social spark Aisling Beatha: 2019

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Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

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Saturday, August 03, 2019

50 things To Do Before My 50th Birthday - 18 months to go Update

The latest on my list of 50 Things to do Before I Turn 50.  This is the state of play at the start of August 2019.

DONE (or about to be done)
1. Lose 10 lbs
No explanation needed, except to say that since the start of the summer I have already lost 4 st 8 lbs, which is 64 lbs or 29kg.  This is for extra weight lost from that point.

2. Lose 20 lbs

3. Lose 30 lbs 

4. Lose 40 lbs

5. Lose 50 lbs  My total loss so far is 8 st 2 lbs, which is 114 lbs or 51.7 kg.  114 minus 64 = 50!!!!!!


12. Visit Amsterdam (THIS entry was changed due to the protests happening in Paris, which is what it originally said).
We visited Amsterdam for our 25th Wedding anniversary earlier this year.

18. Visit a waterfall
We did this.  Made the mistake of going on the first hot bank holiday (public holiday) of the year, so it was packed.  If you don't know the area there is a 4 mile road up to the falls which is single track with the occasional passing bay, most of the way.  It felt like everyone and their brother had decided to visit by the time we left and were heading back down the road the other way.  Scary.

BUT I absolutely loved the falls, and will definitely go again.
Pistyll Rhaeadr Falls - The tallest waterfall in Wales


19. Eat fish and Chips on the sea front and don’t worry about the weight watchers points


25. Plan and enact 25th Wedding anniversary celebration (it falls within the 3 years)
See point 12 above.

27. Go Horse Riding   
I've been and done this once and would love to do more, but the cost involved is so high I'm not sure how to make it work regularly.  My instructor on the day I went said she could not believe I have not ridden since I was 11 or 12.





28. Walk/Run a 5k  
I started park run on New Years Day and have run over 10 times, volunteering 3 times, with a current PB of 31:19.

29. Walk/Run a 10k


I ran a Race For Life 10K, just a few weeks ago and am regularly running way more than 10K in training runs for the Half Marathon I'm booked for in October.  Yes,ME!  I'm going  to be running a half marathon.  That wasn't even in the very extremes of my thoughts when I made this list.

38. Eat something you think you won’t like   
I don't remember where we were but hubby had piccalilli on his plate when we were out for lunch one day.  I said "Eugh, I don't like that.  Well, actually I don't know that I have ever tried it, or if I just convinced myself I wouldn't like it." and well once that was out of my mouth, I had to, and guess what . . . . . IT WAS OK and now we have a jar of it in the fridge.

41. Wild Swim? My friend, Sue Austin met me at a local lake that allows swimming last summer. I had the absolutely best time.  Sue had to keep reminding me to breathe while we were swimming.  There's loads of pond weed in the lake and the weirdest part was that feeling on my legs.  It felt like it should be the start of a Dr Who episode.  THANK YOU Sue.




43. Walk a Labyrinth 
We walked the huge labyrinth in Milton Keynes when we were there for our anniversary earlier this year.  We hadn't expected it to take so long when we started, but that thing is AROUND 1km!  That's one huge labyrinth.


45. Watch a sunrise from the top of a hill.  
Changing this to add - OR A SUNSET
Which means it actually now fits in the done list as we climbed the Wrekin the day after midsummer to watch the sunset.


SUMMARY - I've knocked 16 off the list, with 34 left to go and that means I am well behind timewise, as I now have a year and a half to go!

MAIN LIST
6. Reach Goal Weight (which is another few lbs beyond the 50lb mark)
My eventual goal weight is to reach the top of a healthy weight range or my height, by all the usual charts. That means losing a total of 8 stone 11 pounds (including  that which  had already been lost when this list was  written), which is 123 lbs, or 55.8kg.
At the date of writing this post, I have lost 8 stone 2 pounds, with just 9 pounds to go.

7. Discover how to move through the world as a woman of healthy weight.  Seriously, I’ve never done that as an adult.

8. Hand back CPAP machine because I don’t need it anymore. (I can dream can’t I?)
I have Sleep Apnoea, (sleep apnea for Americans) and use a CPAP machine at night in order to function as a human being during the day. 
Every CPAP clinic appointment until 2017 has come with a request for me to lose weight and the questions about what I am doing towards that goal. To be able to hand that machine back would be an incredible achievement, which may never happen, even if I lose all the weight, but like I said, I can dream, can't I?  My appt in 2019 came with a very shocked nurse who came into the waiting room to call me and did a double take because she couldn't quite believe it.

