Battling anxiety by scaring myself silly! #timetotalk

It’s no secret that the ongoing family crisis here has had a negative effect on my mental heath. I’ve never suffered with anxiety like this before. The effects have been frightening, and that resulted in a negative feedback loop where the fear made me more anxious. I retreated, avoided people – even friends – avoided situations and activities that suddenly seemed too difficult. From talking to friends, some of this may be age related too – my peers are experiencing similar issues – a loss of confidence, feeling anxious about everyday chores and activities, afraid of doing something stupid, of others seeing it, of feeling stupid yourself and therefore wanting to avoid anything that might be challenging.

But if you know me at all, you’ll also know that I hate feeling fearful, I hate feeling weak, I hate feeling vulnerable, so I searched around my head for strategies that would improve things. And I remembered the advice that facing your fears – in a gentle way – should make it easier to cope with them.

So for the past week, I’ve been making a real effort to get out of my comfort zone.

‘Me’ time was prescribed for the weekend, and I was lucky enough to get a sitter for Sunday morning, so I went for coffee on my own and then to the gym. With no worries about having to rush home after training, I tackled the showers. It’s only taken me two years… But in all fairness, communal changing rooms are very intimidating for women of a certain age, especially those who don’t have time to do all the grooming and tanning and exercise that’s expected! And I had stupid little worries about whether the lock I had would work on the locker, would the key be safe while I showered (I had visions of it being washed away…). All my fears were misplaced: no one  noticed me at all and my plan to manage the locker/shower process worked perfectly.

Then there was another incident in the saga of the fridge, that I’ve mentioned more than once over the years! On pulling it out one day, I was horrified to see dust almost filling the vents in the back. Dangerous, I thought. Luckily Google came to rescue and told me that I needed to vacuum the fridge coils. I’d never heard this before, and it took me a few days to tackle it, especially as you have to remove the back cover of the fridge which says ‘Technicians Only’ in very large letters. But I did, and nothing blew up or went on fire either!

Cutting and taking up winter leggings for B – because her legs are a non standard length and only summer leggings come in capri length. (Her clothing issues are worthy of a whole blog post in themselves –  I promise to write it one day 😀). I was afraid I’d ruin them of course, but I didn’t, and she’s wearing them today. Result.

Back in the gym again, and there were two young men demonstrating their handstand skills. It was impressive, and you couldn’t miss the demonstration either. And you know I’m competitive, right? And that I used to do school gymnastics as a child? And that I can resist everything except temptation? So when I’d finished my essential training (it is essential, it keeps me strong, and keeps my back healthy, so I can carry on caring) I got my breath back and then attempted a handstand, and then two more. I was only able to hold them for a couple of seconds, but still! The guy behind the desk winked at me on the way out ha ha #55notdeadyet.

Finally, I have agreed to go for talking therapy, to keep others happy, but very reluctantly. Here’s why:

It eats into the free time I don’t have.
It requires me to talk about all the crazy stuff that has happened in my life. Again. And I find that traumatic.

So you could say I’m scared of counselling too, so that’s another reason to do it. And because today, February 1st, is #timetotalk day, I really should make the effort to talk about mental health, and I hope you do too.

Time to talk

Because scaring myself has made me feel better, this will also be my reasons to be cheerful post for this week: read more over at Lakes Single Mum.




A Family Affair at the Mini Marathon

How to explain the Mini Marathon and why it’s so loved by so many women? After all, isn’t it just a 10K race that takes place every June Bank Holiday weekend through the streets of Dublin?

Yet it’s so much more than that.

For me the highlight is the countdown to the start, with the nervous smiles among the runners, the anticipation, the watches being checked, water bottles discarded, goosebumps from the strains of Sisters, are doing it for themselves, and knowing there’s 30,000 more women at your back.

The Start Line, Mini Marathon 2017,

You feel like you’re part of something.

And you are.

It’s the biggest women only race in the world and one of the biggest charity fundraisers in the Irish calendar.

