Tag Archives: happydays

5k A Day you say? Oh go on then…!

Standard

One of my favourite 5ks…with my bike-mad big boy as pace maker

Lately I’ve been distracted and drained by negative things. I’ve let everything that winds me up, stresses me out and generally saps my positivity dominate my waking day and my sleepless night. So with the summer holidays just around the corner, I decided I needed to re-focus and re-energise myself with a new happy project to drag me out of the doldrums.

My 100 Happy Days phase phased out after an amazing week in NYC and after Day 48, I stalled. It was almost too tough to top such a steady succession of happy days. That’s not to say I haven’t had a fair few since though! Some particular favourites have included running the Hackney half marathon in a PB time; enjoying the great outdoors and plenty of giggles at Center Parcs; performing live on stage at the 02 Arena with Take That; and watching Federer and Murray on Centre Court at Wimbledon…but I digress (purely to brag!)

So on a quest for a daily endorphin high, and in a bid to get beach-ready, I decided to set myself the goal of running 5k a day in July. This challenge required a certain amount of logistical planning given our family’s weekly routines and limited childcare options. But I reasoned that surely it wouldn’t be that difficult to find half an hour in every day to devote to pavement pounding when I frequently find myself wasting hours of my life Facebook-stalking and Instagramming my lunch.

The first few days felt easy, fun even. My usual running routine is limited to three runs a week; one 5k, one longer pace run (7-8k) and a distance run (10k or more). So not having to run more than 5k at any one time felt a bit like a luxury. I also soon discovered that I could multi-task whilst running short distances. Dog walking can be easily incorporated into daily runs if I plan my route around the local park. My energy-infused puppy then bolts about my legs as I do laps of the playing field panting far harder than he ever does. Childcare can also be managed during short distance runs. By plonking the boys in the playground (with strict instructions not to leave the fenced area), I can run rings around them which is ironic really as they usually do that to me! I’ve yet to work out how to do the ironing and reply to emails whilst running but with a few days left to go to until the end of the month, there’s still time.

In a bid to be sensible and kinder to myself I’ve allowed myself one rest day per week. There have been some days when squeezing in a 5k simply wasn’t going to happen. Last Wednesday for example; after leaving early to drive to Surrey for work, I then had to rush home to walk the dog before legging it to school to watch the Year 3 Folk Dance Festival, whereafter I collected the boys from school, the toddler from nursery and the tea from the pizza aisle in Tesco, before heading straight off to watch an open air performance of Mr Stink as soon Dave walked through the door. When I finally flopped on the the sofa that evening, I’d have rather boiled by own head than gone for a 5k run.

But has it been worth it, this pig headed and fairly pointless goal of mine? To be truthful, I’m not really sure yet. Physically I am exhausted. My body just isn’t used to running every day. My shins are sore, my legs are stiff and I’m fairly sure my muscle fibres are refusing to refuse just to spite me. Some days I’ve run so slowly that when I’ve caught sight of myself in a shop window or car door, I’ve looked like I’m jogging on the spot! And when I’ve reluctantly laced up my trainers simply to stick to my schedule, my NMA (negative mental attitude) has added seconds to my split times. I’ve also noticed how much my diet effects my daily runs. I’ve often used my running routine as a way to legitimise my bad eating habits. Chips for tea or biscuits before bedtime can be justified when I tell myself, it’s ok, I’ll run it off tomorrow (which BTW really isn’t ever the case as a half hour run only ever burns about 300 calories which is barely a bag of crisps!). So this challenge has taught me that I really need to learn more about how to better fuel and condition my body for exercise, instead of using exercise as an excuse to pig out and binge drink.

I’ve also learnt that I run faster first thing. And getting up early to clock my 5k before the kids are awake is hugely satisfying. I can then enjoy the endorphin rush and smile smugly to myself for the rest of the day, happy in the knowledge that I can put on my slippers not my running shoes once the little ones are in bed. Conversely, on those tough and tiring days, the thought of having to do a run when Dave gets home from work is almost as physically painful as the run itself!

