Creative Fitness: No False Start This Time

A-journey-of-a-thousand-miles-begins-with-a-single-step.-Confucius

Almost four years ago to the day, I began Battling Back to physical health after years of being in a downward spiral.  Not only was it a personal journey, but also one with a lot of inspiration behind it, much of which you can read here.

Then, having come to terms with a severe bicep injury I sustained early on—which I continued to train through for some time—I very reluctantly had to put the associated charity challenge on ice.  And there have been many attempts to restart the personal journey, which have, as the title of this post suggests, been false starts.

So, Why Now?

My health, in all honesty, still isn’t great.  Indeed, I’m still technically awaiting medical clearance to begin working out again.  But, given that that’s never stopped me before, it’s only a minor inconvenience.

One thing that the prolonged injury layoff has taught me is to listen to my body and take heed when it screams at me.  Yep, it’s true there is no gain without pain, but in the first instance my stubbornness refused to listen to my arm as it screamed.  And as you can read in posts on the original blog, even after I did start listening to it and quit working out, it gave me hell during every day tasks.

Thankfully, while I will need—and promise to—be very careful with it, the eventual ultrasonic therapy successfully broke up the extensive scar tissue in the bicep.  Indeed, that is likely the one thing that’s improved over the intervening years.

But, more importantly, just as there were four years ago, there are others inspiring me to once again Battle Back.  You might be thinking that the Olympic athletes currently competing in PyongChang are among them?  To be honest, they aren’t, really.  It’s so much more personal than that, and all of them will remain nameless, but I’ll share one of their stories…

A sista who is currently battling for her life against a very, very rare breast cancer.  She’s one of the strongest women I know.  She’s fought so many other battles over the years and we’ve always been there for each other, despite the physical distance between us.  And while that distance remains, soon after hearing of her diagnosis, I followed her example and had my almost elbow length hair cut and donated to help kids with cancer.  She’d had her almost butt length tresses cut before treatment robbed her, and indeed the kids, of them.  So, truthfully, it was the least I could do.

Baby Steps

Almost as soon as this post is published, I’ll go against medical advice and complete—or at least attempt—a very gentle workout.  But I won’t be stepping on the scale for the first time in years beforehand.  I’ll echo the old routine and do that Sunday morning, by which time I’ll have done a second workout.  I might also then take a headshot to be included in my next post, (I won’t be posting my actual weight in those posts, but will share news of losses and other progress).

No matter how gentle the initial workouts are, I know I’ll be in pain, physically.  But, given my sista’s ongoing agony, it is the least I can do.  For her, for others, and yep, for me.

 

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Creative Wanderings… WVU Mountaineer Style

Hi everyone,

When I initially planned last Sunday’s trip to the Sefton coast, including the Victorian seaside town of Southport, and Antony Gormley’s art installation “Another Place” further south toward Liverpool, I was more than happy to see expected temperatures of around 80°F.  Checking the forecast again late Saturday, it remained so, I laid out my outfit accordingly; sneakers, shorts and a tank top.  I knew it would be a long day and didn’t want a last minute scramble Sunday morning.

As I settled into bed, I checked the forecast again.  And only then did I notice, that as well as great temps, the wind would be around 25 MPH!  Not great for a walk along the second longest boardwalk in the UK!  My immediate response was to change plans just head to Liverpool instead.  But us West Virginia University Mountaineers are made of sterner stuff!

Getting up Sunday morning, I pulled on a pair of jeans instead of shorts, and grabbed my old gold and blue hoodie; putting it on over my white tank.  Sure enough, the wind was up on the 10 minute walk to the train station.  And having taken the hoodie off during the first part of the journey, quickly put it back on while waiting on the subway platform in Liverpool for the connecting train.  It would be a pattern that would be repeated countless times during the day.

