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5 Years of Blogging!

This week I’ve moved my blog off a self hosted server and taken it back to wordpress.com. I don’t tend to review anymore, nor do I accept any sponsored posts etc so I didn’t feel the need to keep paying for hosting anymore. I simply didn’t need it. I have kept my URL though, thats part of my identity I feel. When I moved it to SimplyHayley.com I chose it because it didn’t tie me into being a parenting blog totally.

My blog started out in June 2009 according to my records. At the time I had named it ‘Single Motherhood Challenges’, that was a bit of a mouthful! At some stage it moved to being Singlemummy.net but then again I reached a stage where I didn’t want to be tied to it being about parenting so thats when it became simplyhayley.com. This blog has all 5 years worth of posts on it, over 1000 of them! Many have now been put into draft mode as I don’t want them in the public domain anymore. But I can’t quite delete them. Its like looking back at an old diary.

There are the days when blogging was much smaller, early 2010, when at all events there were the same few familiar faces. Blogging now has exploded. I talk to my few blogging friends and they mention names of people I have no idea who they are! I liked the way it was back then, I do miss those days.

This blog also saw me through my second pregnancy and provided me with a place to keep a diary and write about my concerns and fears over my planned c-section and how that all turned out, as well as our volatile early days of breastfeeding.

More recently it has become my place to talk about my running, marathon training and race reports as well as my charity fundraising for the lullaby trust with the Matilda Mae Skydive.

Although I don’t blog on a regular basis now I like that its always here if I want it. I dont think there will ever come a day where I could hit the delete button. I’d be lost without my little space to come and get my thoughts down, that being said in recent years I’ve self censored so much that theres barely any of ‘my thoughts’ here now. Too many friends and family read it and I have to be conscious of that, gone are the days when no one knew I wrote it and I could say anything that was on my mind without any repercussions, thats generally the problem with all social media now.

I wonder where my blog will be 5 years from now…

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Do you know what ALS is? #ALSIceBucketChallenge

So for a few days now the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been taking over my various social media channels. I’ve found it all very amusing and have loved watching the videos, especially of the celebrities doing it including Cheryl cole, David and Brooklyn Beckham, Ronaldo, Colleen Rooney, loads of them! But I admit I wasn’t totally aware of how debilitating ALS can be. I had a general idea about what it entailed but not as aware as maybe I should have been. I’ll admit the first time this video got shared in my stream I skipped it. But then a friend who doesn’t share many things on FB shared it and I thought if she has taken the time to share it then maybe I should to! So I had a watch and was heartbroken watching Anthony caring for his mother, both of them suffer from ALS, hers is further along than his. How hard must that be caring for someone knowing one day your going to be in her place. Just awful.
Take a few minutes to watch his video. And then bear in mind how much this has helped spread the word about ALS, something the majority of the world probably had very little idea about before this happened.
The power of the internet.

In the UK ALS is known as MND (Motor Neurone Disease) The MNDA have set up a justgiving page and text code so you can do the challenge yourself and donate to them. Check it out here.

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Beach Therapy

Yesterday we went to the beach. It was a decision I made on Monday when I knew I needed some time away. Ideally I had wanted to take the kids away for a night somewhere but seems all the budget hotels get booked up in seaside resorts during the summer holidays, who’d have thought?! So I decided we would go somewhere different. Usually when I need my sea fix, which has been ALOT lately, we go to Brighton. I know Brighton well, I can drive there and know the route like the back of my hand. We spend hours throwing rocks in the sea and walking along the sea front. But I needed to feel like I was really getting away, not going home, which is how Brighton tends to feel!

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So I drove out of my comfort zone and went to Bournemouth. I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the idea of the journey but we were very lucky and traffic was clear both ways. I sort of know bournemouth beach but not that well but had my eye on a particular area and luckily we managed to find a spot near enough to the water that we could set up camp. The boys arent used to sandy beaches but they loved it. We built sandcastles and paddled in the water. Little man thought it was hilarious to run up and down in the waves so we spent 15 minutes sprinting up and down getting soaked and laughing our heads off. It was just what I needed.

For a few hours I was able to forget the things that have been upsetting me and bringing me down recently. Life has been such an immense rollercoaster these past few months. I’ve put too much energy into things I really should have known better. As many of my friends on instagram have been telling me this week I am stronger than I realise and I can pick myself back up again, because I always do. But there are times when you wish there was someone by your side helping you.

I need to spend time doing things that make me happy. I’m not good at doing that. I’m not good at saying to people, ‘Please can you babysit I need to do something for me’ I don’t have enough self worth to believe that is a valid reason. But its what I do need to try and do more of at the moment. No matter how alien it is.

