My Journey to being fit, fabulous and fifty – “2 out of 3 ain’t bad”

So today I am 50, in all probability closer to the end of my life than the beginning and it is time to revaluate what has happened since I commenced this blog in April of 2018. My life has changed substantially (and let’s be honest so has the world), so let’s evaluate.

Fit – two years on, am I fit? – well no – but I am alive which is good. My body has had some serious issues over the past 18 months but now that I am on the other side (and have a full head of hair) my fitness is coming back. Anyone who has been through cancer will know the treatments can take a lot out of you, and being older does make things a little more difficult – my body hurts for no reason! I groan when I get off the floor – you get the idea, but my plan for increased fitness while delayed has not stopped so this will continue.

Fabulous – the fabulous bit was always about getting a better head space to be totally honest. Part of that was doing things that make me happy but also considering what was and wasn’t working. This ultimately led to our leaving France – not because we didn’t like it, we did and we loved our house, but more for the fact that for me it just wasn’t working, my language skills were just not coming along and it was making my everyday life difficult. We also both wanted to change our work – Pat really wanted to grow his business and I wanted to get back to full-time work so that I could work more towards my retirement savings. I also really, really missed the beach. I don’t think I realised exactly how much I need to see the sea and walk on a beach.

Fifty – well yes that is happening – time for all intensive purposes moves forward (or we move forward through time) so I have completed 50 journeys around the sun. I also realise that I am fortune to have made it this far – do I expect another 50 years – umm not really but I am hoping for at least another 30.

So that’s it I’m fortunate to be able to go to lunch on my birthday with my parents, my husband and my sister and brother-in-law. We’re very fortunate to be here in WA during this pandemic and able to go out and about with relative freedom. And on a final note, my most memorable birthday over the past 50 years – 1976 – because we had a total solar eclipse!

Adieu, my friends and remember to be fabulous.

32 – Being less serious

I’ve come to realise somewhere in my journey in life I’ve allowed myself to get a little too serious with life and everything within my life. OK given some of what has happened in my life justifies this seriousness (hello cancer) but the reality is I think I’ve been allowing myself to go down the “whole life is serious” path and I have to take everything seriously.

I think part of this may have come about because when I consider my life, am I where I thought I would be at almost 50? No. My life is nothing like what I imagined it would be, but then I’ve done stuff that my 20-year-old self would never have dreamed of. I’ve lived overseas in 2 different countries – UK and France – and for one of them I didn’t speak the language (though I did try to learn). I’ve also travelled so much more than I ever thought. I’ve seen things I never expected to see (hello Flamingo’s in the Camargue, Gournia – a Minoan settlement – in Crete). So far, I’ve lived an interesting life, but not the life my 20-year-old self expected to live.

What does all this mean for me, I think I need to be less serious about life – all of my life – and just relax into it and be present. I’m now trying to only be serious where I need to be serious, areas such as my health, my finances (this list may grow), but for most other things I’m going to relax (or try and relax) and just go with the flow with everything else. It will be an interesting experiment.

One thing I am ensuring is that I do the things that make me feel good. One of those is my painting so I’m setting myself a challenge of painting every day for 90 days – yes they will be small paintings but the plan is to do them in acrylic, and only spend 2 hours a day – it shall be an interesting challenge. Will all of them be good – hell no – but some of them will be.

Until next time.

31 – Slowly, slowly – 22nd August 2020

This blog will be a little bit more upbeat than my last one – despite having a mouth that is hurting after having a tooth removed last week – unfortunately the tooth broke while I was having my treatment for cancer (and it is recommended no dental work during treatment). I finally got to the dentist (who happens to my niece from my first marriage) and she took a look and the decision to have it removed was made. Unfortunately, I am finding various hangovers from my cancer treatment and one is my teeth are not in good condition and healing takes longer. But these are things that just have to be accepted and dealt with.

If you remember in my last post I was annoyed with my hair. I’ve since been to the hairdressers and we had a good chat about how to grow it out. It’s been coloured in a way that I am much happier with and the back has been cut. So now it is just a case of growing the top until it is at a length that I’m happy with – while maintaining the colour and the length at the back. I’m starting to be able to do stuff with it so that is also helping me feel happier about it.

