Exercise With Caution....

I really enjoyed our fun holiday abroad this year and, as usual, having tired slightly of all the over-eating, I was looking forward to eating more healthily and getting back to my gym on my return. For a while at least, I knew the novelty would soon wear off but those excess holiday pounds needed shedding! And quickly.

You can imagine my surprise when I subsequently found that my beloved Curves gym that I'd been attending for over 6 years had closed down overnight. What now I thought? This gym was so easy to fit into my day, I could just pop in every morning for 30 minutes and be home before a certain Teen Boy even opened a sleep-laden eye.

I've been looking for an alternative ever since. Luckily my Teen Boy brought me on some interesting hikes, with more planned and lots of stories to share with you anon. But then he went on his scout holiday and I was left to my own devices. Solo walks are quite acceptable and even enjoyable but I needed something else. I toyed around with some dance work-out DVDs at home which were fun, but had no motivation that comes with a live instructor and real class members.

Then I discovered that my local gym has Pilates classes. As an ex-dancer Pilates really appeals to me and I'd attended classes some years back too. Besides. Curves had kept me quite fit and I'd also ended every session with some dance-like stretching exercises of my own that's maintained some of my flexibility from my dancing days. Yes, Pilates is perfect for me I thought and off I sashayed to my first class. I mean, Pilates is highly thought of and is even recommended by Physiotherapists. What could go wrong? 

The first class went well, leaving me with expected day-after muscle soreness, demonstrating how hard I'd worked and how effective this class is for core strength. And it was good to have others to work out with, others standards to motivate you. Or make you push yourself harder than you should?

However it was the second class that caused all the problems. Although it got off to a very positive start. I loved it. The instructor was great, initially,  and spent time explaining correct positioning and how to engage your core muscles, which the previous instructor hadn't done. These are crucial concepts for Pilates. However neither instructor bothered to ask the class who was new, or to go around the class checking everyone's positions. This is also crucial for a successful Pilates class. 

Although I enjoyed the class I haven't enjoyed the days since. Being in constant pain and unable to walk properly will do that to you. The problem revealed itself just before bed time the day after the class when pain shot up my leg and, forgive me, into my ass! Funny yet not so. Not when you inch down the stairs during the night crying with the pain!

It's been 5 days now and sometimes the pain is excruciating. That's despite a trip to the doctors to receive an injection and being on regular opiate medications ever since! 

To say I've been feeling quite miserable wouldn't be lying. But I got a lovely surprise visit today from my very good friend Looking For Blue Sky who together with the fabulous Smiley made up this cheery and thoughtful present, that really brightened my day:

                                                       Thank you Blue Sky :-)

Of course I also have my Teen Boy with his comic updates to amuse me and the news that my little blog has been nominated in Best Personal Blog category in The Blog Awards Ireland 2104 to also cheer me up! My thanks to the person who nominated me as this really was some cheery news in a painful week.

Tomorrow will be another trip to the doctor methinks, I may even see the inside of a hospital yet.

And all because of Pilates, a highly recommended form of exercise!

For what it's worth here's my advice on attending a Pilates class, and on how to survive being laid up:

* It is my opinion that gym instructors are trained in many forms of exercise of which Pilates is just one. If you're attending a gym run class tread carefully, and choose one that at least streams it's classes.

*Preferably attend a class run by an instructor who is Pilates specific. These classes are more expensive but more safely run, in my opinion.

*Remember, just because you're fit and flexible for one form of exercise doesn't mean you are for another.

*If you find yourself stretched out and drugged up on the sofa for days on end then accept that your house will be a tip. You may also want to:

*Put the local takeaway on speed dial.

*Teach your teen to make his own goddamn lunchs and snacks.

*Ensure they know how to iron their own clothes. You may need to draw a map to show where the equipment is stored.

*Ensure that you are not the only one in the house who knows how to correctly load and use the dish washer. Everyone should know where the dishwasher tablets are, which compartment they go into and where the power switch is. Jeez...

And now you must forgive me for this hastily written post, from the strangest sitting position ever. All grammar and spelling errors are purely the courtesy of  opiates.

And now I must go and take some more, and tuck into the chocolates and toffees :-)

Teenage Adventures and Coming of Age

As parents we cherish our children and mind them well, and when they reach their teenage years we realise that it's time to release the reins. Or rather, replace them with extremely loose and invisible ones. You know, so you can give a little tug every so often, when they stray too far or lose the run of themselves a little too much.

It's not an easy thing to do but do it we must, trusting that we've prepared the way well with discussion and by example.  The age of 14 to 18 can be fraught with battles for complete independence, so we must tread carefully and make the most of this window of opportunity. Releasing the reins bit by bit.

And so it was that our Teen  Boy headed off to Switzerland with his scout troop last week. Scout camp went so well last year that we really looked forward to him having another amazing adventure this year. Another opportunity to mix with others and to be part of a team; to spread his wings and blossom. All the while being supervised, by trained scout leaders. With finely tuned, loose and invisible reins all of their own!

 The opportunities that are available for children and teenagers these days are quite extraordinary. Any amount of summer camps - teaching all manners of skills - and Gaeltacht resident summer courses are all there for the asking. And I know for a fact that the latter is not there purely for improving their Irish language skills!

There was nothing so extensive in my day, and even if there were the money wasn't there to fund it.The Gaeltacht was available though, a fact that might amuse my son given that I apparently hail from the prehistoric era. I hated Irish as a school subject, thanks to a teacher who didn't like me, but friends of mine came back from a Gaeltacht trip positively raving about it. The fun they had! Dancing at the ceilís and hanging out after Irish class and at the beach. With boys! I just had to give that a go and so the following year, at the 'mature' age of 14, my parents found the money, released the reins and off I went. To dancing and beaches....and boys!