The big events of this year are over. A half marathon, A marathon and a Skydive for the Lullaby Trust which have raised over £1200. School is over for a year. September/October sees some big changes in our day to day lives and I need to try and find some peace with that because at the moment I’m still not such a fan of that idea.

But in the meantime I’m going to try and find a bit of happiness in each day, no matter how small, be it snuggles with the boys, giggles on the trampoline or ice cream by the river. I’m going to make sure there is something small that makes me smile. Maybe the small ones will add up.Beach

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HM Training : Not going so well!

Training, hmm, interesting word, that would suggest I had actually done some running to contribute towards my goal of running a PB half marathon! In reality I haven’t ‘Trained’. I can’t put an exact reason on why not, theres been a number of contributing factors.

1) Fragile emotional state. For a number of reasons I’ve not been in a good headspace. In fact I’ve been in an entirely awful one. I’m grateful that although I’ve not seen many of my friends physically I’ve discovered some amazing friends in the skydive team who have been there for me through this time and I love them for it. They are being my rock!

2) Its summer, running during the day in heat is horrible I just cant do it, i struggle too much with hydration and low blood pressure and end up feeling awful. I can’t do early morning runs because I’m a single mum so it means asking my Mum to come over which isn’t fair on her as its her school holidays so she doesn’t want to be waking up at 6am so I can run. I can do evening runs but I’m not an evening runner naturally! I hate running in the evening. It means I’ve had to mentally prepare myself the whole way through the day for it to try and get myself to go out the front door, and often by the evening I’ve failed at that mental prep, I’m exhausted and just can’t be bothered!

3) Summer holidays. Whereas when I was marathon training and half marathon training I had 2 days a week where youngest was at his childminder and then he would spend a morning with his godmother and a morning at creche for an hour I was able to fit in my runs, this time both kids are off and I dont have any childcare which means relying on my Mum and thats not always easy, we both have commitments and I feel guilty to ask her to have the boys so I can run, it doesn’t feel a valid reason.

I know ultimately these are excuses and really I should just give myself a massive boot up the backside, sort out a new training plan and get my legs moving but I am struggling. Come September when the kids are back at school it will be easier as youngest will be at nursery 5 mornings a week and I will just have to use those 3 hours to get myself out and going but thats 4 weeks away and although that will be valueable training I also have to train before then if Im going to meet the goal I want in bournemouth!

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Depression : Smiles hide the pain

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For a long time I’ve not talked about depression on my blog. I used to. Some of my long term readers may remember that. But then I started to bottle it up again. I started to hide it. Depression is not something we generally talk about. Maybe its  a British thing. Although I don’t really think it is because when you look at the reaction of people this morning to the news that Robin Williams is suspected to have committed suicide it seems to be a global shock that someone ‘happy’ can be so depressed they take their own life.

The thing is what you see on the outside doesn’t always reflect the inside. I’ve described it to numerous counsellors as my mask. It keeps people out. It stops them seeing the pain I’m in, weather that means that it doesn’t hurt them because they are family or friends who care or more of an ‘mate’  who I don’t want to share with because I’m ashamed/embarrassed etc. I remember at school when after 3 years of a bad attendance record it finally came out that it was because of depression the welfare officer was shocked, she was amazed because I always walked around school smiling, nothing ever appeared to be wrong. I had perfected hiding it.

Since my teens I’ve been treated for depression numerous times. I’m 24 now so I would say its been on and off for pretty much 10 years now. I’ve had various treatments. So many ‘counsellors’ and therapists that I’ve lost count ranging from nurses to psychiatrists, often only short term on fixed ‘its only for 6 weeks’ type therapy. I’ve had CBT (Personally didn’t work for me) and eventually after many years my GP gave me anti depressants. I was on them for a number of years and they meant I was stable. But numb. You don’t really feel anything when your on them. Your just existing, although sometimes manically in my case. I went back on them a few months after having my 2nd son when we were going through a difficult period and made the choice myself to come off them last spring. Since then I’ve been off them and have learnt to treat myself with my running and making healthy choices for me, such as going away for a night if I need time to reflect and regroup. I’ve learnt to talk if I can. I have one friend who doesn’t live locally so I can email her and she is always who I turn to when I’m at my worst because its easier to write it than say it often.

Generally these days I do not consider myself to be in a state of depression but I do have short bouts where I get a period of ‘low days’ and it can feel like your being sucked right back in. I’ve always said that once you’ve been there once it is so easy to be sucked back to that familiar place.

