These legs were made for running. Who knew?!

Friday, 5 August 2011

"Superficial, my arse!" - Anonymous

A housewife should always strike a pose when emptying the dishwasher....

Not that I was ever the belle of the ball, but in my younger years I did occasionally turn a head or two.  But a funny thing happened to me in my late 40's (post 5 babies) - I suddenly realised that I was invisible.

Now I was 20+ kilos overweight with 5 gorgeous little ones pulling at my big beautiful woman's clothing, so I didn't kid myself that I was actually invisible. As a matter of a fact, I remember constantly bumping into people and inanimate objects with my voluptuous hips because I had a difficult time determining how much space I occupied in the universe. Sort of like learning to drive the Toyota Tarago mini van after driving smaller economy cars for many years.  It takes a while to figure out how small of a parking space will accommodate your larger...well "boot" as they call the back storage compartment of a car here in Australia.

But I started to notice as I walked down the street (when I wasn't bumping into people with my generous derriere that is), that men no longer stole an occasional surreptitious glance at me like they used to.  And I was more than a little reluctant to admit that this bothered me.  I was too old to giggle incessantly and meet boys at the Knott's Berry Farm dance nights, but I was too young to not still want to be acknowledged as a woman.  So there it was, I was faced with the dreaded mid-life crisis (and I swore in my younger years that this was just an excuse to buy a Porsche!)

What does this have to do with running and "superficial, my arse" you may ask?  Well running not only helped to trim down my "arse" a bit, but it also made me feel like I was really part of life again.  It is impossible to run and not feel alive and acutely in the moment.  And as you get stronger and more fit it is impossible to not feel younger, even if the wrinkles, the gravity-challenged-baby-bearing-bits and the scales on your previously smooth and youthful hands tell the real  story of your age.  And when you feel younger, you rediscover that subtle hip sway when you walk (although I did pull my hip muscle dancing recently, but I digress).  And when you feel younger and you sway your hips a little, you exude a bit more confidence and suddenly you're not quite as invisible. Although if you "obey your sway" and flick and switch your hips too much, you might find yourself bumping into people and objects again. Everything in moderation gals (and guys if you are into the hip swaying thing as well).

So I was talking to my long time friend about this whole invisibility dilemma and I suggested that my goal was to learn to find more fulfillment within.  After all, I suggested, it was a little superficial at my age to find such satisfaction in the fact that running had given me back my waistline. But my friend suggested that esteem was a balance between  our mind, soul, emotions and our physical self - that all were important and it was healthy to take pride  in them.  And I guess he really didn't agree with my superficial comment because his parting sentence was "superficial, my arse".  My friend and I have been known to quarrel on more than one occasion over the years, but we don't normally swear at each other.  So that got my attention.  And because he had my attention, I allowed myself to contemplate his words.  And I liked what I was contemplating.  I can strive to be brilliant, deep, in touch with my inner child and dammit, I can have a great "arse" too!  Kapow - bring on middle age!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Running saved my life...

A little bit loopy...
Now I know that "running saved my life" sounds a little dramatic, but it really is true.  I initially started running because my health was beginning to deteriorate, but I had no idea that it would also improve my mental health.  The topic today is anxiety and depression and it nearly killed me. 

My earliest memory of the black wave that used to wash over me, which I now know was the beginnings of anxiety and depression, was at 4 years old.  I suffered from this black wave for so much of my life, that I thought these feelings were normal.  And it certainly never occurred to me that there might be ways to successfully manage this disease.

In my late 20's I found alcohol which initially seemed to help me survive these feelings.  Unfortunately the "medication" was ultimately worse than the disease I was trying to treat.  Fortunately, I have not had a drink in almost 15 years and I now know that this was never a solution.  Unfortunately, the anxiety and depression continued to rule my days and nights until I reached a point where I contemplated taking my life daily and slept only a few hours every night.  Fortunately I did eventually get help for my anxiety and depression which gave me just enough will to start taking better care of myself.

Thus the commencement of walking and eating nutritious food which turned into running and eating nutritious food.  And after I had been running for a while, I noticed on the days that I ran I had fewer anxiety and depression breakthroughs and if I did have a breakthrough, I was somehow able to cope with it more proactively and put it into perspective (well most of the time - perfection has never been my strong suit).  And conversely I found that when I didn't run, I didn't cope as well.  And sometimes, the thoughts of ending my life would come creeping ever so quietly back into my head...

Now to some, this all may sound a bit morose and scary.  And maybe some of you are thinking TMI (too much information!) But I am undertaking this blog for me and acknowledging my battle with mental illness and having the courage to write it down feels pretty dang fantastic.  And if it resounds with someone else, well that is fantastic too. 

What can I say - I am a bit loopy by nature.  And this loopyness will always be sitting on my shoulder because it has nothing better to do.  And also because it has known me since I was a little girl and I guess it's kind of attached to me after all of these years.  But fortunately running a few loops around the neighbourhood helps.  And where there is help, there is hope.  And where there is hope there are endless possibilities....