“Moving forward – positively”

With the New Year here, once again we all start making New Year resolutions.

In 2002 my resolutions came looking for me.  Life over-whelmed me, which in turn forced me to make some drastic changes.

I broke a bone in my foot, in December 2000 and spent a lot of 2001 having physio and not exercising much. The slightest step on uneven ground sent my recovery back to the beginning.  This meant that I spent a lot of time sitting around and eating.  I made a minimal attempt at using the time to change careers and started a writing course by correspondence.

In 2002, I got offered a part-time job.  The hours were great so I went for it.  Unfortunately it meant that for 10 weeks, I had to use my lunch break to race to kindy, home to our neighbours to drop off Alex and back to work, until Alex turned 5.

My husband, Campbell, ended up at A&E at all hours of the day and night in excruciating pain in his side.  They eventually decided it was kidney stones.  There were many blasting operations and stent operations.  Everybody was on alert in case he needed to get to the Hospital.  Every time he groaned in his sleep or got up to the toilet I was ready to organise his parents to come and take him, as I would need to stay with the children.  A good nights sleep was a thing of the past.

With me at 33 yrs old, my father decided to leave my mother after 36 years of marriage.  The implications were enormous and the stress and anxiety huge.  The he said, she said was crazy and suddenly my family life became public property.

In 2003, there were implications to his surgery and I thought Campbell was dying in front of me.  Every day I would take the children to bring Daddy home only to find him worse than when we left him the day before.  It was a scary and emotional time for me.  Just thinking about it I want to burst into tears.  After five days he finally turned the corner and came back to us.

I turned to food for solace.  Biscuits, chips and slap dash meals were on top of the list.  Feeling alone and lost, food became my new friend – it didn’t judge me and always kept me company.

Exercise – I always thought if I couldn’t go out for an hour walk then it wasn’t worth heading out.  Unfortunately, all that happened was, I didn’t go out at all.  The weight started climbing on quickly.

Everything fell apart just as I was due to go on camp with our daughter Kate, then 9.  In the early hours of the morning I was rushed to A&E with a migraine.  Once back home, Campbell made sure the children went off to school and then he headed to work late.  Suddenly I was alone with my thoughts and I didn’t like the company.

The tears started and I couldn’t stop.  I scared myself with the volume and ferocity.  I felt I was loosing my mind and I didn’t know where to turn.

My father-in-law rang to see how I was and I burst into tears.  He jumped into his car and came racing.  He gently talked to me and in his opinion, confirmed everything I had already decided – I wasn’t coping.

I put on my “mask” and turned on my autopilot, as I had to face the world and get the children from school.  I managed to fool a few people but one lady I didn’t really know that well saw straight through it.  She made the call to ask how I was and I lost it.  My story poured out about Campbell being in Hospital and I thought he was dying.  She demanded that she take my children home from school and I rush myself up to be with him.  She expected to see me at her place for tea.  With that she was gone.  I am ever so grateful for her asking that question.  She has become a great friend and our families enjoy spending time together.

After spending time with Campbell, I reluctantly dragged myself to her house to pick up the children.  I sat down to tea feeling really hungry only not to be able to eat.  Suddenly I felt like I was going to be sick and had to leave the table.  What I now know to be an anxiety attack, was playing itself out.  I felt dizzy, my stomach was swirling and my head was pounding.

Tea was a disaster thanks to me but she sent the children off to play and we sat and had a talk.  She said that she recognised the signs and I really needed some help.  I promised to go to the doctor in the morning.

Unfortunately the doctor turned out to be a waste of time.  I probably go once a year and this particular visit turned out to be a locum and not my doctor at all.  He said there was nothing obviously wrong and goodbye.

I was reading the local paper and found a number of a counsellor.  In a second of madness I rang and made an appointment.  The moment I hung up I wanted to cancel!!

This was to be the best thing I have ever done.  27th March 2003 will be a day I always remember as the beginning of a new era.  It is also significant as our wedding anniversary is the 28th.

The first thing to change was for “MUM” to have some time out.  I joined scrapbooking classes and joined up with a great bunch of ladies.  I then had my own hobby time at home.

Next I took myself off to a reputable physio and got my foot seen to once and for all.  I cannot express how that made me feel.  I was able to start exercising again.  A friend offered to join me.  We probably talked more than walked really but it had double the therapy results.  I wasn’t alone with my thoughts and I was exercising.