My first stop on arrival in Southport was a favorite diner for breakfast and much needed coffee.  Here’s the view out to the Queen Victoria statue…

The wind was so strong that many of the chairs outside were blown over and away down the sidewalk, before they were caught and returned!  From there, it was a short walk to the entrance of the boardwalk, with it’s typical seaside amusements, including this amazing carousel…

Carousel

And the view down it’s staggering 1,216 yard (1,112 meter) length…

Boardwalk

At this point high water was around an hour away, but you can barely even see the water, despite the incredible length!  Needless to say, my trusty hoodie was well and truly on and zipped up!  Staying upright, or at least in a straight line, proved near on impossible during the trek!  Around halfway back, I decided to take a photo to send to a fellow Mountaineer…

boardwalk2

My friend suggested I take others to document the trip.  Of course, I readily agreed and so began my quest.  Not, as with the current craze in search of animated monsters.  Instead, in search of memorable Mountaineer moments!  And here they are…

Southport’s war memorial bisects Lord Street, and is alongside the Lord Street gardens.  I sat by the fountain with a recuperative coffee…

From there, it was back to the town’s station for the short hop to Crosby beach and “Another Place.”  I wasn’t surprised, having arrived around high water, that none of the life-size statues were visible.  Nor was I at the speed the tide had come in!  Having taken the hoodie off, it was a battle to get it back on for the photo above!  I had originally hoped to sit a while on the promenade, but the wind made that impossible.  So, it was back to the station and a journey to a favorite park; Chavasse Park

As I said earlier, out of the wind the sun was hot, so I bought a beer and sat to soak up some rays, sans hoodie.  The Albert Dock, another favorite place which I’ve previously written about, is in sight of the end of the park, so that was the next stop.  The dock is home to a number of tall-ships, including the magnificent Zebu…

If you’re wondering what the heck the “Superlambanana” is that I’m in front of in a photo above, you’re not going crazy.  It IS a hybrid lamb and banana!  You can read about that, and a lot of others, here.

I hope my fellow Mountaineers, and indeed everyone, has enjoyed my latest adventure.  The trip wasn’t the first time I’ve worn my gear, but I’m not usually one to take many selfies, so it was the first to be documented in that.  That said, it won’t be the last, although I need to get a selfie stick to take better pix!

I’m immensely proud to be a Mountaineer and it’s an honor to represent my beloved West Virginia University.  If any UK based Mountaineers want to get in touch, please leave a comment, or DM me on Twitter or Instagram.  I’d love to connect with you!  One more thing…

Let’s GO Mountaineers!!!

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Creative Musings ~ Faith, Hope and Love

When I started this blog, I mentioned how the posts and the topics covered could be many and varied. And so it is that today’s post is very different to the others. Today, I will give an insight into something very private, but also something that I’ve known would be shared when the time was right. That time is now, because having been invited into a group by one of my close friends, Mynn, I’ve been guided to share it.

Similarly to some of my other posts, I invite you to join me on a journey, although I must advise that it will be a world away from my travel adventures. It is a journey full of raw emotion, but also of hope. Emotions that you may feel as you read, because of their depth. It will also be somewhat graphic, and if you choose not to read on, I understand and I thank you for reading this far. For those of you who continue, please know that it is not my intention to upset or distress you in any way, but again, those emotions are possible. Please also know that although I don’t know most of you, because you’ve chosen to join me, I am with you and I thank you.

Our journey begins in November 1998. Having been brought up within a church environment, I had stopped going. Completely stopped, years earlier. I will perhaps say more about why in another post, or privately if you ask, but the reasons aren’t critical to this sharing. In November ’98 I was engaged to the man I would later marry. We had talked about having children in the future, but there was no real timescale. Then the decision was made for us. Some might say it was an “accidental” pregnancy, but I prefer unexpected. What followed certainly was.

Less than 48 hours after the multiple positive pregnancy tests, I started to cramp. Within hours unexpected joy and elation had become unimaginable pain and despair as the baby was lost. I was hurting and I was angry. I asked God why? Why did He let me go through that? I admit, it was somewhat of a rhetorical question. I wasn’t really looking for an answer, or support from Him then. But I had to ask.

