Back in December last year, the actualization of a 22 year old dream started to take form. It was delivered on a day full of snow flurries. I was so anxious that my husband banished me from the house, sending me out on errands and telling me he'd let me know when it was safe to come home!
We've come a long way since that day—and I'm not just talking about work on the barn, either. As the work converting the shed to a pottery studio started to take form, my confidence grew and I started venturing out into other areas of my life. With each milestone, I started to see things so much clearer. It was all so simple; why had I spent nearly 6 decades making it so complicated?
I couldn't have done it without my girl-who-does. For as artistic as I am, I'm quite corky-handed when it comes to using power tools and seeing things in a practical light. I'm pretty sure that it's because I've never been taught, and that's okay, too. I don't need to be able to do everything. Life's too short to want to have it all. Priority is the key. I don't want to know how to hang doors or frame windows. I want to know how to mix glazes, and throw pots. I'm grateful for my girl-who-does, who really turned the work space into an art space.
I'm also very thankful for him indoors. Typical Taurus, it took him ages to get motivated, so much so that I often threw minor temper tantrums in his direction. My impatience coupled with my anxiety as to whether I could do this or not had me urging him to turn it into a studio for his baby grand piano for several weeks. Nevertheless, he persisted. He learned new skills. He let one of his musician pals teach him how to use power tools and he insulated, wired, and walled. Getting studio space was my dream, but he made it his as well. Dear gods, I love this man.
I'm close to going into production. I'm still working on writing assignments—anyone who knows me knows that August and September is 'the season.' But I'm organizing my schedule so that, come 1 August, I can spend regular time in the studio. I'm well on the way to getting things organized, labeled, and situated (typical Virgo) so that I can begin in earnest. I'm both excited, and terrified. Let the journey commence!
So. 'Will Run for Yarn' is the official blog for The Pottery Yarn, but so far, all you've seen are posts about running, yes? You could be forgiven for thinking that you're in the wrong place, but I assure you that you're not. I hope you'll stick around to find out why it's not the wrong place, as I connect the dots below. It may get a bit verbose.
See, I've wanted a pottery studio ever since my friend Maureen and I were out of work and bored and wondered into a community activity class. We were in our late 30s and probably young enough to be everyone else's granddaughters. I wasn't deterred, though. I had fallen in love with pottery when I was in girl scouts and Libby Moore used to come and do a pottery project with us each year. I so looked forward to it. That Thursday morning in the community center as I was handed a 2lb ball of clay I remembered the connection. I was once again hooked.
The idea of having a studio became a dream. My husband and I looked at moving, seeing if there was anywhere that would house a pottery studio for me as well as his grand piano. I went out to Pilling Pottery every Sunday afternoon in an attempt to learn to throw. I took art A levels at Blackpool and the Fylde college in an attempt to get a better eye for what I was doing.
Somewhere between then and now, I lost my mojo. Back in the 1990s I never doubted that I could do this, but in the new millennium, my confidence in my capabilities went on vacation. The more of a people-pleaser I became, the less I believed in what I could do. My art stalled. My weight ballooned. Panic attacks and bouts of despondency became the norm. The lower I felt, the more I ate.
Then, a couple of years ago when I was at my lowest, two things happened. I did a 100 Day Challenge with Stephen Bates (Google him, he does NLP and is an amazing life coach) and somewhere a switch flipped. Life started to become fun again. I was just coming out of my funk when I met a local artist named Jackie. She took me under her wing, got me going with the ceramics professor at Eastern University, and I found new friends, and a renewed sense of purpose.
I've never been athletic. I've never had aspirations to run marathons or lift weights, but when I got the news that my blood sugar was on the rise, I knew that it was time to take action. I started watching what I ate, I started taking control of my life, and I started trying to run. I completed my first 5k. Now, if I could do this, what else could I accomplish?