So with the figurative finishing line in sight, it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to going back to my less demanding ‘as and when’ weekly running routine. In fact, I plan to take large chunks of August off as a reward for my efforts this month! Assuming I make it to Friday without injury or apathy, I’ll have run 130 kilometres in one month which is considerably more mileage than I’ve ever achieved before. And maybe my legs do look a teeny bit more sculpted than they did in June, so my beach ready remit has in some small part been addressed. But give me a week in the Med and on the prosecco and I’ll no doubt be back to where I started…but hopefully with a clearer idea of how to chase my thirties with a bit more direction and dignity.

  

Advertisements

#100happydays – the sequel

Standard

I jumped with enthusiastic glee on to the #100happydays bandwagon last year. So many of my friends were doing it and as I’m never one who likes to miss a social media craze, I used Instagram and Facebook exhaustively to promote my daily happy moment. But after the 100th day came and went, I looked back through the photos and realised that aside from the narcissistic pleasure I had derived from sharing the edited highlights of my life online, I had actually changed from being a guarded pessimist who would lie in bed at night stewing over the challenges and stresses of my day to becoming more of a jolly optimist intent on enjoying the simple pleasures and funny moments of my life. So therein lies my objective as I begin my second Happy Days project. And this time, unlike last, I plan to blog my happy thoughts instead of cluttering up my friends’ newsfeeds. So you should only be reading this if you actually want to!

image

Day 1 #100happydays

Being mum to a little princess after years of building brio and feigning an interest in the superhero hierarchy means that I’m simply loving fancy dress with frills and flowers. We do believe in fairies!

100 Happy Days…Days 21-30

Standard

20140415-214451.jpg

Day 21 involved a trip to the dentist where each of my boys were told they had excellent teeth – a proud (and happy!) mummy moment. As none of them would let me photograph their teeth though, I settled for a Starbucks selfie afterwards.

20140415-214507.jpg

Niamh had taken to bringing her new bike helmet with her whenever we left the house (except on those infrequent occasions when we leave the house on the bike and she refuses to wear it). On Day 22 I caught her giggling at her reflection in the car window as we drove through Enfield. Happy that my daughter likes accessorising…and that we live in a town I love.

20140415-214401.jpg

One of my loveliest friends arrived bearing daffodils when we met for a play date on Day 23. Enough said ☺️

20140415-214423.jpg

I’m still not entirely sure what I did to deserve breakfast in bed on Day 24. The lie-in alone would have been enough to swing my mood from ‘early-morning-misery’ to ‘the-sun-has-got-his-hat-on-happy’. Soggy Special K with berries, warm pain au chocolate and piping hot tea in my favourite mug are all the components of my favourite breakfast, so major kudos to my family for getting everything SO right.

20140415-214351.jpg

Taking a picture of a lasagne on Day 25 was a bit of a cop out. Lasagnes themselves do not make me happy. In fact making lasagnes is a complete faff and I much prefer the simplicity of its sister dish spag bol. However, after months without a proper kitchen or cooker at my disposable, Day 25’s happy moment was more of a nod to my joy at making home cooked food in a sanitary and well-equipped environment once again.

20140415-215241.jpg

Day 26 heralded the start of Niamh’s ‘strawberry phase’. Said phase has since passed (and she now won’t touch them with a barge poll) but for a few delightful days, Niamh couldn’t get enough of strawberries. And whenever any of my kids discover a new fruit or veg they like, I feel genuinely euphoric.

20140415-214323.jpg

Reece’s enthusiasm for Beavers (a club that ticks all of his boxes; junk modelling, building dens, getting filthy, earning badges etc) has filled me with genuine joy. So Day 27 was a special day for us both when he made his ‘Beaver Promise’. Never before have I seen a child so thrilled to be given a plastic woggle by a grown woman named Hawkeye.

20140415-214341.jpg

With the end of our building works in sight and the decorating in full swing, Day 28 was a celebration of wallpaper. I’d spent weeks sourcing samples, visiting interior design shops and comparing prices. So to have finally made a ‘creative decision’ was hugely satisfying.

