where you are
Ward one high dependency unit

Can you tell me who the President of the United States is
Aha (my swollen head smiles) trick question, President Bush; Barack Obama is the President Elect 

I hear the nurse smile...

I will answer the same questions and many more thousands of times before my release...

Barack Obama had been elected a couple of weeks before and when I was well enough to go back onto the ward it was the main topic of conversation with my bedside neighbours. The first black American President. Amazing. Momentous  We talked about Martin Luther King's speech and racked our brains to recall anything other than I had a dream... So Mr H was tasked to go home and print us a copy...

The speech lifted my spirits for in a different way I was trapped; by my body, unable to move freely. Unable to go where I desired. Unable to make free choices...

"But let us not wallow in the valley of despair...I have a dream...let freedom at last!"

As I recall this  I reflect on my own dreams:
I dream...that one day I will climb to the top of Old Man Coniston and feel the freedom of wind in my hair as I look down on the world.  

I have a dream that my legs will cast aside their chains to dance a waltz.

I have a dream that my epilepsy shall sleep, tucked in by effective drugs, so that I can legally travel with 'my Dorothy'.

But these dreams make me feel small and selfish; they are insignificant in comparison to the 1963 demonstration for freedom from segregation, poverty and racial injustice. A speech made when I was one day old!

But I too have big dreams... 

I have a dream... that one day the lives of people living with disabilities (visible and invisible) shall be free from discrimination

I have a dream... that I shall live to witness the cure for brain tumours...

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Mobility Scooters: Freedom and Fun

I turned my head away at the mention of a scooter once I was back on my wobbly feet. But the offer of a shopping trip to an outlet mall, when my world was the village, was too good to refuse. So we booked in advance and a kindly man met us at the car and introduced me to my wheels; snail is good for inside, move the knob to hare to get yourself out of a snare...

Inside and on the move my tightly pursed lips gradually broke open as a smile eased its way out. Chris and Val walked as I scooted from shop to shop. Big stores were best as I had yet to master tight manoeuvres. In the home store the girls were studying towels when I, unknowingly, hooked myself up on a metal container of tea towels and happily dragged it behind me until a squeal from a shop keeper made me press stop!! A visit to the loo caused another te-do! I proudly tucked our shopping bags between my knees to save the girls energy.  I had the bug. I had freedom. Of sorts.

I discovered that some bird reserves loan out scooters on a first come first served basis and the world of birdwatching reopened its arms. I happily swung my binoculars over my shoulder as we collected my pre booked wheels from Cley Marsh Reserve then Titchwell Marsh in north Norfolk. I zipped from bird hide to bird hide where I parked my ride outside and hobbled in to spot some birds with Mr H. 

The Malvern show had been an annual event for Mr H and I but I had dismissed a visit because of the walking involved until  I discovered Event Mobility who attend some events with a trailer load of scooters which can be borrowed for a fee.  So we went and I came away with my arms full of flowers. But I advise anyone thinking of doing this to go early to mooch as once the shows get busy all you see is bums and bags.

I now volunteer at a social club for adults with disabilities and have been humbled by the acceptance of wheels as an aid to independence, rather than my first interpretation... My failure to walk.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Meningiomas inside and out

You have a Meningioma. Grade One. Benign. It's nothing more than a lump adds one of my medical colleagues when he pops his head round my door.

I have won the lottery! Send for balloons. I raise my plastic glass of elderflower presse and the bubbles go up my nose.

I stare down at my lifeless legs and left arm and say right you lot, let’s get to work. No slacking. We are lucky. Some say no one is lucky to get a brain tumour; but I still believe I am one of the lucky ones. ...

If you have a brain tumour this is the one you want says my surgeon. I remember my scrap book of lovingly glued snippets about John Travolta as I hum; you're the one that I want, you are the one.. woo hoo hoo ; the one that I want...

