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A dad's journey into health

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Back On The Roundabout

So it is about the time of my annual pilgrimage back to Healthville. Yep getting back on the healthy eating and exercise pony. We are old friends now, and it is the same old feeling, akin to that of putting back on a wet sock (back shivers). It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s also much needed.

I estimate that I am about three weeks away from talking about all this in a positive way, but that will come, once I begin to see the benefits (or see my feet again for that matter ha ha ha).

Until that day it feels like standing in front of a dark and spooky forest. I am reluctant to take my first step, but unless you do, you will never see what is on the other side.

Reluctantly my feet yield to my insistence and, that’s it, first step made despite their protests. It wont be long before I’m in too deep and the only way is forward.

So until then pray for me!!!!

Hopefully I will see you on the other side.

A Night Of Weird Dreams

So last night was a tough one, my daughter got up several times in the night crying for me. She was fine, I settled her and got her back in bed, but as a result of this I had the most bizarre dreams. There was two that stood out, the first for it’s ridiculousness.

It was the middle of the night, I was walking downstairs, in the nude (obviously) and I could feel the cold and I knew the door was open and that we were being robbed………..incensed I ran down screaming random things, but for some reason in a Scottish accent (like a pathetic Braveheart). I bust into the living room (still nude remember) but the backdoor’s open and everything has been taken. Then I woke up. Interestingly when I awoke I was freezing cold as the covers had been commandeered and I was led there exposed, still nude (obviously). Think that explains this one 🙂

The second was a completely different affair it was calming and serine.

I was led sideways on my bed and I could see out of the bedroom door in front of me.  It opened straight outside and it was lovely and sunny.  From my door there was a path that led straight up a grassy hill.  About half way up  the hill led a deer.  It just led their looking directly at me as if weighing me up.It stayed there, still, for what felt like hours.  I could feel that I was getting a little anxious and the deer began to stand up and slowly walk towards me, as it did it began to transform into a tiger, it wasn’t angry or  aggressive it just kept coming slowly and methodically. It eventually reached me and jumped up onto my bed and just led next to me, (much like my old dog Gus), I started to panic (about the future, I think) but the tiger just lifted it’s head and rested it on my legs. It had the desired effect and calmed me down, I had a sense of wellness and inner calm………that whatever was to come, things will work out okay.  I stroked the tigers head and drifted back off.

So that was my night time brain wanderings. I am sure any
Oneirocritics (had to google that) amongst you would be able to interpret that.

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” 
― Edgar Allan Poe

Till next time….

A Door That Can’t Close

Last week I had a chance encounter that made me revisit my past.  I was happy in my own thoughts heading into a supermarket when out the corner of my eye I spied a girl from my teenage social group. 

Strap yourselves in this might be a big’n

My mind went straight back to the “Good old days” and how it all ended.  Let’s set the scene…. I was a thirteen year old ruffian, I liked video games and wrestling with little time for anything else, let alone girls (he truth being I felt safe in my role and the thought of putting myself out there and changing my friendship groups did not sit well with me, though I wanted to, and actually speaking to a girl would terrify me to the core).

However, there was a desire there to diversify socially.  I had already started making inroads with such a group as I sat with some lads on the bus, (one of which is still to this day one of my very best friends) they were much smarter than me and obviously more popular.  We became quite close friends and Just as a matter of course I started to get invited to more and more events and slowly but surely I became a part of the group.  Thing went on in this vein all through school, sixth form and then on weekends when we were all together.  Most of this group decided to become teachers as at that time you got paid to study on this profession (who could blame them,after all they were, almost to a man much smarter than me, or so I thought). 

Soon however things started to change, nights out became more erratic and people got into relationships, myself included.  Nights out became less frequent and for me,money was a real issue.  About this time,myself and partner moved in together away from sunny Blackpool.  This is when things became really tough and friendships began to unravel.  The more I said no to nights out, the less the phone rang and the easier it was to disengage.  Little did the group know I had next to no money and at that time I was running up credit card debts just pay for petrol to get to and from work.  When I was saying no to going out, I was really just too embarrassed and ashamed to tell them how hard things were, I guess this is where I should take a good share of the blame, as I didn’t try as hard as I could have.     

