Tag Archives: charity

The long and the short of it …

Short hair.

Now I have been threatening for years, to shave my hair off. It was always an idle threat to a degree. There are a lot of reasons why you second guess doing it. I had been joking about shaving my hair off a lot at work because I have been mistreating it a lot and when we started planning what to do to raise money…. why not shave our heads. We had only been talking about it the week before hand.

So My colleague and I excitedly started making preparations, getting supplies, setting a date. There was certainly a lot of goading between the 2 of us, and it still didn’t seem real until we received our first donations on Just Giving.

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We started getting twitchy. But why? What is wrong with having short hair? It isn’t even down to gender, both men and women are dictated to when it comes to hair. Last week a friend’s child bought home a letter with the minimum length her son could have at school. And how many times are we told, impressed upon, or told that long hair is desirable in women (symbolism a la Mulan).

I haven’t had long hair for a good 5 years or so, I mean I grow it to my shoulders and get bored. But I remember shortly after I cut it all off, I had sat in the car with no makeup and looking in the mirror, saying ‘I look like a boy now’ .. a friend commented on a selfie I had posted ‘so … rock and roll grew up, gave up, and cut her hair off’ (I deserved that, I was pretty rude when he cut off his hair).

Hell, it was probably said in jest, but doesn’t everything have an element of truth? Every time I put on a wig, with long, luscious curls… I feel great. Like my makeup, it is another layer that stops me looking like… me? As an aside, I realised this summer that I have to wear makeup when I wear baseball caps as they hide (hid?) all my hair and facially it left me looking fairly androgynous.

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Since I started writing this post, I have had my hair shaved, so this is becoming more reflective in tone. I won’t lie, it was emotional. For someone who had pretty much emotionally detached herself from her own hair nearly 2 years ago, the thought of losing it was difficult. I even shed a tear – I think that was more the high emotions of the entire day, people telling me how brave I am.

It is funny, this blog post has had 25 (at last count) revisions, I have retyped, deleted, moved, thought things through. What is it. Hair, that is all it is. But as the cover image states, hair is the crown you never take off. We are taught from a young age that long hair is more feminine and throughout history we have seen women being shorn of hair as not only defeminising but dehumanising. And more than that, we have to think that people might worry that there is a medical reason that you have lost your hair (especially if you wear a headscarf like me). And that raises awkward questions, people becoming embarrassed for assuming or asking and you trying to comfort them in their embarrassment.

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But what it comes down to, vanity. It really is that simple, when I get upset about looking like a boy, when I worry about having to wear makeup so I don’t look like an alien (no brows or hair), it is simple, it is because I don’t want to look androgynous, because I lose my sense of identity. But at the same time, not having my hair, it is making me question my vanity. Is hair really all that important, when it comes down to it. I wear wigs FFS so clearly I am not that invested in my hair. It makes me question myself and how I go through life, those moments when I worry about what my hair looks like, when I stop to look in a mirror to check my hair, when I reach to check my hair when I take off my coat, those moments throughout the day that I tweak, brush, move, adjust. 

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I am not brave, I am not fighting anything. It was only hair. I was so blase about shaving it off, and yes, I am not loving it. But me, cutting my hair off? All that has been effected is my vanity. People who are effected by cancer, who have no choice, they are the ones that are brave, they are the ones who deserve our respect.  So while I am not in love with my look, has it changed me? That much? Nope, I need to get over myself and keep my vanity in check.

Those people that we helped with our fundraising, everyone who supports and works with/for Coppafeel every day? They are the ones that we should be raising a glass to. 

And on that note, I am happy to say that we smashed out target of £200, and raised £420 (and counting) 

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Copp a feel

and think of me.

So at the end of the month, I will be having my hair shaved off for charity along with a friend/coworker.

Kevin Murphy are supporting Coppafeel through out October to raise awareness and promote self checks in young women. Breast cancer is something we have all been directly or indirectly been touched by, who hasn’t had that doctors appointment, had a family member, friend, colleague.

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We all know about the Race for Life, we wear pink, we wear our ribbons of support. But the problem, is two fold.

