Friday, 26 April 2013

I can fly!

Last week Simon and I finally used his Valentines present. I got him an Airkix flying experience. It's basically where you get to fly around in a wind tunnel so you get the feel of what it's like to free fall.

It was so good to try something different!

I have to be honest, it was much harder than it looked. You go into the wind tunnel with an instructor and they basically help steer you. The windspeed is 100mph and it is really noisy so at first I found it a little hard to concentrate. You have to maintain this perfect body position in order for the wind to maintain you otherwise you start veering off. Simon really enjoyed it too! He struggled with the body position too but particularly his legs. At first he looked like he was drowning bless him.

But like I said it was so fun to try something different and if we are in the Milton Keynes area another time we would definitely have another go!!!

It's now given me a taster of what it's like to sky dive and I won't lie, I'd like to try it one day!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Out of the blue Hodgepodge!

This Hodgepodge comes from a very sunny England. It makes me happy and long may it continue!

1. April showers bring May flowers...what have you been showered with this month?

I feel like I am going to jinx it but April has been a really good month in terms of weather! There have been more sunny days than rainy ones and I am embracing it.

2. What is the nature of compassion?  Is it learned or innate?  Can compassion belearned?  If you're a parent is this something you've purposely sought to instill in your children, and if so how?

I would have to say it is more learned. I grew up with parents who taught me that not everything is sunshine and roses. I learnt about death, illness and grief at quite a young age. I guess I learned how to become compassionate. In saying that I think some people are more compassionate than others, but I still think that's a learned response than an innate one.

3. Do you prefer to watch romantic comedy or romantic drama...or are you rolling your eyes saying bring on the action flicks?

I really like both! I am a romantic at heart but I would say I prefer romantic drama a little more. I think some romantic comedies are a little too cheesy and off the beat with reality.

4.  It's April which means baseball season is officially upon us here in the US of A. Humphrey Bogart is quoted as saying "A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz." Agree or Disagree?

I don't think I can comment on that since I have never been to a baseball game. But if I am honest I would go for roast beef anywhere in the world over a hot dog.

5. What's something in your community or city that needs fixing or improving?

The potholes need doing, they're everywhere from the cold weather we had this winter. In a more serious sense I think my area needs a more stimulating environment for kids. There's too much louting around. I drive home some nights and see kids hanging out on street corners- surely they have something better to do? But then I think there is actually nothing for them to do!

6. Share a song you enjoy that mentions flowers or a specific flower in its title.

The first song that comes to my head is 'I wish I was a punk rocker (with flowers in my hair) by Sandi Thom. This song came over the radio on my first ever drive by myself after I lost my 'L' plates. They were good times and I think this song speaks A LOT of truth. Don't you agree?

7. April 22nd is Earth you believe there's life on other planets?  That wasn't the question you were expecting was it? 

I believe in life such a vegetation and water on other planets. But I don't believe there is actual human life or aliens out in space.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

When hodgepodge comes back around next week my little nephew would have turned one years old! He has a first birthday party with his little friends this Saturday. He really is growing too quickly for my liking! Also, I completed the couch to 5k challenge and can now run for 30 minutes non stop. This is a huge achievement for me! I am not going to build on it to run for an hour. Wish me luck!

Friday, 19 April 2013

30 minutes

I can now run for a full 30 minutes.

I remember publishing this post 4 weeks ago and I am so happy I reached my target 4 weeks later!

This is huge for me, considering 2 months ago I really struggled to run for 2 minutes! The couch to 5k challenge has done wonders for me. I have been able to fit it in my own time but its still kept me motivated, even on the runs I felt like giving up on.

I never thought I would say this but I really look forward to running now. I will never be a pro-runner with all the expensive gear and I doubt I will ever run a full marathon. But I am halfway there to running my 10k in October. I have had a few people ask me if I have lost weight with the running plan and if I feel fitter?

No I have not lost a lot of weight with the plan. Maybe a couple of pounds? But in truth I hardly ever weigh myself so I can't be truthful of that. I am one of these people who feels that if the trousers don't fit/feel tighter then I have to reduce my food intake. However, I do feel a lot fitter and I have definitely toned. When I started the running plan my running trousers stuck quite tightly to my body but now they flap around. I don't feel as frumpy anymore that's for sure! In hindsight I wish I had measured my waist, hips and thighs to see there has been any loss there. One of the physios at work explained to me that when you tone you don't necessarily lose weight at the same time. So that's a plus right?

