The other day I was writing a cheque and I found myself writing the year, 2014, as you do. The only thing that was different about it was I realised that it’s nearly 2015 and I haven’t had a chance to get used to it being 2014.
This year has flown by. It’s passed quicker than any other year I can remember. And I know why.
I’ve had a life changing year, in a good way. In January I decided to leave the family business I had been running for six years and had worked in for 17. I took a massive step and applied for the job of Head of Communications with Mental Health Ireland.
I had no idea how to tell my Dad that I was going for an interview and in the end I ended up telling him right before I left for it. I felt like getting sick. Not because I was nervous about the interview but because I had made my big move official with the only person that mattered.
He was, as always, very supportive wishing me luck and saying they’d be mad not to hire me on the spot (as any Dad would!).
I went through two rounds of interviews with presentations and press release tests and got a phone call on a rainy day on the N11 to say I had got the job. It is a very weird feeling to get my first new job so late in life. I had been in the same spot for 17 years and I needed a change. I love change and I felt if I didn’t go for it this year that I’d be stuck forever.
Everyone, including my Dad was delighted for me. It was the most difficult decision I have ever made though. I felt like I was abandoning my Dad and letting him and the family down. They wouldn’t hear anything of it and were so happy for me which I really really needed to see! There were lots of tears from me but no regrets.
So for the past six months I have been working in Mental Health Ireland and I love it. I love promoting and supporting mental health and look forward to doing more and more of it as I get my feet further under the desk! I am in the middle of a re-brand for the organisation which I am really enjoying and also can’t wait for it to be over!
At the beginning of this year I also dedicated this year to me. I highlighted a number of changes I wanted to make including to be happy in work and in myself. I sorted the work end of things out and at the same time have spent this whole year trying and succeeding in losing weight and losing it for good.
I joined Slimming World and it is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I have made some real friends over the year and learnt life lessons about food and nutrition that will stay with me forever. I have managed to nearly reach my weight loss target.. I have five weeks to go and 7lbs to lose so I’ve my eye on the prize.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for me. I’ve hardly noticed it passing, which is funny, because of all my 38 years it will be the one I will probably remember the most!
Last weekend saw me and the Class of ’94 celebrate our 20 year reunion from Loreto Foxrock. I was part of the organising committeeeee and responsible for the venue. We chose The Residence in Dublin and could not fault it one bit. It was a beautiful setting and the staff couldn’t have been nicer.
So what did I observe at my 20 year reunion….
The adrenaline was akin to the dressing room in Croke Park on All Ireland Final day! It’s really weird seeing people you haven’t seen for 20 years. You see them, pause, hope to hell you have the right person and then squeal their name whilst wrapping your arms around them! This is quickly followed by “You have not changed one bit”.
This is mostly true. Once the initial recognition panic is over you keep staring and all of a sudden the brown v-neck and green tie replaces the little black dress and you are back being 16 again.
Some had changed a lot. Others not at all.
One had four babies, some had none and two were pregnant.
Some were married, others ‘living-in-sin’. Some had lost partners and others had left them.
We had doctors, receptionists, housewives, solicitors, jewellery designers, matchmakers, engineers, mothers, photographers, accountants, marketeers, HR’s, childminders, psychotherapists and everything in between.
When I looked around the beautiful room filled with beautiful women sipping beautiful cocktails I remember why I loved school so much. It wasn’t the teachers or the sports and it certainly wasn’t the academia. It was the people, my class mates made it the rollercoaster ride that it was.
There were good times and bad but we all muddled through them together and the one thing that struck me about that room on Saturday night was the utter honesty being shared. Honesty about tough times experienced to explain the acting out in classrooms and about our relationships in our now adult lives.
It was lovely to see the old ‘clicks’ all sitting together towards the end of the night but most of all it was lovely to see all those familiar faces and to be transported back to teenager years.
Photos from the night below, mostly by Liosa McNamara
Here are all the excuses I have come up with to get out of going running…
“I just washed my hair this morning”
I’m serious. This is an excuse I use quite a lot! My hair takes some taming with a hairdryer so the prospect of having to dry it again after another wash is the perfect excuse. With that logic I need to wait for my hair to get dirty before I’ll run!