We don’t check our own breasts. We are still coming to terms with our own bodies, that it is okay to be confident in them, to talk about them. We don’t know what looks normal, where are we going to gauge this. We look at the media, we see augmented, photo-shopped, we see cosmetically enhanced. We don’t know that our own breasts are just that. Our own. But what we need to do is get used to them, we need to learn to love them and spot changes in them.

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We need to learn to go and speak to someone if you spot any changes. Don’t think you are being a bother, or a worrier, or that you will be dismissed out of hand. You are the only one who knows if there is something different. 

One thing that people have mentioned to me as I pass out cards at work. They know they should be checking their breasts but they don’t know how. They don’t know what to look for. What should be a trigger. Well honestly anything that isn’t normal – ask your partner if they notice changes as well. 

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If you go to CoppaFeel they have a range of resources to help you – including guides to check your breasts and even a text reminder so you will never forget to check. 

Like I said, I will be shaving my hair off at at the end of the month to help support and raise awareness – if you can spare a £1 please CLICK HERE to go to my Just Giving page. 

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The gift of chocolate

So this may not be the blog post you are expecting.

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A little back ground, I have worked within the NHS for around 7 years now – admin/customer service related in three different department. I currently work within a department which carries out procedures, it is not an emergency department but it is the first time there is a real possibility that a patient could be admitted following the procedure. Prior to this I worked in Sexual Health and Physiotherapy. I joke that I am working my way around as many disciplines as possible.

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So now back on track – I am now in the habit of carrying a couple of bars of chocolate in my bag. I am not a big fan of chocolate to be honest, I get the occasional craving for it but generally speaking it isn’t a big concern. But I am make sure that I don’t leave the house without a bar – and a magazine if I have time. And there is a good reason for this….

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This week, I called a ward to see if they could bring a patient down a little earlier for this appointment. I was treated abruptly by the member of staff on the phone (yes, it isn’t just the public) and told the patient had been discharged ‘days ago’. Which led me to calling the patient’s wife and confirming that they would be coming in later – I had had the presence of mind when making the appointment to send a letter to the home address as this is not the first time. Now I am the clinic co ordinator, so I don’t actually have a lot of direct patient contact and generally speaking, I am snowed under so I didn’t see the patient come in. But a couple of hours after my lunch break I became aware of fluttering and a lady who had been sat in our reception area since I had got back from lunch. It appears that a patient had taken a turn and it was suggested that he be admitted.

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It was at this point I put two and two together and realise that the patient’s wife was sat in our reception area and would have a long evening ahead. So I reached into my handbag and pulled out my bar of chocolate, and walked over to the patient’s wife. She started laughing and commented that with breasts as big as hers, did she really need chocolate. We got chatting, she started crying, I nearly started crying, we had a discussion about her children, and we even laughed. I felt bad leaving, I mean, I really felt guilty. Why should I be going home while her husband is still on a couch in one of our exam rooms?

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This isn’t isolated, a couple of weeks ago, a patient came in for a procedure and it was deemed clinically necessary for him to stay over night for observation. This is rare but happens. Unfortunately, as usual there was no bed available so he was left spending the afternoon in the clinic with his wife. After our last patient had gone, one of the nurses popped down the canteen to get him and his wife dinner. I made tea. It was a silly  little thing to me, just a cup of tea, but both the patient and his wife were so grateful. I then remembered I had bought a magazine that morning, so I gave it to the patient’s wife to read. Not her usual reading material but waiting around in hospital especially when you aren’t expecting it, can be long, and tiresome. Then just as I was packing up to go, I rememberer I had emergency chocolate (that is a thing, right? ) in my bag, and gave it to them as a desert. Again, they were both very grateful and it over whelmed me somewhat so I quickly beat my retreat.

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I am not suggesting that you all go out and start stuffing your bags with chocolate – unless you want to. What I am trying to say is that it is a multitude of small gestures and not always a grand gesture that makes a difference. When you help someone cross the road, pick up an item that was dropped, hold open a door or even smile at someone. Try and treat people the way you would want to be treated, I know it can be hard and at times challenging. People have a lot on their minds, they can be selfish and self absorbed. But not only does one good turn deserve another… it is also a positive for you. I always end up feeling happier when I have helped someone. And you don’t have to feel guilty about it – you are on a dopamine and Oxtocin, dopamine is released in the anticipation, and Oxytocin is released during social bonding. It is a reward situation, which is to say, when you anticipate something and get a good feeling, it strengthens your resolve to do it again.