It was a coming of age, of sorts. The technology allowing instant contact with home was not available in this prehistoric era and weekend visits from parents was not the norm back then. Instead we wrote and received precious letters to and from home. Although I would have received mine sooner had I known what my name was as Gaeilge when letters were handed out at assembly! Oops...

I hoped for a similar coming of age experience this year for my boy, who coincidentally is of the same age as I was back then; back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The fact that his is a mixed scout troop is one that I conveniently ignored. Besides, scouts don't 'do' Ceilís - not that I'm aware of anyway!  It's a chance for him to break away from parental constraints, wi-fi wars and household chores. Although he may have been sorely disappointed with the latter two! Scouts have to prepare meals and wash up afterwards you know, and although the technology is available it was banned and a 'no mobile phones' order was firmly in place. No need for concern though, mid-week phone calls home were made available for those who needed the security of touching base with home, restoring confidence and equilibrium until once more into the fray they ventured.

Ultimately a good time was had. Adventures into the Alps, hiking higher and higher and viewing things the budding geologist never thought he'd see for real. Like glaciers for example. I bet he went looking for dinosaur fossils too, no doubt hoping to share the genealogy links with his pre-historic mother!

He has since happily returned to the familiarity of home, a little older and a little wiser in lots of little ways. With all manner of life skills learned and a willingness to share them. He enjoyed his break and his freedom. As did his parents, it must be said.

But it is really good to have him back home, as we continue on with our summer school holidays. There are undoubtedly plenty more walks and talks to be had and enjoyed in the weeks that remain.

And it's very true what they say you know......

Absence does indeed make the heart burst grow fonder :-)

Lost In The Woods.....

'Be prepared .... my ass'  I mumbled to myself as I stumbled along behind my Teen Boy scout, who led the way along the rough pathway strewn with gnarled roots that went deeper and deeper into the forest. We'd wandered uphill and downhill and all around the woods until we no longer knew in which direction we were headed.

We were getting hopelessly lost it seemed.

Now maybe you haven't even noticed but I haven't been around much on social media sites in recent weeks. I'd like to say that 'I've been busy house cleaning, campaigning, being a taxi-mum and generally saving the world' and such like but the truth of the matter is I've been busy enjoying the summer sun; while uttering the odd 'get out of that bed...... NOW' admonishment up the stairs to my ever-sleeping night owl of a Teen Boy. I was about to re-assure any of you who did notice my absence that I hadn't gone missing-in-action.

Except that now it seemed that's exactly what was going to happen. And no-one would know!

My ever-slumbering teen has suddenly become very active you see and I've been dragged on park walks, to teen gyms and on late evening beach strolls of late.

And on forest walks. That had ne'er a signpost nor any indication of which direction one should be headed.

Not that the Teen Boy scout was in anyway concerned as he confidently strolled on ahead.

At one stage we came level with and looked out on a nearby golf course, only to look down on it from a great height a mere ten minutes later. Some time after that we heard the familiar sound of the N.11 dual carriageway motoring along from way, way below us. Only problem was, it was coming from the opposite direction from where we thought it should be coming from!

Very disorientating.

We bravely continued on, enjoying the peace and greenery surrounding us - in between (my) intermittent panics that is. Then we stumbled upon a beautiful old ruin and stopped to admire it a while.

We then ignored a nearby downward path and went on our way. Past some very dark and extremely eerie dense sections of forest we hiked.. All that was missing was some spooky mist. On and on we went, further and further away from the motoring sounds that we knew we should be headed towards. It was okay though, scout-mode truly kicked in as sticks were fashioned from large branches and used to indicate where we'd come from, as we veered off the path and the scout went on ahead to, well, scout the way forward. On what seemed to be a promising downward path.

Except that  it wasn't, as my scouting companion nonchalantly advised. Just before he made the executive decision to head back the way we we had traveled.

Back uphill that is, back up past the deep, eerie woodland.

Anything could happen in this deserted and very steep nature reserve, I thought to myself. I mean, this I know - I read many thrillers and watch Law and Order and the like you know. We could end up going home murdered!

But then I saw that my scout still had the big stick he had procured earlier and I had - well, I had a water bottle in one pocket and my phone in the other. With a good aim I could give a good whack on the head to any would-be attacker with the former and summon help with the latter. Or access Google maps.

'YES! Google Maps!!' I excitedly exclaimed. Teen Boy, who was quite content to continue applying his scouting skills, reluctantly agreed to my accessing this genius app. Which I tried to do, only to be stumped at the very last minute by the flashing mini circle of doom, heralding the need to 'recharge your phone...... Now!'


Onwards and upwards we trudged, until we came back to the charming ruin. Which now had an ominous feel to it as I pondered the unsavory thought of an impromptu overnight bivouac.

And then we saw him. The man. He appeared out of nowhere, up from the ghostly depths of the dense green foliage sweeping down behind the ruin.

He was swiftly joined by two sweet little dogs, so rather than running back into the deep, deep forest from whence we had stumbled, we willingly went towards him instead.

And thanks to his directions we were back to our car in no time at all, musing over how 'not scared at all' we had been and how we had thoroughly enjoyed our two hour adventure!

All good practice as his imminent real scout mission beckons. Off on a Swiss adventure he goes. With well prepared scout leaders equipped with all required necessities.

And fully charged phones, I hope!