Trenger du seks elefanter?

Do you need six elephants?

Perhaps this is a common phrase in Norway. However, personally I think unless I join the circus or a zoo then its usefulness in normal conversation is probably quite limited.  It seems learning Norwegian includes a lot of fun phrases that you might not otherwise use.  I just need to find a way to get these into normal conversation…4

Mannen har åtte kopper kaffe – the man has 8 cups of coffee 

Amerikaneren har ni sykler – the American has nine bicycles 

Edderkoppen liker mauren – the spider likes the ant

Hva drikker kua – what is the cow drinking 

Kyllingen elsker egget – the chicken loves the egg 

So a week in to the new adventure and I have learnt lots not least the fact that June here is not warm.  I left the UK basking in sunshine to be plunged into somewhere between 4-7 degrees with a mixture of snow, hail, rain and even a smidgen of sunshine at times.  My first day I was told I will develop a goldfish memory when it comes to the weather.  I would be inclined to agree.

It seems they don’t have spring here.  Winter goes into ‘Green’ Winter then Summer (hopefully longer than 30 seconds – but not guaranteed) then Autumn and then Winter again.  To put it into perspective during our ‘Summer’ party last week ON THE 7th JUNE it HAILED and was about 4 degrees.

I have also confirmed that a blow up bed does not make a suitable sofa/dining table replacement.  It is uncomfortable and not helped by the fact it has a puncture which I have had to repair.  Who gets a puncture in their blow up bed in their own home??

The reason for said blow up bed situation is largely because of Ikea.  Ikea, the company whose tagline is ‘Wonderful Everyday’, needs to understand that for people to think they are wonderful on any day they have to actually deliver within the previously agreed timeframe.  I ordered furniture to arrive the day after I arrived here and it ended up being delayed by over 3 weeks.  The prospect of 3 weeks, living and sleeping on a blow up bed clearly was not going to happen so that was cancelled.

Whilst I now do thankfully have a bed I continue to be on my blow up bed for sofa dwelling purposes. Not sure how the romans did this lounging on the floor thing.  even with blankets and cushions its mightily uncomfortable.  The sofa may or may not arrive at the weekend because my receipt says it will be delivered in August and when I queried this I was told it was a ‘typo’.  Welcome to the Arctic.

But I thought this is ok because last week I ordered some smaller bits of furniture which included a dining table…finally a table to eat at!!  However, it turns out it is actually possible to just buy an extendable flap for a table from the DINING TABLE section on a Norwegian furniture website – HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!  The picture on the website is very clearly A TABLE and the instructions show the WHOLE TABLE.  I still haven’t found the table that this actually goes with.  So a new table will be purchased at some point when I can pluck up the courage to return the table flap and buy an actual table.

Its a funny place here with a number of oddities (for me at least) particularly considering the need to remortgage anytime you want to go for a few drinks, but its an amazing place and I really do love it here.  Work is good, they have their own beer, have a great social network, the people are awesome and I (for now) have my own office. Very limited complaints despite the very British whinge about the weather…

With a view like this….it can’t help but make me smile even when the sky has cried so much.  In fact even when its raining this place cannot at any point be described as ugly.

But please send sun…I know we all deserve it up here

Jeg elsker Norge (I really do)

xxx

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Adventure Awaits

Norway?? I thought you said Norfolk!

This was the exact response from my neighbour when I told her I was moving. I mean they are very similar after all, right? One is a rather flat but pretty county in England and the other is a mountainous Scandinavian country with the odd polar bear or 500. To my knowledge there are no polar bears in Norfolk.

Norway, the land of fjords, snow, northern lights, whales, the Arctic and polar bears – I mean no offense to Norfolk but Norway does sound pretty cool.

The north of Norway is stunningly beautiful, I would say come rain or shine but given its rained for 75% of the time I have been here so far I have to say it definitely looks better when its dry and not blowing a gale with horizontal rain. Its June yet it feels like November.  Friday felt like a relatively warm Spring day…it may have even reached 18 degrees. I am pretty sure its been about 6 for the rest of the time.

