Slow Dance

08/04/2015

gratitude21

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

~~ David L. Weatherford ~~
Posted with permission
http://www.davidlweatherford.com/
(Picture found circulating freely online)


Grand2Grand Ultra – Stage 1

27/03/2015

And so it began…

The Grand2Grand… I was actually at the banner, the start line… the very place I had seen on the trailer a year ago. Thinking back now it still seems very surreal… did that really happen, was I there… remembering the nervousness as everyone gathered, as the British crowd decided to get a group photo and how it seemed totally right to go and get our flag from that start line 🙂

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Memories are made of this.

We gathered, the wind rustled, music played… there was dancing amid a sense of heightened anticipation… and then suddenly the countdown finished and everyone surged across… I tried to keep up, heart hammering, head down, pushing too quickly and feeling it because my pack was heavier than in Madagascar. How hard to try and hold back when you get that adrenaline surge and just want to go, to fly across the ground…

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…eventually the crowd thins out and, given the number of competitors, the distances you are covering, differences in runners’ speeds and race strategies, eventually you can find yourself on your own… and given the landscape we were running across, this could be for hours at a time!

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I adopted a walk/run strategy which worked well for what I reckon was the first half of the course that very first day… until disaster struck…

I should have expected it really but a combination of naivete, lack of running experience, living in denial and sheer stubborness to achieve what I had challenged myself to do would have a price: that being my piriformis cramping and spasming acutely. The pain was unbelievable. Every single step hurt and it was all I could do not to cry while I limped on. I knew I was well within the time cut offs even if I walked the rest of the way due to the time that had elapsed to that point, but I didn’t know if I could actually  walk that far…

Luckily I then met up with a cheeky funny Irish chap who was incredibly kind: on seeing at how much pain I was in, he decided to stay with me the rest of the way. We talked about our running experiences (mine: very little; his: 3:05 marathons and finished 100 milers) and why we had chosen to do the event. I then learnt about Team SuperGavin – several of the g2g racers had joined together with him to fundraise and help his friend’s little boy who was having treatment for Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma. For those that do not know what Rhabdomyosarcoma is, very simplistically, it’s a rare cancer that affects mostly children under 10 years of age, mainly boys, and affects the supporting tissues of the body. Gavin was a baby when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of this cancer.  Phelim was fundraising to help with his treatment – even now, reading what Gavin went through brings me to tears. I cannot begin to imagine what his family and nearest and dearest went through, and hopefully I never will.

To read more about this type of cancer, please visit the Macmillan page by clicking here.

To visit the blog of Team Gavin Glynn, please click here (and have tissues handy!).

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How can you not push on when you hear about something like that? How could you whimper out because of a bit of hip pain? Here was a real story of pain, determination, hope and courage. Of bravery. A child who demonstrated all these qualities and more.  A story of pure and utter LOVE.

So… the trekking pole got jammed into the muscle (thank god there were no photos of this – ok yes I’m phrasing this politely, I jammed it against my backside !!) and it was a limp shuffle onwards, interrupted slightly when the storm clouds whipped up so fiercely that the plastic ponchos we had been given had to be dug out and fought. I say fought because the wind was so fierce I managed to get my head into what appeared to be an arm sleeve and in the process nearly ended up nearly suffocating myself. Phelim helped me out of that one too! Luckily the black clouds veered to our right so we only caught a brief few minutes… others behind us were not so lucky… and later that evening there were tales of huge hailstones pelting runners!

Eventually we came into sight of what appeared to be a little hill looming ahead. Our final destination was to the right but that would have been too easy… the pink flags fluttered showing the way ahead… to where little dots moved like ants. Only 5-10 minutes, or so we thought… much later (probably around 30 minutes) we reached the base of that “little” hill… an incline so steep that especially with my hip still having a pole stuck into it, meant I had to take only a few steps then stop and breathe… and repeat: steps, stop and breathe. I’m not a fan of hills – they hurt 🙂 let alone when you chuck altitude and injury into the mix.

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See the little dot just before the hill starts – that’s a person.  Hard to gain perspective from pictures like this.  There were also numerous people going up that hill, not that you can see them on this as it needs to be magnified, a lot!

