running trainers on path

Finding a Love for Running Continues…

Running – some love it and some hate it. I never classed myself as a ‘runner’ until I started to beyond the professional and competitive side. I started to enjoy running more once I did it in my own time and noticed the many benefits along the way for my own body. Up until June this year, I hadn’t ran since March on the treadmill in the gym. Due to the mixture of lockdown, feeling sluggish and having quite low thoughts, I needed to do something. I wanted to find something to focus on. That’s when I realised that I could try to discover a new running journey.

You might ask, how did I get into running?

Back in school I always took part in the relay for Sports Day and 100 metre sprints here and there. I didn’t hate cross country but I wouldn’t say I loved it neither. As for the bleep test, I weirdly looked forward to that because I always up for a challenge to see how far I could push myself.

Fast forward a few years, I’m onto a few cardio workouts in the gym. Nothing too strenuous but a fair bit to keep myself fit. Alongside the cross trainer and treadmill, I absolutely love strength workouts, particular strengthening my legs and arms. Now those, I really miss!

Some of you may already know that fundraising for charity isn’t new to me. Over the years I have fundraised for St Ann’s Hospice, Tommy’s, Alzheimer’s Society, British Heart Foundation, and Cancer Research UK. Two of these occasions included participating in a running event. So, it comes as no surprise that I found myself searching for a new charity fundraiser, which I’ll touch on below.

Work on your own goals

The thing I’ve found with fitness and exercise is that, you don’t have to follow what everybody else is doing. You can particulate in any shape of sport or exercise at your own pace and do what works for you. It’s always good to set yourself little challenges but there’s no need to compare to anybody else’s lengths, times, and strength. For me, feeling stronger starts mentally. Using exercise to take away irrelevant or low thoughts, especially on this running journey, as it’s something which has significantly changed my outlook on things.

I find myself feeling accomplished at the end of each run. I am determined and more focused on positive things e.g. doing things for me and trying to less critical of my appearance and how I am. It’s a way for me to keep active, explore the outdoors (great for my photography page), and release any negative energy. All of these benefits and more make it worth the while, donating for a good cause at the same time.

100 for 100 challenge

My current challenge, running 100k for £100 has been pleasing so far. I’m so thankful for my amazing 22 supporters who have helped me to exceed my fundraising target already. Here’s to 20th July when I will have completed the full distance, in time to commemorate grandad’s heavenly birthday on 22nd July.

All donations are sent to The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, in memory of my grandad and all of those who have/had visual impairments. For more information visit my JustGiving page.

visiting granny and grandad at the cemetery

The Importance of Memories With Your Loved Ones

Memories and experiences shape you into the person you are today. No matter your age, you have your own story. So far in life, there have been some difficult situations I have experienced, fortunately outweighed by the good. I’m a firm believer in taking something good from a negative event.

Family is everything. I love the bond I have with my mum, dad, and brothers. We have shared so much together, tough times and also some of the best times. I think we will always have each other and I’m so glad.

This last month or so has been a reflective time for me. Maybe a lot of things come down to my emotional nature, that’s what got me started on this blog almost 5 years ago after all. It got me thinking, you waste too much time wondering what if, I wish I could have… and so on.

You can look back, dwell in sorrow, or smile and grow stronger. I must admit I still cry no matter how many years go by but that’s just in my nature. I’m still much stronger than I used to be. Danny’s endless love for us and our life always gives me something to hold onto. Whatever may come, we face it together. I have lost count of the amount of times he has held me when I have hit such low points.

Life is what you make it…

You can’t predict the future, nor can you force things to happen. However, you can hope and think positive. Life can throw twists and turns. How you deal with them, is down to outlook. Take someone who you were very close to and the day you lost them. You feel raw. A piece of the jigsaw that made your life whole is missing. It is also a very confusing and a lot for your heart to take.

I remember I was 7 years old when I lost someone I loved for the first time, someone I was very close to, my granny. I couldn’t prep for school plays or assemblies. I didn’t understand how you could just lose someone. It was painful enough seeing her unwell in hospital. I cried at home. I cried at school. I cried at my friend’s house.

Someone taught me how to braver and stronger – my grandad. I used to think seeing granny’s face in my dreams was scary, waking up to the reality that she was no longer here. Grandad always said, she is always going to be there and when I look at the sky at night she will be one of the stars twinkling bright. I haven’t stopped paying so much attention to the stars since. When I lived at my mum and dad’s, I always thought she was there each night in the same spot. Although I’m in a house of my own now, I still smile when the stars are out at night.