I’ve also finally decided that I need to see a psychologist – this is to help with the fabulous part of me. I’m hoping for some help in how I think (there is a lot of negative self-talk) and hopefully to give me some coping mechanisms for certain things. I’ve only had one appointment so far, but the next two are booked so hopefully this will help with my attitude to life.

I’m still applying for jobs, no luck at this stage. This is also difficult as I’m not used to not getting interviews or job offers so it has been a steep learning curve for making my applications “sing” in a way that is attractive to recruiters. Eventually I know I will get a job but it is frustrating at this stage – especially as I want to buy my own home – not having my own space is difficult – and it’s most probably difficult for my mum to have people in her space for such a long time.

Anyway, Pat and I are trying to get out and about now, we’ve done a couple of group walks – which has been great. We are creating a list of places to visit for day trips and considering a short holiday (a long weekend really) in October for my birthday; so there are things to look forward to.

Until next time.

30 – Confession time – 7 th August 2020

As you know my uploads on this blog have been a little sporadic. This has come about due
to the fact that in 2 months I turn 50 and I don’t even vaguely think that I have got close to
my aims for this blog. I’m not fit and I definitely don’t feel fabulous. I do understand that the
world has changed dramatically since I started writing this blog (April 2018) and I have
changed dramatically health wise (cancer) so I understand that so much was out of my
control, but I still wanted to be in a better place after two years and the reality is I would say
I’m in a worse place – both fitness wise and psychologically.

I have taken the step to actually see a psychologist to just help me deal with the changes
I’ve been through over the past couple of years. She is a CBT trained therapist so I’m
hoping for some coping mechanisms with living my life. One thing I am really struggling with
is being back in Perth and not being able to get work. It wasn’t something I expected and
when we decided to move here (back in September 2018) the probability of me not getting
work wasn’t even a consideration. At the moment it is an unfortunate reality that there are a
lot of people applying for every job. I did get an interview last week, which was great but that
hasn’t gone anywhere. We will keep trying and see how things progress.

For me one of my biggest issues at the moment is how I look – I’m hating having short hair!
I hate it more than having no hair. I think it is partly because I’m struggling to style it so it
doesn’t look great and it is taking such a long time to grow. I even went and found out about
hair extensions to see if I could get them and unfortunately the top layer of my hair is still too
short! I’m also re-evaluating my wardrobe, partly because it is so casual but also because
it’s not as feminine as I would like. I must admit though adding femininity into a wardrobe
when you don’t like wearing skirts is difficult.

One thing I have been able to do is get more art into my life. That for me has been a
positive of lockdown and quarantine, I was able to paint and draw almost every day, which I
loved and it really helped me improve my artwork. I’m still struggling to get into a routine
here in Australia, not sure why but it is frustrating, but I am still doing more art work than I did
previously – getting some type of art done 3-4 times a week.
My plan over the next two weeks is to get some type of routine in my life and to get back to
regularly writing this blog (hopefully every 2 weeks). Hopefully next time you hear from me I
will have some type of routine and maybe even a job (which will force me back into a
routine).

Until next time.

The World has Changed – 11th April 2020

I started writing this blog last Saturday, but for some reason didn’t publish it. So this is from last Saturday.

While I don’t think anyone reading this blog doesn’t read my other blog, just in case you don’t our pets got delayed in their transport to Australia which meant we got caught out by Covid-19 and are currently stuck in France. We’re in our third week of our lock down and I’m starting to go a little bit mad. It is difficult; I’m not working but trying to find things to do with my day. I have started doing more exercise – I’m walking twice a day (one advantage of living in the middle of the countryside) and doing my strength exercises. I’m really noticing my strength exercises, my arms are aching and my legs are very sore, so I’ve decided that I need to reduce my strength exercises to 3 times a week and introduce some stretching.