But as time passes the damage and havoc good old Benign Meningioma left in his wake begin to take shape. Fatigue. Not tiredness that a good nights sleep can resolve but the need to re-evaluate HOW I live and how much I do each day; learning through experience the consequences of trying to have a busy day!! Leg, ankle, foot and bum muscles resist my attempts to return to normal life. I have a new normal and Epilepsy adds another dimension.

The message that he may regrow, but it is good to assume it won't - sinks in.

Now I educate when I hear comments like she/he only had a benign tumour and its out so they are fine...I hope you get over your brain tumour soon...benign that's good then it wont grow back will it...

Facts: Meningiomas:

  • grow from the meninges; the membranes which cover the brain.
  • are graded from 1-4. The grading refers to the the degree of malignancy (speed of growth). The majority are Grade 1. Grade 1 and 2 are known as low grade (slower growing) while grades 3 and 4 are known as high grade
  • can grow anywhere in the brain. Their site affects the possible damage and subsequent impact on life.
  • grow slowly and can be very large before they are found or cause symptoms - like mine
  • can be safely observed for some years without need for surgery if they are small when identified
  • can change their spots and become higher grade (in some instances)
  • can only be completely removed surgically if they are in an accessible part of the brain and have not grown too large or spread too far

However the impact of a grade 1 (benign tumour) can be anything but benign!

My BT has helped me see the world through different eyes...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Musings of my epilepsy drugged brain

The changeover of epilepsy drugs to try and regain control of seizures is a sluggishly slow process; adding a new one into the pot before the old one is slowly withdrawn. At the start it is hard to see through the cloud of dumbed down brain activity. Writing a line for my blog was as tricky as getting my legs to run.  I have tried to capture that feeling in words...

Letters swirl in a kaleidoscope of colour,
Transform in their chrysalis cocoon
cups become cakes, cauliflowers are mushrooms

Clusters of words play hide and seek,
On the run from the trap of my pen
they meet just out of reach
Ideas turn to darkness as they slip into mist,
Print swirls in the midst of pale pages
as thoughts tussle without wings to fly

Like flittering butterflies sentences escape,
Paragraphs part to let them through
to soar in language laden skies

I lie in wait for a painted Lady to settle but
the pink and white mind blurring thieves make
my head close its eyes before she lands

Dawn October 2013

Picture I took in Hidcote Gardens

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meningioma. Day one - diagnosis

As my fifth anniversary dawns I pause to reflect on the day the words Brain Tumour stormed into my life.

On November 17th I sat in my grey clio in Newport Wales after a community infection control strategy meeting. As I whizzed along the M4 I belted out songs with Eva Cassidy;
 I see trees of green…red roses too…
I see em bloom for me and for you….
and I think to myself…what a wonderful world…

I breezed past Mr H as he walked through the door; bye off for a run hung in the air... we normally ran together.

In bed Mr H asked me silly questions to settle my agitated mind; if you could only travel to one place in the world which one of these would  you choose; A) Africa B) America C) Italy…
but I want to go to South America, No you have to choose from these three oh mmmmm already travelled across America when I got my scholarship, seen a bit of Italy, it would have to be Africa….zzzzzzz

I cried out as a painful spasm in my lower legs woke me. My arms flapped as my head had an earthquake. My brain shook as it bounced off the sides of my skull.  I thanked God as a dark empty cloud embraced me. Silence.

Mr H’s face came into view. He was shouting wake up wake up. It was quarter past one in the morning. November 18th. On the way to hospital the cloud tried again and again to spread its darkness. I lay on a trolley as needles were poked in my arms, I trundled into a CT scanner for the first time; then a second…for more pictures….
We have seen something on your brain scans, the lady doctor told us. Mr H and I shared a shrug and raised eyebrows; best not to speak.

On the ward the neurosurgery registrar handed me a scan picture with a round thing sitting in the right side of my brain. 
He said This will have caused your seizure, it could be a primary or a secondary tumour. At the word secondary I clasped my hand to my breast thinking oh no I've got breast cancer...
He continued...In all probability it is a primary tumour but we won’t know for sure until we have removed it.
I asked him for the cold facts so he looked me in the eye and said If it is malignant you will have about 18 months to live, if benign you will live, but it will be a different life….We would like to operate today if we can, if not definitely tomorrow.