I still had times when I wanted to retreat into my shell and self-medicate with potato products of some description. I still doubted what the hell I was doing—me—trying to run. I also doubted that I could run a business, that my dream of my own pottery studio would ever be a reality. I think even after we acquired the barn, I spent about 3 months trying to convince my husband to make it into his music studio!
However, as my 5k time started to improve and my weight started to decrease, I started to feel more alive, more empowered. I set goals; one of the reasons this blog is called 'Will Run for Yarn' is because my friend Carla joked that—in order to curb my yarn-buying habit, I should have to run 5ks for every purchase I made. Joke it was, but it also gave me a sense of purpose.
So, why run for yarn? Why not run for clay? Well, for one reason, yarn is much more inspiring than a lump of mud. Another reason is that I've been knitting since I was in grade school; I can take my knitting with me wherever I go, which can't be said for clay. I also 'knit' the clay, too, to get interesting textures and designs. It's all connected. It all works.
That pretty well brings us up to date. Summer school is out, my pottery professor has retired, the barn is next to the garage and will be a working studio by the end of this month. With every mile that I ran, with every pound that I lost, I believed in myself more and more. Sure I still have my moments (hello—12th house Virgo here), I still whine to my besties and my husband, but for the most part, I'm on track. I'm opening the studio on my birthday; what better way to launch another trip around the Sun.
I hope you stuck around for this (rather lengthy) explanation of why my pottery blog has been full of running stories. The reason is simply this: Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can't, you're right. It seems I needed another goal, to prove to myself that I could do that, before I finally believed that I could have a pottery studio, and truly be a potter.
This is a cheap to make copycat recipe for the type of 'beans on toast' beans we used to have in England. Made in a large slow-cooker or crock pot, it is easy, inexpensive, and nutritious.
This is so SIMPLE you'll wonder why you haven't been doing it for yonks.
Soak the beans overnight. Wash them well, then place them into a large pan of just enough boiling water to cover them about half an inch. Boil them at least 20 minutes, skimming off the foamy scum that will froth up from them (my dad always told me that scum was what cooked up the farts; I don't know about that, but I do know it can make the beans tough).
While the beans are boiling, finely dice the onion (I throw mine in the the food processor). Plug in the crock pot, turn it on high, and chuck in the onion and tomato juice. Add the boiling beans and stir well. Cover, and cook on high for at least 4 hours. I stir mine every hour or so to stop them sticking, but I think that might be just the heating element on my particular crock pot!
When they start looking like cheap baked beans (pale and watery), turn the crock pot down to low, and let them simmer away for another couple hours, until they start to look like Heinz beans (image above), or until your fed up of waiting for them and want to go to bed. Add the salt and pepper to taste at this stage: do it earlier the beans are likely to get tough. If you're not adverse to adding a bit of sugar, now's the time to do that, too. I sometimes add maybe 1/4C of maple syrup, or just sprinkle on about 2T of 'sugar in the raw' and stir that in. It seems to bring out the flavor.
I always let mine cool slowly—overnight—in the crock pot. They seem to thicken up and go more like Heinz beans that way. This recipe makes a good gallon or so of baked beans for the cost of a fancy coffee, and they freeze very well indeed. Try them on toast, or with 'Smart Dogs,' or even cold with a salad! I've even used them instead of marinara as the sauce on a (vegan) pizza. Yum!
**2 6oz tins of tomato paste can be substituted for the 15oz tin of tomato sauce; it all depends on what I have to hand.
Yet, I swim. I get in the water, and I may do the backstroke, or the side stroke, or power through the breast stroke or crawl, or maybe I'll just tread water, or do some aqua aerobics. I can do endless laps. When my stroke tires me, I switch to something more leisurely, something where the water is supporting me and I'm just gently gliding along, rather than 'working out.'
I have no problem calling myself a swimmer, even though the water is doing half the work. Why then, can't I call myself a runner, even though I'm taking walk breaks?