20140415-214331.jpg

We go to library?” has been a daily request from Niamh lately and on Day 29 we did just that. I like to tell myself that such ‘library love’ stems from her appetite for intellectual stimuli and a thirst for literature. But in truth, the Peppa Pig DVDs and cafe that sells croissants are probably the pull factors for my bookworm baby girl.

20140415-214411.jpg

On Day 30, Reece proudly went to school wearing a pair of lens-less reading glasses from the 99p Shop. Seb walked to school ten foot behind us and tried desperately to disassociate himself from his mortifying younger brother. And I chucked to myself for most of that morning.

100 Happy Days…Days 11-20

Standard

20140414-001059.jpg

Day 11 – our Merlin passes have been a godsend this year and every time we’ve used them I’ve enjoyed that ‘value for money’ feeling. Ordinarily it would cost a small fortune for us to take four kids on the London Eye but we were able to conveniently forget the sizeable fortune we paid for the passes in the first place so it felt like free fun! No queues and relentless rain motivated us to take two ‘flights’ on the Eye sandwiched by a trip to the London Aquarium. Merlin passes suitably maxed out!

20140414-001121.jpg

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the creative freedom and artistic expression that messy play affords young children but I just can’t face scrubbing poster paint off my kitchen table anymore. So Day 12‘s happy moment came during Arties, a singing-nursery-rhymes-whilst-gluing-yoghurt-pots-together group for preschoolers. Niamh loves it and I can relax, safe in the knowledge that my furniture survives unscathed.

20140414-001144.jpg

Day 13 was another Tuesday, another work day, another round of extra circular activities to contend with. Dave was out for the evening so I simply celebrated the fact that I managed to collect, drop off and pick up all four kids in all the right places at (just about) the right times. Phew!

20140414-002329.jpg

Day 14 involved the calmest commute to work I’d had for weeks. And the tube looked so empty and clean that I couldn’t resist photographing it.

20140414-001220.jpgDay 15 – Both my personal and professional lives have been breastfeeding-focused for just about the last decade, so watching Niamh ‘naturally’ trying to breastfeed her doll (after she’d earlier discarded the plastic bottle accessory it came with) was an immensely satisfying and amusing experience. That’s my girl!

20140414-001234.jpgDay 16‘s photo was a very personal one of my baby girl, snapped secretly during our pre-bed feed. Her little face was framed by her golden ringlets and she looked so peaceful and pretty that it was a happy moment I filed under ‘commit to memory’.

20140414-002825.jpg

After days of downpour (during which damp patches had begun to appear on our lounge walls – stress!!), the rain stopped and the sun came out on Day 17. I was also able to nab the front seat on the top deck of the bus on my way to work. It’s the little things….

20140414-003237.jpg

Day 18 remained dry giving us the perfect opportunity to take the kids to the park. Having been cooped up inside for most of the winter weekends, their energy and enthusiasm was infectious. What’s more, I’d forgotten how much fun the zip wire can be even when you’re a 36 year old mother of four! #noshame

20140414-003653.jpg

Thanks to the fact that most of our in-car CD collection has been damaged, lost or flung from the car window in a fit of insanity (that only happened once…honest!), Niamh has learnt the same six nursery rhymes by heart in an impressively short period of time. She did her first public performance of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on Day 19 and melted all our hearts 😍

20140414-004139.jpg

Day 20 heralded a small personal victory in that I was seemingly the first parent to arrive for Beavers drop off. As a result I nabbed the hugely coveted prime parking space just outside of the church hall entrance. One nil to me against the Universe (that all too frequently conspires against me!)

100 Happy Days…the first 10 days

Standard

About three months ago I noticed that a few of my friends had started posting pics on their Facebook/Instagram/Twitter pages with the hashtag ‘100happydays’. Intrigued as to what this new social media craze was all about, I did some googling and found this article: http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/5123744
Curiouser and curiouser I thought…(I’ve always fancied myself as Lewis Carroll character!) I’d recently finished re-reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin as part of my New Year’s resolution to “be happier” so the idea of focusing on the positive each and every day for 100 days in a row seemed like a good idea with this goal in mind.