Mr H and I crumbled in each others arms behind the curtains. He drew the short straw as he went off to break the news to others...

The Neurosurgery Consultant I saw later told me that in his clinical opinion the tumour was likely to be a meningioma, a slow growing tumour of the lining covering the brain which is usually benign.

Never heard of it I said. How much hair will I loose?

Grand Canyon on my travels in 1993

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mr H; the best is yet to come

Mr H tells me everyone should have a husband like him, but not being one to lavish praise when it is openly being sought I reply, I'll put you on the market to the highest bidder then! He laughs as I deliver my new teeth whitened grin.  

Laughter is the sunshine at home, tease is a cat and mouse game we play; any hints for praise are smashed back like a ball on a bat until we run out of breath.  Its the small things that matter; when Mr H walks through the door on a cold winters evening I try to ensure there is steam on the windows! The pans are on the cooker, or on low energy days, the microwave is buzzing. When I worked long days in Wales often driving back in the dark; the sight of Mr H's steam, made me skip through the door.

Mr H and I are attached by many strings; an hour or two with binoculars dangling from our necks keeps us sane, we cannot pass a book shop and have to restrict our visits to heavenly Hay on Wye since our house already trembles underneath the weight of our books. Dancing lessons have been replaced by evenings snuggled up with a film from our DVD library. We garden and grow together and if my battery is flat I orchestrate and entertain from my deck chair.

He is a man that does, on cruises he plods off to wash and iron in the laundry and I laugh when he pulls stories out of his newly ironed shirt pockets; an argument about washing removed too soon, ladies moaning that their husband would never iron a shirt; more fool you ladies I say. Sometimes I go to stand and watch, I may even lift the iron! He carries my bags, silently proffers his arm when we reach steps, holds the door open for me to get in the car or walk through a door.

Yet we are both as stubborn as weeds pushing up through the soil, our minds clash like swords in a duel, weeks are littered with arguments but sulking is rare. Mr H has learnt to apologise even if I am wrong!  Praise comes often, Mr H is better than me. He was the first man to tell me I am beautiful, I still don't believe him. I tell him I have enriched his life!

I was able to offer a mind of support when Mr H studied for his Masters Degree, bouncing ideas around coffee shop walls, proof reading chapters. He trusts my opinion. I even got a mention in his final dissertation:
Finally I need to recognise the unique support and encouragement that has come from my special wife Dawn.  Her gentle and singular example of determination and struggle against profound challenges has made me recognise the importance of never letting go of your hopes and plans. I am indeed blessed to have someone who never stops giving so much of herself to others despite the huge losses and sacrifices she has had to endure.

Getting to know someone, soul-side and warts can be a slow business and our walk of discovery continues. Indefinitely I hope. One friend talking to another says there is someone out there for everyone. I believe that too.  I am lucky I have found my someone.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Meditation with a pen in my hand

I wag a spare finger at myself while lying with my feet up on the settee, multi tasking with one eye on the TV and two fingers and my second eye on the iPad

Write a blog post, write a blog post...

...then out of the blue (mmm ipad) the title swung in and hit me right between the eyes as I re-tweeted a brilliant article I came across from the Huffington Post on how to use writing as a meditation practice.  Take a look and give it a try:

Writing for Meditation

The author Jane Brunette describes the use of mindfulness by starting with 21 calm deep breaths as preparation for writing whatever comes into your head for the next ten minutes using the prompt 

Right Now...

Jane then advises the writer to stop and read it back out loud without criticism or question...

then go over it again and underline sentences or bits that strike or intrigue you in some way...suggesting the writer can use those areas to prompt further writing next time...

read the article in full to get the benefits Jane describes...

Writing for Meditation

This made me reflect on why I write, well scribble really. In the beginning It met an instinctive need to get the trauma of my tumour and not being able to walk, epilepsy (yeah yeah yawn, we know) onto paper and out of my head. It worked. I felt my head instantly lighten whenever my pen scratched paper...

