Pink Heart Society regular columnist, Kate Hardy is talking about keeping going when time gets tough...
Usually I'm a 'glass half full' person - the kind who makes drizzle cake when given lemons - but right now I feel as if I'm running just to stay still.
Well, make that dancing (I'm not a runner, but I love dance-based classes).
Firstly, I'm really struggling with my weight. Yes, I know I'm middle aged and it gets harder every year thanks to metabolic changes and hormones. I eat sensibly (and use Myfitnesspal to track it) and I thought that moving a bit more and getting fit would help me shift the lard, so I do five workouts a week plus three classes (a tough aerobics class, Zumba and Fitsteps - and yes, I know that sounds excessive).
But the Fitbit says I burn fewer calories per session than I did three months ago - and because my gym programme means I count the number of reps I do per minute, I *know* I'm working harder (eg 3 months ago I could do 90 skips in a minute, and now - provided I don't trip over the rope - I can do 150), so in theory I should actually be burning more, not less.
Then there's work. Publishing is in a state of flux right now; I've seen from my own book-buying records that although the number of books I buy is the same as in previous years, the amount I'm spending on said books is a lot lower. So it's not surprising that my own income is taking a nose-dive - the market pressure is for books to have lower and lower prices, plus reading in general is competing with social media and online games. Print runs are lower (and that in itself leads to a vicious circle). Something's gotta give. So I'm working as hard as I ever did, but my salary is a lot less than it was five years ago. (Readers out there who buy official copies or who go to the library rather than get a pirated copy - thank you from the bottom of my heart.)
Personally - I'm struggling there, too. My husband's mother has dementia, and right now visiting her is bringing back all the painful memories of my dad's last year and how much of him we lost to dementia. I'm the one who understands the medical stuff, so it makes sense for me to be the one who does the hospital appointments and then translates it into layman's terms for everyone else.
So what do you do when you feel as if you're running to stand still?
For me, it's planning. So that means looking at the situation now and what I want it to be in future, then working out what I need to do to get there (the tricky bit!) and how I'm going to measure my progress so I can keep going even when it's hard.
So. The weight. I guess I ought to give myself credit for losing 40lbs so far - even though it has taken me 3 years. Slow, steady and getting there. Just... more slowly than I'd like, and I have to work harder than maybe someone who isn't insulin-resistant. I intend to keep going with the gym because it's not all about the scales - the gym is my mental health break for the day. When I'm counting steps or lifts or skips per minute, I don't have space in my head to worry about anything else.
And I like how classes make me feel. (There's an Enrique song in the Zumba class called 'I like how it feels' - and that one really makes me want to jump about. Just as well, because it's a jump-squat-toetap-chassis routine. We're talking serious fun.) Oh, and I bought myself a really loud new gym top this weekend. (It looks better on. And I didn't get the matching leggings because that was TOO much. As my youngest teen put it: 'Purple leopard print? Really, Mum?' I answered in the form of dance. Zumba moves. And I asked her if she'd like to come to class. She rolled her eyes. A lot.)
Work? I read an excellent article in RWA's magazine this month by my pal Donna Alward which spoke about the struggle to create the best story possible and in the shortest space of time. And that's made me rethink my attitude a little. Yes, I do have to pay my half of the household bills, and my oldest is going to uni next year so money's going to be even tighter, but... I still need to get my professional pride back and do the best I can. (Thank you, Donna, for that. Getting my professional pride back is going to make me feel better. And that's going to lead to better stories for my readers.)
The personal stuff? I can't change the situation and I want to be there for my husband, so it's grit teeth and try not to let it get to me. (There is an awful lot more I could say about the situation, but that would cause world war three - not from my husband, who is utterly lovely, but let's just leave it there before I get into trouble! And those friends who know - thank you for the support.)
And, finally, I live in a city in England where the first book was written by a woman in English, back in 1373 - Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love. My favourite quote: 'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.' Indeedy. (The photograph is the statue of Julian from the outside of Norwich Cathedral.)
Failing that, there's Dory in Finding Nemo: 'Just Keep Swimming.'
How do you deal with it when things get tough?
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