9. Have a professional photo session with hair and makeover
If I reach goal weight, I think that will deserve a full on makeover and photo shoot.

10. Move eldest son into a permanent home of his own
He's currently working as a kind of intern with a Christian performing arts ministry and still has a room here at home.  It would be a big deal for him to move on from there and into a home of his own.

11. Visit Keil Hill in Scotland



Family will understand why.

13. See Dana again (either me there, or her here)
Dana is the friend I stayed with when I travelled to America some years ago.

14. See the Northern Lights (or should this be a bucket list item?)
At certain times of the year and in the right weather conditions it is possible to see the Northern Lights from Scotland or even Northern England, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a bucket list item.

15. Watch a Meteor shower

16. Complete a 25km hike in one day
Easily combined with one of the other items on this list, probably a National Parks visit.  We already did over 18km on one day when we walked the full circuit at Lake Vrynwy, so I know it's do-able.

17. Stay in a really unusual hotel or other holiday accommodation
There are all sorts of incredible places to stay, even in the UK.  Check out a few of these:







20. Climb Cader Idris   adding or Snowdon



21. Walk the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge


22. Visit all 15 UK National Parks
So far we have only done Snowdonia and the Peak District, so we need to work on knocking some more of these off.  Maybe I can find a parkrun to do in each of them . . . .

23. Attend a grown up music festival
Unless I do manage to hand back my CPAP machine camping is currently out of the question so it will be a day visit rather than a stay, and I'm thinking about something like Bearded Theory, or Moseley Jazz.

24. Learn some basic BSL – at least enough to be able to say something like “I only understand a little, but can I help?”

I am signed up to an online course but haven't actually done any work towards it, oooops.



26. Get a small tattoo   
I have some temporary tattoos in different sizes of the design I want.  I just have to figure out when to get it done in relation to the races I have booked and what size to get it done.  I know I might need to change it to a simpler font in order for it to be clear when placed across my calf.

30. Move House   

31. Get a Dog (rescue)We always had dogs growing up and since I left home I've not had one, it's something we definitely want to get back into.  

32. Complete every lesson in a year long online art class. (By “complete” I mean at least engage with the lesson in some way and make an attempt to do something with it)
I signed up for Lifebook in 2018.  I'm did OK, until about September and then I got off track but the classes are all still there and I will be going back and working on them at some point.


33. Sell a piece of art work   
Anyone want to buy anything you have seen me share on Instagram or Facebook?

34. Create and Maintain a weekly letter writing practise
I'm thinking about treating myself to The Letter Writers Complete Resource from The Postman's Knock to get myself started.
ooooooooops, yeah, this one isn't going so well . . . . . .


35. Read 50 books (see separate list eventually
Books I have read so far
Books I am hoping to read

36. Take an IRL cooking class   
To do this close to home would mean doing the classes that Mukasse Afro Caribbean foods sometimes put on or going to one of the classes at Brompton cookery school.  Although my dream would be to do one of the bread courses at River Cottage.

37. Bake a rainbow unicorn cake   



39. Celebrate one of my birthdays with a day of RAK events (Random Acts of Kindness)   

40. Spend a whole weekend technology free – (still need to remain contactable in emergencies, BUT, no phone, no computer, no internet, no TV, etc)   

42. Picnic under the stars

44. Learn to identify some of the trees we see on our walks, other than the very basics that most people know.
We picked up a book and just have to remember to take  it with us on our walks.

46. Join (or start up) a Stitch and Bitch or a Knit and Natter group.

47. Make more crafty gifts. 
A conversation from last year and something that happened this week made me realise that you never know the impact those gits have, especially when they are made and chosen with care and intention.

48. Go whale/dolphin watching (preferably off the coast of Wales).

49. Attend a live sporting event.
Hmmmm, does TAKING PART in a major half marathon count?

50. Attend a ball or other formal event in a kick ass gown even if I have to sew it myself.  



Although there is no way my sewing skills are up to a dress like that!

Pin It

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Weight Loss as a Spiritual Journey

Since July 2017 I have lost 7 1/2 stone in weight (105lbs for my American readers).