This may sound like I am wingeing, I mean it is pretty annoying that its raining and I got soaked walking to probably the only supermarket that is open on a Sunday but I am excited about a new adventure and a new job which starts tomorrow 😊

I never imagined I would move to Norway, it wasn’t in the plan but I realised long ago that plans are more like potential guidelines that may or may not happen.  Plans suggest some form of rigidity and order which in reality is very difficult to follow because this crazy thing called ‘life’ gets in the way and has the habit of throwing the occasional spanner in the works which tends to mess things up a bit.  IMG-20180531-WA0002

Sometimes opportunities come up and its one of those situations where you have to take the chance or potentially lose out. I didn’t want to miss out on this chance so giving it a go was an exciting but also mildly terrifying option. I didn’t want to leave my home, my family, my friends, my partner and move >2000 miles away but after much discussion, consideration and overwhelming support it was clear it was the best option and that actually all those things would still be here and I would be coming back regularly and more to the point when I do move back to the UK, probably in a couple of years, I’ll probably also find not that much has changed.

This is pretty much as close outside of my comfort zone as I have been for some time. I like being comfy, I like being in control. The problem is that if you don’t sometimes push yourself out of that zone of fluffy duvets and cosy pj days (I am certainly not suggesting getting rid of those all together because that would be foolish) then you never know what you are truly capable of.

You don’t know sometimes if the decisions you make are right all you can do is go with your heart and give something a try. It doesn’t have to be forever but the experience of trying something new and somewhere new is something I am relishing the chance to do.

Many of us spend so long procrastinating on what we should or shouldn’t do or worse what we feel we can do that we often don’t meet our potential. I am not saying I am now meeting my potential, but pros for moving certainly outweighed the reasons for staying in many ways and whilst throwing up new challenges in others like understanding why a single pepper can cost over £1, why tax is so high here or why there are only direct flights to the UK between October and March – its also one of the happiest places to live on the planet.

The people are friendly, they all apologise for their ‘poor English’ which is almost as good as my actual English and considerably better than my still extremely novice, perhaps even baby level of Norwegian, everywhere you go to eat and drink is warm and welcoming – they even sell cakes in bars. That’s a win in my book.

Arriving in June also has other challenges like battling with the fact there is 24hours of daylight from mid May until mid July. Something that I can assure you is very difficult to get used to and even worse when the blinds in your apartment don’t quite block out enough light. This rather surreal situation is however pretty coIMG_20180603_000703_668ol…even if you do forget what time of day it is quite easily and it doesn’t ever feel like its time to go to bed when its still so light outside. Yet on the flipside 24 hours of darkness is probably worse…roll on November!

Its definitely a new adventure, a new opportunity and more importantly provides lots of new things to see and do that I am sure I probably wouldn’t have considered before had this new job not come up. The hiking, running, skiing and cycling options are also pretty immense with some rather impressive mountains closeb.  Let us not forget the majesty of the northern lights, the elusive natural wonder that I have seen only once out of the times I have been here yet will have the opportunity to see frequently in the winter months. I can’t see how I could get bored with that.

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As my new adventure begins giving me more free time to catch up on some of the things I have wanted to do over the last year or so, including this blog, I count myself lucky for the opportunity. These types of things should never be taken for granted. They don’t come up very often, whatever they may be, and they may seem scary and hard but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth trying.

Don’t ever forget that there is no such word as ‘can’t’

Xxx

 

 

 

 

Run Charlie Run

11 Year’s ago my mother turned fifty and was determined to tick some things off her bucket list. Now whilst I wasn’t able to help specifically on her life’s passion to see all of the UNESCO world heritage sites (one of those of course being the wreck of the Titanic) one of the things was to do a half marathon.

This was a completely ridiculous idea for many reasons but I couldn’t say no and so we signed up to our local home half marathon. I was living away at the time and was training in between studying for my masters but literally was only 5km here or there. My mum on the other hand totally underestimated what she would need to do and continued to walk the dogs daily but did limited other training.

As the day arrived we got to the starting pens and ‘excited’ was one word the other being f***ing terrified. We crossed the line on Palm Sunday, March 2007 and embarked on a route we largely knew well but had never ‘run’. We got probably a couple of miles in and then it was walking for a bit and that was then the process for this half marathon. Oh we were getting round. In whatever state.  Just not very fast.

Through a water stop manned by an ex-boyfriends mum and several of Kent’s most rather quaint and lovely country roads and even a pub (mum wasn’t a fan of a nature wee) we got 2 miles from home and I thought…my god, we are actually going to do this. We were being overtaken a lot and I admit (and something I am sorry for) I got very cross with my mum as I was desperate not to be last. I had made a promise we would cross the line together and I couldn’t break that. Although it felt like it was killing me.