Later… much much later… and after quite a few choice words were uttered into the wind, we got to turn right… no easy trail here, avoid the sneaky cactus, don’t stumble over the uneven ground, ignore the pain from your sensitised feet and do not cry! Until up ahead fluttered the signs of camp…

The feeling of relief stepping over that finish line was amazing. One of my tentmates was waiting and helped take my pack and I hobbled over to the med tent. And there was another godsend. A runner called Yuri who was volunteering at the event, who not only works as a sport therapist but also teaches sport massage and although he hadn’t been planning to do any physical therapy at g2g, due to the amount of pain I was in, offered to help. I gladly accepted. Thanks to Yuri, the immediate pain subsided quite a bit and I was able to hobble to my tent and crack on with getting kit, food and drink sorted while the rest of my tent mates gathered.

Stage 1 done… 9 hours, 7 minutes, 20 seconds… much longer than I had expected to take… but…

I would now be on the start line in the morning no matter the pain… I just didn’t know if I’d make the end of Stage 2…

© March 2015 Michelle Payne


Charity & Challenge 1 of the 3 (Triple Continent Challenge)

26/08/2014

Domestic abuse / violence is a topic that is not talked about easily.  It is easily hidden away because most people do not want to acknowledge the existence of it, don’t want the subject to touch their lives and also because once you know about something, there is then a choice about whether to do something about that new knowledge.  Such choice automatically then leads to responsibility.  Who wants to take responsibility for reporting domestic abuse? Who wants to get involved in that? The answer is generally a big fat no, with such inaction then lending more power to the abuser, because they get away with so much more, feel safe in the knowledge that they won’t be stopped and actually, if no-one ever does anything, it sends the implicit message that it is allowed.  Yes, you read that right… by not doing anything about it (or sitting on the fence as it were) if you know about it, do nothing about it, then you’re saying it’s ok.

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing

~~ Albert Einstein ~~

But if you know abuse is happening and want to help someone, what do you do? Who do you turn to? What help is available? If you don’t know the answers to such questions, that too can stop victims getting help.  So the aim of running these challenges is not only to raise funds (which are desperately needed) but also to raise awareness of this topic.

Therefore, the charity that I chose was Refuge.

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Although I have a full time job in the City, I am also a qualified Counsellor.  I work in private practice with clients, with whatever issues they bring (from self-esteem, relationships, body image, negative thought patterns, generational patterns and more) and additionally as a volunteer with a local domestic abuse charity.  Please note that this is not Refuge.

Refuge opened the world’s first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence in Chiswick, West London, in 1971 and have been providing help to those who need help to escape. As Government funding is not enough to sustain the demands that Refuge faces… and let’s face it, demands that shouldn’t be necessary in any day and age!… it relies on help from volunteers and donations to meet those demands… demands that ultimately means lives are saved!  Ways that they get such help is through challenges and events, such as running… which helps to raise much needed funds and helps to get the message out about what domestic violence / abuse means and can entail, and it was one such event that brought me into contact with them.

That event was the Virgin London Marathon and the first of the Triple Continent Challenge.  Now some friends (who aren’t runners) thought that because I’d already completed a long race by this point, figured it would be easy. That was, until I pointed out I wanted to run the whole way… and in a much quicker time. Specifically to shave at least half an hour off my time, or more if it was possible. But predominantly to do this without stopping, with all the niggles that I had had to date and the fact I hadn’t run more than 13.1 miles non-stop. I hadn’t figured on the amount of people running it either until someone pointed that out.

And it was at this point that I knew I needed help. Professional help (yeah yeah I can hear some of those friends’ voices laughing at that…) because it’s one thing to actually go and totter off down a trail marathon (or ultra) with a lot of walking (and pain, which kinda goes without saying) as a one-off, it’s quite another to specifically train for and run a road marathon… one of the world majors… with virtually no proper training experience, especially if you’ve had quite extensive hip surgery some years previously which meant spending about 3 months on crutches.