Me in January 2019.


Me at nowhere near even my heaviest weight.

You can see from those images that this has been a big journey physically, but I want to talk about how it has also been a spiritual journey.

Where do I start? Growing up I was always on the big size. In my teens I slimmed out a bit and was probably a UK size 14/16 by the time I met my husband. Within 6 months I was pregnant and the weight began to pile on.  I cannot blame pregnancy at all as I weighed far heavier in the end than I did the day after giving birth to either of our 2 sons.

At various points over the years I lost some and then put even more back on. Around 15 years ago I started to have serious problems with energy levels. By 13 years ago I was convinced that I had sleep apnoea but it took me another 3 years after that to get doctors to take me seriously and give me a sleep study. I was finally diagnosed in November 2008 and got my CPAP machine in January 2009.  I was convinced that this would be the thing that I needed to give me back my energy and help me lose that weight.

errmmmmm.......

welll . . . . .

No!

In fact I put on even more weight.  At every sleep apnoea clinic appointment the nurse practitioner would ask about my weight and what I was doing about it, and push me to do something.

In January 2016 I was told that my weight was such an issue with my sleep apnoea (my sleep apnoea numbers were horrendous, making my case a really severe one) that they wanted me to have weight loss surgery.  I have nothing against anyone who would do that but it is not something I would ever be willing to do myself, for various reasons, so I said "no".  The nurse responded with offering me a deal.  She would give me until my next appointment at clinic (June 2017) to make a serious difference to my weight or they would want me to sign up for the weight loss surgery.

I came away from that appointment convinced that I would do it this time, I would lose the weight, and well, I lasted all of 10 days before going back to all my previous bad habits. Over the intervening 17 months my weight went up and down, but by June 2017 and my next sleep apnoea clinic appointment I was more or less exactly the same weight I had been at that previous appointment.


Before I talk about that appointment, let me backtrack a bit to the Spring of 2017.


In Spring 2017 I was blessed by a friend who paid for me to go on a Fatherheart week at a gorgeous country house not too far from our home.  While I don't now agree with all the concepts in the Father Heart movement, the one big thing I came away from that week with is the Very Real, internalised belief that I am LOVED. No matter what I do, no matter how big I am, or how small I am, I AM LOVED by God/Love/The Universe.  That I do not have to do anything to earn it, it is mine, and it will always be mine, just the way I am.

A few weeks later I came to the "realisation" that I was never going to be able to change my weight and that I was just going to live as healthily as I could at that weight, soooooo I actually went through my wardrobe and GAVE AWAY all those "skinny clothes" that I had been keeping and saving. Yeah, knowing where I am at now, this seems almost laughable, right? All those clothes would have come in so useful over the last 18 months or so, but I actually think this clear out was an important part of the spiritual journey that is this weight loss.  You see, by throwing out all those clothes from previous failed attempts to lose this weight, I somehow broke the guilt or connection with those attempts being FAILED ones.  They weren't sitting in my wardrobe taunting me anymore.


Back to June 2017 and the sleep apnoea clinic appointment.  I knew my weight was more or less exactly the same  as it had been at the previous one, and I also remembered very well the deal I had been offered, so I went expecting a very difficult appointment.  I still wasn't willing to take on weight loss surgery so I was expecting an intense disagreement.

I went in to that appointment and the issue of the weight loss surgery was not mentioned even once.  In fact it was not even hinted at.  I came out of the hospital and sat down on a bench asking myself  "What on earth just happened?"  I realised that I had been given a second chance to do this on my terms.  I came home and joined weight watchers online that evening.

In looking back over all my previous attempts I also came to a big decision. I am going to have to track what I eat for the rest of my life. Whether that be through weight watchers or some other system, I am never going to not need to track and I made the decision to be OK with that. Some people can manage to maintain a healthy weight without tracking and that is great, but I am OK with knowing this is going to be my life.

I took up walking, started adding gym visits to my swimming sessions, and as the weight began to drop I also took up hiking and eventually on New Years Day 2019 I started ParkRun. I continued as an online only WW member until January 2019 by which time I realised I needed some extra help and so I joined my local WW studio. I've been to 2 workshops now and I love it.  I know this is going to get me the rest of the way to goal.
Will I get to hand the cpap machine back at the end of all this? Maybe, maybe not. I know of people who have lost weight and done so, but I also know of people who are not that overweight at all and have been told they will always need their machine.