Things had gotten away from me and on the odd occasion I did go out, I struggled to keep up or get noticed. Some people tended to talk about things in the recent past, what they did in the last weeks or months.  I wasn’t there and couldn’t be part of the conversation. I came away feeling like no one wanted me there and after this it became all too easy to disengage altogether.  There was no real falling out and on the odd occasion I run into some of them now, I am still on reasonable terms with them. 

This type of ending had a real bitter taste to it, I’m not too sure what I did to deserve such and exit, it felt like I was just cut out,much like Tsukuru Tazaki.  Don’t get me wrong I have a good life and good friends, the closest of which predates this group.  However, there remains with me a sense of loss (grief almost) at the way it ended.  It’s probably the loss of my youth, a more existential crisis than anything else.  Although I do often wonder if I am thought about at all by them.  I can hear people close to me telling me that I am “better off out of it” and “they never kept in touch with you either” all true of course and I get where they are coming from but this doesn’t change or help the way I feel.  It’s one of those things that stay with us, not prominent or immediate but always there, lying unresolved, somewhere in the background.

I would like to see some of them again, I guess I just miss belonging to a group and talking with lots of different people, many of them still socialise together but I am not willing to put myself in such a vulnerable position again. 

The problem being that there was no definite ending, I have had no closure on it and this has only let me internalise everything instead of processing it properly and letting it go.

I am sure that it will happen one day, patience is the key,but always ready to act when the opportunity presents itself.  I don’t miss it all that much, I don’t think my life would be exponentially improved should I get that back, but I do feel that I need the chance to close that door.

Thanks for coming with me this has been a bit of a difficult one.

Friendship Negotiations

So, last night I was called into school as my 8yr old daughter and her friends are having a few “friendship” difficulties and school are worried that it could turn into a real issue if it’s not tackled now.

A parent’s nightmare.

Let me set the scene, the main issue is that there is a group of three girl’s that all hang round together.  But as so often is the case two people gang up on the other one and they are left feeling sad, names are called, yadda yadda yadda.  The one that’s left out changes from day to day, so they are all victims I guess and therefore all responsible at some point for causing this upset.

My main quandary is how best to tackle the situation.  The inner parent wants to just shout “stop hanging round with these people they are making you unhappy!!!!” but the sensible head is telling me “We can all play together and think of a way to get along”.  The truth of the matter is that no matter how angry or upset they get with each other they still like hanging out with them, they’re mates.   I want my daughter to expand her friendship groups (as opposed to banning her from playing with some people) and we keep encouraging her as best we can, but I am aware that to be too pushy will just make her push back stronger.

I had a grown-up chat with her and asked her what she felt the solution was and she said that ‘she want’s to play with everyone but the others just want to keep it as a three’.  I thought this was really mature of her and I suggested similar to the teacher (and headteacher no less), and this seems to be a possible way forward.  The teacher will encourage the whole class to play together more and have all friendship groups more open, so that the young people can go and play with others without it being a problem.  This seems great as not only does it solve the current issue but it makes it much more public and open, and this will hopefully combat any bullying or manipulative behaviours that may occur given time.

So, with a possible way forward we head into a new friendship era at school.  Fingers crossed.

It’s hard not to let your mind head into hyper-drive and think about life in high school and the future and how these types of relationships may affect her long term.  But I suppose that learning to cope with theses situations now and in a positive way will only help her be more resilient (hate that word, and that’s part of the reason I was made redundant, a totally other story) in times to come.  I guess the important thing is to belong and know you are loved.

So with a plan in place the meeting ends and we head out to pick up the twins (5yrs old) from reception:

TEACHER: Can I have a word

ME: Of course

TEACHER:  Your daughter, for the second time became really frustrated and grabbed another child round the neck….

ME: Doh

Dad-life never ends.

Hallo-Whine

What do I think about Halloween.  I am totally on the fence about this one, on the one hand I really don’t like the fact that us Brits have adopted this American tradition, of, let’s face it dressing our kids up to beg for free sweets from strangers, something I spend a lot of time telling my kids not to do.  This must confuse them.