Life is somewhat synchronistic because I eventually, through a recent running connection, found myself making a visit to that person’s coach to see if they could help me. That initial session was more like an interview… and it wasn’t me in the driving seat! What did I want to achieve, what training and experience did I already have… and what time did I have to put into training going forwards. Looking back, it still makes me chuckle a bit to remember Rich’s face when I told him what I’d already signed up for, what little experience I had and how I had no readily available time to devote to training. He told me he didn’t think he could train me. He’s blunt like that 🙂

However, when you really want something… ultimately, you will do what you have to do to get it… and when he told me that, apart from feeling pretty gutted for a little while… my answer was: tell me what you want from me and I will tell you if I can do it!  A day later I got an email. And nearly died in horror, wondering how on earth I’d fit one run in, let alone five… plus a coaching session, plus two conditioning sessions… all in one week, every week, plus daily stretching… plus work, college, commuting, second job, building my own business… well, you can imagine…

and so the training began, choices and sacrifices made…

until 6 months later I ended up on the start line of the London Marathon… well actually, I was in a pen… near the back which took about 10 minutes to reach the start line once the race began… but off I trotted, with one of my friends from Sierra Leone beside me…

I didn’t finish in the time I envisaged the previous year…

I had “injuries”… a niggly ITB meant pain… but worse was I had developed some painful plantar fasciitis which meant I basically limped most of the way round…

and yes it hurt, especially the last few miles (not as much as when I stopped after I crossed the finish line though… little tip… do not sit down on the grass, you will end up being helped up by the Red Cross if you are not able to pull yourself up by holding onto a nearby tree!)…

but I did it non-stop… the whole way… so damn proud…

and I did it quicker! Not too shabby a time if I do say so myself 🙂

4 hours 17 minutes 15 seconds

It’s amazing what you can achieve when you set your mind to it… but the thing is, you have to be open to the possibility… to know and be able to reach out to those that can help you. My coach Rich was amazing in helping me get to that point, he’s even more amazing for putting up with me since, or maybe that’s the wrong way round 😀 … of course, we had to get over the little thing first about how he thinks I’m absolutely nuts to even consider doing one stage run, let alone two… and let alone so close together… and that’s not normally how he works… what’s that saying Rich, it takes one to know one 😉 … anyway…

I’m still fundraising for Refuge with these runs, so if you would (hopefully) like to sponsor me for being crazy enough to attempt this challenge… to help Refuge help others, please click on my justgiving link where you can donate online:

www.justgiving.com/michelle-payne4

and if you would like to find out more about Refuge and the work it does, please click here.

And of course if you have ever fancied running or jogging/walking a marathon to help a fantastic charity, then please get in touch with Refuge to see about getting one of their bond places!

I’m flying out very shortly to start the second challenge in Madagascar, so will blog the next post when I can.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this, and please do spread awareness of what domestic violence / abuse constitutes and how people can reach out and get help.

Don’t fence sit (you’ll get splinters eventually ;)… say No to DV!

Have a great day 🙂
Michelle

August 2014 Michelle Payne


My Child

20/08/2014

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My Child

You jump, you spin, you hop
the delight on your face
when the music starts
as you wiggle and try to bop.

Such enthusiasm
such glee
it’s a joy to behold
to witness
to see.

Once upon a time
I too was like that
a long time ago
before I encountered
some of life’s little mishaps!

To have such innocence
to feel so free
to dance
to move
without caring who may see.

You grin
spin round and round
arms whirling
legs twirling
until a stagger
a misstep
a fall to the ground.

I gather you up
your bottom lip starts to quiver
you sniff
and give a little shiver.
I wipe away the falling tears
and try to calm your fears
a sniffle, a snuffle, a little sob
such tears and hurt
make my heart throb.

Your friends start calling your name
they want your attention
they’re playing a game!

You look up at me
as if to ask
if I get down
will you take me to task?
Or is it ok?
Will you wait
sit there
while I go and play?

These moments I will remember
as I age and become more grey
no matter your age
my child
you will always stay.

Words © July 2014 Michelle Payne
Picture found circulating freely online


Meeting the Child within

09/07/2014

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Meeting the Child within

The light of life
that spark of humanity
it resides within
this form we call human.

We create, we destroy
we live, we breathe
we feel, we touch
we teach
until that final day we reach…

Yet bonded to us
through millennia
through souls and spirit
through hearts
there dwells within a child
with whom we have a shared past.

