Trials and Tribulations

It’s the end of March and it’s snowing in Scotland. That doesn’t sound too out of the ordinary, but last week spring was all around us and I had my first hayfever symptoms of the year. What is going on with this crazy world we live in?

Anyway, I’ve had a fairly eventful couple of days as far as these things go. On Friday night I went out with the teachers from my placement school. They are all language teachers (mostly French teachers) and had chosen to go to a French restaurant…now is it just me or is that a bit wanky? As it turned out it was pretty good fun and no-one really spoke French to the restaurant staff so that was OK. Now, as regular readers will know I’ve been on a weight loss mission since Christmas; I’ve now lost 25lbs and only have a few more pounds to lose before I get to my target weight. So, I knew I would probably end up eating stuff I shouldn’t on Friday, and drinking as well, but I was hoping this would be the first step towards my new goal of trying not to do things to excess as I had in the past, and to manage my eating in a healthy way (both physically and mentally). 

It would seem, however, I still have a way to go. To be fair, I didn’t do too badly at the restaurant with my choices although I did have three courses when two would have done. I didn’t drink too much either (I think 3 or 4 small glasses of wine and a pint of cider, which is fairly moderate for me). The problem came when I got home. With a bit of booze inside me I was craving chocolate and lacking willpower. I managed to walk straight home from the train station without calling in the garage for supplies, but then when I got in I remembered the unopened box of After Eights from Christmas… and I ate half the box in one sitting. I was so disappointed with myself even as I did it. Given half a chance I’d gone back to shovelling chocolates in my mouth without even thinking about what I was doing. So much for moderation. It seems I’m not yet capable of controlling my eating when something is right in front of me. If it’s not there at all I’m OK, so I guess that’s what I’ll have to stick with for now.

It gets worse though…on Saturday night my friend Claire came round for an evening of watching rubbish TV and chat. We had chicken stir fry which is very healthy, but then she’d brought Caramel Bunnies and Malteser Bunnies too. They were delicious and if I hadn’t eaten so much the night before it might have been OK, but then Claire went home and I decided I might as well polish off the rest of the After Eights because I was going to end up eating them all eventually anyway. And it’s that attitude that got me in this mess in the first place.

Anyhow, I’m back on track now and I’m not going to beat myself up about it – I think I’ve got away with not gaining any weight this week (although I haven’t lost any) – but I’ve just proven to myself that I’ve still got a long way to go in this battle and I’m going to slip up along the way before I find my way for the long term.

My weekend took a turn for the even weirder on Sunday when I woke up at about 8.30am with excruciating pain in my tummy. I went to the bathroom where I came over with cold sweats and managed to pass out, tipping forward off the toilet and banging the crap out of my knee, and bumping the top of my forehead in the process! I came to lying on the bathroom floor on top of the bucket I’d been holding because I thought I might be sick. It would have been comical if it hadn’t have been so scary. It’s times like these when living alone isn’t always the best position to be in. So, I crawled back to my bed, head still spinning and still having cold sweats. I lay there for a while and the pain started to ease and I managed to get myself a drink of water. And then after about 10 minutes it was gone and I felt almost normal again. It really was very weird. I rang my mum, although I’m not quite sure why. It’s not like she could do anything 350 miles away, and all I succeeded in doing was making her worry. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours then got up and made my way to the sofa where I stayed dozing on and off for the rest of the day. I woke up at about 8.30pm and realised I’d been asleep more than awake, and although I felt OK I followed the advice of the good people of Twitter and called NHS 24. They weren’t an awful lot of help but didn’t seem to think I was any sort of emergency, so I went to bed with nothing more than a big bruise on my knee and a sore spot on my head to show for it. I still don’t know what the matter was, possibly trapped wind?! Who knew needing to fart could make you lose consciousness? That teamed with my naturally low blood pressure was enough it seems. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen again any time soon!

And finally, on a more positive note, I went to Monday Ukearist in Edinburgh last night and it was a lot of fun. And as improving my ukulele playing is one of my TYSIC goals I feel I’ve taken another tiny step in the right direction. And on top of that, I only have to go into university three more times ever (and do another four weeks in school) and that is pretty bloody exciting!

I’m heading off on my Easter adventures on Thursday; it begins by seeing Derren Brown in Edinburgh on Thursday night before setting off on my drive which will take me to London, comedy, camping, comedy, wedding, the parental home, back to Scotland for a day or two, then a flight back to London and more comedy. I shall do my best to blog about some of the above, but I’m not making any promises! It’s been another long one today so thanks for reading if you stuck with me. I really do appreciate it.

