Why my walk for the Heart of Galway was so special

 

10 km done! (2)

The original couch potato walked not 7km but 10km!

One of my objectives for 2016 was to walk 5km in an official challenge/race.  One morning in January, I was browsing Facebook and came across The Heart of Galway Walk on 14 February a 7km walk in aid of Foroige Big Brother, Big Sister Charity.

Before I knew it Paypal was open and I had paid the 20 Euro entry.  Now I only had two hurdles in my way – raise 80 Euro in sponsorship and get fit enough to walk 7km.  I made it public by writing about it here, and there was no going back.

Thanks to friends and family the money was soon raised and the reality of walking 7km started to sink in.

At school I was the child that always had a sore tummy on sports day.  I have terrible eye hand co-ordination and combined with Asthma I always ensured that I didn’t participate in sports.  I avoided physical activity at all costs.

Fast forward 30 odd years and I was quite probably the most unfit person you knew.  Walking to the shop (a mere 5 minute walk) would have me reaching for the car keys.

My fitness journey started about 4 years ago and regular readers of my blog will have read about when I bought my first pair of trainers, and when I felt the joy of walking on sand dunes.

Slowly and steadily I have built up my fitness levels, primarily through walking.  One foot in front of another and steadily increasing the distance and the pace.

For Christmas I was lucky enough to be given a Fitbit.  As a closet techie this really delighted me.  I could count the steps, monitor the calorie burning and set myself targets.

Commitment counts

Sunday 14 February 2016 – the day of the 7km walk, I woke up with a migraine!  And this is where commitment comes into play.  If I had not committed to doing the walk, raised the funds and promised to be there, I would have taken painkillers and turned over in bed for another hour at least. But, I had committed so I got up and got ready for my first ever official walk.

Walking (or running) for a good cause is even better.  As I arrived at 56 Central I was greeted by friends and fellow walkers who encouraged me and told me that I could do it.  I stood in line for my number and T-shirt and readied myself for the off.

A quick thank you here to friends and family who were there for me.  I needed that support so very much.

The race took off with the runners in front and the walkers behind.  My first thought was that I would come last.  Then I realised I was not competing with anyone else.  I was competing with myself.  I just needed to do it.

It was a long walk – and turned out to be 10km rather than 7km.  It’s a good thing it wasn’t advertised correctly as I never believed I could do it.  I won’t lie, the last third was hard.  I pushed myself and had my walking companion pointing out that I was 60% of the way there, then 65% and then 70%.

Close to the end I met up with some fellow walkers and we got a second (or was it third or fourth) wind and strided with pride up Shop Street in Galway to the finish line.

Now I had a beautiful medal to go with my T-shirt and race number.  I did it!

Giving back

This blog post would not be complete without a mention of the very good cause that we were raising funds for.  Project Impact is a new charity initiative put together by Pat Divilly, Gill Carroll and a fabulous team.  Project Impact raises money for charity with no expenses so everything raised will go to the charity.

For this event the money goes to Foroige – Big Brother Big Sister.  This is an internationally recognised youth mentoring  charity where a Big is matched with a Little to support and inspire.  The funds raised from this even will go to sending 100 ‘couples’ to a youth adventure centre.  In this way not only will the relationships strengthen but the importance of physical activity be emphasised.

I honestly wish I hadn’t waited for middle age to embrace fitness.  It is never too late though!

Onward to the next event.

A sincere thank you to everyone who supported me.  And thank you for reading.

Kerry x

You are never too old to learn

become like a bird

 

I remember hearing this saying – You are never too old to learn – when I was much younger.  I must be very honest and say that at the time (when I thought that 50 was very old), I thought that it wasn’t true – now I know different.

I remember looking at my parents and grandparents and thinking that they were old.  I couldn’t imagine them learning anything.

Thankfully I matured and now that I am a certain age, I certainly don’t think that I am old at all! (Although I am now older than my parents were when I was twenty).

I digress.  The one thing that I have learnt as I have matured is that you are never too old to learn.  I have also learnt that learning is fun and it makes you feel young.  It is a bit like body fitness.  You need to exercise.  I think we need brain fitness too.

