Je suis Charlie

The events of Wednesday remind me that there are still people who want to bend us all to their beliefs through violence and terror, who wish to obliterate free speech, who wish to impose their narrow minded dogma on the rest of the world.

I will say it straight: I do not believe in God, a god, gods, or supernatural powers of any kind. The liberal in me says that if people want to believe in a religion, that’s fine as long as they don’t harm anyone else with it. Yet, I somehow feel like I have to “tiptoe round”, not say the wrong thing, not offend, for fear of killing the sacred cow. Even if religion was banned (and I’m not into banning things per se – I’m a liberal, remember), there would still be people who react like this, whose ego cannot tolerate anyone having a different viewpoint, no room for an opinion other than theirs. For these people, religion is just a convenient vessel for this feeling of righteous indignation that they use to justify any number of atrocities.

I have values and beliefs too, you know. Although I may not believe in a deity, I do try to live a moral life. Not because a scripture tells me to, or because I fear fire and brimstone, but because my conscience tells me it is the right thing to do. These will surely come across in my writing and in conversation if you ever meet me in person. Religion is not a moral guide. However, I can be ridiculed, mocked, argued with as much as anyone dares. I don’t have a little umbrella of religion protecting my stance on issues. And that’s the way it should be. As long as nobody is instigating hatred and harm, then what’s a little criticism? It hurt your feelings? It offended you? It made you feel angry? I get that. But to kill a dozen people and terrorize an entire city? Does this seem an appropriate and measured response?

For people who still don’t get the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech, let me spell it out:

“You believe in a non-existent sky fairy and are therefore fair game to be mocked” – that is freedom of speech.

“I hate [insert religion here]. Followers of [religion] should leave our country.” – hate speech and totally unacceptable.

My heart goes out to the people killed at Charlie Hebdo and the people of Paris and supporters of freedom of speech everywhere.

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Underemployed

No word of a lie, this was the highlight of my working day. This woman was waiting in Reception for her son. There is an advert from the Holiday Shop about trips to Mexico.

So she says to me, “They shouldn’t be advertising holidays to Mexico to young people”.
“Oh,” I reply, “Well at £1704 per person they’d need to save up for a
while!”
“No, they have bodysnatchers there. Kidnap people for bodyparts.”
“Really?”
“Yes, didn’t you know?” She seemed incredulous, as if it were common knowledge that bodysnatchers lurk on every street corner in Mexico,waiting to pounce on unsuspecting teenagers and relieve them of their fresh young kidneys and livers.
“I can think of a few people I could put their way, actually,” I pondered.
Her face was a picture of horror.
“Only joking!” I said, brightly.
The woman gave a thin laugh and backed slowly away from the counter.
I then proceeded to deal with the following person, who looked like he was trying not to burst out laughing.

Wednesday is my early finish, so I logged off at 2pm. Actually it was nearly five past before the next person came to relieve me of my duties. I joked that I would start charging them overtime, but I didn’t really care as I am not back there until Monday next week. Having said that, five hours of pretending to be nice to people meant that I chose the “Pay at Pump” option at the petrol station on the way home, as I’d had enought human interaction for one day. As it turned out, I had earned enough loyalty points to earn 6p a litre off my fuel, making it £1.03 per litre. I’m gonna party like it’s 2009! 😀

Danger Zone!

I am blogging to avoid falling into the danger zone – where I have come home from work to find that the Husband is out running. Displacement activity is where it’s at. Tea is in the oven and I have a cupboard full of left over treats from Christmas. Well, they are going to work tomorrow – if they’re not in the house I can’t eat them!

Horrendous start to the day as the work car park was full and I had to drive round the block and park in the pay and display car park. Goodbye £2.50. And no, I was not late, I got to the car park at 8.05 and we don’t start work til 8.30. I finally got into work at 8.25 to hit the ground running on a reception full of people and their demands. The silver lining was I got an activity point for my walk to and from the car park. Sometimes, you just have to take what you can get 😉

Day 2 of Weight Watchers tracking. It has been easy at work, as food and drink are not allowed on the reception desk and I have been on duty all day. I took a packed lunch which also helped. I am in the business of taking lunch to work anyway to save a bit of cash, but I have replaced the crisps with an extra piece of fruit. I am afraid to say that I have ready meals in the oven as I type, but after coming home ravenous, cooking is a bad choice as so much of it will end up being eaten during the cooking process. That sounds really bad, what a pig I am! At least I know myself…

We did go out on a 5 mile walk yesterday to the local country park and back which was nice (and a free activity). It was really icy underfoot still at half past one in the afternoon when we set off. We did stop in the coffee shop for a quick brew (Americano, no sugar), and got home just as it was going dark, so a successful way of spending a Sunday afternoon. I was also able to count it as activity points, which I had planned to trade in for beer and crisps later, but didn’t in the end. Another night 🙂

Oh, and I have an update for study goals – my IAG Level 2 has been marked and I have passed it all pending verification (I will get my certificate in due course – usually months rather than weeks). The Level 3 (yes, I was studying them concurrently, long story), I have had an email from my assessor asking me to clarify something on my last assignment, which I have done and sent back to her. More will be revealed on this, I am sure.