My life and me: A TYSIC update

I’m feeling pretty happy today. I’ve finished my school placement for now (and I got a really good report), my assignment that’s due in tomorrow is done, and I’ve only got a few bits and pieces of work to do. I was in university on Friday and it was good to hear everyone else’s school experiences, and that I wasn’t the only one who cried on my tutor after my assessed lesson! I can’t believe how quickly this course is going. This time last year I hadn’t even applied and now it feels like it’s almost over. I’ve only got to go into university another six or seven times, go back to school for another four weeks (which is actually only two full weeks and two four day weeks), do one more assignment… and then that’s it, I’m done. I know I still have to do my probationary year before I can really call myself a teacher, and that it’ll be really hard work, but I’m starting to feel like I’m getting there. Which means I’m one step closer to achieving one of my TYSIC aims of moving to London and getting a teaching job there. 

I still keep having moments when I wonder if I’m doing the right thing and if teaching really is the job for me. And I worry that even having those thoughts means it’s not. Because if it was definitely the right job for me, then I wouldn’t have any doubts about it. But then I just think I have to stick with it and see what it’s like in the real world, as opposed to this weird student version of teaching that I’ve experienced so far.

In other news, my weight is still moving in the right direction. I now have a BMI in the ‘healthy’ range, for the first time in ages, and I’m fitting into clothes I haven’t worn for years. The other night I through some old trousers and jeans away, that were falling apart anyway, but were also too big. It was also one of the steps towards changing my mindset and seeing this as a permanent change. Keeping ‘fat’ clothes means that you can easily go back to your old ways, because you’ll still have something to wear. But by getting rid of them, I’ll notice more quickly if my weight starts creeping back up. It’s just a shame I can’t afford a whole new wardrobe! Although I still want to lose a little bit more weight I can’t really lose much more for the next three weeks, because I’ve now had my bridesmaid dress fitted (I had to have it taken in quite a lot…and it looks awesome!) and if I lose any more weight it’ll end up being too big on Claire’s wedding day, which is only on 10th April. That has come round really fast too, it doesn’t seem long since Dave proposed. I’m really looking forward to the wedding, it’s going to be a great day, and there’s going to be some people there that I worked in France with 10 years ago and haven’t seen since. As far as my TYSIC goes, I can’t really work on maintaining my weight until I get down to the weight I want to be, but I am making some steps in the right direction. One of these is trying to re-train my brain into thinking about cakes and other ‘treats’ in a new way. It’s easy not to eat the good stuff when I’m ‘on a diet’ but it’s afterwards that things need to change. Yesterday, for instance, I went for a cup of tea with Claire after we’d been to try on our dresses again and the cafe had some really delicious looking cakes. In the olden days we would always have cake, or at least share a piece, but I need to train myself that I can go out and not have cake. And that’s not to say I can never have cake again, but that I don’t always have to have it. Or that I can have pizza or fish and chips if I want, but that it should be a once a month kind of meal, rather than every weekend. So there we go, I’ve still got a long road to travel but I feel like I know what I need to do this time.

And on top of all that I’ve got lots of comedy coming up, which is not only fun, but also means I get to see lots of my friends who I usually only get to talk to on the internet. And I’m spending Easter weekend with my Mum and Dad, sleeping in the awning of their caravan… which, odd as it might be to some people, I actually really enjoy. Plus I’ve not seen them since Christmas….and that was 23lbs ago.

Shhh, it’s a secret

Last night I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep and I started thinking about secrets. I have quite a lot of secrets it turns out, when I think about it. Some of them are only secret to some people; like not telling my mum, or my best friend Claire how I’ve been losing weight. Is it still a secret if I’ve written about it in this blog? (as an aside, at the time of writing I’ve now lost 22lbs since New Year – and and I’m the lightest I’ve been probably for the last 12 years, I’m feeling happy but still have a little way to go). 

Anyway, back to the secrets; I have some secrets that I’ve never told anyone and probably never will, some secrets I’d like to tell someone but the consequences of doing that wouldn’t just affect me, so I don’t feel that I can. And some secrets I’ve kept for such a long time that it doesn’t seem worth telling anyone now.