“The kids need me”
My children are four and six. They are healthy children and very rarely do they actually need me just at the time I want to go running… BUT, it’s very easy to make myself feel guilty for leaving for a run when they are acting up… which is the exact time I need to be disappearing for a run!
“There just isn’t enough time”
I, like everyone else have a busy life. My family of four is up and out of the house every morning by 7.30 and we are not back together again til 6.30/7pm. We have very little time together so I would often say I don’t have enough time to fit a run in. BUT, then I think about President Obama and how he fits in a one hour run every day…. at 4.30am. He makes time for it.. that is the difference! The other side of this one is I do put pressure on myself to do a bit of a Forrest Gump on it and if I don’t have the full hour that I “need” I just won’t go, coz only running two or three miles just isn’t far enough, sure it isn’t?!
“I had a diet coke today”
I know! You are probably thinking what the hell is she going on about! I once had a diet coke a few hours before a run and I burped my way through the whole run! So, I now know I can’t drink fizzy on the day that I run. If you see me with a can to my lips just ask me if I had planned on running later or if I’m hatching the perfect plan!
“I can’t find my arm band for my phone”
There is no possible way I can run without music or without it being monitored. No way. Just can’t be done. And then I actually lost my armband, went out without it (in a huff) and had a great run and even managed to survive it!
“It’s too hot/ cold/ wet/ dark”
It’s too hot to run, I might get dehydrated/ burnt/ sunstroke. I’ll freeze out there, best to wait and see if it’s warmer tomorrow. I couldn’t possibly go out in that rain, sure I’d get drenched. It’s getting dark early so I best not head out. All nonsense excuses with very easy fixes of course.
I run for many reasons and one of them is for my positive mental health. When I run I am in My world. No one talks to me and I don’t have to talk to anyone, apart from myself of course!
I zone out and check in all at the same time which is not an easy thing to do during a busy day of work/life juggling. Running is an escape for me, it’s a release. It makes me feel like I am amazing for just getting out there and pushing myself. Every time I see people out running I feel like high five-ing them and telling them they are amazing. It’s way easier to come up with one of the excuses above than to get the gear on and go out And every time I chose to run over not running it’s always the best decision. I’ve never regretted a run but I have definitely regretted not running.
I’ve just had a look in the mirror and can confirm I’ll be running this evening, that’s if I can stay off the Diet Coke, find my armband, it doesn’t rain and the kids are happy!
We all do things a little differently on holidays, don’t we? I am lucky to have access to a villa in Spain and have gone there on holidays for the last eight years. It’s brilliant to have a home away from home in the sun, especially when travelling with children. It means we can settle into holiday-mode the second we arrive; the kids go to re-connect with their rooms and we open the bottle of wine!
So how do I know I’m really on holidays?
1. I charge my phone once a week
At home my phone charges over night then once in the office and again at night time. So two full charges a day and on a busy day it could be three. We decided not to get wifi in Spain much to my delight. I (nearly) totally switch off only checking work email once every two days and take a complete break from all things social media.
2. I read
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t read books anymore. Pre mobile/ social media I used to read books quite a lot but I just don’t make the time for them anymore. When I’m away I love reading. I get swept away with the story and can read for hours on end.
3. I wear clothes I wouldn’t dream of wearing at home
See through beach sarongs over bikinis in Tesco… I don’t think so! Yet I find myself in the local Consum barely dressed without a care! Then there’s the mini-skirts and running in shorts and sports bra!
4. I have curly hair
It must be the temperature over there but my hair dries naturally with a rather nice curl to it… over here I look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards if I don’t dry it. I love that I don’t need to blast my head with hot air each evening after my shower in the boiling heat!
4. I enjoy doing the washing
I am not a Domestic Goddess by any means but when I’m in Spain I actually enjoy washing the clothes. I just love how quickly the clothes dry! A large fluffy towel will be dry in 40 mins!
5. I eat a Twix every day
There is something about being away and eating a Twix… I don’t know why but every day on holidays I have one from the fridge and love it!!
6. I feel like a rock-star after a run
Holidays are a break from the routine but the last few years I’ve brought my running gear with me. After each run, no mater how long or short, i feel like a rock star for doing it and always reward myself with an immediate dip in the pool with a beer!
So, how do you know you’ve switched into holiday mode? Is there anything you do or don’t do when away from it all.