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Such a long time since I updated this blog and so much has happened!

Since I last posted, we have moved house to be closer to Husband’s new job. After a 4 months of staying at my mum’s four nights a week and coming home at the weekend, I started a new job at the start of December. Only thing is it is part time (20 hours a week) and temporary until the end of July 2015. It is more a sideways move than anything else, but a foot in the door, and I am still looking to see what other opportunities lie ahead. After initially feeling a bit weird about not working full time, I have got over myself and rationalised that it is a career sacrifice that had to be made in order to have something resembling a home life. Meantime I intend to a) really enjoy that naughty schoolgirl feeling I have every Wednesday at 2pm when I log off for the week and b) make the best use of the other two days to job hunt and pursue whatever opportunities come my way.

It’s weird being at home during the working week. I find that the best way to use my time is to make a list of things to do and cross them off. I also like to have a morning and afternoon tea break, and a lunch break. The rest of the time I try and make sure I am doing something productive, be it housework, studying or job application related activity. Ah, yes, studying. I am coming to the end of my Level 3 Certificate in Information, Advice and Guidance, and really look forward completing this qualification. I do find myself really looking forward to Husband’s return from work, though. Maybe I should just give it all up and move to a town called Stepford – as if!!

So then – goals for January 2014. Trying to be SMART… and I will update these at least once a month.

1. Register for the local Park Run (I have already done this – a real workout for my typing fingers, let me tell you). Complete my first Park Run before the end of January.

2. Go to a local Toastmasters meeting (there is one on the 14th January) to see if it is something that I would like to pursue. I think it could be good in terms of increasing my confidence at work/job interviews and also getting to know more folks in my new area.

3. Send a Happy New Year message to my various business contacts, updating them with my new contact details and current ventures – to be completed before 8th January.

4. Complete the application for a job I am interested in (closing date is 15th January). I want to get a first draft done by 8th of Jan though so I can run it by one of my trusted advisers and revise accordingly.

5. Establish a habit of using the Weight Watchers tracker every day to log my food intake and exercise. I have invested £30 in a 3 month membership online with the longer term objective of losing 2 stone by the end of March. I did consider joining a real life group and there is a meeting on a Saturday morning in our village later on should I need additional help with this goal, but I’m going to try a DIY approach in the first instance. Husband is doing the London Marathon again and wants to try and shift some weight too, so this should help 🙂

6. Spend a couple of hours going through my professional discussion questions ahead of my SKYPE tutorial with my assessor on 15th January. Not really a goal, but I have put it on here so I can follow it up next month – keeping the accountability theme going.

7. Social – Husband’s running club have their annual festive meal this month – I will be attending as a “plus one”. I set myself the target of initiating conversations with two new people. This might sound a bit pathetic, but I am an introvert who doesn’t like big social scenes!

8. Last one – I enjoy singing and I have tracked down a couple of choirs I might like to join. I will attend a taster session before the end of January.

We did it in the end!

I did do the Lincoln 10k – it took me just over 1hr 20 minutes. Long enough, but I think I could do another 10k sometime in the future. Hubby completed the London Marathon in 6 hours 9 minutes, he was so glad to get to the end and I was so proud of him! Although it has to be said that being a marathon spectator is an endurance sport in itself – we managed to see him on mile 12 and mile 25. However, don’t replicate what happened next: three weeks later he did a half marathon (Sunday just gone) and as I type is returning from the physio – he has peroneal tendonitis and yesterday morning could barely walk, so make sure that you give your body time to recover.

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Husband now sporting K-tape – hope it helps it heal as he starts his new job tomorrow!

So near and yet so far…

Today, I thought that I would run 4 miles, but as it turned out it only made 3.99 miles… never mind, I did this in 49.00 minutes and did not have to stop and have a walk break. Quite pleased with my effort, hopefully I’ll get out in the week next week now it’s a bit lighter in the morning. This is the furthest I have run so far without stopping to walk, feel really good.

