Future Proof

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Summer solstice came and went in a blur of thunderstorms both electric and political, the heavens roared as the votes were counted and the UK declared itself OUT of the EU. General chaos ensues. BUT THIS IS NOT A POST ABOUT BREXIT (too soon, I’m still incandescent with rage and I cannot face another blog piece on it, and I’m sure neither can you)

In a week where we are all looking to the future with trepidation, on a much smaller scale it struck me that I’m now half way through my maternity leave, which has gone by in a blur of coffee, baby wipes, instagram posts and baby yoga classes. Lack of sleep definitely makes this all seem catastrophic, and with Samson having just hit the 5 month milestone  I’m desperately trying to catch up with myself. Where has the time gone?  What have I been doing all day? Why haven’t I rallied a revolution together for more tube access for push chairs, or launched a maternity clothing line?

I had unreal expectations of what I could achieve on mat leave. ‘I need a project’ I remember saying to a colleague and friend. ‘I can’t be sitting at home all day with the baby and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Effing Star, I need something to keep my brain working’. I had done my homework,  I had grand plans to relaunch the blog, write more, learn to cook properly (I am AWFUL) and to revolutionise fitness wear for pregnant women (borne out of my frustration that nothing fit, and if it did it was extortionately expensive and DULL). Oh and yes, parent my baby. That too.

None of this has came to fruition (inbetween googling rashes and washing muslins I learned this, yes this, was in fact parenting). Instead, over the past 22 weeks I have learned to do a million things I had no idea I needed to know. From mastering every conceivable task for which you require two hands, with just THE ONE, (while the other cleans, holds, googles, feeds, catches) to negotiating public transport with my child in full meltdown mode (with THE ONE HAND) on an average of 3 hours sleep. And I still have another few million things to figure out. Like introducing solids. And figuring out how to turn my brain on again ahead of my return to work in January next year.

I’ve been spending most of my time careening from day to day in a blur of bibs and sudocream, without so much as a thought for what the grown ups were doing (erm,  sending the country up shit creek… clearly we’re all winging it).

With all the uncertainty around the UK’s future in the global arena, its hard not to start dusting off the old Plan B’s that we had filed away for a rainy day. I’m a keen planner and organiser, probably annoyingly so, it will come as no surprise to many that I have a fair few tucked away (with excel scenarios and pie-charts). I like to have my ducks in a row. This also translates into being  worrier, the rationale being if I’ve thought about the worst case scenario, then I can plan for it. This way madness lies if you are a new parent. I was almost  paralysed with anxiety as a result, and would not welcome my worst enemy into my head on days when I was running the catastrophe films on a loop in my head.

In order to actually set foot outside my house I had to let go of some of that control (or illusion of control), and so paradoxically having a baby has chilled me out just a tad. I cannot predict explosive nappies, major meltdowns or when teething will strike.Excel cannot pivot the nap schedule, I tried a few tracking apps and ended up throwing them from the proverbial window. Nothing screams madness like trying to find patterns in the beautiful unpredictability of a baby. There is no algorithm that would make it easier. Instead it’s inherited wisdom from other parents, coffee and a collection of perfect moments in the chaos that make it all tick forward.

Having a child has forced me to go with the flow, but prepare for any eventuality.

And that’s not a bad lesson to take into all areas of my new life stage. I heard a saying years ago, which resonated even with hardened atheist in me ‘Trust in God, but tether your horse’. No one is guaranteed safety, health or happiness, but equally chaos doesn’t consume us every day (other than post teething episodes, then all bets are off). Don’t think a plan will save you, but to not have one is equally foolish. Know where the exits are. Have that ‘Fuck Off Fund‘ already set up.

Or in my current life, Pack An Extra Nappy (and then check the Boy can get Irish citizenship, just in case)

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Out of Office

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March and April went by in a blur of airport lounges, powerpoint presentations, hotel key cards and mini toiletries. I am now back in London for a good two months before the next round of travelling kicks off again and I am still waking up a little disorientated. It’s been a huge learning curve and I’m still reeling from the impact of being whisked across time zones and learning to adjust on the go.

I suspect I was a little naive about the impact the schedule would make on my day to day, Mainly as there is no ‘day to day’ so to speak.  Those that know me well, know that I am a big fan of structure and boundaries and clear routine. It makes me feel secure and confident and grounded. Nothing about the past month has been rooted in these principles. And that is both thrilling and unnerving.

I am a creature of habit. Obsessively, compulsively and to my core this character trait has both served me hugely (focus, tenacity, loyalty) and equally has nearly been my undoing. I have learned over the past 8 years or thereabouts to take this part of myself and channel it positively. Which is how every trait comes to be either positive or negative. It’s all in how its handled, what prism you put up to it.

The first thing to go was my running. I decided not to register for the current season of Run Dem Crew knowing that I was going to be out of the country for more Tuesdays than I was in it, and didn’t want to take up a much in demand space. While I was hoping to jump on a few casual runs and the Monday West sessions, the travel just wasn’t going to allow it. Mostly I miss the people, the amazing positivity and support, which when you don’t have your weekly dose, leaves a huge gap.

To be honest, I had decided to give up racing this year, to accommodate for my schedule, but I have found myself at the other extreme and now I’ve barely run at all. I have laced up a grand total of 4 times. That’s about once a month and I’m back to 10+ minute miles at a push with walking breaks. My confidence is shot too and the additional 10 pounds I have somehow found make lycra very very unappealing.

But if there’s one thing that I have learned in this brave new world of airmiles and conference calls, is that I can and must adjust to being flexible. That I can’t rely on the structure I set myself a year ago being applicable here in 2015. That I need to be softer with my self imposed boundaries and embrace a bit more uncertainty. That I need to learn to switch up faster and get a bit creative about my time when I am out of the country. Like make peace with the Dreadmill in the hotel gym. And take advantage of being jet-lagged and work out pre-breakfast (oh god… it’s unavoidable isn’t it?). And to pack enough socks. This was my big failing my last trip. NOT ENOUGH SOCKS

Now that I am back in London, one of my first priorities (after ALL the sleep) is to get out for a run. Even if it’s 20 minutes. And slow. With a walking break. The second is to get my new bike up and running. I have the quote, she’s in my sights and I’m looking forward to taking advantage of London in the Spring while I can.

After that I just want to soak up all that London has to offer. It’s a crazy old town, but having been away for close to 6 weeks of this year already, I can tell you absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

In the meantime, any tips for travelling and keeping fit gratefully received!