Psychologically the lockdown is difficult – for me because we were in the process of moving on to the next stage of our lives – with moving to Australia and now we are on hold indefinitely and that is hard. When we were originally delayed it was only for a couple of weeks so it didn’t feel so bad, now it is difficult. Of course on top of this is the lack of work – even though I can work remotely – there is no work. So that is very hard, I’ve taken to writing a list every day of things to do and trying to cross some of them off (and I’m happy even if I only get one thing crossed off).

This week I went and did the shopping and had to go the pharmacy for my drugs – the pharmacy is currently only allowing 3 people in at once, and there was a queue outside – all nicely spaced. I got my drugs but unfortunately forgot to get my carte vitale back (my medical card) so Pat went and got that for me today, he was also in an outside line when one of the pharmacists came out and gave Pat my card (small town and they have seen us a lot over the past year). She did ask why we weren’t in Australia yet, Pat had to explain – in French – that our pets had been delayed.

Currently it is looking like we are stuck here until end of May maybe even into June – not the best 65th birthday for Pat. I’m planning on making him a special dinner if we can’t go out – and maybe even a cake. I’m hoping by then we will have a date on getting home.

Until Next time.

One year on – 11 March 2020

It has been a while since I’ve written a blog for my Fit & Fab by 50 blog, that’s because there has and hasn’t been much happening – if that makes sense. As most of you would know our return to Australia has been delayed due to a delay in the import permit for our pets. We have this now and are just waiting on the confirmation from quarantine so hopefully by the end of the month we will all be in Australia.

Today (11th March) is my one year anniversary since I found out about my cancer. It has been a long and difficult year and I am struggling to get myself back on target for my health. I am going to use the next few weeks to get myself back on track, I’ve started with the diet (except for the past weekend in Paris) and getting some more exercise in my life. Walking is difficult due to the weather, but I need to force myself outside even if it is wet and cold (which I did do today despite the drizzle). I’ve also started doing some strengthening exercises for my upper body – unfortunately on the left side I’ve lost a lot of strength due to my operations. The hotel we stayed in over this past weekend had a pool – and swimming was wonderful and really made me realise that the goal of upper body strength is necessary.

So I’ve been planning out my weeks until we go. Four days a week with the strengthening, walking every day but also getting some of those things completed that I need to – such as my colour pencil drawing course, completing job applications and starting to sort out the paperwork we need for Australia.

I’m also trying to set myself goals for my health and fitness for the next seven months – which will take me to my 50th birthday. Most of these, of course will be Australia based, but some of it is about the mental aspects of getting me back to a fitness level and health level that I am happy with and also accepting that I am heading towards 50 and it will take a lot more effort than when I was 20 but I’m up for the challenge.

27 – It’s 2020 when the hell did that happen! – 4th January 2020

Happy New Year everyone. It is 2020, I turn 50 this year – half a century – when did that happen, I’m not an adult yet, let alone well into middle age. Oh well, I guess we just have to continue feeling like a 20 something while inhabiting a much older body.

Went to the hairdressers today, yep, but not for a cut, she cleaned up the sides and back of my hair as apparently the sides and back grow quicker than the top! I don’t think that they do, they just grow differently perhaps – I guess I could do some research, but hey I just want it to grow. Pat got a haircut though, so he is looking very dapper again.

Ok it is now the 12th January – sorry. However I have finished my treatment – this is great news. I’ve had my follow-up with the doctors and they are happy with everything so I’m now on my tablets for the next 5 years and have to have a mammogram later in the year, but for now, I’m free again.

I was asked to take part in a study the hospital is running and would have loved to have done this, but unfortunately as I will be returning to Australia sometime soon, this wasn’t possible.

So what is my plan now? I’m really concentrating on getting fitter and healthier, we are back on our diet, we are reducing our drinking and for me, I’m trying to up my exercise level. So last week I tried to average 5,000 steps a day, which I did, this week I’m heading for 6,000 a day. I’m also going to try and (finally) get my muscle strengthening exercises started. We shall see.

For now a bientôt – and remember try to be a little bit more kind to those around you (including yourself).

26 – My philosophy going forward

Hello friends and family. As you are all aware 2019 has been a particularly tough year – let’s be honest, it has been my worst year to date in my life! Cancer has that effect on you, it has also really made me think about counting my blessings – which will be a separate blog – but yesterday a little idea popped into my head and I decided that this little idea needed to be held on to and examined and taken to another level.

