Getting over it

Whew! The last few months have spiraled past me in a blurry whirl of doctors surgeries, sofas and more brave cake than I could shake a stick at! That is of course if I were allowed to shake a stick, or indeed do anything other than lay down and ‘take it easy’. Which I was not. Having had a touch of surgery in October, I was on strict instructions to rest up for a month; no exercise, no strenuous movements, and as much ‘feet-up’ time as I could squish into my post-op days. Sounds lovely in theory, doesn’t it? Not so great in practice if, like me, you are a raging bundle of kinetic energy, desperate to get out and do stuff!  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good laze around; snuggling into the sofa, blankied up, waiting for a delicious afternoon snooze to kick in. And being waited on hand and foot wasn’t all bad either :). But when you start to become the sofa you’ve been lying on, and your vegetative state is such that you begin to resemble a potato, things have definitely gone a tad too far.

I was going more than a little mad – which is a feat in itself, seeing as I’m already a little nutty – but all that resting-up gave me bucket-loads of time to think about (and plan in) my next ‘somethings’. It’s getting closer to the end of the year, and there are still some I really want to tick off before New Year hits. Having lost some months already, and with only two left in the year, I was going to have to start doubling, or even trebling-up, my little adventures. It was going to take acute planning to fit them all in before the year was out, but hey, I wasn’t going anywhere for a while! So, with thinking cap firmly on, and hands glued to laptop, Operation Squish-em-all-in was go!

First up, oh man, probably the one I’ve been most anxious about doing since I first decided to do it! Everyone is scared of something. Or several somethings. Or all the somethings in the universe! Well, I’m not quite that bad. I do tend to be a bit fearful of new things, but that’s more to do with the unknown aspect of it, rather than the thing itself. I think a lot of people are like that (or at least I hope so!). There are things I don’t really like, but I’m not scared of many things. I’m not scared of heights, or confined spaces, or clowns. I’m not a big fan of spiders, or needles, but I don’t turn into a big wobbly mess of nerves if I see them. But there are things I’m afraid of. Things that can reduce me to a quivering wreck, and have me turning and running faster than you can you say “Oi! You big wuss! Get back here!”. Things I can bump into every day of the year. Repeatedly! Things that 42% of the UK have in their own homes! You crazy lot! You guessed yet? Yup, that’s right… “Hello, my name is Paula, and I’m scared of cats and dogs”.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking… “Cats and dogs?! But they’re so cute and fluffy. How can you be scared of them?!”. Answer? Easily! They are frightening creatures! Dogs are all teeth and barking and growling and jumping and launching themselves at you. And they all want to eat me! The big ones are big enough to ride on, weigh more than I do, and their heads are HUGE! And the small ones are even worse; all yappy and bitey and able to jump way higher than should be possible! How is that not terrifying?! And cats, well they’re cunning, calculating  critters, evilly wrapped in silky fur to lure you in. They use that butter-wouldn’t-melt look, turn on the purrs and BAM! You’ve got an arm full of claws and a face full of hissing feline, just waiting to bite your face off! Sly little beggars…

Scarring childhood experiences most definitely established my fear of the Tom and Spots of the world. Even as I grew older, and my siblings and friends got them as pets, it didn’t get any better. In fact, it got worse! Ohh the stories I could tell you about my mixes with the furry fiends over the years! But I won’t. Instead, I’ll just tell you that, after 30 odd years of fearing the domestic beasts, I decided to confront it, face on. I arranged some playdates with a couple of my friends pets (via my friends, naturally; cats and dogs aren’t so good with email) and, after spending a few awkward hours in their company, felt kinda ok :). I even have some snaps, recording my first tentative steps toward overcoming my fear…

Huge thanks to my lovely friends Rachel, Laura and Mat for letting me use their dogs and cat as, erm, guinea pigs :). I’m happy to report that I survived my time with Puss, Teddy & Star with all fingers in tact, no major incidents, and I even pet them all. On their faces and everything! First step successfully completed I’d say. I’m planning more playdates with even more cats and dogs, so watch this space…!

And now, from one giant step to another. Leaving my four-legged friends well and truly on terra firma, last weekend I headed skywards, with nothing but a pair of mountaineering shoes, a harness, and a highly attractive climbsuit! During the murky depths of my sofa-encapsulation, I was desperate to get out and do something, and was counting down the days till I was passed fit for activity. Most people would probably have gone for a nice relaxing stroll in a park, but I’m not most people, and I had been going stir-crazy during my restrictive rest! So, naturally, when I was given the all clear to go, go go, I went, went, went! Straight online and booked myself a ticket for Up at the O2 – a nice relaxing stroll… over the top of the O2 arena in London!

I’ve been trying to book this up since the summer, but it’s so popular, getting tickets can be a task in itself! But get tickets I did, and last Sunday, in the glorious winter sunshine, climbsuited and booted, up I went. And it was brilliant! Me and 14 others – looking suitably ridiculous in all our climbing garb – hitched ourselves onto the safety rail, and began the 45 minute walk up the fabric walkway that crosses from one side of the roof to the other. At the highest point, you’re 52 metres above the ground – that’s kinda high! And the climb can be tricky – even with climbing shoes – as it’s pretty steep in places! And in case the height, the 30˚ inclines/declines and the gusty breezes aren’t enough fun for you, they’ve made the walkway bouncy, to make it feel like you’re walking on the actual roof of the dome! It’s crazy! Naturally, I found myself tethered behind the one person who wanted to bounce up and down like a loon as we walked, leaving everyone behind her wavering about in the wake she had created. Hello?! We’re fairly high up you know, and this bit is quite steep; could you possibly not bounce around so much?! I want to live! Thanks ever so.

Bouncing nutter aside (she was actually very lovely), I loved it! I’ll admit that, whilst not scared of heights, I did feel a bit wobbly in places, particularly those times we had to stop, mid-air as it were, waiting for the rest of the group to catch up. Standing in the middle of the blue, on a bouncy footpath, with just a harness between you and oblivion… yeah, it’s a little unnerving :). But our climb guide Ben was great; helping us out if we needed it, cheering us on when we made each marker, pointing out the landmarks, and regaling us with hilarious stories of marriage proposals (accepted AND declined), the pitfalls of bad weather, and staff races across the roof (it’s ok, it’s in preparation for a charity event). I’ve done some weird and wonderful things in my time, but this was probably the weirdest. And I don’t think I could have enjoyed it more, although the video of my climb – yes, there is a video and no, I’m not posting that online! – may disagree with that :). If you fancy doing something totally different, that pushes you outside a comfort zone you didn’t even know you had, get yourself  on top of the O2. I promise you’ll love it!

So, there you have it. From surgery to climbing a London landmark in two months, with some furry animals thrown into the mix for good measure. What more could you want from a blog post? Not much I reckon :). December ‘somethings’, here I come…!

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