So my point to this post was that just because someone smiles, is the happy, is confident, strong, the life and soul of the party, it doesn’t always mean that is how they feel on the inside. On the inside they could be fighting themselves. Fighting their own thoughts. B

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Stephen Fry explains it so very well. It is a feeling of total hopelessness and loneliness. You can be surrounded by people who love you dearly and want you to get better and yet you feel completely alone. And the worst thing is you believe these people will up and leave because your too much to deal with. So my tip to you if you know anyone who is depressed remind them every now and then that you are still there for them, that you still care, that they can still turn to you, be it just through a simple text, or asking if they want a coffee, just little reminders, because the worst thing when your suffering is feeling like the whole world has turned its back on you, depressed brains don’t work logically and if you haven’t spoken to that person in a while although you are still there for them they may not think you are.

4f63acf54c282a32db32f4000b24abc2And when they are at their absolute worst, just being there can help. Just knowing you aren’t alone.

There are some fantastic organisations out there to help people with depression and also offer guidance to those supporting loved ones. Blurt are brilliant and offer mentors. Mind have created a site called elefriends which I cannot recommend enough if your struggling. And of course there are also the fantastic Samaritans who aren’t only on the phone, they are also at the end of an email, which is great if you suffer with phone related anxiety!

 

 

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#MMSkydive : WE DID IT!

Wow. Its all over. We jumped out of a plane at 13,000ft and shouted Tildas name to the world. And now its over for another year. For that I am very sad. But the planning is already happening for next year!!! But in the meantime I will share with you what an amazing experience Saturday was.

Friday evening we went out for dinner with most of the skydive team and it was fab to meet those I hadn’t already met such as Lucy, Clare and Claire along with their families. But it was soon time for an early night and an attempt at sleep. Which didn’t go well for me. I hadn’t expected to sleep well as I’d been struggling for a few nights with the nerves and the what ifs whizzing around my head. I managed a few patchy hours but woke up a bit of an emotional wreck on Saturday morning for many reasons. Being awake half the night isn’t ideal as you think alot. I’d worked myself right up and had a good cry in bed whilst my friend was in the shower, then cried on her shoulder and then cried on poor Kip when I saw him in reception. I managed to pull it together though and we were soon on our way to the airfield. Rather than muck around trying to follow people like we did last year we were able to all jump into one car thanks to Kips 7 seater! We didn’t get lost which was another bonus!

We arrived and got registered shortly after 8:20am and were told to wait to be called for our briefing. I had eaten a cereal bar in the car and was feeling very queasy. I decided water was going to be the way to go until we jumped! Shortly after we got called in for our briefing but sadly the ground crew weren’t able to join us as they had been last year. Most of what was said was exactly the same as last years. And then the wait begun.

The waiting is by far the worst. I found myself really missing having Jennie, Susanne and Rachel with us at that stage and tweeted them to tell them so, I’d known I was going to miss them but at that point it really hit me hard. We were all trying to gather our thoughts and not completely freak out I think! We had a good natter and the ground crew and some jumpers were tweeting furiously. As with last year I struggled to find the words to tweet much myself. A bit like the marathon I found the amount of support across twitter and facebook overwhelming and needed to zone out a bit. The team did an amazing job and by 1130am we were trending in the UK which we all got massively excited about! Thank you to every single person who got involved on twitter at the weekend. Weather you tweeted, RT’d or donated in any way shape or form, you helped! Thank you!

A little while after the first team members were called to get ready, that included me, along with Kip and Claire. We went and got suited up and ready to go and met with our instructors. According to mine it was his first jump ;-) we had a right giggle together and he put me at ease. I’d been massively nervous the whole morning but once I got into the suit and the harness was on the excitement started to creep in more! Then it was time for the emotional goodbye hugs and to say see you later to the rest of the team before heading off to jump aboard the plane and fly to the clouds!

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Unfortunately for me we were to be last off the plane. I have to admit I wasn’t such a fan of this idea at first. I remembered last year and seeing Michelle go out first and me starting to swear my head off as we approached the door second. The thought of watching the whole plane leave before us wasn’t appealing! But I had Claire climb aboard and sit next to me and her big excited grin was infectious! I watched out the window as we took off seeing the rest of the team waving at us and the ground get further away, I was feeling oddly calm. A bit like last year I felt like Tilda was with us making sure we were going to be safe, all the nerves of the week were starting to fade and the excitement was building, I was just worrying a bit about breathing on free-fall again. Claires instructor offered us a sweet on the way up which I gladly took as my ears were starting to build quite a lot of pressure and I knew it would help ease that. The journey felt like it went on forever and I was trying to distract myself with pretty scenery and enjoy the views and the clouds as I had last year as well as chatting with the instructors about what its like to jump in rain.