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And I am getting all pseudoscience on you aren’t I ? I remember watching an episode of Friends, years ago, in which Phoebe was getting upset over her inability to preform an entirely selfless act. Because it is impossible. We are driven by a risk/reward in our own body. We do things because not only do we understand that it helps another person out, but because we feel good about it. So don’t ever feel guilty! Embrace it, if it makes you feel good and you want to do it again? That is fantastic, we all start doing a little more good and feeling a little better! 

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Running from inspiration

So I did a rather waffly, self absorbed piece on fitness recently. It was my explanation that as much as I can try to excuse my weight gain on my injury, it isn’t entirely to blame. So I am making some changes, slowly but if you rush into these things they tend not to last.

I went to see my beautiful friend Ren run in the Silverstone half marathon on the 13th March. It wasn’t planned as such, I knew that she had been training to do the London Marathon later this year after smashing Tough Mudder last year. She mentioned Silverstone and since it is just up the road from me, I thought I should go give her some support.

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I used to run, cross country, long distance, with the dog… it was in my soul. I got to the track and felt…. in awe, I felt inspired, I felt sad that I wasn’t also running…. (although the course looks pretty brutal!). We walked over to the finish line to see people coming in, I wasn’t sure where Ren would come in so this seemed like a good place. I was seriously so knocked sideways by the emotions. I cannot really put into words how it feels watching people come over the finishing line, it was a collection of pretty palatable emotions from both spectators and competitors, the joy and in many cases relief as people realised they had finished.

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Now I mentioned that Ren is running in the London Marathon in a few weeks, the Silverstone half marathon is something of a ‘warm up’ for many competitors. Ren has done extremely well, and I am so proud, i may well burst by the time she makes it across the finish line. She is running for Mind – an amazing mental health charity that has helped her personally. It is important that we talk about these things, the work that is done to support people when they aren’t able to access it though the usual channels (as much as we may wish otherwise, resources are finite). They do a fantastic amount or work in the community – if you are interested please click here.

Ren has her reasons for running for Mind – so far she has shaved off her hair and done a half marathon, and as I may have mentioned is also running in the London Marathon. If you have a couple of coins to spare, I know she will appreciate it, as will Mind! Even if you can’t donate, read Ren’s story if you need any further inspiration – please click here to check Ren’s story!

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I said that I felt inspired by the runners didn’t I ? I was debating joining the Race for Life and going a gentle walk/job around the course. But being I came to this decision all of 3 weeks ago, I am going to wait until next year and try and train a little. What is difficult for me is that I am a little broken. I only have tarmac to run on, and that will only make my injuries worse. So as much as I may want to get back into running, it just isn’t feasible for me. However I have managed to find a dance class that is 5 mins away and have really enjoyed it! Great to get back into the swing of things! 

Now I want to take a moment to talk about muscle memory. It is pretty important and yet something we all manage to forget about. I have danced for a few years, and so when I went back to dance a couple of weeks ago, I found I was able to do things that I didn’t think I would be able to, purely because I have drilled certain moved over the years. I also walk for at least an hour a day to get to and from work, so I am relatively fit. Relatively. I decided on the first day of Spring to go for a bike ride. First time this year, killing two birds with one stone, the boy suggested going to the pet shop as there is a cycle path that takes us to the industrial park. I got into the ride pretty quickly however, the seat… help me the seat! And I am fairly useless at hills. By the end of the ride back, I was getting quite upset at myself and how badly I was coping. But as the boy pointed out – muscle memory. I run, I ride horses, I dance, I lift… bike riding is something I pretty much stop as soon as my booty remembers how uncomfortable it is. Muscle memory – riding is different kettle of fish. Every time you start a new exercise, you are more than likely using a different set of muscles than you are used to. So instead of being discouraged… embrace it. I love feeling sore after exercising. And it is also a great reason to mix up your exercises – using different muscles groups is great and it helps you keep motivated! 

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So I have bought a new seat for my bike – I will keep you updated with that and the rest of my fitness journey! 

If you want to get your hands on the leggings Ren and I are wearing – head over to Wild Bangarang by clicking here for the website and clicking here for the facebook page.