5 Years on…

Today is a strange day. It’s 5 years since my Mum was killed in a car crash along with her friend, in a tragic accident. That day so many people’s worlds were turned upside down, all from one mad moment, none more than Dad & I. Dad didn’t make it, grief took him just under 3 years later. 
As those of you who followed me know, I’ve plodded on through. Even taking 4 months out to grieve, travel and ‘get over it’. Probably a naive view on grief as you never get over it. 
So last Christmas I kind of had a relapse, all the process of grieving should have been done (apparently) but I felt emptier, lonlier, anxious and emotional than ever. How on earth do you move on? 
Well you just sometimes have to ask for help. For me that was professional help, my friends had been through enough & I needed a neutral person I could scream, shout & cry at. Someone I could say all those things to that sound selfish or hateful. Someone who would listen, and make senses of all the noise in my head. 
I started some grief counselling- which is not as scary as it sounds I promise! Also I revisited some Cognitive behavioural therapy to help me deal with my anxiety and irrational thoughts. Practical skills to get you over those mad feelings your going to collapse, throw up, or want to hide away. 
It wasn’t easy. There was some really low points. Reliving it all, Mums death and Dads made me worse. Lots of sleepless nights and tears, was I falling apart? Of course not. I was finally grieving. Ouch it bloody hurt. Like a punch to the brain, heart and stomach all at once. 
The turning point was writing a letter to both of them. And then reading it out allowed. I genuinely didn’t think you can cry that much. But you can. Days after the exhaustion came the relief like a giant weight hd been lifted, maybe it was Mum and Dad telling me it’s all OK and to get on with things. Then the guilt went. I realised I have done my time feeling responsible, like I should have been able to stop it all happening and now it’s time to slowly but steadily move on and bloody well live life to the full. 
So although I will always have my odd days, and moments, I know life is for living and nothing or no one is going to get in my way. Those who annoy me, use me or insult me will know. Those who like me or love me will know more than ever. Those are the ones that matter. 
Today is OK. Yes It is 5 years since I last heard my beautiful Mums voice, calling me to ask how my trip to Paris was, asking what I had for dinner (daily question) & wishing me a happy birthday for tomorrow. But I’m not sad today. I’m thoughtful but remembering the good things and the happy times with Mum. 
No more sad posts, no more tears of guilt. Time to move on. 

Love you Mum. I’m not sure I’ll party like I used to tomorrow on my birthday but I will be raising a glass of bubbles in your honour and mine to celebrate my birthday week! 
Cheers to you all. 😘

Barcelona It was the first time that we met..

So that was it. I got off the train from work exhausted, feeling the unhealthiest I have for a long time. No more excuses. It was time to fix up and look sharp. Cause tomorrow I was off to Sitges, half an hour from Barcelona for a detox yoga thingy for 5 nights, & I have to admit I was not looking forward to it. This was going to be tough.

I had an early start – 8am flight means leaving home at 5, so obviously and in preparation for my detox I scoffed a lovely plate of Salmon and Eggs in Jamies At Gatwick – well I maybe starved the rest of the week! Washed down with my trademark pot of tea and a latte….

After a short flight I met up with one of the ladies joining the same holiday at the airport. Now to all you solo travellers there is always that moment of anxiousness – are they sane? Or neurotic? I needn’t have worried as like always she was lovely! Phew.

We jumped in a cab despite knowing there was a cheaper train/bus option (girl after my own heart) and then the comedy ensued. Genuinely think we found the most crazy, yet wonderful cab driver who highly amused us for half an hour, then slightly ripped us off but hey ho! At least we learnt how to ask for a table for two in Spanish….

Finally we got to the villa, a calm and tranquil place for our 6 days. Recently refurbished with a modern twist it is cool but warm all at the same time. Sleek concrete floors, beautiful concrete bathroom – I was never a fan till now… Watch out new bathroom in the future!

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Now for the tough bit. Vegetarian food. No booze. No caffeine. I mean come on, NO TEA! How is this allowed! Is this a step too far for Al?!

I needn’t have worried. After a wonderful dinner I realised I can do it. Still not convinced on the caffeine thing, I had a great nights kip. Funny that…

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Next morning it was yoga time. Now, let’s be clear, I am a novice. I’m like the Bridget Jones of Yoga. My balance is shocking, I am not bendy at all (no rude comments now) and I tend to giggle. A lot. However our wonderful Yogi gave us a great starting session. Although I still couldn’t do all of it, I wasn’t too bad. At least I didn’t fall over. Or giggle.

