Tag Archives: Challenge

What? You want it harder…!?

OK, first things first. I think some apologies are in order. It’s been a teeny bit of time since I last posted…alright, alright. It was April. But much has happened since then. Well, actually, literally nothing has happened since then. Thanks to my current toe-to-toe with evil Count Fatigue, I’ve been mostly sleeping. Or sitting. Or sleeping some more. And whilst I’m sure some of you would find my warbling on about having less energy than a Duracell bunny fitted with non-branded eco batteries powered by rainbows and yeti dandruff highly entertaining (you weird lot!), I’ve been too flippin’ knackered. Even writing that little lot has me reaching for the Lucozade Sport! So April and May slipped by without a new “something”. Aww :(. But there was no need to be concerned, silly reader :). It’s me, remember? OCD, forward planning; it’s kinda my thing, yeah? So you must have known I’d have some of my “somethings” already booked in, sofa-dwelling mollusc status or not? No? Oh, silly reader indeed! Well I had got my June thing already booked in, months ago. One that I’ve been looking forward to since I first decided to do the “somethings”.  And one, as it would turn out, was pretty ideally timed, given my under-the-weather-ness.

March was the last time I dipped my toe into a “something”, nerding it out (and breaking my brain!) with some creative JavaScripting. You remember that, right? It was hard! So my grey matter needed some rest. Some time to recuperate. And having been poorly over the past few weeks, so did the rest of me. Admittedly, all this sitting about and sleeping probably sounds like more than enough rest, but being ill is kind of annoying! I wanna do what I wanna do, thanks very much body, so snap out of it already! It’s getting old pretty quick. And whilst I’m often to be found moaning about having to go running or how hard yoga was last night, six weeks on the sofa-sidelines has made me a tad grumpy. Ok, very grumpy. Add that to the frustration of actually being ill, and there you have it; one stressed out Cups :(. I’m being told to rest, to take it easy. But all this resting is doing my head in! And the vicious cycle continues… Sigh. I needed to look after myself, sure. But I needed to eliminate the stress. I needed to relax. And as luck (and a bit of my awesome forward planning) would have it, I was just about to be very relaxed indeed…

One familiar train ride, followed by a magical mystery tour round the back streets of the Ton (with the friendliest bus driver ever!), and the wheeziest of walks up a piddling incline of a hill – seriously fitness levels, where have you gone?! – and I’d arrived, first naturally, for a day of learning, laughing, laying down and lubricating. Yup, get excited people. I was about to learn the art of… body massage!

I have been ridiculously excited about this since I booked it up a few months back. I’ve wanted to take a course for years. And I love a good massage (who doesn’t, right?! ). Weirdly though, I’ve only ever had a professional one once. I’m not sure why that is exactly. I don’t have an issue with strangers touching me without so much as a how do you do. You know, in a massagey way (honestly, minds in the gutter much!). Which was lucky, given that the next 6 hours was gonna revolve around several strangers touching me, with oils and everything. It was gonna be an interesting day :).

The course, an Introduction to Body Massage, run by Brighton based College of Classical Massage, and taught on the day by the excellent Mike, was brilliant! The set up for the day is great. Once you have partnered up, you are taught the techniques for three types of massage during the course of the day – back, face and feet – which you do directly onto your partner (you know, the person you just met about 30 minutes ago, who’s probably already forgotten your name, and who’s naked skin you’re manipulating with grapeseed oil), following the visual and verbal instructions being given by the teacher. After a few minutes, any awkwardness is gone as you concentrate on the movements and the pressure, and your lucky partner enjoys their massage! And after you’re done learning the technique, you switch places and get an awesome massage yourself! WIN!

My classroom for the day…
“Now, get your clothes off and let me prod at you”.