 Become like a bird,

expand your wings,

learn new things

and fly as high as you can

When I came across this quote it really resonated with me and made me realise that no matter what happens in life, there are so many opportunities to learn new things.  With knowledge comes opportunity and the possibility of new adventures.

Thinking back to my teenage years learning involved books, photocopying and writing.  I have an old history project of mine complete with drawings traced from library books.  We are really so lucky now that we have access to a world of knowledge from the comfort of our homes.  It is all there online, and I for one am both aware and grateful for that knowledge.

Our brains are like a muscle, they need exercise and like any fitness regime, an exercised brain starts working so much better.

I know a few people who have returned to college as mature students exercising the muscle that is the brain and delighting in the love of learning.

I don’t know if a return to college is in my future, but I do know that I am really enjoying learning about new things. I am setting myself a little study schedule and know how it feels to go to bed with a tired and well exercised mind.

Thanks for reading and feel free to drop me a line to tell me what you are learning.

Kerry x

 

 

 

South Africa to Ireland a Big Move – My Story

There is no place like home

 

I have updated this blog post, which is one of my most read.

Thirteen years ago I moved from Johannesburg, South Africa to Ireland.  Not only was it a huge move from continent to continent, but it was also a move from city life to a rural life in beautiful Connemara.

It really doesn’t matter how many people you ask about the experience before it happens, it is still a massive shock to the system.

Ultimately my decision to move was motivated by the rising crime in South Africa.  There were a few experiences that really touched my life and I realised that I was living with fear.

I don’t judge the people who have stayed and neither do I judge the people who have left the beautiful country that is my birthplace.  The time came and I had to make my choice, and the fact that I had a 7-year old son was a huge part of that.

From South Africa to Ireland

We moved across the world and landed up in Connemara in early February.  Connemara is a beautiful place, but it doesn’t really show it’s beauty in February.  It was wild, windy and very cold.  It rained almost every day.  I wasn’t prepared, and my pretty umbrella bought in South Africa turned inside out and blew away the first time I used it.

With the hindsight of 13 years I am glad I made the move.  It has been a very turbulent 13 years which has seen me live in Connemara, in Westport, Mayo and now back in Athenry on the east side of Galway.

It has seen me start my own business in the form of a craft shop called An Siopa Buί – The Yellow Shop.  Through the shop I was privileged to travel across Ireland and meet some really special people.   Circumstances change and I returned to the corporate world and spend two and a half years in Westport (considered to be the best place to live in Ireland.)  I am now living in Athenry (made famous by the song The Fields of Athenry) and am moving onto a different phase of my life.

The common thread through my life and the big move has been people.  The friends that I have made at every stage – both South Africans in Ireland, South Africans at home and of course my Irish friends.

After 10 years I took Irish Citizenship and am proud to be Irish – although I will always be South African too.

I visit South Africa as often as I can and will always have the song of Africa in my heart.  When I am homesick I think of the sound of crickets on a summer night.  The evocative smell of sunset after a hot day and the wonderful social culture of bring and braai (a BBQ where everyone brings something along).

I was honoured to take part in a TV series on RTE in 2007 called No Place Like Home.  The producers came up with a cool concept of featuring foreigners living in Ireland, and comparing where their lifestyles in Ireland with lifestyles back ‘home’.  The title really says it all.  There is no place like home, but what I have come to realise is that you can have two homes.  I will always have a little part of my soul in Africa, but now I have fallen in love with Ireland too.

The West of Ireland where I have made my home is a truly beautiful place.  One day on a drive between Westport and Connemara I stopped to take in the view.  The word awesome came to mind.

Truly awesome as you realise that this magnificent scenery is simply there for us to appreciate and admire.

Ireland has been good to me.  I have made so many friends, through my crafting, through blogging , through the ICA and through my career.  I have been welcomed into so many homes and drunk copious cups of tea as I have learnt the generosity of spirit that the Irish are known for.

My son is now grown-up and has completed a Physics Degree at University in Galway and is now working in his dream job in the United Kingdom.  He has made his home here but I will always remind him of his African roots, so he too can have two homes. (Maybe even three since he has moved on)

You can read my post about my empty nest  here.

My information about the legalities and practicalities about moving to Ireland is a little out of date.  It is almost 15 years now.