It all got me wondering, am I typical in the number and type of secrets I have? I do tell my mum a lot of things, and I tell Claire a lot. And I’m very happy to have met a lot of my new virtual friends who I can talk to about things that I think my mum or Claire wouldn’t necessarily understand. But I don’t have anyone who I would tell ‘everything’ to. I know a lot of people with boy/girlfriends or husbands/wives say ‘oh, but we tell each other everything‘. But I wonder if that is actually true of anyone? I think we all probably need some things that no-one else knows, everybody needs a little bit of them which is just theirs. But like everything in life there has to be a balance somewhere, and keeping everything to yourself can’t be a good thing either. And then there’s that feeling you get if you find out someone has been keeping a secret from you, or if lots of people knew about something you didn’t. So we not only have to think about the consequences of keeping a secret, but also the effect it might have on others if we keep them in the dark.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this to be honest – I just thought it was quite interesting, and wondered if anyone else who reads this had any thoughts on the matter, or if it was something you’d never given any thought to? So, errrm, yeah. I’ll leave that with you.

Mark Watson’s Ten Year Self-Improvement Challenge

As I mentioned in the last post, comedian Mark Watson has set himself a Ten Year Self-Improvement Challenge (TYSIC) and invited others to join him. Mark’s challenge is to write a blog every day for the next ten years (!) and, due to recently turning thirty and the birth of his son, he has set himself the challenge of being more optimistic about life. You can read more about Mark’s own goals here

I decided this was all a very good idea, and seeing as I was sort of setting my own goals (as previously discussed – particularly to do with my weight), it seemed like a good idea to join in. The TYSIC was to officially begin on 4th March so the day before I posted a comment on Mark’s blog with my goals for the next ten years. This is what I came up with…

  • Firstly, I’ve recently lost a quite a bit of weight and I have a little more to go to get into a healthy weight range for my height. Once I’ve reached this weight my aim is to stay there or thereabouts for the next ten years (well, indefinitely really) rather than the dramatic yo-yo-ing of the last 10 years.
  • The second goal is probably easier to achieve and that is to spend at least a month in Australia and New Zealand (with the possibility of emigrating – but I don’t definitely want to do that so no point setting it as a goal).
  • The third – which I’m actually fairly certain will happen in the next two years is to become a fully qualified and registered teacher…and move to London.
  • And finally (I know, I don’t ask much do I?) is carry on playing the ukulele, which I’ve been doing for about 6 months now, get better at it and actually learn to write my own songs on it.

So there we are – I reckon there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to achieve these goals in the next ten years (by which time I’ll be 41!). I’m also sure that the first one will prove the most difficult. But Mark asked that everyone try and make a small step towards their goals in the first week and I think I have done that. As I have just blogged, yesterday I passed my second assessed lesson which takes me one step closer to being a fully qualified teacher and goal number two. But more importantly for me, after a shitty day of tears and emotion I didn’t try and find comfort in either food or alcohol and that is a very important step towards achieving goal number one.

I’ll be updating on my progress here, but also, Linzy, the brains behind Tim Minchin’s fan forum, Angry (Feet) (along with fellow Watson fan, Misha) has set Mark up with a fan site of his own. The site contains a forum and will shortly have a section where participants in the TYSIC can record their goals and progress so I’ll be doing that too when it’s up and running. Maybe I’ll see you there?

It’s been a hell of a week (Or, ‘Those who can’t, teach’)

Last weekend was Claire’s hen weekend (the one, as bridesmaid, I’ve been co-organising for the last 6 months). Once we eventually got there after battling through the snow, we had a fantastic time. We had spent nearly £500 on booze and food and between the 17 of us there we managed to work our way through most of it. I did pretty well myself, especially as you may remember I’ve only had a drink twice since New Year in my ongoing efforts to lose weight. After staying up until 4am on both nights I was feeling fairly rotten when I got home on Sunday afternoon. I sensibly decided a two and a half hour nap would help, but all it really succeeded in doing was making sure I had to go to the supermarket at 8.30pm, as I realised I had no food for my lunch the next day. This was then followed by lesson planning until nearly midnight, a crap night’s sleep and feeling like death on Monday at school. Brilliant. It was worth it for the great weekend with great company though. And the house we stayed in was amazing – I knew it was going to be big but it was massive! Just look at the ‘drawing room’…

