This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I am keeping myself busy and enjoying the change of the season by taking dogs on long walks on the crunchy leaves. I have an elderly spaniel with terminal cancer who is as sprightly as ever despite being deaf and partially blind. He was given a couple of months to live back in June but is still as bouncy as ever. And a puppy (now 1) who is the most gorgeous fluffy cockerpoo – utterly adorable and incredibly naughty! Beyond naughty actually. I took her on in February when she was already 6 months old and she had never been left alone. Consequently as soon as I left home for work each morning she systematically trashed the house. The coffee table has every corner chewed. The log basket was the first thing to go, completely ruined. The rocking chair has chewed rockers! And a carved wooden hippo that I loving carried all the way back from Zimbabwe is now eyeless and earless! Eventually I called in a dog behaviourist who told me exactly what I already knew – she’s bored. And instead of the quick 15 minutes poo and pee walk we normally had in the morning, I now have to walk them both for 45 minutes. Not a huge issue but 3 times a week I do classes at 6.30am. So I am now up at 5 in the cold and dark – but actually I have come to love these walks. There is no-one around and the stars are still out and it is fresh and frosty. Yes I know – ask me in a few weeks when it is also chucking it down with rain and I may not feel so keen!
I have to say the doggy training is going well. I freely admit that is mostly me being trained (rather than the cockapoo!). She is now crated when I am at work. What I initially thought unkind, she loves. With all her toys and her blanket, it is her sanctuary. And my salvation.
I wasn’t expecting my elderly spaniel to still be with me at Christmas. As I am away then – travelling with BackPacking Granny – I asked my EH to look after him. After all he was the family dog for 11 years. It was then I discovered that he and Fluff have a dog. They have a dog???? They both work all the time so how does that work? I find myself getting indignant – and remembering the Friends episode where Rachel gets vexed that Ross and Julie get a cat together!
Actually I don’t get vexed about EH anymore. I wouldn’t have him back if he crawled over broken glass. Songs, smells and triggers no longer leave me tearful. I am accepting of my future which was recently described by a dear friend as an unfinished book with lots of chapters still to write. Anyway EH is not aging well – he looks knackered quite frankly! Which will be painful to a man so vain and who must be forever wondering if a partner so young will stick around! Several friends of mine (who see him regularly) have remarked that should I ever see him on a dating site, I wouldn’t look twice! And yet this is the man who for 20 years was the love of my life. Who would have thought it?
I feel better about myself than I have in years. However, like most women of a certain age I have body issues. I have certainly put on weight over the last few years (copious bottles of wine intended to combat stress have certainly not helped.) It is like I suddenly have a child’s rubber ring permanently stuck around my middle! I do lots of exercise – I am very strong – I joined Slimming World and lost 1½ pounds the first week (only to put it all back the second). And it has been getting me down. I have a wardrobe of beautiful clothes that are stretched and strained to bursting point.
But I now have a mindset coach. Who is not only advising me on exercise and nutrition, but also on what is going on inside my head. Our sessions often leave me in tears but frequently make me laugh as well. It is quite common for post menopausal women to carry weight around the middle and stress also affects hormone levels and weight gain. 80% of his female clients are on anti-depressants – how depressing is that? He is making me feel sooooooooooooooooooo good about myself. Loving the bits that are good and concentrating on the bits I don’t love so much. I have lost half a stone in 3 weeks and have never felt so energised or focused. And yes the midriff is finally reducing! I want to lose another stone – which I finally feel I can do easily. My self-destruct button which I have always used before when I get to a certain point ! has been rendered inactive and I am raring to go. Soon I will be lithe, sleek and svelte and bursting with confidence – watch out fellas, I’ll be a catch for anyone!