About a mile from the end my dad met us and willed us on. The finish of this particular run is in an industrial estate (how salubrious) but even though we were bringing up the rear, quite literally, the support was still amazing. With 100m to go I grabbed mum’s hand and even though she kept telling me she couldn’t I dragged her and me across the line. We finished very near to the end in 2 hours 40 minutes. I vowed never to do anything so silly again.

Yet 11 year’s later having done the 100km London to Brighton twice and cycling 132 miles in 3 non-stop challenges in 2 years I found myself on a ‘rest’ year and in the need of something to focus on so I decided to book in my home half marathon after a lazy prosecco fuelled evening (always the best).  When I hit ‘go’ it finally dawned on me what I had done and my first thought was…crap. I keep telling myself I’m a runner for fun and fitness, which I am, and definitely not for races because I am ridiculously competitive with myself.  I didn’t used to time myself because then I couldnt ever be disappointed if I had an ‘off’ day.  Yes I know this is ridiculous!

I told people my aim was to do this half marathon in less than 2 hours. That meant a 9:09 per mile pace or better. I knew I could smash that over short distances but over longer distances…that was new territory. I had no idea.

I’m a firm believer in doing these types of things for your own personal gain but not at the expense of totally ruining your life as well e.g. living and breathing it, unless of course that is what you want to do. It’s difficult enough as it is when you work long hours not to beat yourself up about not always having the time to train. Yet I continued the same training rotation I had for the last 2.5 Years exercising at least 5 days a week and just changed the exercise I did to suit this new challenge.

I ran when it was hot, raining, sleeting, even snowing to train for this run under the firm conviction that the only way I was going to be able to do this was to work my arse off to prove to my harshest critic (myself) that whatever happened I would have done my best.

I knew I could run 5k. I’ve done it loads of times, I had even started running 6.5k more regularly but that was it. I hadn’t tried further. The first time I did 7, 9 then 10miles I was pleased to see that I had matched the pace I needed but I also was wondering if I could actually do that last 5km. The furthest I ran before the half marathon was just under 10miles.

I’d had problems with my tummy. If I ate before a run then it made my stomach hurt so bad I couldn’t run, didn’t matter if it was an hour for or 3hours before. Could I actually do this? I knew a lot of this was psychological but still it was playing on my mind.

In any case race day came. Mother’s Day (one of my favourite days) 2018. My parents were even coming to see me finish and my other half was there to drop me off hang around and generally be ridiculously supportive as usual.  I had done all I could and I knew I was as ready as I was going to be.  I was boosted by the heap of congratulatory messages, videos and the card that dropped through my letterbox from my wonderful friends in Australia who sent the best good luck card I have ever received  entitled ‘Run Charlie Run’ – even if it was adorned with multiples of my own face as they had stolen half my instagram pictures.  20180323_224113

I broke two traditions on that run. I ate before the run and I drank water during it.  I was hoping that wasn’t going to come back to bite me.

The race started well and I was feeling good. I knew very quickly however that I went out too fast. I smashed through 5km without really blinking and as the weather heated up I thought I needed to slow down otherwise I was going to struggle. I normally run solo so running with people started to make me more competitive.

At 5miles the route does a loop up and back on itself which adds 2miles total. It’s a horrible feeling when you know you are running up and people are already 2miles ahead running back the other way – particularly when one of those guys is in a wedding dress! As I got past 7miles I was flagging and I admit I had to walk for a little bit…I told myself off and got myself going again until about 8.5miles where I was flagging badly and the gentle slope in front of me felt like a mountain. I decided to walk it.

As I started walking I heard this voice behind me telling me I had to run. This guy (lets call him Steve as I didn’t know his name) said he had been behind me for the last few miles and he wasn’t going to see me quit. Steve told me to come on and run with him. So I did and Steve got me past the mini wall and talked to me, told me I was on course for a sub 2 easily (I had been too scared to check). He was probably early fifties and this was his fourth Surrey half and he was doing his second marathon in May. For the next 2 miles to the water station we chatted and I kept his pace then I diverted for water and he didn’t.  I didn’t think I would catch him again.