Finally we reached 13,000ft and it was time to go! The plane door went up and the solo jumpers we had on board went out. Our cameramen got into position and we were soon shuffling towards the door. I watched as Kip went out the door and vanished, then Claire went, and as we approached the door I could see the ground, all the fields in their patchwork colours of greens and yellows, I tried not to register much about seeing that and put my head as far back as I could and tried to smile for the camera and suddenly we were out, the wind was rushing past at a ridiculous speed and I could breathe. I had listened to my instructor and tried to breathe normally so was taking short shallow breaths and I felt ok. It was amazing. I was loving it! I gave the camera a thumbs up and just loved the feeling of floating. It is such an absolutely amazing feeling, one you really cant describe. Unlike last year where I found myself panicing because I couldn’t breathe properly I just adored the feeling this time. I made the effort to keep in the right position and head right back and at one point we caught the air flow awkwardly and it was a bit hard to breathe but we soon righted again and it felt fine. I was so disappointed when the parachute opened, although relieved it had opened safely too! I was so hyper and enjoying every second. I made a few comments that my instructor took totally out of context and found ourselves floating above the ground in absolute hysterics. He really helped to make it a fab experience. He asked if I wanted to do some spins as we headed to the ground to which I responded “Hell bloody yes” and we were soon spinning in insanely tight circles, the pressure on my legs feeling so extreme. The parachute part this time felt so much longer and I have absolutely no doubt that it was, he took his time getting us down unlike my instructor last year and I loved every second.

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Then it was time to land, sadly, he told me to pop my feet onto his and helped me lift my legs up so I could grab them, its really sodding hard to lift them when gravity is trying to pull you down. I grabbed hold and we were soon above the airfield ready to land. Its a strange feeling as he pretty much stopped and the air kind of stopped flowing through the chute and it went quiet as we kind of lowered to the ground landing just off the place we were supposed to causing the tandem catchers and cameraman to have to dash over! A quick interview with my camera man and then a chat with my instructor about why it had been so much better and it was all over and I was riding an absolute high! I walked over to the team and gave my best friend the biggest hug ever along with the rest of the team and turned around to Clare and Kip both smiling! The rest of the team who hadn’t gone up were inside getting themselves ready so I went in to give them all hugs and wish them luck. I found I suddenly had an appetite so once we had waved them off I managed to eat some sweets without the worry of ‘what if I throw this up in the plane’ lol! Waiting for the team was agonising as we could see the rain clouds moving in. Unfortunately they had to jump through the rain and came down rather wet bless them! I was very relieved when everyone had landed safely!

L: Pre Jump team photo C: Team photo with ground crew R: After jump team photo!

L: Pre Jump team photo C: Team photo with ground crew R: After jump team photo!

Overall it was the most fantastic day. The instructors had said they didn’t think we would be able to jump that day due to the weather and were surprised by how clear it wasn’t. I wasn’t, Tilda had an influence on it I am sure of it, she ensured we could jump and that we all jumped safely. 18 months seems like such a long time and yet it seems no time at all. So far we have raised over £4800 as a team and individually I have raised over £1100 so thank you so much to everyone who has sponsored us as a team, or sponsored me, your all AMAZING.

A massive thank you to my fellow jumpers for agreeing to do this with me again this year. And also to our awesome family and friends who came to support us. The ground crew play just as much of an important role on the day providing hugs and support that is much needed when your as nervous as hell! As well as providing some awesome photographs for us to remember the day with, thank you ground crew!

The great thing about skydiving is everyone experiences it differently. Clare has written about her experience here.

I now have the wait for my DVD and photos to arrive! When they do I may share with you the cringeworthy video! If I deem it not too embarrassing ;-)

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#mmskydive : Ignorance is bliss

Last year I was scared. Scared of the unknown. Scared of how it would feel. I worried it would feel like falling.

I swore my head off as we left the plane but I loved every second of that freefall. Even the struggle to breathe! And the relief when that parachute opens.

So for some reason this time around I feel like im more scared. Everyone is telling me I shouldnt be scared this time. That I know what to expect so its fine. But thats exactly it… I know whats coming. I know how it feels like your floating. How it feels so utterly peaceful whilst your in freefall. And then how you glide in and the ground rushes towards you. And how you stand up and feel like your legs are jelly. Your shaking with adrenaline. Youve survived. Your on an absolute high and feel like you can take on the world. You want to go up again there and then.

And then a few days later the low that its all over.

I am scared. But I have no doubt like last year that Tilda is going to be watching over us making sure we are all safe.

Less than 48 hours to go! Hopefully!!