I just feel a lot more confident now and feel that I can incorporate running into my life in a much more positive way. It's also another thing I can tick off my 101 bucket list. If you have ever wanted to be more of a better runner or take something new up then download the couch to 5k podcasts. They're free and they're brilliant! I cannot recommend them enough.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge 17/4

Hello everyone, it's that time of the week again!
1. April 15th is the deadline for Americans to file their state and federal income tax returns.  What’s a job you do on a regular basis that could be described as ‘taxing’? 
Audits! Every month at work we have to do audits on so many things. I am currently doing a pain audit on 50 random patients my work have looked after. Trawling through massive notes to look for answers is very very taxing!
2. I’m participating in the April A-Z blog challenge, and the Hodgepodge happens to fall on Day O this week. In keeping with that theme…olives, onions, oysters, okra…of the foods mentioned, what’s your favorite O food?
I think I would have to say onions but olives a close second. I don't like oysters but have always wanted to try okra.
3.  What is something memorable you experienced as a child that your own children (or future children/nieces/nephews) will not get to experience? 
When I was little I loved buying a film on VHS. Even though I prefer DVD's (as they're more compact and easier to use). I still loved walking into a shop or video store when I was little to rent/buy a film.
4. Term limits for our elected officials…your thoughts? 
Yes, definitely. I think we have seen what can happen if people are in power too long. It's good to have change. 
5. On April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere made his famous ‘midnight ride’…when did you last make a midnight ride?  Perhaps the fate of a nation wasn’t hanging in the balance, but tell us where you were headed anyway.
I have never heard of this guy or story but I am assuming he was some sort of messenger to warn people of their fates/bad news? The last late night night ride I took was probably a couple of years ago. Where I had got in from a night out and my friends and I were starving. We went in search of food but at 3am nowhere was open, so we ended up having waffles from the the freezer!
6.  What would freak you out more…a mouse running across your floor or a big fat hairy spider? 
The spider. 
7. I love it when people ask me________________________?
I do like it when people ask why went into the nursing profession. I want to be a positive advocate for it. Also, I liked being asked where I am going on holiday this year. It puts me in an excitable holiday mood. 
8.  Insert your own random thought here. 
There are so many things playing on my mind at the moment, particularly stemming from the news. I am still so saddened about the Boston marathon bombings- it's just crazy and such a waste! The earthquakes in the middle east that occurred yesterday too. Today is quite a divisive day in the UK as a previous prime minister - Margaret Thatcher - is having her ceremonial funeral (even if I wasn't her biggest fan!) I think this week has taught me that nothing is a given.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Summer I'm coming to get you!

This weekend it reached 19 degrees where I lived. I know some places have it hotter and many places have it much colder but I was in my element. The sun was out properly for the first time this year. People were smiling when you looked at them in the street. The ice cream man was outside!!!

I detest winter, cold and dampness. It's depressing and puts me in a slump. I don't mind it the first couple of weeks once the clocks go back as I find the early evenings a little cosy. But by November I am fed up and longing for summer, lighter evenings and BBQ's back.

I have so much to look forward to this summer, despite whether or not the weather wants to co-operate.

Firstly this little guy turns one in 2 weeks!!! Don't get me started at my disbelief that he has reached his first birthday already. I bought Cohen a paddling pool and I sure hope the sun peeks out for him to enjoy it. He loves playing with water and being outside. He enjoyed his first bike ride yesterday with Daddy!

Next month I will be having my first BBQ of the summer. BBQ's to me mean summer. I have nothing but fun memories of having BBQ's every Sunday in the summer time when I was little. Simon and I have invited some friends over to share in it - so sunshine you listening?

In June we are finally off to Florida (52 days to be exact!) which is known as the sunshine state! So I sure hope it lives up to it's nickname. We're so excited to get away and enjoy ourselves at Disneyworld, Miami and the Florida Keys. Also, at the end of June I have arranged a ward day out to my local theme park with my colleagues. It'll be fun to let our hair down and enjoy ourselves as work has been so stressful lately. 

In July Simon goes away on a stag do and I am hoping to have a girly weekend away with my friend Lotte. We're thinking Paris or maybe afternoon tea and a show in London. Can't decide! It's also a crazy busy month for birthdays too.

August is a hectic one too but I really want the sun to shine for two very special reasons. On August 11th it is my sister's hen do. For the sake of keeping Nicola completely out of the know I am not going to share our plans but her best friend Carly has done so well and I am excited to dress up (hint there!) We're then heading to Dublin, Ireland, on the bank holiday weekend to attend one of Simon's best friends wedding. He is one of the groomsmen. We're really looking forward to seeing a new city and witnessing our friends getting married. 