I shall try this ten minute technique who knows what will spring out from my spongy brain and slippers...more blogs at least!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Memory Lane, Ten Thousand Books, a Taxi and Four Bananas

On the Number 63 Mum entertains me with a chirpy trip down Memory Lane, the snippets slip into the ears of the people behind us too.

...the craft shop used to be on the left but now it's on the right...I used to go to Sainsburys here and catch the bus straight back with my bags...your Dad's Cousin's Wife's family used to own the Pins and Needles shop, look on the right, oh it's closed down now...

Oh look I add when I find a chatter gap, the Gunmakers Arms is boarded up, that's where I tasted my first glass of cider and black; but my comments disappear in the back of the bus, Mum has forgotten to put her hearing aid in!

We meander along the pavements I trod on my way to and from nightclubs...

The Council House

I click my camera as once familiar sights now stop me in my tracks.

Town Hall

Meet the Floosie in the Jacuzzi!

Then the Mecanoo Library shouts it's welcome...

Inside we fly from floor to floor on sky blue escalators, each one sharing it's 1000 books.

Secret gardens lead us to the Memorial Library where grey haired books fill glass covered shelves while Shakespeare looks on bemused.

The Memorial Room has been relocated from the original Library

The  ceiling carvings mingle with the light

Mum gazes in as Shakespeare looks out

Ten floors of a thousand books make our excited legs falter so we treat ourselves to lunch amidst the Symphony Hall musicians next door.

Mums blue eyed gaze drills into mine as she says:

Let's get a Taxi home, you look tired and I am pretty worn out too; but when we get back I must buy more bananas (Mum always buys a couple of bananas for me as I nibble on one to ease the nausea when a seizure creeps in)...

I grin and suggest we go wild and buy four....

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Monumental Dive

I bend into my start position. Breathe in. Breath out. Dip my head... 

10 But...

9 Instead...

8 I throw...

7 The wet washing...

6 Across the kitchen floor...

5 As I...

4 Launch myself...

While doing a backwards body flip...

Head first ...

Into a cupboard

I may be a clumsy clump with crazy balance; but a bruised knee, broken toe (I am sure), sore head and a shoulder that refuses to work like it ought, do not stop me chuckling.

After all Charlie Chaplin said:
Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mud on my nose in the veg plot

I wander out of the back door singing along to Smooth Seventies radio station:

 ..."How happy you made me oh Mandy, Well you came and you gave without taking and I sent you away oh Mandy" I snip at my sweetcorn kernels bursting from their skin... 

(the song takes me back to a teenage holiday in Kidwelly when my sister (Mandy) and I fell in love with the camp-site band - yes all of them!!) ..."and you kissed me and stopped me from shaking and I need you today oh Mandy"...

I bend to pull courgettes from the plant which is spreading its tentacle like stalks...roasted home grown vegetables in mind for tea...

I lean forward bellowing "I'm standing on the edge of time, walked away when love was mine"... as with flailing arms I grab at the wet, slippery compost bin...still singing.."caught up in a world of uphill climbing, the...arrrgh...mud is...oooohhhhh..."

"in my eyes"

Mr H always says one thing at a time; but do I listen..Never!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Moving out of my comfort zone

I fix my eyes on the ceiling and watch as the pale blue panels sail by. My mind is far below.  

Thats it move both your legs, good; keep moving your left one 

Slowly. Slower. Don't forget to breathe

A wave like grin crosses my face as my left leg, like a flipper takes it lead from my right

Keep smiling

OK. when you are ready, deep breath in...

I inhale as I repeat Bill's mantra in my head; 
Tip your head forward, sweep your arms through the water, knees up, bring your left knee up, concentrate,  push your bum back..keep your arms forward. Slowly I switch from lying on my back to upright. 

The bottom of the pool is now as deep as the sea, I have passed the safety of the green bollard.

 I lean forward, stretch my arms out and like a slow motion movie, switch to breast stroke. I float like a buoy it must be the extra air in my head...