I only knew of the little one’s existence for a matter of hours, and there was no way of knowing whether I’d lost a son, or a daughter. Call it a mother’s intuition, but I knew I now had an angelic daughter and I named her. It comforted me and yes, to a degree lessened the pain, although that never goes away.

Fast forward to September 2001. I was now approaching my first wedding anniversary and ten weeks pregnant with a planned baby. My obstetrics appointments hadn’t yet begun, despite my history. I was overjoyed, yet so so scared. It didn’t bear thinking about, but what if? I couldn’t help but ask the question.

I was with friends on the day the world changed forever. As we clung to each other on September 11, 2001, watching events unfold, I put a protective hand on my tummy. Hours later I started to spot. It was nothing like the first time, there were no cramps. But please NO, I pleaded! Not again! Thankfully it stopped and in the days that followed I put it down to the stress of what had happened that day in history.

We had planned a vacation and travelled to the foreign destination. Still fearful for my unborn babe, I tried to relax and enjoy it the best I could. But on the evening of September 21st, I felt the now familiar dreaded sensation. Immediately I knew what was happening. As the pain increased in intensity I told myself “You’ve been through it once, you can do it again.” I was in agony, but didn’t seek medical help.

In the early hours of September 22nd, after an agonizing labor, I lost the baby. Only then, as the physical pain worsened and tears flowed, did I wake my husband. “It shouldn’t be like this,” I told him, “I should be in less pain now.” We called the doctor and explained what had happened. He told us to go to the hospital “when you’re ready.” He didn’t see the urgency and so we travelled not by ambulance, but by taxi to the hospital in the next town.

There, I was taken for a scan to confirm what I already knew. Entering the room I walked past a heavily pregnant mother to be, and heard her baby’s heartbeat on the monitor. I smiled weakly toward her in acknowledgement. More tears flowed as I gazed at the ultrasound monitor. There, for the first and only time, I saw where my child had lay. The image forever imprinted on both my mind and heart.

I was taken back to my room and another hour passed. I was bleeding heavily by the time the nurse came to get me to take me to the OR. There, as I surfaced from the anesthesia and before I opened my eyes, the sound of a newborn baby crying filled my ears. Through the haze I realized it was coming from the next room and was the little one whose heartbeat I’d heard earlier. Then, opening my eyes, I realized I was alone. They did things differently in that foreign land and perhaps not expecting me to come around so soon, the surgical team had gone to deliver the baby by cesarean.

Instantly more tears flowed. But not as you might think of despair. In that moment. Hearing that newborn babe, whose heartbeat I’d heard earlier, I was filled with an entirely different emotion. Hope. Hope for the future. Hope that one day I might deliver a healthy baby.

Soon after, back in my room, I learned that I’d been minutes away from not being here to share this with you, due to an undetected condition. That strengthened me further. Again, I named the child, a son. One who I will forever be thankful to. In his sacrifice, Joshua James, gave me life. A precious gift that a mother usually gives her child. Not the other way around. The same precious gift that through His son’s sacrifice, God gave to all of us.

In the years since, I have gained a third angelic child, a daughter who I lost later in pregnancy. But I’ve also been blessed with three healthy, happy children. And I have come to an understanding on a much deeper level. And that is, ultimately, why I’ve shared such personal events with you. Although I might not have felt close to God during those painful years, He was constantly with me. Carrying me. As is so beautifully described in Mary Stevenson’s often incorrectly attributed poem “Footprints in the Sand.”

