Saturday, 19 January 2013

Visual Dare: Third Eye

Oooh I haven't joined in for ages - love the photo as always and thanks to Angela as ever for her fab, fun visual dare challenge!

“What? You’ll have to speak up.”
“I said…”
“Shhhh, not so loud, you’ll give the game away.”
“I said… why can’t we just hide in a bush?”
“Don’t be silly, there aren’t any bushes. We have to use a bit of imagination. We’re private investigators now. Just think Tom Selleck in Magnum PI.”
“I feel more like Frank Spencer in Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em.  What’s that? I can hear someone laughing. Is someone laughing at us?”
“No. Well… it’s just that gatekeeper. He’s not really laughing at us. Well he is a bit. I’ll give him a Magnum PI stare. He’ll draw attention to...”
Clang, clunk, thwack.
“Ooops sorry.”

Five fab things

Five fab things in my week this week were:
  • Milestone reached - My currently pregnant friend previously had a miscarriage - this week she safely passed that same point in this pregnancy - still a long way to go but so pleased for her that she's beyond that particular milestones.
  • Becoming a socialite! - There are pros and cons of going from being self employed to working full time but plenty of invites to do things, go places (all part of the job!) and socialise are a definite plus.
  • Ice skating - one of these opportunities this week was a chance to go ice skating as well as a meal and drink afterwards. I have been on the ice only twice before in my life but gave it a good shot, fell over, got up again and had an absolute hoot. Ice skating - my new fave thing that I think I'd like to learn how to do properly and probably never will.
  • Snow! Not a fan of winter or being cold at all but after the weeks/ months of rain, mud, brownness, wet swampy walks the bright, clean (for now) blanket of the white stuff has made the scenery brighten up and unlike in the rain, people come out to enjoy it and have fun. And I do love a snowman...
  • My log fire - it's particularly this time of year when I just love love love having a real fire. Coming in from the snow there is nothing cosier or more welcoming. Best thing I've ever bought!

Snow fun...

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

My Three Eeks Challenge

I mentioned in my first post of the year about my aims-but-not really-resolutions that I'd be setting some goals - and here they are.. Ta-da! All signed, sealed and no getting out of no matter how crazy I may think I must've been when I agreed to do them!

This year I'm fundraising for Maggie's North East Centre, a much needed space for people with cancer and their families to get friendly help and support.  Maggie Keswich Jencks and her husband set the charity up when she had cancer and realised there was a need for somewhere relaxed, informal and non-institutional where people could go to get more information, support, help or just have a cuppa and a chat. There is now a Maggie's Centre being built in my area and it's the type of place I think will be such a massive help to anyone with cancer, or who knows someone with cancer. The NHS is great at what it does - but there is such a lot more provided by charities like Maggie's that wouldn't be there otherwise. You can find out more here

So, I've committed to raising £2,500 by the end of this year and to do this I'll be tackling three things that make me go 'eek' when I think about them (hence the title...see what I did?!)
No.1 Eek - The Long One - a first for me in terms of distance I'll be doing the Marathon of the North on April 28th - it's •only• 26 miles...
No.2 Eek - The Speedy One - I'm aiming to do the GNR on 16th Sept faster than, ahem, ever before! Definitely under 2 hours, yes very quick indeed - a 'proper' target will be set nearer the time..
No.3 Eek - The Hot, High One - following my errr 'success' mountain climbing in Peru (ie hospitalised with altitude sickness) I'll be tackling the jungle clad snake infested Escambray Mountains in Cuba on 15 November.

I have that sickly feeling in my stomach that I had when I was raising money for Breast Cancer Care - I hate asking people for money (even though it's such a fantastic cause!), it's even harder in the current climate, it seems like a huge amount, and I am already panicking that I won't be able to do it.  And that's just the fundraising.

They physical challenges - well, that's a whole other challenge..!

And if anyone can spare any pennies, the all important Just Giving link is here...!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

All in a day's work

I snapped this as I was down Newcastle Quayside - these chaps are bravely keeping the Sage Gateshead building gleaming.
Extreme window cleaning - a new sport or just a job?!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday snippet

Snippet from my WIP, which is back to progressing steadily thanks to the encouragement/ prodding of the 100k words in 100 days challenge!

An incense aroma filled the room, big enough for two not quite double beds and  basic but clean enough. After a quick glance around I flopped down on the bed, feeling exhausted and starting to privately object to being on someone else's itinerary. Would it be bad manners and unsociable if I said I was skipping whatever they had planned for the rest of the day and actually just stay here on my own? I was starting to crave time alone nearly as much as sleep.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Five fab things this week...

First Five Fab Things Friday of the year - I started this almost as a reminder to look back and think over the week and what's happened -and I'm sometimes surprised just how many fab things, however small, have happened.