Have you met this child?
Do they have a name?
Are they gentle, wild
or are they tame?

Are they happy?
Are they sad?
Have they been told that they’re good
or that they’re bad?

Do you accept them?
Or reject them?

Do you welcome them with loving arms
and strive to keep them from any harm?

What story would they voice
if you would give them that choice?

Would they describe you as a stranger
having been kept hidden
to stay safe from danger?
Or would they be out in the open
whole, not broken?

Why not say hello?
Give them a wave…
show them that yes,
step out, be seen,
they can be that brave.

Because if you won’t accept them…
love them…
hug them…
Who will?

Step up to the mirror
take a deep breath
see who is revealed
within the eyes’ depths

Who is there?
Meet Your Inner Child laid bare!

Words © June 2014 Michelle Payne
Picture found circulating freely online


The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: Barbara Arrowsmith-Young

28/01/2014

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: Barbara Arrowsmith-Young


Fragments

15/01/2014

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what shall i tell a child if she asks me what is life?
will i recount the pain and hurt and focus on the strife?
or shall i paint a picture of the beauty that is found
in sailing ships and chocolate chips and bugs beneath the ground?

i’d like to think i’d give her hope of all that is to come
but if she reads some poems of mine, her hope shall be undone
i cannot bear to think that i may dim a child’s eyes
present to her a world of just confusion, pain, and lies

for if i am to tell her early on of mountain streams
and help her build the pillars that will hold up all her dreams
i’d paint the birds that fill the trees with beauty and with song
a sanctuary in her mind to help when things go wrong

and in that place in her mind’s eye the flowers would grow free
in meadows under blue skies by the mighty loving sea
she’d have a place for comfort, have a place to be alone
amidst tomorrow’s challenges, no matter how she’s grown

i pray to learn my lessons from the children whom i meet
i dream of sowing sunshine on a crowded city street
i pray my words shall never hurt the child here inside
i pray that never shall i fear the child in me has died

i must reject some words of mine if i’m to feel i’m free
embracing hope, i must hold on to how good life can be
that i may treat the children with respect that they deserve
for i shan’t live for self alone–i give my life to serve

tdw
(Courtesy of Living Life Fully)


SL Marathon 2013 – Update – Street Child Project 3

06/07/2013

So a brief post about the third and last project… after all, we still had a race to run, had landed only a couple of days before and the majority of us were due to then return home in a couple more days… talk about packing a lot in!

This visit was firstly to the main Project Centre in Makeni:

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then disbursing into smaller groups and actually going out into the local community and visiting people who had their own businesses, thanks to help from Street Child. What is important to note here, is that Street Child supports, assists and teaches everyday people how to create a sustainable business, instigate small savings plans at the same time as reintegrating the street children back into those families… until a certain point when the Charity can then step back and those helped have reached a stage of self-sufficiency. Street Child are helping people help themselves and once that is done, they gone on and help others… such influence rippling out as I mentioned before… which will positively affect generations to come!

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Here, we’d gone out to visit two businesses: the one above featuring a mad marathoner (more on her in later posts – bad influence, bad! *grin*) was with a local lady who collected firewood and sold it on, who was helping support her family, and her sister’s family if I remember correctly, and keep the girls in education and while as shy as a lot of the other kids, the two little ladies above chatted to us about what their lives were like and how proud they were of their family for helping each other. An ethos a lot of people could do with adopting!

We then headed back to the Project Centre where some surf shorts were handed out: one of the marathoners was from New Zealand and had brought a load over, and I’ve never seen anything like it. The street kids are allowed into the Centre but obviously the Centre is not there to feed the town’s children, nor would it be able to. But they do what they can, with what they have. So when you have kids with nothing, absolutely nothing… and boxes of shorts are being handed out… there’s gonna be a melee… it was actually a heartbreaking sight… to see children so desperate for a pair of shorts that was likely too big for them… and how proud they were of having something new and clean to wear… it’s not the same as watching it on a tv, reading about it in a paper… you’re totally disassociated from the experience that way… it’s not “real”… here, to see it, in front of your own eyes, mere steps away… heartbreaking!