By that point I knew it was less than 5km left. I could do this.  I could actually do this.  I almost burst into tears at that point.

The support was amazing, with your name on your number you get everyone shouting for everyone and it’s makes you smile every time someone says your name.  Until you turn around at one point and realise there is another Charlotte behind you and you realise that it was most definitely her they were cheering for. Bugger.

At 12.75 miles I finally caught up with Steve. He was struggling and he told me to go on. That last 0.25mile was probably the hardest I’ve ever run, as I ran down the final stretch massively fighting back the urge to vomit I could see the clock and it was under 2hours, well under.  My final official time was 1:53:34 seconds.

2Turns out my parents didn’t make it to the end. They got lost trying to park (apparently they don’t read emails correctly) and my boyfriend was on the phone to them as I crossed the line so the first official picture of me crossing the line is this one after Steve had just congratulated me and told me I must be really happy with my time. I was. I really was and I still am.

I celebrated with an inordinate amount of food that day including a roast dinner that came with a cottage pie on the side.  No joke.  And perhaps some prosecco.

I told myself I would only do that one half marathon and then relax

But I think its inevitable I will do another. Maybe. Probably. Definitely.

I never thought I would be a runner, I never thought I would enjoy running but I really do.  I know its not for everyone and it took a lot of hard graft to get to this point but it just shows how much determination (and Bishop stubborness) can pay off.

For me it was the genuine dislike for paying a gym membership that got me running and indeed cycling and doing indoor aerobics.  Why pay for the gym when you can do so much outside (or in your living room) in actually any weather if you are brave enough and can motivate yourself to do it?!  Little bits at a time really make a difference and for those that prefer the motivation of others there are plenty of beginners groups for any sport at any age out there and for those that prefer the freedom of running solo….then what are you waiting for??

You may even surprise yourself.  I know I have.

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I got soul

…but I’m not a soldier

I am constantly reminded of the challenges we all face on a day to day basis…we all think we are alone but we aren’t.

Everyone is dealing with something whether we know it or not.  It may seem small to those of us on the outside but it can be a vast chasm to that person.

I was inspired recently by an advert called ‘Human Nature’ by Samsung.  I interpreted the advert as essentially showing how we can overcome adversity even if we don’t believe we are strong enough too.  In this case technology is one way to overcome that adversity and harness that inner strength that but often all we are battling with is our minds and our own inner strength that is always there yet seems buried at the times we need it the most.

It rang true on so many levels and I am not ashamed to say it also made me cry, (it also turns out that I am now an emotional wreck at even mildly soppy adverts, television programmes and films ..this NEVER used to happen) because I could relate to it.

I have battled with trying to be ‘strong’ about how I felt I should feel about MRKH and how I wanted people to see me for a long time.  I always felt I was a strong person until I was diagnosed and then felt I permanently had to put on a brave face so people didn’t see me any differently.

This is foolish.  I know this now.

Bottling things up and pretending things are fine does far more harm than good but as a defense mechanism at the time it seems like a totally logical solution.

What we really need to understand is the inner strength that we have to push through what can be a really dark time(s) and how to grab that and make it work for us in those times of need.IMG_20180127_121056_351

Everyone is different, for me, I found, and I can’t believe I am saying this (as a person who never even liked going outside as a kid), running is the answer (what has happened to me!!).  Its my way to gather my thoughts, de-stress and get my power back.  I feel weird if I can’t do it…particularly this week given it is a week before I do a half marathon and running training has had to be limited due to the weather.

 

There are others of my friends who I know are also struggling with things which could be anything from the hobby that they know they love but have had their confidence bruised in, family illness, to just challenging themselves to get out of the house when they don’t feel they have the energy to.  The efforts needed in some cases are really big and we as outsiders often lose sight of those things staring us in the face.

We don’t always have to be strong.  Its not always possible to be and that is ok.  We really do forget that it is ok not to be ok sometimes. Recognising we, or of course our friends or family, are in trouble is sometimes the hardest part.

We might think we are ok.  But nagging doubt, anxiety would lead us in reality to know otherwise.  Our friends might not tell us until much further down the line that there is a problem….we often chastise them for that yet invariably we do the same thing.  We want to believe, and sometimes can of course, that we can deal with everything ourselves.  There is never any harm in admitting that is not the case.