After the weekend I never really caught up on my sleep all week and school was a bit of a struggle. I did have some good lessons this week though and I was feeling quite good about the whole thing. My thoughts on teaching are still all over the place really. I think I’m enjoying it but I still can’t quite work out if I’ve done the right thing. I just keep thinking that although I know my probationary year next year will be hard and I’ll have a lot of work, at least I’ll be teaching my own classes and hopefully that will make discipline easier – at least I won’t have to deal with the ‘who are you miss?’, ‘where’s our normal teacher miss?’ ‘when are we getting Mrs/Mr Whoever back miss?’… Anyway, yesterday I had my second assessed lesson of my course. In order to pass the course we have to pass three lessons assessed by our university tutors, receive three satisfactory reports from our school placements and pass three assignments. So this was the second time I had a visit from one of the university tutors. The visit I’d had in my first placement had gone quite well and I’d looked back over the feedback I’d got on things I’d been told needed improvement. I had another first year class this time, which in theory should have made things easier. I thought I had a pretty decent plan, apart from that I’d included a game that the usual class teacher had suggested. I wasn’t really sure about doing it but it’s quite difficult to turn down advice with offending the established teacher. So I went with it. The lesson didn’t go too badly I thought. I rushed through some things in order to try and make sure I could fit everything in, but with the consequence that I had finished everything I planned to do with about 10 minutes to go until the bell. I managed to pull a few things out of my head to fill the time and I thought it had gone OK.

After the bell went my tutor came up to me to say I’d passed and so I could breath a sigh of relief but then we had to sit down to go over the feedback. There was quite a bit of positive stuff and I got a merit for my planning and preparation of resources…but when it came to discussing my ‘areas for development’ I was criticised for the balance of my lesson and, here’s the best bit, that there were too many ‘games’. I knew I shouldn’t have followed advice that didn’t feel like the right thing to do. But I couldn’t say ‘it wasn’t my idea!’ That would just have sounded like an excuse, and if I wasn’t my idea and I didn’t agree with it then why did I go ahead and do it? Then he started going on about my classroom management which is an area I know I have to work on anyway. By this point I could feel that quivering bottom lip and shaking in your chest that you get when you know you’re about to cry. I really struggled to hold back the tears but when my tutor repeated my failing for the the third time I crumbled. I felt ridiculous for crying and although I was a bit upset at what I was being told it was much just a release of stress and adrenaline, and being annoyed at myself for not following my own instincts in the first place. I’m sure I’m not the first person to cry, imagine what the people who fail are like?! Anyway, I passed, I have things to work on and I should be pleased with that. But then I had the horrible third years for the last period of the day. They are a quite low ability set and really have no interest in learning French at the best of times, let alone last thing on a Friday afternoon. And they just won’t stop talking! I wasn’t doing too badly with them but then the class teacher came in and just started judging me – it really wasn’t the day for it and fighting back the tears again I virtually ran out of school when the bell went without speaking to anyone. 

I’m much calmer now and grateful for the support and sensible words from all my friends on Twitter. (After my tutor left I went for a walk in the park next to school to try and calm down and try and make my face look normal again – and vented my woes on Twitter, with immediate response. Seriously, I don’t know what we did before the instant responses from Twitter – whether they be congratulations, commiserations or advice). I also had a good chat with one of the other students on my course who lives near by. She had her assessed lesson yesterday too and despite getting the same grades as me, she was disappointed with how she’d done too. It’s good to know someone else is in the same boat as you.

Anyway, it’s over and done with now. I only have another nine teaching days to go (although that means I’ve only got just over two weeks until my next 3500 word assignment is due in and I haven’t started yet.) I’m seeing the lovely Tiernan Douieb at the Glasgow Comedy Festival next weekend, then Chris Addison and Dave Gorman in the two weeks after that. Then it’s the Easter holidays. I’m seeing Derren Brown, then going to An Event Of Some Kind (where one of my favourite bands, 6 Day Riot, are playing, and Tim Minchin is on the bill playing to a room of 40 people which will be pretty awesome). Then I’ve got Easter weekend in the caravan with my Mum and Dad, and the weekend after it’s actually Claire’s wedding and I get to do my bridesmaid bit! (Oh, and the weekend after that I’m back in London to see Michael Legge and Andrew Collins do their Edinburgh work in progress shows). Phew…that’s quite a lot to look forward to in the next month. And it’s definitely going to get me through the next two weeks of teaching.

In other news, I’ve pledged (is that the right word?) to join in Mark Watson’s Ten Year Self-Improvement Challenge, but I think that deserves an entry of its own; so more on that later.

And finally – here’s a couple of photos from the hen weekend. One of Claire, in all her finery with me and Tara; the other bridesmaid, and one of me partaking in the ‘Cheesy Ball Challenge’ which involved seeing how many cheesy balls (the Asda version of Wotsits) you could fit in your mouth! I think I managed 18 in the end but I wasn’t the eventual winner!