On the other hand, I love it.  I’m a father of three small devils and they get so excited about dressing up, scarring people and being allowed out in the dark (supervised of course).  And let’s be honest, anyone with kids know it’s an easy win to wander round the streets for an hour and do very little with great results, what was it Gino said, “minimum effort, maximum results”.

However, there is one thing about Halloween in the UK that really upsets me, that’s right I said it, upsets (and I’m nearly a 40-year-old blokey).  It’s the fact that hundreds, possibly thousands of young people in each town or city across the country get dressed up and head out on candy adventures only to find 90% plus of all the houses in absolute darkness.  What, like Halloween is the only night that everyone either goes out or is in bed by 6pm, do me a favour.  What other event in the calendar actually gets young people out into the community like this and what’s the result……… Miserable buggers ignoring them, yea great message to send to the young n’s,  come on out into the community and nearly all of us will just pretend you’re not there.  It is a direct representation of our communities at the minute in the UK, ‘I’m alright Jack, so sod the rest of you’.  This needs to change, we need to change.  This is definitely one thing that the US gets spot on.  I didn’t realise it till I saw an Insta post from Everlast off of House of Pain (by the way you should really listen to his music it’s quality).  Loads of kids and parents mingling and experiencing things together as a community.  OK so it might not be a proper representation of all of America but you get the gist.

The UK seems so insular and down that we are too scared to care about each other anymore.  It makes me worried about the future especially when I see my kids skipping and singing past 25 dark houses to go and knock on the one house with their lights on.  They might be too young to notice but they must pick up on it subliminally.

Okay – rant well and truly over.

Next year why not just grab a bag of sweets from the supermarket and answer the door, what’s the worst that will happen?  There may be a few idiots out there but mostly you will make small people very happy in the short term, but in the long term you may help them (and yourself) become more caring about each other.

Peace and Love.

My Soundtrack

For me music has always been there in the background, but as far as I can remember it’s never been front and centre in my life. I have always loved music and the culture (90s indie kid and for that matter also a rocker and hip-hopper, I like to experiment) but I never thought it defined me, I always focused more on books, games and friends for that.

It’s only recently, whilst revisiting these songs (looking for old favourites to attempt on the guitar) that it has occurred to me that music has always followed me, like a soundtrack in the background elegantly framing my experiences. Without realising it music does define me. It plays out like a map of my life. Each and every song sending me right back to a specific time and location and all the thoughts feelings and experiences of that place, good and bad, light or dark, young and old.

So I am going to create my own album here, a snapshot of me and my life, each song belongs on the album for a reason and has a special memory, they may not be my most favourite songs but they certainly are justified. I am going to limit it to ten tracks as I could literally be here all day.

1. Guns n Roses – Welcome To The Jungle. I think this was my first steps in having my own musical personality, rock on.

2. Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills. This is a nod to my brother and a thanks for introducing me to so much great music, Prince, Stone Roses and many more, far too many to mention.

3. Ice-T – Home Invasion. My first steps into the world of Hip-Hop. So much followed this. A new way of expressing yourself and story telling. Thanks Iceberg.

4. Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman. This is an acknowledgement of my parents taste in music and I am eternally grateful for them introducing me to Soul and Motown. This was the first soul song I remember loving.

5. The Charlatans – Just When Your Thinking Things Over. This fires me back to sixth form and reminds me of when I started dating my good lady wife.

6. Oasis – Cigarettes And Alcohol. What is there to say, they exploded onto the music landscape encapsulating the feelings of the UK youth at the time. They did for Britain what Nirvana did for the US. They will always be the epitome of Rock And Roll for me.

7. Bob Dylan – Just Like A Woman. Heard this for the first time whilst working in a shop. Fell in love with the voice of Dylan (after previously dismissing it) and how he changes from adoration to hatred in the space of one song.

8. The Pogues – Sally Maclennane. My friends and I playing pool on a Friday night before heading into town for teenage ladishness. Great Days.

9. Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop That Feeling. This is just a great tune that reminds me of all the kids just dancing round together having fun.

10. The Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love. Thus one is easy, simply the best song ever written.

So there it is. I am sure that I will soon be releasing a Vol II.

What would be on your soundtrack?

Stay lucky people, kisses.