I've never been to Ireland before and I hope it's the luck of the Irish in making it a beautiful summers day for Jaimie and Nathan!

In September it is Simon's birthday which I am sure I'll arrange a surprise for but then in October it will be the icing on the cake attending my sisters wedding in Cyprus. I'll be one of her bridesmaids and plus it'll also be another holiday and place I have never visited before. 

May this be the summer of summers!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Our Stories

One of the things I really struggle with as a nurse is death. I hate it when a patient of mine passes away- who does? I have met fellow nurses who have said that they find death an easier process to nurse each time they encounter it. I think I am the opposite. I never shy away from nursing a palliative patient but I doubt I will ever find a part of caring for the dying easy to deal with or accept.

Last year I met a lovely young lady called 'Robin' in her 40s who passed away of cancer. I got to know her and her beautiful family. She told me her life story and testimony. She talked about how she wanted her kids to grow up proud of her. I was totally swept away with her words, outlook and positive nature. I just forgot she was dying and everyday I hoped she got less sick because I didn't want her to leave. Since Robin passed away I have cared for other palliative patients and still been just as taken with them and just as crushed when they took their last breaths.

Then just this week another patient of mine died of cancer. I'll call her 'M'. She was in her 80s but that was besides the point. It was only her and her husband. They had no kids or close relatives. A few friendly neighbours but they lived for each other. For the last 60 years it had been just them. Over the two weeks I cared for her I learnt about her husbands proposal in a tree house, her three devastating miscarriages and how they have always dreamed of living by the seaside. The sicker she got the more I feared about her husband being alone. I just hated the thought of him living without her. I know it must have been a million times worse for them but one day last week I asked her how he would cope. And her answer blew me away.

"He'll just have to start a new story"

She meant that he would have to start a new chapter in his life. She explained that just because she wouldn't make it to the summer didn't mean that his life ended too. As heartbreaking as it was for them she knew he would carry on eventually. And then she asked me how I felt...about her dying. I'll admit I was a little out of my comfort zone. I know how to nurse a palliative person but to say out loud that I don't like it, that I find it sad and unfair and cruel was a little hard. But then I said that I always find it a privilege because it's in cases like hers that I feel I really get to know someone. I get to know their life, families and their beliefs. It isn't like a surgical patient that stays in for a couple of days and then goes home...alive. The best bit is learning about their story and really...I mean really getting to know them. I had the best conversation with her this week and I learnt this, as silly as it seems and as obvious it takes someone to know.

When I meet a patient I don't just meet a person. I am introduced to someone who has a thousand stories to tell. Every single normal person has an awesome story to tell. Just like 'M' did in telling me about how her husband proposed to her in a tree house whilst they had a picnic because it was raining outside in the field. We may all think that we're boring and lead unremarkable lives.

But we don't.

Yes we may not be famous, win massive awards or get ourselves known in the Guiness book of records. But the honest truth is we all do something that is incredible in our lives, we all do something worthy to other people and something we should be really proud of. I think a lot of us forget that. I know I do. One of the things 'M' said was that ordinary people don't celebrate themselves enough. Teachers don't celebrate the fact that they stimulate peoples mind to learn, explore and help them find out what they want to become in life. Healthcare workers don't celebrate that their equipped to save lives. Accountants don't celebrate that they can get people out of financial ruin. Parents don't celebrate enough that they do the best they can for their kids. The list could go on and on and on....

Yesterday 'M's husband came to collect her death certificate. He looked bereft. You could tell he was utterly lost without her and the nursing teams heart broke even more. But 'M' did leave him one last message on a note stashed away in her glasses case.

'Thank you for being the story of my life. Now carry on your story as you still have one to tell.'

It's people like 'M' that fascinate me. She's been on my mind so much that I have brought tears home. It's people like her who have left me thinking, even though they have gone. I miss her. I wish I knew her throughout all her life, and not just at the end so I could have heard many more of her thousand stories.

We all have a story. What's yours?

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge- returns!

I'm pleased Hodgepodge is back. I hope everyone had a nice Easter break! If you want to take part then answers these questions and link back to Joyce's blog by clicking the button below.

1. Share one fun thing you did last week, while the Hodgepodge was on 'spring break'.

I went and saw Matilda the Musical in London for the third time. It was awesome to catch up with my friends who I met through blogging, Ruth and Laura Anne. 

2.  April 10th is National Sibling you have siblings, and if so are you close? Share a favorite story featuring one or all of your siblings. If you don't have siblings, did you ever wish you did?