I’ve probably told you before that I ran it many times in the past, until life got too complicated! And that my first attempt was in 1992 when I was 5 months pregnant with my eldest. This week she walked it pushing her disabled sister, with the help of a couple of friends. And despite the rain that set in as I finished and they reached half way, we all loved the experience.

For me, almost everything went right. I wasn’t feeling well, but with the help of a really fast course, I crossed the line in a very satisfying 57 minutes and 15 seconds. Which means I qualify to enter as a runner again next year. And if I can keep that up, I will do it every year (once I have someone to mind my disabled daughter – or push her round for me).

And having something special to look forward to every June from now on is my  reason to be cheerful for this week. Head over to Lakes Single Mum for more.

Panda Chocolate Muffins and other reasons to be cheerful

This week has been all about health matters relating to family and friends, with more appointments than I care to think about and a bit too much stress. The answer? Pinny on and into the kitchen to try and recreate an adorable idea I’d seen on twitter to make some extra special muffins for a friend in need.

Panda Cakes

In case you’re interested, I took the design from this post but made the muffins and icing from scratch:

They certainly made me feel very cheerful! And I have a few other reasons too:


A bank holiday weekend means just one thing here: lots of outings with my disabled daughter B. You may have already read about our trip to Airfield Estate and Farm on the Monday: It was a great day out, and I especially love the incongruity of finding places like this within the city boundaries.

A farm in the city, hedgerow, field, .jpg

My eldest and youngest weren’t ignored either: I managed to book a babysitter for Monday night and bring them out to the cinema, something else to be cheerful about as long time readers will know how impossible that was for a few years.

On Sunday we spent a couple of hours at a rainy Farmleigh House and Estate. Spirits were definitely not dampened though


I only have two piercings: one hole in each ear lobe, That’s it. They’ve been there for nearly 40 years, but I was tempted to let them go, let them close up. I was down to my last 3 pairs (all Christmassy) and getting more seemed such a hassle, because I have sensitive skin and there’s only one shop that can guarantee pain-free earrings and that’s good old M&S, but I don’t always like the styles they sell.

But I pulled myself together, told myself off for being such a martyr, and on Saturday we went for an extended trip to a large local shopping centre with a wish list of odds and sods and earrings. B loved the day out and I came home with these, which should  keep me going over the summer months.

So that’s it for this week, hope you had a good one xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

The Great Race #greatirelandrun

“Aren’t you being a bit ambitious?”

That’s what I was told when I announced I planned to run a 10k in under an hour in 2017.

In all fairness, what the speaker could see in front of him was a fat middle aged woman swaddled to the nines in ancient running gear. Not an inspiring sight!

But what he didn’t know was that I have a track record of proving people wrong, and those words spurred me on over the past year as I slowly prepared to tackle the Great Ireland Run.

#GreatIrelandRun, 2017, me

You see I’ve been waiting to do this for more than ten years.  I tried in 2011, but didn’t make it across the finish line in under the hour. And this time it felt even more important. Age is not on my side, and 2017 was the perfect year for the attempt: my eldest is still living at home, my disabled daughter is loving her day programme, but it’s only guaranteed until the end of August, while my teenage son has no exams this year.

As well as that, the training went well: I had a partner in crime, my friend Lisa, and we pulled and pushed each other on many runs, often as part of Pat’s training group in the Phoenix Park – held in the mornings, so I can actually get there.

Lisa, Candi, Great Ireland Run 2017, the start,
Lisa and I on the start line

My eldest daughter looked after her brother and sister for me as I squeezed in random training runs whenever I could. And I also benefited from going to gym. It was not a heavy training schedule – no more than 3 1/2 hours a week in total – but it was hard, and I was stiff and sore for most of the past three months. But now I am slimmer and fitter than I have been in a long time, which will help me continue in my caring role too.

Race day was perfect, cool and calm and everything went to plan. Just as well, as the Great Ireland Run is not an easy course: You’d lose count of the number of hills, and I certainly slowed down to a crawl on the last one: so thankful to the lovely woman who encouraged me to keep going, and told me that I was still on track to make my target time. So I sped up as soon as the course levelled off over the last two kilometres, desperate for a sight of the finish line.

