Blink, and you miss it.

Sitting down for some time alone on the first day, a little bee perched on the rock next to me. Watching with intent, I noticed that it began to wash it’s face. Or at least, that’s how it seemed. Blink, and you miss it.

Scattering around in the stones to try and find something to pick up to signify the moment, so I would remember to blog about it, I found a heart shaped one. A perfect little heart, about 1cm in size. I picked it up and pocketed it. Blink, and you miss it.

Two white butterflies, dancing around on the top of the mountain. Blink, and you miss it.

A lone purple flower, only just visible because it is so small, hiding amongst the long strands of bright green grass. Nobody ever pays attention, it’s never noticed. Blink, and you miss it.

Turning my head on the journey home, I see the sleeping face of my best friend. So peaceful, so content. So ironic. But I take it to mean that it will be okay, and everyone will find peace somewhere. Soon, she awakes and we go back to our deep conversations. Blink, and you miss it.

In a twenty first century world, we are guilty of focussing on the big. For many of us, our lives resolve around the big things, the seemingly important things. I’m guilty, too. As a student I find that my life has a large focus on exams. I use a lot of my time worrying about my friends and family, and I am constantly busy with volunteering and extra curricular activities. On DofE this year, I took time to focus on the little things. It have me an opportunity to ground myself and really work on enjoying the experience. It was relaxing, and at times, it was all that kept me going. I’m proud to say that I completed it, and soon, I should be getting my award.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

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Officially a Runner

At primary school, I always came last on school sports day. At high school, I used to dread the summer – the hot weather meant outdoor PE, which inevitably meant athletics. That of course meant that eventually, the 800 meters would come around. I’d be at the back again, struggling to breathe but determined not to drop out like many of the others. A year ago, when my best friend suggested a 10K run, I laughed in her face.

12 weeks ago though, I signed up for the Race for Life. Three weeks ago, I still couldn’t run more than 2K, and today was the first time I ever ran a full 10K. Today was race day.

My plan to keep on running went out of the window. Wait, no, that’s not what I mean! I ran it all, and I did it in an amazing 1 hour and 11 minutes, but I didn’t use all the tips I made for myself. I simply read people’s back signs, chatted to a few people along the way, and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. A few times, I turned around to see someone just slowing to a walk, and I said ‘Come on, you can do it.’ The smile that they gave me in return spurred me on, and when at one point someone turned around and said the same to me, I smiled too.

At 8K, I began to worry that I hadn’t spotted my best friend yet. She promised that she’d come back for me, and she hadn’t. What if something had happened to her? At 9K, I got angry. She must have finished by now, where on earth was she? I’d never ever say this out loud, but all that had kept me going from the 5K point was the knowledge that she would come back for me, and we’d finish together. I was exhausted but under no circumstance was I going to let her down. With about 500m to go, I was just coming to terms with the fact that I’d have to finish without her, and suddenly, she popped up. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so hard in all my life. We did it, we crossed the line together, we crossed the line hand in hand, and we crossed the line at a sprint. I was so happy with myself and I couldn’t help but pull her into a hug.

‘See,’ she said later. ‘I came back for you, didn’t I?’ She knows. She knows exactly how much I had resting on that, and how much it meant to me. ‘You could have done if without me though, you ran it all, and you didn’t even need me!’ I just wish that I’d asked the question that was lurking in my head. I didn’t, because even now, I’m still a little afraid of what the answer might be.

‘You will always come back for me, won’t you? Always?’

Now though, I’m a runner. And you know what makes me know for sure? The thing that made me finally decide? I got back into the car, started driving home, and a few minutes later, I said ‘So, are we still running this Saturday?’

Three months ago, I would have never EVER have even dreamed of saying that.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

The Bucket List

About two years ago, I started writing a bucket list of fifty things I wanted to do before I die. Today, my list is fourty seven items long, and I’ve completed seven. I’ve decided that it’s time to give you a little peak into my world. My list, as you’re going to see, rangers from the small and seemingly easy to the massive mental and physical challenges, as well as some exciting things along the way.

Number 24 was the first item that I completed: read all the Harry Potter books. Although not a particularly difficult challenge, I felt a great sense of achievement from being able to write ‘done Jan 2013’ next to it, and it really spurred me on to keep going with my list.I first made s’mores over a fire at winter camp with Rangers in February 2013. They were amazing! Giving blood was challenge number 23. It was something that I really wanted to do, but I was very afraid of. However, a week after my best friend turned seventeen, we went together. I’ve been three times now, and am going for my fourth in a few weeks. Is fantastic, and so rewarding! I was so happy to pass my driving test with one minor in October. Alcohol has always been an issue for me, and it’s always something that I worried about. I’m proud to say however that in February I completed number 13, and 14: drink a glass of wine and go to a party with alcohol. My most recent achievement, and something that I’m extremely proud of is getting the Chief Guide Challenge award. I went to the presentation evening in April, and it was fabulous.

I’ve also got fifteen that I’m planning to try and complete in the next year.