It is impossible to be strong all the time.  That just doesn’t exist.  We all have demons and we all face them in different ways.  What we need to not lose sight of is that just because we think we are not strong doesn’t mean we aren’t.

Think of everything you have been through to get where you are, to be who you are, to have the family that you always envisaged, that job you fought so hard for etc etc and you know you have to be strong to get there and strength is itself relative to what we are trying to overcome.

Not everyone gets that, love is lost and futures change.  Those who struggle and are able to succeed are true beacons of strength regardless of those times they, like all of us, have a bad day, week, month etc.  Some people aren’t quite there yet but their strength is in the determination to want succeed in whatever their challenge(s) is even though strength isn’t directly equivalent to success.

Never forget what you have dealt with or are dealing with to understand the strength you have and harness that power to your advantage.

There will always be those bad days where its totally justifiable to sob in front of the TV watching PS I love you under a blanket on the sofa whilst eating your weight in chocolate.   Whilst on other days we find that strength we know exists and it can feel like we can take on the world.

Things might feel insurmountable but they aren’t, take a step back and think of it in small chunks.  We are all capable of rising from the sinking quick sand and if we can’t do it alone don’t forget to reach out to others.

You might not feel you have soul to be a soldier but there are soldiers out there who will always support you

Charlie xx

 

 

Riding the wave

I have found it very difficult to put pen to paper for a while now.  This is the longest time I haven’t written a blog since I started it nearly 2 years.  A combination of not knowing what to say and not having the time to really focus.  There are many reasons for that.

I sit here now feeling the impact of a stressful and long year and feeling, if I am honest, rather miserable about everything.  Exhaustion does funny things to you and this time of year does to.  It is a love hate relationship with a time of year so family centric with so many little people special to me to see but yet still something missing.

But I shouldn’t feel sad, or dwell on what could be when it can’t be right now.  What is important is that this year I have achieved an incredible amount, perhaps in some ways more than last year.  Last year was taking that plunge into the unknown of the world of personal challenges and blogging whilst this year so many things have changed not only did I up the ante with my challenges but I changed my job, became the trustee of a charity, presented at an MRKH Support group meeting and lead my first successful year as the first female Chairman in 28 years of a scientific interest group not discounting of course representing my company on a panel promoting innovation in the UK…and I got to meet the astronaut Tim Peake!

Oh and I may have walked 100km in 22 hours and 9 minutes and cycled (offroad) 132 miles in 13 hours and 48 minutes and in the process raised nearly £2,000 for MRKH Connect.

I guess what I am really feeling is a come down.  The come down from an incredibly challenging but incredible year.  Taking the leap from a job I loved to a new, exciting but time intense adventure at the forefront of my field to taking on two epic challenges, and getting injured in the process of training really making me question if this was really for me. I have however mastered the art of adding extra hours to the day to fit everything in including training and still finding time to have fun and enjoyed being a part of everything I have done.  Its when it stop that it hits you, the challenges, the stress, the hours spent.  Its amazing how much time is dedicated to these things, those things that I hold so dear but that have lead to other things naturally having to slip because there are only so many hours I can magically add before the time fairies get incredibly annoyed with me.

I have questioned myself this year more than ever in everything I do. Am I good enough, will it go right.  Its true to say that despite all the excitement I haven’t felt myself for a good portion of the year, a consequence in part of a number of changes that I have made to my life plus not being good at taking it easy on myself!

I write this blog off the back of the conference my team and I organised in Lisbon.    This year was my first as chairman and the feedback has been phenomenal, what a way to end the year yet the come down is like being hit repeatedly by a bus.  Despite that amazing achievement and the proudness I feel for what we achieved there are a number of things that fell by the wayside this year, more than I anticipated.

Friends are so important and this year I haven’t been the best one with a job change and job location change leading me further away from some of my nearest and dearest.  Whilst I know they understand its just not quite the same as it was and I do hate the feeling of letting people down, its just not in my nature.  For that I am sorry.

 

Next year I take a rest from the more ‘epic’ style challenges to take stock and find the big thing for 2019.  But I am not good at not having a physical goal so I will be concentrating more on a couple of smaller challenges just for me, not for charity.  This commences with a half marathon in March.  In itself this is a challenge for me – the most I have ever run continuously is half this distance but certainly on a much smaller scale than others but I am looking forward to getting stuck into training after the festive period.