So to summarise why I consider this a spiritual journey.
1. I knew that I was loved by God.  That He/She/They would always love me, no matter what my size is.
2. I broke the guilt connection with previous failed attempts.
3. I got given a second chance.
4. I accepted I will always have to track in some way even after I reach goal and I am truly OK with that.

Please, if you have any questions, ask in a comment.

50 b4 50 - Update Feb 2019

A further update on my list of 50 Things to do Before I Turn 50.

DONE (or about to be done)
1. Lose 10 lbs
No explanation needed, except to say that since the start of the summer I have already lost 4 st 8 lbs, which is 64 lbs or 29kg.  This is for extra weight lost from that point.

2. Lose 20 lbs

3. Lose 30 lbs 

4. Lose 40 lbs
I hit this before Christmas, then went backwards and finally got back to it the day before writing this post.


12. Visit Amsterdam (THIS entry has been changed due to the current protests happening in Paris, which is what it originally said).
We will be visiting Amsterdam for our 25th wedding anniversary.

18. Visit a waterfall
We did this.  Made the mistake of going on the first hot bank holiday (public holiday) of the year, so it was packed.  If you don't know the area there is a 4 mile road up to the falls which is single track with the occasional passing bay, most of the way.  It felt like everyone and their brother had decided to visit by the time we left and were heading back down the road the other way.  Scary.

BUT I absolutely loved the falls, and will definitely go again.
Pistyll Rhaeadr Falls - The tallest waterfall in Wales


19. Eat fish and Chips on the sea front and don’t worry about the weight watchers points


25. Plan and enact 25th Wedding anniversary celebration (it falls within the 3 years)
See point 12 above, this is happening in the next month and I am so excited.  Yes it will be cold, but I am Soooooo looking forward to it. Don't know how my weight will be by the end of that week, but we shall see and I'm willing to take whatever hit I end up with.


27. Go Horse Riding   
I've been and done this once and would love to do more, but the cost involved is so high I'm not sure how to make it work regularly.  My instructor on the day I went said she could not believe I have not ridden since I was 11 or 12.




28. Walk/Run a 5k  
I started park run on New Years Day and have done 2 more since.  I had to miss the last few weeks but I'm hoping the weather will be dry enough at least one of the weeks between now and our trip to Amsterdam so I can fit another one in before we go.



38. Eat something you think you won’t like   
I don't remember where we were but hubby had piccalilli on his plate when we were out for lunch one day.  I said "Eugh, I don't like that.  Well, actually I don't know that I have ever tried it, or if I just convinced myself I wouldn't like it." and well once that was out of my mouth, I had to, and guess what . . . . . IT WAS OK and now we have a jar of it in the fridge.

41. Wild Swim? My friend, Sue Austin met me at a local lake that allows swimming last summer. I had the absolutely best time.  Sue had to keep reminding me to breathe while we were swimming.  There's loads of pond weed in the lake and the weirdest part was that feeling on my legs.  It felt like it should be the start of a Dr Who episode.  THANK YOU Sue.



43. Walk a Labyrinth 
We walked the huge labyrinth in Milton Keynes when we were there for our anniversary earlier this year.  We hadn't expected it to take so long when we started, but that thing is AROUND 1km!  That's one huge labyrinth.


45. Watch a sunrise from the top of a hill.  
Changing this to add - OR A SUNSET
Which means it actually now fits in the done list as we climbed the Wrekin the day after midsummer to watch the sunset.


SUMMARY - I've knocked 14 off the list, with 36 left to go and that means I am well behind timewise, as I now have less than 2 years left!

MAIN LIST
5. Lose 50 lbs

6. Reach Goal Weight (which is another few lbs beyond the 50lb mark)
My eventual goal weight is to reach the top of a healthy weight range or my height, by all the usual charts. That means losing another 4 st 2 lbs, or 58l bs, 26.3kg. I might decide to stop before I get there, but we'll see.