When grandad passed away, I may have been older but it didn’t make it any easier. My heart sunk harder than I ever thought it could. You see, he always shown us that Granny’s life was around us. Having his hugs, holding his hand, and sharing the most exciting adventures was everything. He brought anything he could to life, the light always shined, and he was my hero.

Together, granny and grandad were a significant couple, not just as grandparents, but because they were special in their own ways. Granny – a beautiful woman, so playful always making us laugh, caring, always looked out for you, and the best kind of granny ever. Grandad – he gave you his heart and soul, he was the strongest man. Not once did he stop loving any us differently, and he did everything in his power to give you the best in life, most of all, his love. Together, they were one in a million.

There’s always something to give back

My mum and have have always understood that dreams can come true if you fight hard enough and that love keeps everything alive. Through my dad’s protective streak and being the person I can always turn to for help, to my mum’s loving nature and showing me that I should always “hold my head up high”, no matter what life throws at you, plays a part in the person I am today. But it goes without saying, granny and grandad helped me to see that, life is what you make it and more.

I’m always on the look out to see how I can support charities in memory of the those who were very special to me. A few that are close to my heart are Cancer Research UK, Tommy’s and The British Heart Foundation. I wonder what my next charity challenge will be?

I hope this post inspires you to reflect on what the most important people in your life have taught you and how you should always hold them close to your heart.

rainbow drawing outside with chalk

Hold on in There… A Life After Lockdown Awaits

Another week in the UK lockdown has passed but is slowly phasing out with less restrictions e.g. unlimited time to exercise and going for a walk with someone outside of your household bearing social distancing is in place. I recently held a poll on Facebook and Twitter, asking my friends and followers what they are looking forward to the most post-lockdown. The answers to choose from were:

A. Hug from a family member
B. Seeing friends
C. Leisure services resuming
D. All shops reopening

On Facebook, 83% said ‘hug from a family member’ with 59% holding the same answer on Twitter. It’s nice to see the majority of respondents have the same outlook as me. I’m so excited for the moment to hug my mum, dad, and brothers. There have a number of occasions where I’ve seen my mum from a distance and just want to run and hug her. To the honest, I miss all 4 of the above, of course I do! However, the freedom of being close to family is the hardest part throughout all of this. Also, most of my friends live a bit of distance from me too.

Can you imagine what life is going to like after lockdown?

For some, life might not seem so different now or after lockdown. However, for the more active and outdoorsy people there are, the life is come is something to look forward to. Though, at the same time, it’s still quite a scary thought. Many of us want to see our friends, celebrate, get back to the gym etc. but it’s important that we continue to take precautions. I’m sure we can all continue to implement these changes into our daily routines.

What’s the biggest impact lockdown has on travel for me?

At the moment, I’m adamant that I will not travel via public transport. I haven’t been on the bus since mid-March, which is my usual method of transport to and from work along with walking for 40% – 50% of it. Other than really miserable days with rain and wind, nothing bothers me about walking. In fact, anyone that knows me, sees the explorer in me. I’ve found it really difficult to spend a full day in the house without going somewhere. It’s in my nature, I have to go outside! So, planning trips to work when that time comes will mean putting some extra aside in the morning.

Optimising cleanliness and hygiene

As much as I’m fed up of all of this, which I’m sure many of you are too, I’m still taking it very seriously. For example, I haven’t entered anybody else’s house other than my own. Keeping things clean is no change and I’ve always that down to a tee – another thing that’s in my nature! The same goes for handing washing – a dispenser in the kitchen, downstairs toilet and each of the bathrooms upstairs. Pre-lockdown, I kept hand sanitiser in my bag the odd time but all the time now and also in the hallway of the house. I find myself being much wearier of what I’m touching e.g. shopping baskets, trolleys, items in a store that many people will have touched before me etc.

What exciting events in my life have been cancelled due to COVID-19?

Let’s start with the best one, New York. Many of you might think “Ah right, yeah, big holiday that.” Well yes, but that’s not why we’re so gutted. New York is the place I’ve always dreamt of returning to and I never knew who that would be with until Danny. When we became homeowners in 2019, we didn’t go away because we were putting everything into this year’s big trip. It’s okay though because I know we will get there, maybe next summer, we’ll see.