Sometimes you have to ride the wave and push ourselves out of that comfort zone to really know where you are going, what your capabilities are and most important…what is best for YOU!  I have learnt a lot this year about myself, my capabilities and what wonderful people it is that I have in my life from friends, colleagues to of course family.

I guess my advice here is to take life by the horns, it may not always work out, every wave has peaks and troughs, but the rewards are incredible when you push yourself that little bit more and really focus on what you want.  Try not to worry about what other people think, we all do it yet in all honesty the only person we should never be disappointed in is ourselves.  Focus on you first and everything else will fall into place, even if it can seem like an uphill battle at first.

I want to thank all who have supported me, inspired me, motivated me, laughed and cried with me on my quest in 2017.

It hasn’t been easy, but easy is boring.

I look forward to some recuperation and reflection over the break before hitting 2018 and making it the best it can be.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Charlie x

 

 

 

It’s ok to be different

I had no idea what it would be like when I had one, only what the crappy sexual education type videos showed us at school – which were all rather clinical and largely uninformative.

When your friends then start and you don’t it is difficult, particularly as a self-conscious teenager in an all girls school, you feel embarrassed and all you desperately want is not to be the last and left to ridicule for being weird, or weirder, than you already felt.

Even worse is when people start asking you for sanitary towels or tampons which of course you don’t have, aside from the one or two supply your mum gave you just in case it happened at school.

I took to just telling people I had started when they asked because it seemed like a safer option than saying I hadn’t – in my head I feared my comp school chums would turn on me and take the piss mercilessly.  This way I hoped I could avoid it without really knowing what I was letting myself in for.  I had no idea how much girls talked about it!

It’s a defence mechanism and its stupid when you think about it. I didn’t know at that point I wouldn’t ever have them and even when I did know it was easier not to say that I never would.  However, I was starting to feel out of my depth if anyone asked me anything that wasn’t very easy to answer/lie about – my stock answers coming from snippets of things I had heard from my friends talking about it.  Thankfully I never got rumbled.

As far as many men, as well as a number of women, are concerned all women have periods until they hit a certain age which is of course untrue.  This one thing in a young girl’s life is considered to be such a life affirming moment and almost an acceptance into womanhood but there are so many other ways that make you a woman and why should starting your period be such a big deal?

Well in reality it shouldn’t be a big deal.  I think it just has been drilled into us as something that happens to every girl as we grow up that it puts such pressure on young girls until it has happened.  So why not also explain/teach us what happens if it doesn’t?  When it doesn’t happen you feel isolated, ashamed and well a freak which is a great thing to feel as a teenager because you have no idea that there are circumstances that this massive thing may never happen.

I was born female, with all the same hormones, lumps and bumps in all the right places and I haven’t become any less female because I never started mine but I know so many have felt like that and I understand why that is possible.

To then be told you will never have them and that to top that off you can’t carry your own children is not easy listening at 17 but its ok because ‘you’re so lucky you don’t have periods’ as people kept telling me when I told them about MRKH.

Yeah wonderful, genuinely delighted I don’t have to deal with that but the lack of periods is not really a consolation for not being able to carry my own child is it.

We now live in a high tech world with resources at our fingertips, more so than ever before yet a condition that is not that rare is still not well known and if it is it’s a taboo topic classed under ‘female stuff’.   Why can’t we ALL use some of that new world knowledge to improve awareness of the other reasons those ‘normal’ things don’t happen whether its MRKH or not these things don’t and shouldn’t be taboo they should be talked about and explained.  If they were less taboo then there would be more potential for those affected to speak up rather than hide away as we have all done from time to time, scared of saying something that will lead to embarrassment or fear or whatever.  I was scared of being ‘outed’ as a weirdo for not starting my period which is stupid when you think about it.

It’s ok to be different in fact in many ways its quite refreshing and exciting I also can’t think of anything more annoying than having to deal with that each month.  Despite what the consequence is in this case without having MRKH I don’t think my eyes and mind would be as open as they are now.

It’s changed my perspectives, my life and me to an extent.  How much, well that I will never know without a ‘Sliding Doors’ parallel universe type situation but if you only take two positive things away from having MRKH its 1) not having periods and 2) you are never alone.

There is so much left to do to improve 2)

Charlie xx

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Is there such a word as ‘can’t’?