Footprints in the Sand
They might not have been with me on earth for long, but I know that Josh and his angelic sisters are forever with me. They look down on me and their siblings. Together with my Heavenly Father, they guide and bless my life beyond measure. And I know that on the day of our Lord’s choosing, I’ll be reunited with them.
I want to share with you a verse that speaks of so much truth…
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

 

To all of you who have stayed with me to this point, thank you. Again, I sincerely apologize for any distress I’ve caused. To those who are struggling, especially those who have tragically lost a child, or are struggling to conceive, please, don’t give up hope. Stay strong. Rest in the arms of your Savior and please, please know that I too am here for you. If you don’t want to talk publicly, leave me a comment asking me to contact you. You don’t need to give your email address publicly, because I’ll get it behind the scenes. We’re not alone and I’ll do all I can to support you.

Thank you and God bless

Em
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Creative Wanderings Snapshot… Formby Beach

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by. I’m honored to have you here. This past weekend I took advantage of the sun and took a trip to Formby nature reserve and beach. I’ll tell you more about it in a post soon, but for now here’s a snapshot, the first view of the ocean, taken at the top of a sand dune.

Beach1

I’m linking the photo up with the latest share over at Our Beautiful World, By the Sea

OBWbutton

Thanks,
Em

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Creative Wanderings… Eden Project, Cornwall

Hi everyone,

Following on from my last post, a snapshot taken at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, as promised, I’ll now share more about the visit.

Here’s what the Eden website says about their location…

“Our site is an international visitor attraction with a difference, and not only because it’s in a hole in the ground. Our mission is to provide a stage on which we entertain and communicate both our work and that of others. Most importantly we want to give you a good day out by taking you on a journey that is memorable and inspiring. Everything links together – from what we grow, to what we cook and what we sell.”

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s been thirty years since I last visited the area, long before the Project began. When it did, this is how the site progressed…

The weather, as you can see, was the polar opposite to the previous day; gloriously warm sunshine. Not that it would have really mattered because much of the attraction is contained within the “biomes.” The second image below was taken through a wooden picture frame prompt and it gives a close up look at the structures.

Once inside the Rainforest biome, we got a close up look at the structure on the nerve-wracking canopy walk…

If I never get to do the canopy walk again, it closes when heat and humidity make it unsafe to make the trek up, I’m glad that I put my fear of heights aside and did it. Yeah, I’m kinda proud I did! The waterfall looks impressive from above, but it’s even more breathtaking and indeed refreshing close up, as you’ll see in the next gallery…

The day was magical and I hope these pictures give you a sense of that. In my next post I’ll share more from my vacation.

Have you been to the Eden Project? If so, please let me know what you thought about it.

Thanks,
Em

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Creative Wanderings Snapshot… Tulips at Eden

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by. I’m honored to have you here. The photo below was taken, along with around 100 others, some of which I’ll share in my next post, on a visit to the Eden Project during my vacation last month.

Tulips at Eden

Tulips at Eden

I’m entering the image into the Spring Thing linkup at Our Beautiful World

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I’ll tell you more about the visit and share more pix in my next post.

Thanks,
Em

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Creative Wanderings… Lanhydrock House, Cornwall

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by. I’m honored to have you here. The images I’m sharing with you today are just some of those I took last month during my spring break vacation in Cornwall, UK.

Prior to the trip it had been over 30 years since my last visit to the area, so I knew that as well as evoking long lost memories it would also be a time of relaxation and discovery.

Cornwall is the most westerly of the English counties. While there are counties in the US, in the UK they are in fact the equivalent of the US states, although much, much smaller! Click the image below to learn more about the counties in general.

The-Counties

 

Click here for information about Cornwall. That page mentions Lanhydrock House among the highlights and I can honestly say that yes, it is a highlight. That said, the pouring rain on the day of our visit was not a highlight! Grin. Despite Mother Natures best attempts to dampen the day, it was a great one!

“Lanhydrock House is a paragon of Victorian style and design. However, it only appears as it does because it was completely refurbished in the 1880s following a fire which destroyed parts of the building and ended the lives of its current occupants.”

The visit to Lanhydrock was on the first full day of the vacation and in my next post I’ll share where we went on day two, so I hope you’ll join me then.

Thanks,
Em

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