This week:
  1. Baby news - my lovely friend and next door neighbour found out she was pregnant, even more exciting I was there with her and was the one to break the news to her, as she couldn't bear to look at the result! I was very honoured indeed.
  2. Being sober - I felt my age by being sober on New Year's Eve as teen son was going to a party for the first time on NYE and I wanted to make sure he was safe, sound and back home. I picked him up at half past midnight then had one glass of fizz to mark the occasion when we got in. I actually felt great the next day - and even went for a run (what a show off!) Much better than a hangover!
  3. Putting plans in action - this week, after four days, my not resolutions but plans for the year are so far going well (yes I know it's early days but it all counts!) I have written every day and been running three out of four days (the excuse not to run one evening was the day I was with my neighbour while she did her pregnancy test - damn good reason!)
  4. Going back to work - though it was a rude shock to the system the first day back after the lovely long festive break, it was also rather nice to have the camaraderie of being back in an office with others, discussing what we'd done and everyone having a bit of a go slow first day back (I know this may just be a novelty having had several years of home working by myself!)
  5. Getting new writer buddies – taking part in the write 100K words in 100 days challenge isn’t just good for a kick up the proverbial but there’s also a great group going on both FaceBook and Twitter and I look forward to swapping more support and fun with these new virtual pals during the challenge and beyond.
What's been fab about your week?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Not necessarily resolutions...

but I liked this and you could try any of them at any time!

(And so far I have done two 2.4 mile runs and written over 2,000 words... off to a good start!)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

It's that time of the year..

It is of course THAT time of year, for looking back and looking forward, reflecting on resolutions made and kept/ broken and making them all over again to keep/ break.

I wrote last year that I don't really 'do' resolutions - although I do love a plan - and instead wrote myself a letter that reflected my aims for the year and what I thought I'd like to achieve. 

So farewell then 2012

I love re-reading things like last year's non-resolution letter, it's a bit like finding an old diary that transports you back to another time, with all the feelings flooding back.  If you want to read it it's here, but essentially there were three main things I wanted to get into the habit of doing and do well - writing, running and meditating. So how was it for me?
  • Writing - I've definitely made progress this year. I've had articles published in magazines and on websites, I have a contract for an e-book, I have a whole series planned, and know that I want to focus on travel related non-fiction. I don't earn a living from any of it. I still don't write every day. Yet. But watch this space.
  • Running - I started the year very focused on fitness, with a personal trainer and regular running habit. I was probably the fittest I've ever been by the time I went to trek to Machu Pichhu in April. Then three hospital stays within three months (one unplanned in Peru, and two planned here at home) set me well back. I have discovered much to my chagrin that I am in fact not Wonder Woman (maybe a good thing, I do not have the figure for that costume). My 'I'll have a couple of weeks off, then I'll be fine' after two not insubstantial operations turned out to be naive/ optimistic/ daft. It took til the Autumn for me to start feeling properly better. And the after effects still go on. So running took a back seat. Though I did turn vegan.
  • Meditating - I have done this on a very ad hoc basis, which as with most things you don't get the best benefits from. I did go to two sessions of a six session course but was wasn't really too taken with the teacher (or have been very lucky and spoilt to have had an excellent previous teacher) I don't do this every day but would still like to. And I don't have to go on a course to do it really!
The last bit of last year's letter was an almost flippant pledge to clear out the black hole that was the cupboard under the stairs. Do you know what? This is the one thing I actually did 100%! In fact it became my small but perfectly formed office! This year's black hole is the garage... 

And hello 2013

So - what about this year? My aims are in similar kind of groupings - writing stuff, health stuff and good for the soul stuff.   

Writing stuff - I want writing to be my number one focus (there are all sorts of other things I'd love to do like learn Spanish, dig out my guitar - but I must focus!) My target is that I will finish and publish my first e-book and complete one other that I've started (ooooh is that a pattern of starting things and not finishing them I spot?!)
I do have ideas for a whole series and if I achieve any more than this it's a bonus but let's get one done at a time! 

Healthy stuff - I have no plans for any more hospital stays or operations! I have committed myself to fundraising for a charity and some challenges which are going to need tip top fitness (more on this another time) I also want to keep up being vegan and understand more about nutrition. I know what it's like to have something that you take for granted like good health suddenly taken away from you so keeping well is vital to me.
Running will be my exercise of choice and I do have goals which I'm still in the process of signing up to so I won't say any more until that's all signed and sealed. 

Good for the Soul stuff - this is where the meditation and mindfulness comes in. I'd also put things I sometimes mention like random acts of kindness and gratitude into this. The fundraising and support for the charity I'll be doing also comes into this Lentil Soup for the Soul grouping. Harder to set specific goals but I know that I want to feel more like I'm giving back, being more aware and more present.

With my managerial head on I am shouting measurable targets and actions are needed! So I am going to set monthly goals then you Dear Reader can cajole, criticise, congratulate and chivvy me along if you like the resolution will be blogivised (with apologies to Gil Scott-Heron!)

So The Plan for January is that by the end of the month I will:

1.    finish the draft of the Machu Picchu book and apply for the Northern Writers Awards

2.    be able to run for 8 miles

3.    re-read Happiness and How it Happens by my favourite mindfulness teacher Suryacitta aka Happy Buddha

And on that note I am off for my first run of the year!