My mother has been telling me for years there is ‘no such word as can’t’ despite how much I protested such as when I said: I can’t play the twiddly bit in my flute grade 8 recital piece or say the word ‘patrol’ in a primary school reading book.  Both of which I could of course actually do.  Aside from my misgivings about the whole ‘your mother is always right’ it seems that there are many many times that she is.

Can’t is a word that does of course exist and is useful in lots of contexts such as the fact I can’t drink vodka following an unfortunate night with free pour shots, a golf buggy vs hedge situation and throwing up on the deputy head of year.  I also can’t watch Armageddon or PS I Love you or Marley & Me (or indeed lots of films) without crying.  Both are genuine uses of the word ‘can’t’.

However there are some ‘I can’t..’ statements that I believe to be untrue.  For example when people say they can’t run, a statement I have also said many times yet I now firmly believe every able bodied human can run.  There is a difference between not being able to run and not actually liking it.  Too often we compare ourselves to others who are more practised at it and think we ‘can’t’ do that.  You absolutely can do it if you want to.   A runner doesn’t have to be a competitive time measuring, PB clocking nutter who runs 10km every lunchtime, it could be someone who runs to the end of the road or round the park for the sheer thrill of being outside and feeling that air in your lungs.

Nothing in this world is easy.  Running is not easy.  Running takes practice and you have to go through a lot of ‘this is shit’ before you feel that you make any progress.  A  lot of going for lunchtime runs and feeling the shame when your co-workers pass you or worse leave you and you are running alone….again.  Then I realised it doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is if I enjoy it which for a VERY long time I really didn’t.

So what is my point? Well I am getting there.

One thing I have noticed is a lot of negativity and sadness on the support groups recently in relation to not being able to have children.  This may seem a ridiculous thing to raise given the condition we have, and I am not absolutely not belittling the worse than shit feeling it brings, but I wanted to place a different spin on it for consideration.

I can’t have children in the natural way, yes its shit and I hate it but it’s the way it goes and I can’t (I really can’t) do anything about that side of it.  But this phrase is a misconception, I can have children it is just the way that happens is going to be different.  Yet it is important to remember that these are also the same options that so many others have to or choose to consider, we are not alone.  Just because you decide through desire or necessity (such as perhaps religious or cultural reasons) that you are not able or don’t want to follow that process of physically having children in your family through IVF or adoption etc doesn’t mean that you don’t have the chance to have children be a big part of your life whether that be nieces, nephews, godchildren, friend’s children and not to forget all those ‘fur babies’ out there as well. Your house, your life, your family and of course your heart does not have to feel empty.

I’m a realist (that’s a lie I am actually a very stubborn pessimist) I am getting old and the IVF boat for me has sailed for a number of reasons and that’s fine, one less option to consider to be honest.  I have come to realise recently that when you are helpfully reminded of timeframes for various milestones in your life you also start to wonder if the whole having a child in your family, regardless of how much you want one, will even be possible.  It makes me sad to think that but then again, I didn’t expect at the age of 33 ¾ to be where I am and quite frankly did any of us?

Life happens, that’s the crux of it.  Relationships, work, family etc all usually end up different to what we plan and certainly what I planned in my head skipping in a playground at school without a care in the world.

What we need to remember sometimes, and I know many of us do this already, is that life is short.  The more we worry about the what might have beens, or what could be, the less we are living, the less we are taking the time for adventuring, loving, finding ourselves.  That is not to say that those things aren’t important or of course possible with children I just personally think that we have a habit of putting pressure on ourselves because ‘it’s the norm’ or because we are being pressured by those around us.  Well those standard life affirming milestones can quite frankly go **** themselves because in reality its all bullshit there is no ‘normal’ and life would be far less fun and eye opening if that was the case.

Don’t ever think as an MRKH woman that you can’t have children if you want them.  It will be different, it is likely to be harder than maybe most of your friends and family around you, but it is by no means impossible.  It still may not end up as you planned and really that is ok too it doesn’t stop you from finding love and filling that heart that feels empty.  There will always be a part of me that will feel different because of it but never incomplete.

I realise these musings share some strong feelings on a sensitive topic.  The intention is not to offend at all but to share my thoughts.  I just don’t want people to fall into the trap that I found myself in where I felt so consumed by the future, the fact I couldn’t carry my own child, that I forgot the present.

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