After the hour class I was starving. My stomach decided to inform the whole room of that during the final 5 minutes relaxation of the yoga class. Timing Al, timing. Brekkie was stunning though, Fresh fruit, Tea (herbal, I know it’s shocking), avocado and lovely bits n pieces. I felt so happy each day after breakfast I won’t lie.

So we repeated the same pattern daily – Yoga, Breakfast, chill out time, lunch (amazing salads and soups), yoga, dinner (from stews, veggie lasagnes, to wonderful curries) we were fed very very well. I didn’t feel deprived once. Honest gov. I won’t deny the caffeine withdrawal was by far the toughest part – excruciating headaches ensued for a day, but I drunk through. With water of course.

I also started to improve at yoga, especially with our 2 Yoga Teachers – especially Judith. Such a wonderful, fun and helpful teacher – fun but firm. Such fun we didn’t realise we had done an hour and a half that night- well until the next morning…. Blimey. I was hurting in places I didn’t know you could hurt! Good pain, happy pain if you know what I mean.  Thank you Judith for making me realise I can do it! I’ve mastered tge headstand too now! Go me.

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On day 3, me and a fellow guest decided to spend a day in Barcelona. It felt like an escape! So off we trotted on the bus (bargain at €4) and in half hour we were there, walking amongst chirches, museums, stunning port, Marina, and the beach – yes the beach. Name me another City where you get such diversity within a 7km radius!

Now, lunch was a real test. I confess we ordered Sangria. I ordered a salad with chips (obviously) to scoff whilst sitting in Carpe Diem overlooking the beach. Please try it if you get the chance. The Sangria was delicious, as was the salad. But then I realised I was full. I’d only eaten 4 chips. Yes to my horror I had to LEAVE chips. In just 3 days, my stomach has learnt to stop. Learnt to let my face know to not input anymore. YAY. Just taken the 40 years 😂

 

We took a final stroll through the park and up to Sagrada Familia. What a building! Will they ever finish it?! Hope so. We made a pact to revisit in 10 years – I’m holding you to that V!

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Back on the bus happy and sun tinted, we headed back for a stunning dinner. We had walked nearly 20km that day, and I was snoozing in my bed by 9:30! A wonderful day.

With two days left we got into a wonderfully chilled routine of yoga, rest and food. We also got the treat of going to the Torres vineyards for a tour & some tasting. A test of my resolve. I sipped a few, but luckily I didn’t really like any of them! Thank goodness…

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By the time Friday came round I was ready to come home. I felt revived, relaxed and a lot less fat then when I arrived. And I could balance for more than 5 seconds! Bloomin miracles do happen! After saying my goodbyes to the two loveliest fellow guests I trotted to the airport, took a seat in the lounge and sipped on a peppermint tea. Yes peppermint. I could have had Builders. Or a latte. After 6 days of no caffeine I didn’t want it. We all know how much tea I drink, around 6-8 cups a day. I didn’t drink enough water. After 6 days my body was telling me when I was thirsty – not hunger but thirst. It’s a wonderful feeling finally getting those messages. Liberating to say the least! (Although what I am going to do with all the tea I have at home I do not know..)

When I got home temptation was all around me. Caffeine, Booze, meat, fish, dairy. I treated myself to Salmon and Salad for dinner. It was out of this world. And I was full! I realised I can do this myself. After a good nights sleep (having removed the TV from my bedroom at last) the big weigh in. 6.5lbs lost. In a week. Neber had that before, after all the diets I’ve tried. Very happy Al!

Now lets not pretend I am going to stay non booze & non meat Al. I never had any intention for that. But it was extremely interesting to see how my body worked a billion times better without it all. Maybe we are meant to be veggies. So I decided to eat vegetarian food 5 days a week. And only drink 1 good quality tea or coffee a day in the morning. Booze once a week. Chips once a week. (Tbh the booze and chip thing was tough, & I broke it 2 weeks ago but only once!). I feel the best I have for years, my skin glows, my stomach isn’t bloated and my energy levels have doubled. All from a better diet and Yoga. I’m more active as I want to be. Naturally I am a lazy arse. I am the Queen of excuses to not exercise but not anymore as I actually look forward to it. Sleep has never felt so good & I wale up naturally with the sunshine. Well, most days!

So thank you Barcelona. Thank you for reminding me of the way to live, & how beautiful you are! It certainly won’t be the last time we meet ❤️☀️❤️☀️👍🏻