I wonder if this doesn't go back to my childhood, back to when I was given notes to be excused from running in gym class. See, even as I write this, I the words that I want to insert here are "I have exercise induced asthma, I can't run." But I'm not buying into that shit any longer. I used that as permission to be lazy for over 50 years. Yes, I have health complications, but I refuse to let them have me. The docs all told me not to exert myself, and for over 50 years I bought into the 'I can't' mindset. I gave myself permission to be unhealthy and unfit.
I'm giving myself permission to be healthy now. I'm giving myself permission to change my lifestyle so that I am more fit than I've ever been. How can I get myself out of the mindset of "I'm not a runner," and start to see this as something that I do, something that I'm working toward (nope, working toward it means I haven't achieved it, so that's not applicable)? How can I leave behind the 'I'm not a runner' and embrace 'I am a runner' without feeling like a fake, a wannabe, and a fraud?
Food for thought indeed here! Thanks to Shane for the blog fodder!
I wanted to share this with you guys. It was in a weight loss group that I kinda sorta follow, but it caught my eye. I watched it. I cried at the end of it. I'm by no means Brock, but this is how I felt towards the end of my 2 mile intervals today. I know I'm (oh hell, crying again) I know I'm not an athlete. I know that my 17 minute / mile is chump change. I also know that it's MINE.
That hill, that little bump in the road that I call a hill? The roads I train on are full of inclines like that, and today I hit every one of them going UP on my running intervals. The voice in my head started grumping and whining and bitching. I thought about going home. But you know what?
I just kept going. I didn't take my eyes off the blacktop. I didn't see the hills. I put one foot in front of the other and I ran that stupid interval. Maybe not fast. Maybe I sounded like an asthmatic steam engine blowing a valve the whole time. But I kept going, and by golly I'm going to claim that.
Now, who do I write to at Runkeeper so I can get this dude as my training coach on there?
So, I didn't want to do this 5k.
I didn't have a very good evening last night. After behaving itself for months, my IBS flared up—while I was on a walk, about 1.5 miles away from home. Let's just say the result wasn't pretty and leave it at that.
I'd also read that the course of this race took the runners south of town, and I know those hills, dear gods, I know those hills. 5k them? I don't even think I could walk them! They're pretty, and go through lovely scenery, but for IL, they're pretty brutal. My hat goes off to those who were determined to meet the challenge. I'm not there. I may never be there. I'm certainly not there today.
So, I didn't want to do this 5k, and I whined about it.
The morning dawned lovely and sunny as only a Midwest spring morning can. My IBS had calmed down, and I thought, 'I've paid for the damned thing so get out there and do it.' Besides, this is one of the few local races where every finisher gets the medal. I want the bling.
Found the stadium. Parked easily. Filled my Sparkle Skirt pockets with the necessities. Went to the loo. Twice. Made my way to the starting line.
I want to thank Lady-in-the-Yellow-Tee-Shirt for helping me set my pace for the first half of the race. You have to remember that I'm only just starting this adventure. Anything under a 17 minute 32 second mile is gravy for me. My goodness that woman could walk fast. I'd run an interval and catch up with her, then she'd pass me. I'd run another interval and catch up with her, then she'd pass me again.
By this time, My Sparkle Skirt was threatening to creep down to my hips. I don't think I'd pulled up the compression shorts high enough the last time I went to pee. I stuck my bottle of water into my mouth, gave it a good yank, and promised myself to investigate either a lock lace or a nip tuck when I got home. Meanwhile. Lady-in-the-Yellow-Tee-Shirt was ahead of me again. Time for another running interval.
Then I heard my Runkeeper 'coach.' 'Average pace, 15 minutes 51 seconds.' Wait, WHAT??! Had I not been running I think I'd have fainted right then and there. Remember, this is the gal who was fighting to get under a 17 minute mile. The pavement leveled out and then dipped a bit. Another running interval downhill (yes, that was probably cheating).