1. Complete gold dofe
6. Complete my ALQ
8. Train as a monitor for ATE
9. Get my grade 8 flute
18. Keep in touch with my best friend from high school while at university
19. Watch the sunset on a beach with someone I love – of course, I’m not sure if this one will happen, but it’s an aim
20. Write letters to myself for later stages in life
22. Enter a photo competition
34. Take an exam without stressing – I’ll be very very lucky if I manage that before I leave school!
35. Before I leave school, donate hair to the little princess trust – booked in, it’s on Friday!
37. Bake each friend a special muffin for the last day of year 13
38. Run 10K – in three weeks!
39. Learn basic piano – my best friend was supposed to be helping me with this. I hope we get there sometime!
42. Say sorry only when you need to – this is a massive mental challenge, but I feel that I’ve come so far, I can make it all the way in the next year
47. Surprise my best friend one weekend at uni with coffee, pizza, cinema, and lots of chats

Today however, I discovered something really cool – a bucket list of friendship. I don’t think it’s something that I’d ever mention to my best friend, she’d probably think I’d gone mad. Separately, privately, and without discussion, you each write five things that you want to do together in the next year. Then you sit together, combine your lists, and make the first plan. As you complete each thing, you cross the item off the list. Going off to university is something that I’m really worried about. I’m a complete ball of anxiety over silly things sometimes, and I’m often worried that my best friend will forget about me. I do wonder if this would help me feel better? To know we always have a plan… That way, she can’t forget. As I said, ill never mention it though. I may be a lot more confident than I was when we met three years ago, but I still have a bit of a fear of being judged. Maybe you can try it though, I’m sure it’d be great fun!

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Counting Down The Days

At the moment, I feel like my life resolves around numbers. And no, I’m not talking about A Level maths, I’m talking about something much more simple than that. Counting.

I’m counting the days until I’ve got to make a phone call. One.

I’m counting the days until the Primary Science Conference and my Chief Guide Presentation. Three.

I’m counting the days until my next flute lesson. Twenty five.

I’m counting the days until my hair comes off for charity. Thirty three.

I’m counting the days until my 10K charity run. Fifty five.

I’m counting the days until our Gold DofE Expedition. Eighty two.

I’m counting the days until my next volunteering camp. One hundred and seventeen.

But most of all, I’m counting the days until my exams are over. Seventy four.

And until the day I find out how those exams will affect the rest of my life. One hundred and twenty nine.

Counting is what is keeping me alive right now. Counting gives me something positive to aim for, and when I’m knee deep in revision, or staring at a textbook that I just can’t understand, counting gives me the motivation to carry on.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

191 days just became 81 days.

Back in December I wrote a post entitled 10K in 191 Days that detailed the running endeavour on which I was about to embark. Well, of course, my friend being my friend, plans changed, she decided she couldn’t make it, and there was no such mention of 10K again. Phew. However, just when I thought I was safe, we began talking about getting fit for DofE, and suddenly, on Monday, the mention of a run came about once more. This time, we’ve decided to stick to something much more local, a Race for Life event. But it also means that it’s time to rename this challenge – 10K in 81 days. Oh, and I still haven’t run anywhere since 2011 (aside from a trip to the gym with my brother on Friday in which I managed 6K in 42 minutes, which is pretty abysmal when I’m being told 10K in an hour should be my aim). This is going to be great fun. And my plan for how to get fit in just under three months? Here it is!

Tuesday am -> run to nearest village and back, increasing pace each week, 2.5K
Thursday am -> 30min-1hr swimming
Friday am -> run to nearest village and back, increasing pace each week, 2.5K
Saturday – running at the gym, slowly increasing time and distance each week
Occasionally on Saturday -> bike rides building up to a goal of 29miles (might not be achieved before the run!)
Sunday -> DofE group training walks, increasing the distance each week

Wish me luck. I’m sure going to need it!

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Just Keep Swmming

Sport hasn’t ever been my thing. I’ve got zero hand eye coordination, I can’t run, I’m not bendy, and I’m asthmatic. There are a lot of things against me. I went to swim school, I did dance lessons for a while as a kid, and until very recently, I loved my horse riding lessons, but that’s about it really. So when you’re embarking on the adventure that is your Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, if you’re anything like me, you hit a bit of a stump with the ‘physical’ section.

I looked into horse riding, but I’ve only recently stopped, I can’t go back to where I used to go, and the other place nearby doesn’t do things that interest me. I am definitely not the correct person to take up dance. So that’s it then, I’ve got to swim. For six months. It took a bit of working up to, but eventually my best friend offered to go with me, and we set off on the first weekend full of hope.

‘So, eight laps of breaststroke to warm up?’ – I only managed half an hour that week. I got out of the pool hardly breathing, and I very nearly fainted. I swum 33 lengths. That’s when she told me she used to be captain of the county swimming team. I didn’t quite know how I was ever going to do this every week for six months!

This week I’ve just completed week five. I’m still not managing to swim for an hour yet, but I have redeveloped a love of the water. I get out of the pool now, I’m happy and satisfied. This week I swam 40 lengths in that same half an hour, and went on to swim another ten before getting out. That’s fifty lengths in 37 minutes. Talk about improvement!

I have another motivation now. If I can total 12 hours, I’ll have also finished my Chief Guides Challenge for Rangers, something that I desperately want to do before I go to Uni. Over the next nineteen weeks however, I don’t just want to bring my total up to 12 hours, I also want to swim the distance of the channel (that’s 1416 lengths in total). I want to be fitter, I want to be able to swim for longer, and although I can’t predict how many lengths I will be able to swim in one go by the end, I’d like to think that it will be at least 100.

Ill let you know how it goes.

Living. Loving. Laughing.

alex122rw