What else? Another big one – Kraków to see Alicia Keys. It’s funny actually… a group of us booked to go there for the fact that Alicia Keys was in Manchester when we would’ve been in New York. And now, neither of the two are happening! I haven’t been to Poland before and I love to visit new cities so I’m sure it would’ve been really fun. As for Alicia keys, I can’t even tell you… I was only wondering at the beginning of the year if she’ll tour again and how she hadn’t brought any new music out for a while then… her song played on the radio and she announced a world tour. Out of all the singers I’ve seen live, other than the Spice Girls, Alicia Keys has always been on the top of my ‘got to see’ list from an early age. One day eh!

Better days are coming…

We have come this far, what’s a little while longer? Frustrating I know, when all we want to do is resume to some kind of normality. And that we will, we just need to be a little more patient I suppose. The more people listen to the rules, the quicker that time might be. There’s bound to be low days. If you are feeling down, reach out to the people who you know will do their best to cheer you up over a little chat or video call.

Family and friends, see you all soon (I hope), I can’t wait for a hug!

star lit sky

13 Years Later and You Shine Brighter Than Ever

I was about to write a short caption on a draft photo upload to Instagram, then I realised that I had more to say.

You can’t fit into one blog post how having someone in your life makes such a significant impact. I spent 13 years with him and now it’s been 13 years without him. My grandad was my biggest hero. He taught me how to be strong, brave and kind. The most generous hearted person. He was the only one who would play shop and post office with me more than twice at a time. He encouraged me to go on my first huge rollercoaster ride when I was absolutely terrified. And since that day, I’ve learnt the importance of being brave and coming out of my comfort zone. The one person I could share everything with and made it all better. He always gave me the greatest hugs and tickled my arm when I needed to go to sleep.

Nothing beat the love he had for his grandchildren. He wanted to give us the world. The amount of happiness he brought into our lives will always give us something to look back on and smile about.

I never thought anything could break grandad. You know, it was as if he was unstoppable. There’s been two instances that shown me otherwise. The first – when granny passed away on 9th February 2002. Stood alone, I watched him crumble, crying so hard, putting his head into his hands. I was in the hallway at mum and dad’s house and I looked into the kitchen to see him, heartbroken. As much as it’s a memory I’d like to phase away, I don’t think it ever will.

You build such a strong bond, share adventures and they hold your hand throughout childhood. They watch you become a teenager and then…

The second – the day his heart stopped on 21st May 2007. My dad told school that he needed me and my brother to come home. A guidance counsellor who got to know me though being bullied at the time, found me straight away. I was so confused. I didn’t say much until we walked to the car waiting for my brother to come. “Is it mum?” “Is Gaz okay?” My dad didn’t know what to say even though he was trying to tell us. I asked, “N-no, no, Grandad?” and my dad’s face said all it needed to. The car journey home was probably the quietest moment I’ve shared with one of my brothers. It was happening all over again. That was us, home, ran to our bedrooms and cried uncontrollably.

I remember visiting grandad in hospital and him telling me, “You’re growing up so much”. Getting on a bus to visit him at the hospital on my own didn’t phase me one bit. Walking through the hospital, seeing Ward H2, seeing him lay in the hospital bed didn’t scare me. No longer being able to hold his hand scared me. I used to bring 2 of my high school friends to stay on many weekends at his house – his kindness spread to others like them. They seen, no matter how old I was, the relationship we had didn’t change. I only wish I could’ve seen him when he went home this time.

I could spend my life hating coronary heart disease but hate isn’t something that grandad would’ve wanted. Hopefully you’ll see, why I love doing all I can to support the British Heart Foundation. Also, I think it’s crazy how, ever since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted a golden Labrador/Retriever and that’s the breed of dog grandad sponsored and almost had one as a guide dog for his visual impairment.

Grandad, just as we used to do for granny, every time I look to the sky at night and I see a star, I’ll think of you. “Love you millions!”

I haven’t written this blog post to give myself a good cry, as much as I’ve had to fight it whilst putting it together. It’s more to remind myself how special life is. Time and love is everything. There’s no escaping loved ones, they are in each and every little thing we see or do. You find yourself thinking about or doing something they taught you. And I hope this teaches anyone who’s reading this post, to hold tight onto everything that makes you happy.

river view with purple sky during sunset

Using the Lockdown as a Time for Reflection

Lockdown is treating us all in different ways. I’m enjoying the Monica in me, the extra time to clean, tidy and organise. I’m like a crazy woman running round the house with the music on full volume. My poor neighbours! As far as food is concerned, I’ll make it short, I think I’m eating too much of it… yes the scales do agree. Through it all, I’m lucky to still be working so I’m glad that holds onto some kind of sanity I have left.