Now to hit the shower!

Appearances can be deceptive…

I understand that when people see me, they see a red-faced, middle-aged woman shuffling along the pavement, with a grimace on her face. Why bother? It looks like no fun at all, barely moving quicker than walking. I swear sometimes walkers increase their pace deliberately to challenge me to overtake (I always do, incidentally, the speed differential may be so miniscule it takes an age, but overtake I do).

I don’t look good running. I don’t run fast. I don’t even run that far. But I do it. When most (sane) people are in bed or relaxing on a Sunday morning, there I am, clawing my way up to 10k. Even when I’m having the shittiest time and feel like I am about to die, I say to myself, “I am here, and I am doing it.” It has become a mantra for those horrible runs that seem never-ending, even though I have run the same circuit dozens of times before. Not very fast, not very well and with possibly the worst attitude in the world, but I have gone to the effort of getting my trainers on, out the door and doing it.

Today was not one of those runs. Today was great, I feel all glow-y and pleased with myself having cracked the “continuous run for over 3.5 miles” barrier. Actually it was 3.55 miles, but I hate to brag… with a nice split pace of 12.18 minutes per mile. Weather was sunny but cold, windy but not as much as last week.

Only 7 weeks to the Lincoln 10k – I should do my entry now while I’m feeling positive and then there’s no getting out of it!

Back up and running

I have been going out Sunday morning since the start of the year and have now worked my way back up to 3.12 miles (approx 5k). This morning was a bit slower than last week as it was a very windy day which made running on the flat feel like running up hill!

Hubby is in training for the London Marathon at the moment, so I ran with him for the first bit and then left him to get on with it. Now I am back up to 5k, I am going to start adding bits onto my route every week as my next race goal is to do a 10k. At 38:45 this morning, it wasn’t exactly a pb, but as the mornings get a bit lighter, I plan to add two short early morning runs (just sticking to 5k) into my schedule. I know I can get round my 5k route and home ready for work in time without having to get up stupidly early!!

This will be a bit of uncharted territory for me as in all my years dabbling in running/jogging, I’ve never really cracked the 5k limit. But why not? Since I’m married to a marathon runner it seems the least I can do!

Update – where does the time go?

Since I wrote the last post, work has been super busy and then the PC died – now we have a new PC (thanks to my clever hubby who put it all together!) and I’m going to make more of an effort to get to the keyboard.

It was interesting to read that in the last installment I was running for three minutes at a time. Last weekend, I completed a 5k race in 33 minutes 34 seconds which by my reckoning puts me at a pace of around an 11 minute mile. The last time I did a 5k race was about 7 years ago and I took over 38 minutes, so I was pleased with my efforts. If you had told me that I would be running for fun (ie no teacher making me) when I was at school, I would have laughed you off the planet. I’ve also found that I enjoy running outdoors, and am taking advantage of the long days at this time of year to head out in a morning before work.

It does feel good to achieve something positive. There are lots of other things going on right now which are getting me down a bit (work things mostly), so this is an important boost to my self-confidence.

I’m still here…

How did a 10 day hiatus happen? Ah well, not to worry.

Measurable goals so far this month: successfully remembering to remove makeup every night so far. Started week 4 of Podrunner intervals and was surprised that when I used it on the cross-trainer this week, I am now running for three minutes at a time. Three whole minutes! I also managed to shed another 2 pounds and now total weight loss is at 16lbs.
I have also made time to practice the mindfulness meditation for 10-20 minutes each morning, depending on my schedule.

Attitudinal goal: being aware of complaining. Yes, I am being aware when I complain about something. I have also come to realise that there are different kinds of complaints – sometimes, it’s just me letting off steam when something has frustrated me and I don’t expect anything to happen, it’s just the way it is. For these I am telling myself that I need to accept these situations. I might not like them, but there is nothing to be done, so why get upset by them?
There are other kind of complaints that as soon as I hear myself raising the issue, I start to think, what can be done to improve this situation? At work, for example, there are issues which arise as a result of some of the processes we use needing updating, and until we work on that, the same problems will arise again and again. So a positive way to deal with these is to come up with solutions and implement where possible, or bring them to the attention of decision makers if necessary. Although I haven’t quit complaining altogether, I’m being more mindful of the things that annoy and frustrate me and how to use these feelings to achieve something positive.

I feel especially tired today as I did my 30-minute walk/jog this morning and went for a 3 mile hilly walk with my husband as it was a beautifully sunny day here. Tired but good. 🙂