My Sparkle Skirt is staying in place now, and Lady-in-the-Yellow-Tee-Shirt was nowhere to be seen. I passed mile 2. 'Average pace, 15 minutes, 32 seconds. You're doing good. I think you're doing good.' Thanks Runkeeper! Can I sustain this until the finish line?
'Average pace, 16 minutes, 11 seconds.' Lady-in-the-Yellow-Tee-Shirt wasn't there to motivate me.! Then I heard it. 'Click, click, click, click.' A sly glance to my left and there was 'Tall-Dude-with-a-Pedometer' coming up behind me. I tried to match his walking gait, but he was like a foot taller than I am and it was impossible for me to do so. I did the only thing I could. I ran an interval.
We're circling the lake by this time, and the university band is playing 'Crazy Train' from the pavilion nearby. Sweat is running between my butt cheeks. Where the hell is the finish line? 'Click, click, click, click.' Quick interval—or rather, slow but brief interval. Just enough to get me ahead of 'Tall-Dude-with-a-Ped.' Round the corner, head for the trees. Thank gods, some shade!
'Click, click, click, click.' I wondered if this was what one of the zombie runs was like?! You know, you get ahead of them but they just keep coming! Brief interval of running. I'm really ready for this thing to be over, now, and Tall-Dude-with-a-Ped is right next to me. We've got less than half a mile to go.
I smiled at my adversary. "I have been trying so hard to stay ahead of you, but I think I'm going to have to resign!" He smiled at me, "Thanks for keeping me going. Catching you has been my motivation this last mile."
I laughed, "Oh, those are fighting words!" These tired achy legs found 20 seconds of running and I got ahead of him. 'Click, click, click, click,' Ran a bit more. 'Click, click, click, click,' Found a few more running steps. 'Click, click, click, click,' we round a corner and there's the finish line! "Come on," I said, "Strong finish. We can do this!"
We were neck and neck coming down the home straight, but I wanted a good finish. I've never been interested in a 'good' race photo before—I've never been interested in checking them out, even—but this time, Sparkle Skirt finally behaving and knowing I had performed better than ever this race, I want a photo. I ran ahead of Tall-Dude-with-a-Ped and crossed the line smiling. The helpers gave me my medal and I turned and waited for him to get his, then gave him a hug. "Thanks for the inspiration, I hope you have a great day."
I'm still waiting to check my official time (which is going to be a bit faster than my Runkeeper because I forgot to stop the danged thing until after the medals and the water and the hugs), and maybe—just maybe—I broke a 16 minute mile. In the meantime, though. I did it. I did not want to do this 5k, but I did it, and I feel like wuss for not wanting to do it. Now, when is the next one, again?
(PS: Yes, it's 'that' shirt again. It's beginning to fit a bit differently, right?!)
PPS: Check out that chip time. I blasted nearly 7 minutes off my previous PR and I knocked over two and a half minutes off my average pace. Yeah, it's a runner thing. OMG. I just admitted I was a runner!!
I didn't want to share this photo.
I was feeling in the zone. I had my fairly new Altras on, wearing my comfy Feetures socks, and my new-to-me Sparkle Skirt was on its inaugural outing. I wasn't even wearing a frumpy tee shirt; I chose a women's tailored shirt to match the skirt. The weather was good, and I was rocking this. Then I saw the photo.
I didn't want to share this photo.
I don't look how I felt. I don't look like I"m rocking it. I see old legs, tired of carrying so much weight. I see an obese woman, an old woman who thinks she's younger and more slender than she is. And I see boobs. Big purple knockers. Dear gods, you could sink the titanic with those jugs.
I didn't want to share this photo.
I feel that I look ugly and frumpy and it hurts. However, it also shows me that I'm a work in progress. It was taken half way into a 5k stroll through the country on a beautiful sunny day. I've been walking at least 3 miles a day. Three days prior to that I clocked up 6 miles. My blood glucose levels have normalized with no meds. I'm down 30lbs. I'm breathing easier. I have more energy.