7. Discover how to move through the world as a woman of healthy weight.  Seriously, I’ve never done that as an adult.

8. Hand back CPAP machine because I don’t need it anymore. (I can dream can’t I?)
I have Sleep Apnoea, (sleep apnea for Americans) and use a CPAP machine at night in order to function as a human being during the day. 
Every CPAP clinic appointment until now has come with a request for me to lose weight and the questions about what I am doing towards that goal. To be able to hand that machine back would be an incredible achievement, which may never happen, even if I lose all the weight, but like I said, I can dream, can't I?

9. Have a professional photo session with hair and makeover
If I reach goal weight, I will have lost over 8 1/2 stone, which is 119 lbs or 54kg, I think that will deserve a full on makeover and photo shoot.

10. Move eldest son into a permanent home of his own
He's currently working as a kind of intern with a Christian performing arts ministry and still has a room here at home.  It would be a big deal for him to move on from there and into a home of his own.

11. Visit Keil Hill in Scotland


Family will understand why.

13. See Dana again (either me there, or her here)
Dana is the friend I stayed with when I travelled to America some years ago.

14. See the Northern Lights (or should this be a bucket list item?)
At certain times of the year and in the right weather conditions it is possible to see the Northern Lights from Scotland or even Northern England, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a bucket list item.

15. Watch a Meteor shower


16. Complete a 25km hike in one day
Easily combined with one of the other items on this list, probably a National Parks visit.  We already did over 18km on one day when we walked the full circuit at Lake Vrynwy, so I know it's do-able.

17. Stay in a really unusual hotel or other holiday accommodation
There are all sorts of incredible places to stay, even in the UK.  Check out a few of these:







20. Climb Cader Idris   adding or Snowdon



21. Walk the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge


22. Visit all 15 UK National Parks
So far we have only done Snowdonia and the Peak District, so we need to work on knocking some more of these off.

23. Attend a grown up music festival
Unless I do manage to hand back my CPAP machine camping is currently out of the question so it will be a day visit rather than a stay, and I'm thinking about something like Bearded Theory, or Moseley Jazz.

24. Learn some basic BSL – at least enough to be able to say something like “I only understand a little, but can I help?”

I am signed up to an online course but haven't actually done any work towards it, oooops.


26. Get a small tattoo   
I'm thinking about getting some custom temporary tattoos in slightly different sizes of the design I'm thinking of to try it out and figure out what size works.

29. Walk/Run a 10k
I'll be honest that while the 5k seems do-able to me the 10k seems much more difficult.

30. Move House   

31. Get a Dog (rescue)We always had dogs growing up and since I left home I've not had one, it's something we definitely want to get back into.  

32. Complete every lesson in a year long online art class. (By “complete” I mean at least engage with the lesson in some way and make an attempt to do something with it)
I signed up for Lifebook in 2018.  I'm did OK, until about September and then I got off track but the classes are all still there and I will be going back and working on them at some point.


33. Sell a piece of art work   
Anyone want to buy anything you have seen me share on Instagram or Facebook?

34. Create and Maintain a weekly letter writing practise
I'm thinking about treating myself to The Letter Writers Complete Resource from The Postman's Knock to get myself started.
ooooooooops, yeah, this one isn't going so well . . . . . .


35. Read 50 books (see separate list eventually
Books I have read so far
Books I am hoping to read

36. Take an IRL cooking class   
To do this close to home would mean doing the classes that Mukasse Afro Caribbean foods sometimes put on or going to one of the classes at Brompton cookery school.  Although my dream would be to do one of the bread courses at River Cottage.

37. Bake a rainbow unicorn cake   



39. Celebrate one of my birthdays with a day of RAK events (Random Acts of Kindness)   

40. Spend a whole weekend technology free – (still need to remain contactable in emergencies, BUT, no phone, no computer, no internet, no TV, etc)   

42. Picnic under the stars

44. Learn to identify some of the trees we see on our walks, other than the very basics that most people know.
We picked up a book and just have to remember to take  it with us on our walks.

46. Join (or start up) a Stitch and Bitch or a Knit and Natter group.

47. Make more crafty gifts. 
A conversation from last year and something that happened this week made me realise that you never know the impact those gits have, especially when they are made and chosen with care and intention.

48. Go whale/dolphin watching (preferably off the coast of Wales).

49. Attend a live sporting event.

50. Attend a ball or other formal event in a kick ass gown even if I have to sew it myself.  



Although there is no way my sewing skills are up to a dress like that!


Pin It


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