I was watching TV one night and saw a programme hosted by Nutritionist Niki Hart.  I loved the show and made our whole family sit down and watch it.  I was astounded at the quantities of food we were putting into ourselves compared to the output.  We made some family rules that we were only allowed to have take-aways once a week and we had to cut back on biscuits, chips and lollies and replace them with more fruit and veges.  By doing it as a family I found that I had lots of support.

I left work and dragged my writing course back out.  I poured in my heart and soul knowing that this is what I wanted as a career.  I completed my Diploma in November 2004.

Campbell got his kidney reshaped in November and that put an end to all his kidney pains.

I could now focus on me.  I have never spent a decent amount of money on a fabulous haircut.  I can thoroughly recommend it!!  I went to Headquarters here in New Plymouth, rather nervous and scared of the price I would pay!  I was met by a lovely lady who spent the time with me finding out about my lifestyle, morning routine – (drag brush through) and then flipped my hair in all sorts of directions to see what would suit me best.  She talked to me whilst she was cutting, explaining how I could make it into different styles by changing the part, etc.

I left lighter in the wallet but full of confidence – for once “I FELT glamorous!!”

The amount of people that said I looked great was quite hard to cope with at first.  Other people added that I looked great and wanted to know what weight loss programme I was on.  Over night – I lost weight – Don’t think so!!  This just gives you some idea of how the right hairstyle can change you.

After 33 years I got talked into having highlights put through my hair.  The hairdresser nearly fell over when I said I had NEVER had my hair dyed.  I nervously watched her applying it and felt ridiculous sitting there with all the tinfoil in my hair.  Now that would have been a photo for the scrapbook!  I now get it done regularly and have even moved on to more obvious colours. (Nothing too daring though)

Watching Opera another day I had to crack up laughing.  It was all about wearing the correct bra.  I watched with amusement as some of the women they had randomly picked from the street were transformed by the correct strap and cup size.  The “Bra Lady” gave some tips so the viewer knew if they were wearing the correct size – Oh no I wasn’t!

I headed off to CC Wards lingerie department and got fitted for a bra.  It was a little embarrassing but the final results were so “uplifting” – ha ha.  Once again I felt fantastic and couldn’t believe how it made my clothes fit.  It made me feel proud to be a woman.

I have always been conscious of my “mono” eyebrow.  Nothing startling, but time to do something about it.

I went to California Sun and Beauty and was treated like royalty.  The technician couldn’t believe that I had never had it done before.  The transformation was amazing.  I had my eyebrows shaped and it made my eyes appear so different.

A friend summed it all up for me by saying “The black cloud has lifted and I can see a rainbow over you”.  I felt fabulous.  For such a little effort I was like the make-over queen.  I walked taller, felt more confident and was ready to tackle the world.

With a lot of rejections behind me suddenly I had two articles accepted.  One for the NEXT Magazine (August 2005) and another was a children’s book that I had written and my friend had illustrated (FONZI – published December 2005).  I was suddenly recognised at the supermarket from our photo shoot with NEXT and from the local newspaper with the launch of our book.

Positive thoughts now take over my speech and my mind.  “I can” instead of “why bother”.  Each day has it’s own problems.  Food’s hold on me is slowly loosening.  My fluctuating weight is within a far smaller range these days.  When I am stressed I tend to head to the beach and walk it out instead of heading to the pantry and eating.

I have literally put my house in order mentally and actually.  I was embarrassed by our house and have not let many people in.  The downside of this is that I was lonely.  Over the past 12 months I have decluttered our space and changed the furnishings to make it “OUR” home.  People had every so kindly given us things when we had first shifted in.  Here it was 11 years down the track and I felt our home actually wasn’t ours.  I had a hang up with I needed to buy new things but in hindsight it was the personal touches that made it feel like home.  I slowly changed things and then felt confident to allow people in.  Because of this we have some wonderful friends in our life and I no longer feel lonely.

During all of this time I have been having regular appointments with Dianne.  I have found her easy to talk to and enjoy her wonderful sense of humour.  Close to four years on, I am now looking forward to what the future has in store for me instead of dealing with the past.

I now have a happily busy life.  Our children are now nearly 13 and 10.  I work 9 – 12 three days a week, I have a freelance writing job and am nearing completion of another children’s book.  We spend a lot more time together as a family and I am beginning to learn to say the word NO to extra commitments.

I need to finish by saying a HUGE THANKS to Dianne Wood, Life Coach.  She pulled information from the dark corners and made it possible for me to deal with it.  She has given me a swift “kick” when necessary and continually reminds me how far I have come.  She continues to stand beside me for support and always has words of encouragement.

This article was published in Kids Friendly New Zealand January 2007 on-line edition

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