Nine other excited, and slightly nervous looking people, arrived – my massage buddies for the day –  ready to get on tables, get naked and get rubbed up (hopefully not the wrong way) by people they’d barely spent 30 minutes with. Now there’s an ice-breaker for you! “Hi, I’m Paula”. “Hi, I’m Davina” “Now, get your clothes off so I can start poking at you”. It all could have been very awkward, but our teacher Mike has done this before, with countless groups of strangers, and he’s definitely mastered the technique of putting people at ease quickly :). Attending on my own, I was a little anxious about how the partnering up would work. Would they be assigned, like a lab partner in a science lesson? Would the cool kids in the class get to pick who they wanted, leaving the scrawniest, palest kid (that’d be me then) to be the boobie prize? Nah. Half the class were people on their own, and I was lucky. I got chatting to super cool Davina over tea and biscuits, discussing the possibilities of massage and hypnotherapy as a combined force – Me: “Imagine if you did them together. I’d massage them into a coma, nick their wallet, and then plant a trigger word into them, making them drop to their knees and bark like a dog every time they heard the word ‘kumquat’. It’d be hilarious!'”. Davina: “Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’d be struck off for that… and remind me never to come to you for a massage!” –  and after that, she still wanted to team up with me (glutton for punishment much) for lesson one – the back massage.

Davina took to the table, putting her back in my exceedingly cold (sorry!) hands and off we went. Me, watching Mike’s instruction and attempting to recreate them without cracking bones or putting muscles into spasm, and Davina, drifting off into a relaxed stupor, with only my descriptions of my ridiculous Tai-Chi looking dance moves to get the right angle and movement for the various strokes and my hair-dresser toned inquiries of “is the pressure ok for you?” harshing her massage buzz. After 35 minutes, my first massage was complete. And, how was it? Well, as the ‘Practioner’ I really enjoyed it, and thought it had gone well. No bruises, no death screams. But what about my guinea pig? Had she survived intact, still able to move her spine and supporting limbs? Why, yes she had! And apparently, it was really rather good :). I took the fact that she felt a little woozy upon sitting up as a good thing; that what I’d done had been so relaxing as to have knocked her equilibrium out of kilter for a couple of minutes (and not that I had accidentally given her the sleeper hold whilst massaging her neck…). So now it was my turn for the table. Off with some clothes, on with some towels and relaxation in 3, 2, 1… GO! And. It. Was. Awesome! I was so relaxed at one point I think I was drooling. Yup, there’s a lovely mental picture for you right there! Having just practised the same techniques that were now being carried out on me, it was cool to feel the difference between how it felt doing them on someone to how it felt having them done on you. The actual sensation didn’t always match what I had thought they would feel like when I was doing them, which I found really interesting. Regardless, it all still felt pretty awesome :). After lunch, we swapped partners for the the remaining lessons – face and feet – and more awesomeness was had by all. I managed to send my face partner to sleep with my silky massage skills, and successfully got through an amazing foot massage without kicking my partner in the face once (I have extremely ticklish feet you see). 6 hours of excellent teaching, great people, lots of laughing, new skills bagged up and ready to use, AND three massages! Now that’s what I call a good day :).

I am, however, now anticipating suddenly become very popular with my friends and family. Out of nowhere it’ll become apparent that they haven’t seen me in ages, and that they desperately need to ‘pop round’ or ‘catch up’.  Yeah, yeah. I’m on to your shenanigans you lot. You wanna see me? Fine. It’s been such a long time, hasn’t it? Sure. Ohhhh, and you’ve been a little bit stressed lately have you? You’ve got quite a lot of tension in your shoulders you say? Would I mind, just for 30 minutes or so…? Oh no. I wouldn’t mind. I wouldn’t mind a bit. Come straight over. Just leave your wallet on the side. Oh, and afterwards, can you go to the supermarket for me? I need ‘kumquats’… 😉

A touch of the talkies…

Talker, chatterbox, blabbermouth. Verbal diarrhoea, talk-for-England, talk the back-end off a donkey (what does that even mean?!). Yup, in my time these things have all been said about me or to me. Usually if someone brings the name-calling, I would launch into a huge (albeit it polite – I can’t bear confrontation) argument as to why the person saying such things was in fact totally unfounded in their opinions, and therefore grossly mistaken. There’d probably be a slide show and  a Q and A at the end too. But, in this instance, I can make no such defense of myself. No slide presentation. Nope. Because I do talk. A Lot.