And then I saw it.

And the time read 57 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. First came the smiles, and then I was overcome when I finally crossed the line. I staggered to a halt and burst into tears. So of course the medical team rushed over with concern and a sick bucket! And I gabbled on about how important the day was for me. I expect they thought I was completely mad.

For the past 30 years, I’ve rated running the London Marathon as one of the biggest achievements of my life. It’s now been beaten.

Finally I have to mention the glorious Liz McColgan, whose winning 10K run at the Tokyo World Championships in 1991 is always at the back of my mind any time I felt like quitting. Thank Liz!

Adding this post to this week’s Reasons to be Cheerful linky because I’m still taking it easy after all that hard work on Sunday 😉

Five reasons I run

With two weeks to go until the big race, I’m starting to struggle. I’ve been training on and off for the past 18 months; I’ve been hurting all over for the past number of weeks, and I am so so tired. And I’m still not running fast enough to guarantee making my target time.

A bit of inspiration to remind me why I run was badly needed, so I came up with five good reasons to keep me motivated. And here they are, in no particular order..

Running for health and fitness gives me a justifiable excuse for leaving the house and the list, and getting out into the (reasonably) fresh air. Sometimes it’s very fresh, if I get the chance to go for a run in the park or along the sea front. It’s not a self indulgence, so I don’t need to feel guilty – but I still have to tell myself it’s okay.

It’s easier than dieting. No really, it is. With running you have to be mentally tough enough to resist stopping for about half an hour. And do that 4-5 times a week. With dieting you have to be mentally tough enough to resist eating all the time! Also I do lose weight when I exercise harder, which seems to go against expert opinion. I’m still eating cake, but I’ve lost about a stone (6 kilograms), and that makes me very happy.

Running gives my brain a break: I find it impossible to think about my worries when I’m running flat out, and it’s taking all my focus to keep my breathing steady and my legs moving.

It’s about adding something to your life, which has to be a bonus as I’ve found that getting older and becoming a responsible adult and parent seems to be mostly about giving up things.

I’ve always been competitive, and running gives me a chance to compete, against myself and others too. It’s good to feel you’ve achieved something, especially as there is very little sense of achievement or recognition when you’re a carer.

Five reasons I run, me, Essex,

So there you have it, and if you’re a runner too, I’d love to know what keeps you going and why you enjoy it…


Fat middle aged mum runs for her life

Okay so maybe ‘slightly overweight’ middle aged mum would be more accurate, but fat makes a better headline, right? Anyway, I’m 11 stone and a size 14 which is huuuuuuge by fashion industry standards and I have fat in places where no fat should be. Which is why I will never wear a bikini again!


This is the fatter me recently, running in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. In the rain.

London Marathon 1987, one of the best days of my life!

This was me in my mid twenties on a very proud day. But my running career had an inauspicious start.

Three years earlier I could’ve been voted employee least likely likely to run for a bus. My colleagues mocked my attempts at jogging, and when I announced my intention to run a half marathon they sponsored me large amounts per mile… But I got the last laugh, and a local charity did extremely well when I finished in just over two hours.

And I just kept going, joining clubs, running races, taking breaks and beginning again. Right now I’m training really hard for the 10K Great Ireland Run in April and hoping to break the hour — a big change from the days when I was trying to break 45 minutes! But I’m nearly there…


So while I’ve been running on and off for a long time, others like Sinéad at Shinners and the Brood are just starting, with the excellent couch to 5K programme. Good luck to everyone who is beginning a journey to fitness in 2017, and here are some random running tips from a veteran…

All you need is a pair of trainers and a bit of determination to get started.

But you’ll soon want to spend some money. For comfort and to avoid injury you should invest in a good pair of running shoes bought from a proper running shop where advice is available. Plus a supportive sports bra (unless you’re a man, I guess!). And there’s lots of amazing, gorgeous and useful running gear now, with quick dry fabrics and even bum bags with water bottle holders!

Running on your own is hard to do all the time. I would definitely recommend joining a running group or club. You can find them via social media, sites such as (Ireland) or apps like MeetUp.