I didn't want to share this photo.
I chose to put it here, for everyone to see. I'm a work in progress. Do I like this photo? No. Do I want to share this photo? No. But one day, one day soon, I'll be posting this photo, alongside another one that I do like, one where I'm even more slim, more fit, and more healthy, and I'll be proud of this photo, because at that time I'll be able to say, "Look how far I've come!
But today is not that day, and I didn't want to share this photo.
First off, please bear with the housekeeping as I work with this here computerized website thingamajig, as I'm not technologically blessed, and there are going to be some hiccups while I get my site how I want it to look. I'm blending this blog with my other online work, and there are going to be plenty of bumps in the road. I promise I'll try to make them painless for you, because anal-retentive Virgo me goes nuts when something isn't just how I want it, particularly when it comes to A) something that someone else will see and B) something that inconveniences others.
I nestle in on the settee until I hear him start to fuss, then get up and take him out, and then everyone sleeps—in theory, anyway. So, last night, I was watching the FFTFL movie for the bazillionth time as I hunkered down, and three things came to mind. Little epiphanies that will hopefully lead me on to bigger successes.
The first was something that Rik said in the movie, about changing just one thing at a time. I can do that, right? I can drink those extra glasses of water one week, and walk those extra steps the next week, and whatever the following week. I know I've mentioned this previously, but this is really hitting home with me. I've always been an all-or-nothing kind of gal, and so set very unrealistic goals for myself, trying to do everything in record breaking speed, rather than being sensible and working on one goal and seeing it through to completion (this is probably why I have so many UFOs—UnFinished Objects—when it comes to my knitting stash, too, but that's another story). So this time, I'm doing it sensibly, changing just one thing at a time. I'm in this for the long haul, not to be a sprinter (ha, see what I did there).
The second was that, I couldn't get comfy on the sofa. Now, this might not seem like a biggie, but think about it. This is a nice settee, it's got plenty of good spring in it, It is on a solid frame, so why couldn't I get comfy? Because I was too fat to lay on it correctly. I had to have a footstool to prop up a bent knee. So, little goal, little reason for doing this; I want to fit on the couch.
Lastly, I had a chat with a friend of mine who has successfully lost a lot of weight and kept it off. She lives in England and does the 'wolf runs' over there, which are pretty intense, but then, she's a pretty amazing kind of gal. I was talking about my goals and she assured me that I could do this. I can be really determined when I make myself. I went back to school to learn how to throw pots (I'm a hand-builder at heart), I set my sites on getting a studio open here and now the building is sitting in my back garden, and my career is heading the direction I want it to go. I've done all that. My determination made it happen. Jayne told me that I could make this happen, too, and it hit me. All of the accomplishments I've done in the last 18 months have been something I've done. Losing weight and immersing myself into the world of fitness will change who I am, and that terrifies me, because I've never been anyone else but me—overweight, wobbly, me.
Anyone else feel that sense of dread?
I decided over Christmas while talking to my daughter that this would be my year of 7s. It's 2017. I'm setting out to lose 70lbs. I want to walk (hopefully working up to a slow run) 700 miles. I plan on earning 7 virtual race medals, and doing 7 5k fun runs, even if some of them have to be virtual ones on my own (conveniently it is 5k from the end of our drive, down a country road to the crossroads, and back). And I have given myself 337 days in which to do it. That's a weird number, but it gives me slack for the first 2 months of this year, when I was chained to the computer desk. It also allows me to meet my goal well before the holiday season—not that I'm planning a bit cheat, or anything, but I won't feel like making up lost miles when my daughter is visiting.