I am the second eldest out of four. I have two sisters and one brother. I would not say I am really close to them but I am close to them each individually in a different way. I always say I could kill them some days but I would kill to have them in my life always. One of my favourite 'close' moments with my younger sister Rachael really sticks in my mind. I'll never EVER forget when we were little (aged around 9 & 7) we went to this soft play which, to us at the time, had the longest and darkest slide. Just before we went down together she said she was scared so I said to her "sit on my lap and we'll make this the best day of our lives". The whole way down she gripped my hand and at the bottom said "you're right this has been the best day of my life" and proceeded to go down the slide alone the whole time we were there. I'll always remember that has been, to this day, the only time Rachael has held my hand...and the only time she has told me I am right on anything.

Rachael, Me, Philip and Nicola

3. Is it important to you to 'buy American'? Why or why not? How much of an effort do you make to 'buy American'? If you're not American, insert your own country in the blank. 

I have to be totally honest and say I don't understand this question. I'm British but I don't know what it means to 'buy British' sorry!

4. Besides The Bible, what book has impacted your spirituality in some way?

I am not really a spiritual person at all and I have never read the Bible either. I did read an amazing book called 'Same Kind of Different As Me' which was written by two Christians. It impacted me because 1) I understood more about the Christian faith (which made me less judgemental of religion). And 2) It made me see that miracles can happen (just not in the way we expect sometimes).

5. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes.  Do you find rainy days calming or depressing?  When were you last caught in a rainstorm? What's blooming in your neck of the woods today?

The odd rainy day is nice. I love the smells it brings so it makes things seem a little calmer. If it's a string of rainy days then the rain can go away- that's depressing!!! I was last caught in a rainstorm in Rome 2 years ago. I have to say it was the most beautiful rainstorm I have ever been happy to run in. 

6. What's your favorite yellow food?

ooo I love yellow! It's my favourite colour. I'd have to say yellow peppers and Mango! YUM!

7. April is National Poetry Month...what's a poem that holds special meaning for you, and why is it special?

I would have to In Flanders Field by John McCrae really stands out. Only because I think it is so beautifully written and the dedication behind it has a lot of meaning personally and also worldwide. On Remembrance day at school we had to read it out just before we did our 2 minute silence for the fallen.  The older I have become the more significant it is. 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Iron Lady

I found out the sad news that Baroness Thatcher had passed away today. I think I found out the news much later than others because when I mentioned it to people, everyone seemed to know.

The news of anyone passing away is very sad, even if there is ill-feeling.

However, I was shocked and appalled at some of the posts on social websites and tweets about Margaret Thatcher's death. I just feel that whether people liked her or not to celebrate or rejoice in someone's death is disgraceful. I even saw some people comparing her to Hitler? How hideous! Yes, I did not agree with a lot of the policies I learnt about during her time as Prime-minister. In fact I would go as far to say that I think she led the UK poorly.

But that's not the point here.

I feel for her poor family and loved ones. To grieve a national figure cannot be easy and grief is already a hard journey to navigate as it is. Lets not forget she was the longest serving post war Prime Minister and re-elected for THREE terms. I think that's outstanding! There are some people who clearly admired her strength and I felt she certainly had the courage of her convictions. Regardless of whether Tom, Dick or Harry agreed with her, she stood up for what she believed in and isn't that what we are brought up to do- or at least try to?

Today is a sad day for British history and politics, may she have a strong legacy for people to look up to.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

One door closes, another one opens.

I really do have total faith that when one chapter closes in our lives a new one is ready to begin. We just have to be willing to travel the first page.

Today Simon started his new job. Since the end of last year he been in a bit of a defunct in his old position. He had lost the passion for what he was doing and felt under a lot of pressure. I completely knew how he felt, since this time last year I felt exactly the same way! The only difference was that there were quite a few jobs out there as a nurse for me. For Simon, as a marketing professional in Golf, the jobs were very very limited.

For the last couple of months he has been to many interviews. Some he was very hopeful about and others he was let down by. But the more he tried the more I had belief that he would find something that suited him.

And at the beginning of March he did it. He's now the marketing sales director for not only golf, but in charge of sales for a hotel complex, a race course and weddings/events. It's a real step up and I am BEYOND PROUD of him.

I just got off the phone from him after his first day. It was so good to hear the excitement in his voice again. Well done Si! You're living proof that perseverance pays off and that by not giving up you were able to close one door and open a whole new world of possibilities.

You did it!

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