To start with, I struggle with the world at large as I truly am an introvert and I sometimes find the world a little bit overwhelming – especially the nastiness, the anger, the hate, the nationalism, the fact that people feel that they have the right to attack you personally because you think differently to them (argumentum ad hominem – remember discuss the topic don’t attack the person). So all of this out in the large old world was starting to get me down and then this idea of what can I do about this popped into my head.

Now, this is normally the point where I would speak to myself and say nothing, there is nothing you can do about this – le rien – you are too small, the world too big. I then thought about it a bit more and thought, I don’t have to change the world, just my little bit of it. So I’ve adopted a personally philosophy going forward – I will be kind and considerate wherever and whenever possible and where it isn’t possible, I will be polite and considerate. Hopefully this will mean that people reciprocate in the same way and ultimately if they don’t – it is their problem not mine.

With this thought in mind I have had another little thought building in my brain – it was suggested to me a while back to get an Instagram account and put up my art when I finished it, however I never did anything about this – now I have – I’ve set-up my account but not yet published anything – however I will be and I will let you all know when this goes live. This is also to add a little bit more beauty and softness into the world.

For now a bientôt – and remember try to be a little bit more kind to those around you (including yourself).

25 – Slowly, slowly

I’m starting to despair a little; I’m finding it very hard to look at myself at the moment. This is because my hair has started to grow back and it just looks like baby fuzz – dark (interspersed with grey) baby fuzz. It’s also very slow growing. My hair has always been slow growing but it is really, really noticeable now. I’m finding that I’m just not looking feminine. While I realise I’ve never been a girly, girl, but at the moment I don’t feel great with how I’m looking. I also have had to adjust the clothes I’m wearing for Radiotherapy, and this will continue for a few weeks after Radiotherapy so my clothes are not the most feminine either – mainly because I’m wearing cotton t-shirts and that’s it (can’t afford 100% silk!)!

However, Radiotherapy is going well, the most annoying thing is having to go back and forward to the hospital, and I must admit having a cold during the first week of radiotherapy didn’t help, as all I wanted to do was curl up in bed but I had to get up and get ready to go to the hospital (though due to machine maintenance I did get 1 day off – which I spent in bed).

Autumn is usually my favourite time of year, especially here in Europe as the way the colours change in nature it is amazing. This year it feels like there have been a lot more grey wet days than usual – now while I think this might be more to do with my mood and therefore I’m noticing the grey days, it’s not helping as I feel like I’m not able to enjoy the outdoors as much.

However it isn’t all doom and gloom, Friday I started a new painting at art class, Saturday I met up with a friend and we went out for lunch, which was great just to get together and natter with food, coffee and a lovely cheesecake. It was a great time and today we are heading off to a Christmas market so that should be a lot of fun.

For now a bientôt.

24 – Sorry mum I’ve got a tattoo! – 07/11/19

It has been over a month since I stopped chemo and I’m feeling very good, I would say I’m back to feeling normal. This has been great and has meant that almost every day I’ve got out for a walk (I don’t do walking in torrential rain)!

I’ve also been spending some time on myself reading, watching You Tube, and doing some planning for the future. Pat and I are back on our healthy eating plan, as after the past few months and our trip to Champagne both of us had allowed a few bad habits to creep into our lives and that has meant an increase in weight. So far, so good.

I also had my preliminary appointment to outline my radiotherapy treatment plan – unfortunately for me most of my appointments are between 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm. This is very annoying as it will mean around 2½ to 3 hours out of the house in the middle of the day due to travelling time. I also got given all the information about what will happen, side effects, use of soaps (nothing perfumed), no baths allowed!!!!!!!! was explained. I also had a session with the scanning machine that is used to plan out the area of treatment and with this you get a pin point tattoo – it is necessary as this is what is used to line your body up in the machine for each treatment and to make sure the treatment is going to the correct areas.

Another mainly quiet weekend ahead, for us, however we do have friends coming over for dinner on Saturday night so that will be fun.

For now a bientôt.