I'm actually going to hit more than those 700 miles, though. There. I said it. A good friend bought me a 'run the year' pass for 'run the edge' as a Christmas gift. We're a team of 2, so we've got over 1000 miles each to do. As this is my 'year of 7s,' I'm setting myself 1017 miles, but being a team (she does half marathons), she's likely to be an over-achiever! Still 700 is my goal, plus the extra to get to 1017.
I'm off to a slow start, simply because I'm a writer and I am sitting at my desk most of the work day, and I had a monster project due at the first of the year. The weather outside is chilly but warm for this time of year. The days are pleasant, the pressure at work is off for the time being, and I'm going to get back out there, in the proverbial soon. As one kind person on the very supportive 'From Fat to Finish Line' Facebook group advised me, I'm making it a part of my routine. She said just like brushing your teeth, it's something that you do every day, so just start doing it and get into the habit. I can do that, even if it's only a mile, right?
Also, as yesterday was day one, I picked up the phone and I made a call to our local YMCA. I use the term local very loosely, as it's a 46 mile round trip. (Remember me mentioning I lived out in the country? Yeah, that. ) I am going there to meet with the 'girls on the run' coordinator on Friday to discuss how I might be able to volunteer and perhaps do myself and others some good. I'm also going to check out the facilities. No commitments to either as yet, but I'm certainly going to scope it out, and see how it all feels.
There is yarn involved today, too. It's a wonderful Rambouillet hand-dyed worsted. I've been drooling over it since just after the new year. I did promise myself no more yarn, as I've got plenty (and by plenty think single closet, nearly full), but this stuff is absolutely breathtaking, and my hand-spinners say it's a wonderful fiber with which to work. I'm still drooling, but I'm going to set a goal for myself. First 20lbs, maybe, or when I've left the 200 club, or maybe when I've hit my first 100 miles. Not sure yet. I just know I've got grabby hands!
How many times have I told myself, "This time it will be different." How many times have I started, only to slip into patterns that have happened before. How many times have I promised that this was the last summer that I was going let my skin chafe, or that it was the last time that I bought a larger size or... well, you get the picture.
It's happened all too often. Are you the same? Have you started, meaning well, then lost your focus? Then maybe we can make this journey together.
I figured if I didn't put this out here, then I wasn't going to do it. As an author, I can hide behind the computer screen and I can be whoever I want to be; but how authentic is that? More importantly, where's the real connection, where's the teamwork and the camaraderie?
I'd joined a few Facebook groups and teams, but somehow we all seemed to fizzle out. Oh, the intentions were good; post what you ate, post your daily activity, finish this challenge, but somehow it wasn't enough. It kept me interested, but not motivated—especially when there were times it seemed I was carrying the gang, and it wasn't even my group!
Having said that, I did find it through the media, in a couple of places with which I never even dreamed I'd ever be associated. Why? Because they're running groups, and I'm anything but a runner! Now, this may sound insulting, and I certainly don't mean it that way, but a few months ago I watched a film, "From Fat to Finish Line." I was mesmerized. They weren't tall skinny athletes. They were humans, of all shapes and sizes. They were like me.
I was hungry (ha, see what I did there), I wanted more. I found their Facebook group, and was admitted. My questions were not treated as something I should know already (something that happened when I approached one of my local gyms about their classes and services), nor was I met by judgement because they'd done it already. No, my questions were honestly answered, and there were genuine and warm offers of support and motivation.
Now, I'm still not sure that I can do this. However, anyone who knows me knows that I hate to let people down. I bend over backwards to make sure that I've given the best of myself. So, here I am, cap in hand, coming to you. Be my cheerleaders. Let me vent to you through this blog when I'm having a bad day. Celebrate with me when I hit a milestone, even if it's just going an extra 100 steps, or eating a salad when I really wanted onion rings.
I'll tell you more about who I am and the rest of my journey in due course, and I'll eventually link this page to my parent site, so you can get glimpses into my knitting, my yarn addiction, my pottery, and other aspects of my life. For now, though, hello, and welcome. Maybe together we can do this thing, yes?