And then lunch… Street Child did a fantastic job of catering for us… the food was included in the package price… no-one got sick… well Reece did have some salad on the last day and was very queasy on the plane home, but then again that could have been his Freetown hotel… anyway… lunch! We lined up, got our food, found somewhere to sit and ate. Surrounded by kids that hadn’t probably eaten what we would call “proper” meals for… well, God only knows! And they came and sat by us, behind us… and still I didn’t twig!

Naive or what!

One of the guys didn’t finish his lunch so passed his plate back to the kids… who promptly grabbed it off him (with thank you’s I hasten to add)… and of course when I finished and had food left on my plate, I didn’t pass it back quickly enough… with the consequence I was mobbed and food went everywhere… mainly over me! Sure there’s some photos out there somewhere of me brushing rather a lot of food off me… and what a waste, because it meant it ended up scattered. So when you remember being told as a kid to eat all your food because some kid in the world would die for what you’re throwing away… it’s true. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it… and it is not pleasant to witness.

Next post up… the running part of the trip!

Links:

Street Child

Sierra Leone Marathon 2013

© 2013 Michelle Payne


SL Marathon 2013 – Update – Street Child Project 2

04/07/2013

Very belated updates now I’m afraid… my scheduling just hasn’t happened as I had hoped and although I’d expected things to calm down once I returned home, that hasn’t actually happened! Those who know me, won’t be surprised to hear that 🙂

So on the last post I talked about arriving in Sierra Leone and the first day and Project visit to Lunsar. Street Child also arranged for us to visit two other projects: I got to visit Bumbuna and then the Makeni Project Centre. The visit to Bumbuna was quite something… it’s probably the only time in my life I will ever get off a coach (well I wasn’t on my own, obviously) to be greeted by so many people that had been waiting patiently for us for hours.

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There had been some rain and we were out in the countryside here which meant slower going to get there.  These kids had been waiting for hours in the heat… just for us.  We had the opportunity to learn what work Street Child had been doing in this area, how it had helped the children and how this was impacting upon the future of the country. Education here is so valued that I think many kids in the UK (and most likely other western countries) could do with appreciating what they have more… these kids will learn in the open air, will walk long distances just to learn… you get the picture!  We were also treated to skits that the students had been practising and got to talk to some of the younger students before they were ushered back to their area (they kept running over when they could :)).

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As I said, fantastic to see just how many people’s lives are being affected positively by Street Child, and an amazing feeling to be involved so directly… to see, hear and talk to those concerned… yep, yours truly… proof I was there 😀

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We also managed to make a little trip to see the local waterfall… although there were signs everywhere telling you NOT to go in the water… do bear in mind quite how hot it was… a fair few people did go for a little swim.  I can tell you that those rocks were very slippy and the orange colour from the iron ore from those rocks does not come out of anything that touches it (well, skin being the exception)… won’t be wearing those shorts again any time soon!

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It was then time to clamber back to the buses, get back to our hotels and then over to the Stadium, where a match was going on.  Yes, more football… this time with the amputees.  Now I’m not generally a fan of footie and don’t go out of my way to watch it, but these guys were fantastic… if you’d asked me before this visit whether anyone could play football with legs missing, I would have said no, highly doubt it. Time to get my uninformed beliefs kicked into touch 😉 … so fast, so unafraid at tackling… this was one game I enjoyed… unfortunately I didn’t take many photos and no goal-scoring ones, so this one will have to do!

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All in all, a fantastic day… and a lot achieved… after only just two days… and then it was time to head to the Clubhouse for dinner and then to get some sleep. Happy days!

Links:

Street Child

Sierra Leone Marathon 2013

© 2013 Michelle Payne


Wet Pants

19/06/2013

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Compassion and wet pants!

Come with me to a third grade classroom….. There is a nine-year-old boy sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It’s never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives….The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, “Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I am dead meat.”

He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.

As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy’s lap.

The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you.”

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of compassion. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The compassion is wonderful. But as life would have it, the ridicule that would have been his has been transferred to someone else – Susie…

She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. You’ve done enough, you klutz!”

Finally, at the end of the day as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” Susie whispers back, “I wet my pants once too…”

~~ Unknown ~~


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