Positive reflecting

Lockdown has sent a lot more ‘me time’ my way. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on – what’s important, what really matters, and coming to the realisation that I’ve eaten more packets of crisps than ever before. Seriously though, just the other week I had a sudden phase of calmness. I’d usually have something on my mind to worry about and it took one moment for everything to come flooding in to remind me that happiness is everything. No matter what that means for you, it matters, always.

Some of my time has been spent looking back at memories, reconnecting with old friends, getting closer to those who I wouldn’t tend to call or video call pre-lockdown life. The thing is though, it’s mainly my mum and dad that I video call and I spend the first 5-10 minutes laughing because I can’t help it. Does anyone else get that or is it just me?

Still missing friends and family of course

I can’t wait to go out and celebrate with my friends. Celebrate what? Just life itself and obviously that’ll be when it’s safe to do so. The moment where I get to hug my mum and dad is something I often think about. Ahhh, it makes me a bit emotional. Grandad’s anniversary is in a couple of weeks so I’ve got to stay in happy spirits. And in the back of my mind, is a reminder of uncle Dom’s anniversary next month, which will mark one whole year since he passed away.

If lockdown has taught me anything, it’s that time flies. I knew it already but wow… even though many of us are feeling a bit bored and fed up at times, I think it’s gone so fast. And for me, the positive reflection has really helped to get more of the positive mindset back that I missed. It’s hard to find things to occupy you 24/7 but remember that this wasn’t all for nothing. It’s important to stay safe and help to save lives.

Hold onto the people and things that help you

Who and what had made you happy throughout the coronavirus outbreak? Remind yourself of whoever and whatever that might be whenever you feel a little low. Here’s to more singalongs to myself, dancing whenever I feel like it, a clearer perspective and remembering how good it feels to smile as much as possible no matter what’s happening in the world.

birthday cake with candles lit

Making the Most out of a Birthday in Lockdown

Have you got a birthday coming up and you’re thinking, oh great, a birthday in lockdown? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of things you can do to enjoy your special day. It might not be quite what you had planned e.g. cocktails with the girls, dancing the night away, or whatever it might be. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t enjoy it.

You can still enjoy lots of food

I’m an early bird and of course Danny is very much aware of that because he hears me pottering around the house most mornings. So, to be prepared, he set his alarm for 6am (yep, I don’t do lie-ins, not even on my birthday haha). Danny walked into the room holding a cake with candles lit singing happy birthday to me. You know the emoji with the little face that looks like its about to start blubbering with tears, that was me.

You might not be going out for food to your favourite restaurant but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some good food. Luckily, the sun was out for the afternoon so I was able to have a mini BBQ in the back garden with Danny. As you can probably imagine, wherever food is involved, is a pretty good sign that you’re going to enjoy yourself. Burgers and chicken lover over here, so I was in my element.

Being the Little Miss Piggy that I am, I received quite a few boxes of chocolates AND some sweets so, you bet I’ve been eating them all. So much so that I might resemble a pig after all of this, but it’s all about enjoying yourself right?

There might be some surprises along the way…

I had a lovely surprise when one of my best friends turned up (keeping 2 metres apart of course) to drop my card off along with some unexpected gifts. She also brought a card from another one of my lovely friends. Talking of surprises, I also received a bouquet of tulips, box of chocolates and teddy from Danny, along with a card from my best friend and her baby boy. You know those things that pop up with confetti when you open them and they turn into a little gift cube? Well, I had one of those but unfortunately I opened it too quick and obviously didn’t now what it was prior to it being delivered so I didn’t get a video. Part of the message read “auntie Tasha… can’t wait to see you” so you can understand how that melted my heart.

Receiving birthday messages

I still received a generous amount of cards and birthday messages over social media, text, WhatsApp etc. As I’ve already said, my two best friends made a special effort, where one of them even made me a card. My brothers came to see me from their cars as I stood at the front door which made me smile too. Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love a good card. I received a cute personalised one from my nephew too. I’m so thankful for all of my family and friends who thought of me. Each of them made it a birthday I’ll always remember even though they wasn’t there in person to see me.

There was so much thought put into my birthday this year with so much to smile about throughout the whole day. One thing that was missing was a hug from my mum and dad but at least I was able to be healthy and safe in my home and still enjoy the day. This birthday made me realise how to make the most out of any situation. Whatever it might be, there’s always a positive outlook on the horizon if you look close enough.

So, it’s your birthday next? How are you planning to spend your birthday in lockdown?