So began my own happiness project. Had I been more organised and thoughtful from the start, I might have started blogging about this sooner. And as my 100 days draws to a close, I now realise with a sad sense of regret that I soon won’t have an excuse to take daily photos of my favourite things. My Instagram ‘family’ have been brilliant at supporting me with their cheerful comments and reassuring ‘likes’ but I can’t expect them to put up with my daily dose of smug sentimentality for very much longer. So when day 101 comes around (in a little over a week and a half 😳) I want to reflect on my happy pics, collate them all in one place and essentially review and evaluate the project to work out…am I really any happier?

The first 10 days:

20140412-221632.jpgOn Day 1 there just so happened to be a perfect rainbow stretching over Enfield as Niamh and I left the library. Perfect I thought, all I need now is a few butterflies and a chirping blue tit and I’ll have a true Hollywood happy moment. Instead I settled for a sinister bloke dressed in black and a few empty crisp packs blowing in the breeze. Oh well, I was off!

20140412-223218.jpg

Day 2; some weeks before, a friend had suggested taking our older kids to the local planetarium for an evening of stargazing. It was a unique experience, atypical of our normal Friday nights, so it felt good to not only do something special with my boys but also (in all honesty!) to be seen to be doing something educational and interesting. Cue a few parenting points…

20140412-221725.jpg

Day 3 offered a candid camera moment whilst walking with the kids to a friend’s birthday party. The boys were swinging Niamh (1-2-3-wheeeeeee!) and she was squealing with delight. Fuzzy feel good feelings aplenty ☺️

20140412-221713.jpg

Day 4; growing up as a child, Sunday afternoon walks in the woods were routinely part of the weekend and I remember sulking my way through them most times. As an adult with a family of my own, inflicting the same experience on them elicits a strange satisfaction – I’m now a proper grown-up! The fact that we were able to met our lovely friends with their kids that afternoon too helped to ensure that even my grumpiest offspring went to bed smiling that day.

20140412-223756.jpg

Day 5 was a Monday, rarely a funday, but Niamh and I decided (well, I decided) to treat ourselves to a Starbucks to help lift our moods (well, my mood) and expand our waist lines (well, my waist line as Niamh doesn’t yet have a waist). I tried not to dwell on the 240 calories in my chai-tea-damn-delicious-latte though.

20140412-224034.jpg

Day 6 was a work day; 5 hours spent in Holloway prison followed by a frantic dash to collect the kids from their various childcare settings before shovelling a poor quality processed dinner down their necks and shipping them off to Beavers and football training. It was therefore the sight of my lovely bed, all neat and tidy with its smoothed out covers and plumped up pillows (thanks to my daily OCD routine) that offered me the happiest moment of my day.

20140412-224242.jpg

On Day 7 I combined business and pleasure by having supervision with my BfN supervisor at a scrummy veggie curry house in Turnpike Lane. BfN supervision sessions aren’t renowned for their entertainment value and when running supervision or attending it, I often do so with a weary head and an energy shortage. Dinner with Claire helped to renew my enthusiasm, address a few niggling issues and inspire my confidence as both a Breastfeeding Supporter and a tutor and supervisor. All good then!

20140412-224459.jpg

How rare and satisfying to find the perfect pair of jeans in my size AND in the sale. Day 8 gave me just that opportunity. Happy days indeed!

20140412-224747.jpg

I always vacuum on Fridays. It’s part of my pre-weekend ritual and helps me to relax in the knowledge that my house is a bit cleaner. And as weird and warped as it sounds, leaving tracks in our thick pile carpet contributes to my happiness high. On Day 9 I did just that. As an added bonus, one of my oldest friends (who incidentally used to be a Kirby cleaners salesman) also commented on my Day 9 photo on Instagram which brought a smile to my face and happy memories to mind.

20140412-221705.jpg

Day 10 and dad was still staying with us, working like a Trojan to finish fitting our new kitchen. As he is an insulin-dependent diabetic who frequently adopts a very sad expression when reminded of the limitations of his restricted diet, I can’t resist spoiling him every now and again. But it makes me feel good and guilty in equal measure. I want my dad to be healthy and happy so it’s a tricky balance to strike.