It may not come across in my blog, but I’m a naturally timid person.  I was painfully shy growing up, but it’s kinda hard to get on in the world if you’re a shrinking violet. So post-school, and into the scary, loud, daunting world of grown-ups and work, I had to create an alternative “me” – one that seemed outgoing and confident and assured – just so I could ask my boss how he liked his coffee! Bless…

My first job was like being thrown into the fire. Working at an entertainment agency, the phone was always ringing, artists were always dropping by the office, and there were always gigs to go to (to support the guys on our books). That’s a bit of a tricky environment to be in if you struggle to say hello without glowing hotter than the sun! If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, one of my bosses was a vampire, his girlfriend was a snake charmer-come-contortionist, and my first (and only!) visit to our London office (where they both resided) was met with this throw away remark from said boss: “Watch where you sit. Henrietta’s out here somewhere”. “Who’s Henrietta?” I asked. “She’s Nicky’s python”. Ohh, well that’s alright then, I thought there was something to worry about for a moment..! WTF?!!  Into the fire indeed!  Anyways, I’m rambling (oh man, it’s even started to spill over into my writing!)…

So, over the years, this alternative me has been getting quite accomplished at faking cool ease at conversing with strangers – at jobs, on courses, at social do-dahs. Yup, I can just about handle these things. But now it’s started to go the other way. Now I can’t stop talking! Much like my struggle to talk to people in the first place, this over-talking is a nervous thing. When I was younger, the difficulty I found in talking to people was borne out of uncomfortability – shrinking into the background was much easier for me to handle than actually putting myself out there.  Now, I’m well and truly out there, talking nineteen to the dozen at every opportunity, because the uncomfortability of audible silences is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. If there’s a break in conversation, or cessation of noise, the awkwardness of the silence is too much for my poor little self to take. So I fill it, with all-consuming stuttering gobbledygook.

I’ve been increasingly aware of this recently, but I hadn’t quite realised the full extent of my jabbering until a car journey with friends a couple of weeks ago. I drive a lot, but usually on my own, or with the sacred few people in my life that I feel comfortable enough with to allow my muteness to flow. On this journey, however, I was a passenger, not the driver (which in itself is an interesting experience for me – but that’s another story, another control issue :)), and I realised (several hours later) that I had chewed the ears off my poor friend, her husband and their kids for the full one hour drive. I barely paused for breath! Worse still, it didn’t end when we pulled into the car park. Oh no. My constant chattering continued for the SEVEN HOUR day trip. The only respite my friend got was going off to take part in a half marathon – now that’s some excuse to use just to get away from my tirade of talking! I’ve heard of talking someone into a marathon, but this was ridiculous!

When I get a touch of the talkies, the stuff that comes out is a frenzied mishmash of nonsense, and usually totally incomprehensible to the misfortunate listener. But I’m not loopy. Well, ok, I am :). But this is actually a thing. A disorder called “Pressure of Speech”. It goes hand in hand with another disorder – “Flight of Ideas” – where the stuff whizzing around in your head is going so fast you can’t properly follow it yourself, so good luck to anyone you’re talking to managing to follow it! I can relate to this too; my brain rarely switches off and I sometimes I trip all over my words as I try to get them out. My mouth may well work at nineteen to the dozen, but my brain works at about three times that! What a combination!

This incessant talking of mine divides opinion among my social cluster. Some find it quirky. Others glaze over and revert to the tried and tested nod-and-smile technique. A few even think its adorable. And some find it so hilarious that they get an overwhelming urge to goad me into an outburst of unrelenting gibberish. And me? Well, I find it mortifying! I wanna stop myself. I really do. But it’s like an out-of-body deal. I can see myself getting chat happy, but once it’s in full flow, there’s just no stopping it!

I have a lot of stuff planned over the next couple of months, most of it with people I don’t know in environments where a certain amount of hush is required, so I’m really gonna have to try to reel it in… Hmm. This is gonna be tricky. There is a happy medium between embarrassed silence and running off at the mouth, I’m sure of it. I just haven’t quite found it yet. But it’s out there. And I WILL find it… Ok, I’ll shut up now :).