I am delighted to say that there is a whole lot more information out there than there was when I did the move.

There is a wonderful Facebook Group run by South Africans who have made the move and I suggest that you join it and take a deep dive into the files.  There is so much information available and the people in the group are so helpful.

You can find the group here.

I do try to answer all the emails I receive but it isn’t always possible so apologies in advance.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

Pain is my Frenemy

 

Pain

Pain is my constant companion.  It is always with me and after all this time we have become quite well acquainted with each other.

I cannot think of a 24-hour period in the last few years where I have not been in pain.  Some days it is merely a twinge and a twitch, but most days it is a nagging constant.  It gnaws at me grinding me down until I am weary.

I sometimes wonder if there are tiny teeny creatures inside of my bones eating away and snagging my nerve endings until I have to stop and simply sit waiting for medication to kick in.

Each of us feel pain in a different way, and nobody can really know how you feel.

A frenemy (it is a real word), is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.  A combination of a friend and enemy.

Pain has become my frenemy because I cannot avoid it – it is closer to me than my partner, family and friends and although I don’t like it I have to learn to live with it.

The primary source of my pain is Arthritis in my hands.  In addition I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is also sometimes called the chronic pain disease.  Add Pernicious Anaemia a blood disorder that leads to neuropathic pain and you have a good cocktail.

This post is not about my pain, but rather my relationship with it.  It is part of my life now, and so I need to make a friend of it (or frenemy).

I am determined that my life will continue to be full despite my friendly enemy.

These are a few of the techniques I am using to deal with it.

 

  1. Distraction

I find that this is probably one of the best sources of pain relief.  The pain doesn’t go away, but as I absorb myself in other activities my mind begins to wander and I am able to deal with it better.

  1. Discipline

I am not always very disciplined but I have found that when I stick to a routine as far as using my splints, taking medication and rest, pain is easier to get along with

  1. Pain medication

Unless I am in a very bad way, I tend to take pain meds when I need them.  I am conscious of my overall health and try to limit what I do take.  Once again however, keeping pain at bay is all about being regular with medications and other pain management aids such as topical pain relief in the form of sprays, gels, Versatis plasters and more.

  1. Sleep

I used to be one of those people who boasted about getting on well with only 6 hours sleep a night.  A wise physiotherapist reminded me that the body heals while it sleeps.  I can honestly say that despite waking in the night in pain, the longer I sleep the better it is.

  1. Pacing

My pain is primarily in my hands and arms which makes things a little awkward.  What I have figured out is that I can do about 40 minutes with my hands without too much pain.  Then I rest – and return to my task a little later.  This has not only taught me patience but it also means that I get things done despite the pain.

My journey with my frenemy pain is exactly that – a journey of getting to know pain and to understand it.  To work with it and not against it.

Each person’s pain is specific to them.  If you have any tips of techniques on pain management I would love to hear about them.

A while ago I was interviewed on CRCFM a local radio station – some of what we discussed is very relevant to this post.  You can have a listen here.

Thanks for reading.

 

Kerry x

 

 

My Cold and Flu Survival Kit

flu survival kit blog

 

These are the things I always like to have at home just in case the dreaded flu strikes.

Flu season – that time of the year when we just know that the bugs are circulating.  Kids go back to school, a colleague starts sniffing and the air conditioning does the rest.  Sometimes it is just a sniffle but then again it could be full-blown flu.  Aches and pains and a seriously red nose.

There isn’t a quick fix for colds and flu, but there are a few things that I think are essential for getting through a dose.