Well done!

I would punch the air with delight but my arms are busy propelling me back towards the shallow end.

OK lets go again, Bill says...

...I walk on air as I hug my sense of control close to my chest and leave my comfort zone flapping in the pool...

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Team Tim & 5'O's Made it to John O Groats...with Jon

Well the day has arrived. The team hit the top of the UK 

As Tim says:

Well after a delightful stay at our poshest accomodation yet (a fishing and shooting hotel in the middle of the lochs and moors of northern Scotland) we set off in good spirits for our last journey on our trusty bikes.

It was a lovely quiet run following a river down to the sea. 20 miles or so of gentle downhill. Perfect except for the odd light shower.

Coffee and cake awaited as usual and then we were on our way again.

Next stop Thurso. Now being on the coast you might think it would be flat but the next 30 miles were a series of long climbs followed by great runs back to the sea. And so remote with stunning views over to Orkmey.

Lunch in Thurso and then a basically flat 20 miles to the end at a pretty rapid speed.

Jane and asked for sunshine and that's what we got together with the wind on our backs. We couldn't have asked for more!!

So at around 4pm and we think about 1050 miles the end was reached

Jon made it all the way!!

Now to relax!


Friday, September 13, 2013

My sticky pal keeps me on my feet

He treads the same ground at my side
Keeps my feet on the path when I stumble
And drops to the floor when I stop

Shows the way with his black bottom
Hooks my bag when out of reach
Tells people I need to sit

His French pedigree delights passers by
He spies holes in the tarmac,
pushes strangers out of my path

He finds shimmering shells dug into sand,
as I slip in the sea when the tide trickles out
But rescues me when I resurface

I slide my hands down his shiny brown coat
Let him rest in the warmth, 
while chair backs and rails do his work

Monday, September 9, 2013

Made it to Scotland on Puncture Day!

At the moment I am blogging each day about the Bike ride as Tim and the Team feed me click on The Tab above Tims Bike Ride for a tale or two....

Whoops resonate in the hills; The Team Tim & 5 'O's are in Scotland!

The stay in Penrith in Cumbria (Lake District) made the Team smile because the B&B owner washed all their kit and dried their shoes plus the local pub served very healthy meals. Two friends from Tim and Jane's Sardinian Holiday joined them and a good catch up ensued. They too have been affected by Brain Tumours so were keen to share in this experience.

All ready to set off for Crawford and Scotland when Tim spotted Puncture 1 for today on his front tyre. Quick change and they cycled away, the wind blowing them along a flat road. They hurtled along at 15-20 miles an hour (too fast for Tim!) but before Gretna Green Puncture 2 to Tims back tyre. But once repaired they were Welcomed to Scotland after cycling for 9 days

They now knew Tim had a tyre problem so Tim limped to coffee another record ride of 32 miles and then got to work. 

After much searching he found a tiny glass fragment embedded in his tyre which must have been causing the problem. Then just as they were about to leave Puncture 3 stopped them in their tracks, caused by another fragment of glass. So hoping that was sorted they cycled away leaving friends who'd only joined them for the morning and headed north. They followed the motorway along the old A74 all day. It was beautifully quiet and it was a constant but gentle climb.

Then Puncture 4 but this time for Andrew. Easy to sort as they found the metal wire sticking through his inner tube with ease. And onwards to lunch. Another lovely spread of rolls and cakes in a lay-by with a panoramic view of the hills.

With not too far to go Tim, now getting fed up had Puncture 5. But the offending fragment was quickly found and they arrived at Crawford, after 79 miles. 

Crawford Tartan
To a Truckers Stop!!!!. Jane and Lucy resorted to a wee dram to get a few winks of sleep. More about this tomorrow. 

Tim and Jane tell me the sun has been shining again and not a drop of rain. Of course it does that on the Righteous!!!

Haggis is on the breakfast menu before the Team set off for Dunoon 

More tomorrow under 'Tims Bike Ride Tab' at the top of this blog...