It’s a Me Day

So yea it’s a me day, or more accurately its a Paul Day, the very first of 2018.  I can hear everyone’s intrigue getting giddy.  A Paul Day consists of me taking a days leave from work….there’s more.  It also involves some skulduggery on my part.  I also pretend to go to work so that my family are unaware that I am sneaking back home, to bed, to game and generally laze around (let’s hope that he missus doesn’t read this today).

Today has been pretty good on the whole, I have well, gamed, dozed and watched some awesome.  Managed to watch the most recent Blade Runner, and may I say it was bloody good, if long.  And as I write this, the last hour of my Paul Day, I am watching Electric Dreams, a very Philip. K – Day indeed.

I suppose that I should feel guilty, that I am sneaking but I don’t, I feel a little rebellious and a little bit like I’m owed it.  It’s not a day of excess and luxury it’s a day to rest and re-centre yourself.

I encourage you all to have Me Day or You Day……whatever.  Especially if you have a hectic life.  It give you back a little bit of freedom and the chance to catch up again on the things that I like, the things that make me, me.

I don’t have much of the day left to enjoy soon it will be back to the grind but for now I will just keep on keepin’ on.

What would your Me Day look like

Go on……Treat-yo-self

The Things Kids Say

So I got the idea for this post this morning. My daughter Connie was screaming for the TelloSape he he he, bless her.

This is one of the best things about being a parent, listening to your kids innocently getting things wrong…. and then trying to hide your laughter.

But it’s not just what they say it’s how they say it. There’s nothing like trying to play a game on your phone when your 4 yr old daughter blurts ‘give it ere lad let me show you how to do it’, priceless and patronising all at the same time, and very northern (good girl).

I’m afraid that my son is also developing my “game rage”. For those that don’t know, it’s when you are struggling on a video game and the only thing left to do is scream and take out your frustration on the entire world. I was in the kitchen the other morning and all I heard from the living room was a scream of ‘just jump you stupid Gekko’ I must admit that I did feel a little sense of pride. I knew my boy would love games as much as I do, but also sad as I knew how many hours of his life will be wasted on “quests” and achievements.

I heard my boy James come out with a comment that floored me but it requires a bit of a back story. My eldest daughter (8yrs) loves Full House from the 80’s (no idea I’m as baffled as you) and in it there is a character Jessie, that is obsessed with Elvis. So in the car we were all talking about Elvis and I was regaling them with all my best Elvis facts. Fast forward a few days and we were all getting ready for the day, school, work etc. James was on the loo, and I heard this; ‘Connie, Stop hitting me, Elvis died on the toilet!!!’ I couldn’t breath for laughing, sometimes parenting really is a joy.

Sending love.

Until next time…..

Becoming a Graduate

Recently I graduated university with a 2:1 BA Hons in Youth Work, Social Pedagogy and Community Learning and Development. Try saying that when your drunk, I did try but failed miserably. I was fortunate enough to graduate at the amazing Canterbury Cathedral.

Although it was a 4 hour drive away (which actually took closer to 7, damn London traffic) it was certainly worth it.

My wife and I stayed in the hotel on the grounds and they couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. Canterbury itself was lovely, like a larger version of the Shambles in York (picture something like Diagon Ally (can’t believe I just made a Harry Potter reference)).

I studied with YMCA George Williamson College as a distance learner up north. And the degree was under written by Canterbury Christ Church University.

I knew that I had already got a 2:1 before the day, as you do, therefore I was so surprised just how emotional I was. It suddenly dawned on me what a huge deal this was. I have talked before about my pride of being the only member of my family to ever go to Uni. But this felt more, an actual life achievement, the likes of which I have never felt. I was suddenly desperate for my loved ones to go through it so they could feel the same and although I would never force it on them I will support my children 100% should they want to do it.

I guess it feels a little weird being a “mature” student. I really was not into education when I was younger. But I loved it and the staff and moreover the tutors at the YMCA GWC were absolutely amazing and supportive. Now I am on the lookout for my next opportunity, I am sure that I will tell you guys about it.

Good luck everyone in everything and never let insecurity, fear or doubt stop you trying to be better.

Until next time………

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