  1. Good quality tissues – the ones that have balsam in them. It really does make a difference.  My advice is to have a stash of a few boxes hidden away just in case.
  2. Honey and lemon. Good local honey has all sorts of healing properties as does lemon.  I make up a drink of lemon, honey and hot water and keep it beside me.  It is antibacterial and really is very soothing and helps sooth a cough.
  3. Orange juice. I crave orange juice when I am sick.  It is like a glass of sunshine.  I am sure that the Vitamin C helps to heal and ward off further bugs, and the sugar gives you a bit of energy to get a few things done.
  4. A good book – you need to rest when you are sick. Rest really does help healing so give into an early night and go to bed with a good book.  You deserve it. I am currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington on my Kindle.
  5. Essentials oils. I love my essential oils and they are great when you struggling to breath.  My go to oils are eucalyptus, and peppermint.  I add a couple of drops to water in a burner and keep it beside me.  When my son was young I would dab a few drops on his pyjamas and send him off to bed breathing easier.  A drop of lavender will also help sleep.
  6. Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream. This is seriously magic stuff.  It fixes all sorts of things but can also go a long way towards preventing a red chapped nose – so often the side effect of a head cold.
  7. Your choice of decongenstant – my current favourite is Uniflu which works for me and doesn’t conflict with other medications I take. I have no medical qualifications but I do think that dealing with the symptoms helps.
  8. And finally tea. Honestly I always have tea in the house as I am addicted, but when I am blocked up I tend to reach for herbal infusions or my new favourite Solaris green tea chai.

Finally my advice is to be kind to yourself.  Taking time to rest and recharge is what your body is asking for.  Rest while you can.  Treat yourself to the chocolate biscuit with your tea. Say thank you for the TLC and get well soon.

 

Thanks for reading x

Kerry

 

 

Perfect Tomato Soup

 

Tomato SoupYummyLow CalHealthy (2)

A nice warm bowl of tomato soup is great on a cold winter night.

Tomatoes are one of my favourite foods.  I could eat tomatoes in any form every day and never get tired of them.

Thankfully they are really good for you and offer all sorts of health benefits.

This is a simple and quick recipe for a yummy creamy tomato soup with very few calories that is just perfect for a cold winter night.  I consider it a store cupboard staple as I almost always have all the ingredients in the house.

The recipe makes a good bit so you will have soup for lunches and even for the freezer.

 

Ingredients for tomato soup:

One red onion

2 sticks of celery

One large carrot

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tins of tomatoes

A little Italian seasoning (optional)

2 vegetable stock cubes

Water

 

Method:

Start by chopping up the onion, celery and carrot and soften in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Watch it carefully as you want the onion to go translucent, but not to brown.

Add a good dash of seasoning (if you prefer less spice add some oregano or marjoram).

Give it a good stir and then add 2 tins of tomatoes and 4 tins of water.  Add the vegetable stock cubes.

Turn it down low and leave it to simmer.  The longer the better as the flavours develop.  You know you are ready for the next stage when the carrots and celery and squishy.

(I have been known to whack it on high when I am in a hurry, but slower is better).

I blend my soup with a stick blender, but if you have a Vitamix or strong jug blender use that as it gets really smooth and creamy.  Let it cool for a little before blending as the last thing you want is splattered tomato soup all around the kitchen.

Reheat gently and serve.

I finished with a few drops of nutty pumpkin oil.

Thanks for reading and I hope you give the recipe a try.

 

Kerry x

 

The Wisdom of Winnie the Pooh

You are braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem, Smarter than you think,and loved more than you will every know

I have beautiful memories of reading the Winnie the Pooh books to my son.  Every Sunday morning was anticipated and the book would be taken down, the bookmark found, and the story would begin.

Although essentially children’s books, the stories of Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne have universal appeal.  They make us laugh, they make our heart’s sing and they also teach us life lessons.

Monday 18 January was Winnie the Pooh Day and the HuffPost Better Together featured a great article about this really special bear.  Please also remember to scroll down and you will see a cool little video with 6 facts about Winnie the Pooh that you might not have known.

The article which was written by Katherine Brooks, senior arts and culture editor for Huffington Post delves a little deeper into the origins of this special bear and his friends.

The quote I have chosen for my image and for this Wednesday’s quotation is really special to me.  I am using it as a bit of an affirmation right now as I go through a few hard changes in my life.

It wasn’t only Winnie the Pooh was inspired to make so many great statements, many of which are so relevant to today’s society.  The other characters have distinct personalities and are very quotable too.

Here are a few of my favourites:

“I wasn’t going to eat it – I was just going to taste it”

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

“Some people care too much.  I think it is called love.”

“Never underestimate the power of doing nothing.”

“ The harder you fall, the higher you bounce.” –  from a personal favourite Tigger

and for balance …

“It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine” – from Eeyore.

I would love it if you would leave a comment and let me know your favourite Winnie the Pooh quote.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

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