A goal will keep you focused and keep you going. Whether that’s a regular 5K #Parkrun  or a marathon, it will help you leave the house on those days when you’d much rather slump on the couch with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.

Variety also helps avoid boredom: take different routes, take photos when you need to stop. Try longer slower runs, or shorter faster ones. Try different locations and times of the day, running in sand or up hills will test you, but the scenery will be great, and there’s something special about running in the city early in the morning when it’s quiet and fresh.

Races are fun to test yourself and to experience the feeling of running with a crowd, getting a medal, a T shirt, and maybe raising funds for a good cause.

Struggling to find a babysitter? Run with a buggy. They are welcome at some parkruns and bigger races too. I slowly ran the Great Pink Run 5K course last year pushing my adult disabled daughter.

Running apps, love them or hate them, they can be motivational. Most people I know use Runkeeper.

Need a break from running? Take it. Your legs will remember the training you’ve done and it will be easier going back than it was starting out.

Running may not feel easy at first, but if you push through, you should get to a point where you feel comfortable running at a pace that’s right for you. You’ll enjoy the feeling of moving, of meeting other runners, of looking at the world around you, and the fresh air. Our bodies were made to run!

As for me, I’m running for my life. To keep me alive, to give me more energy for my children, to help me ditch medication, and to battle anxiety and depression, the life partners of many family carers, including me.

So to all the middle aged women out there who say they cannot run, I have this message: Yes. We. Can.

The Minister for Health is right to say that family carers are the backbone

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris TD reportedly said that family carers are the backbone of carers at a conference for people with acquired brain injury in Dublin today.

But you know what?

He’s right.

And I’ll tell you why.

Because the backbone is hidden away out of sight and out of mind.

No-one thinks about their backbone.

No-one pays it much attention.

Most people take it for granted.

They do little to support it.

They do things that will weaken it.

They do things that may damage it.

But they expect their backbone to soldier on regardless.

They only notice it when it hurts or breaks.

Then there’s a crisis, cries for help, and they wish they’d looked after their backbone all along.

And it seems that every generation is destined to make the same mistake, with their backbone and with family carers who provide such a vital service to society even though most people forget about them as they go about their daily lives.

Perhaps the Minister for Health will now show that he understands the importance of looking after society’s backbone. Let’s hope so.

I also want to dedicate this post to the memory of Lisa Williams who was a friend of many of my friends and whose death was reported this week. Rest in peace Lisa.

Social media does get results

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

When I scribbled a few words over breakfast on Wednesday I had no idea or expectation that thousands of people would read and share them, or that by the end of the week I would be in direct contact with politicians and the director general of the Irish health service. Hopefully it will change things for all carers who need respite so they can get their own health needs attended to, so they can continue to care of course!

So my first reason to be cheerful for this week is gratitude to everyone who helped, I was blown away by the support.

No more panda eyes

If you know me at all, you will know that I am rarely seen in public – or private – without lashings of black eye liner. For the past 40 years I have been searching for the perfect pencil: it has to be soft, stay in place, and suitable for sensitive eyes. And finally I may have found it. This baby survived swimming, the death of Carrie Fisher and forgetting to take my make up off one night.

Make Up Forever, eye pencil, black, .png

Let me eat cake

My current medical issue means I’m on a ridiculously strict diet that bans almost everything I like. Except cake. Cake is okay. Though preferably low fat and chocolate free. Hello meringues!

Making mayonnaise

This used to be a daily guilty pleasure, but Hellmanns had to go as part of the diet, so I tried making my own mayonnaise. I didn’t much like the result, and it didn’t really agree with me either, but it worked, and it didn’t curdle. Go me.

Journaling and a Mindfulness course

I’m giving both of these a go to see if they help reduce my stress levels. Just have to make sure that adding more into my day doesn’t increase them…


After a very quiet Christmas, it was lovely to get a call to go for a long walk earlier this week – with B of course, who loved it.

B, Smiley, severe disability, .png

Have a great week and head over to Mummy from the Heart for more reasons to be cheerful.