Positive Reframing

I was rudely awoken at 6am this morning by the sound of my dog being sick. I leapt out of bed to stop him doing it on the new hall carpet and to sort it all out and, by the time everything was cleaned up and calm again, I was too awake to go back to bed so I stayed up.

However, instead of feeling cross that my last hour of sleep had been cruelly snatched away from me, I felt pleased that I had gained an extra hour of awake time – giving me time to have a quiet cup of tea before the day starts and an extra hour to fit in my workout before everything else.

The ability to positively reframe a bad situation will enable you to deal with whatever life throws at you. Give it a try

Oh, and the dog is fine by the way. He is snoring away beside me now!

Find your tribe

This is a popular expression, found on memes all over the internet and there are hundreds of blogs and articles about it – but what does it really mean?

Well, In the simplest terms, a tribe is a human social group. More recently, the term has been used to mean an unofficial community with a common interest who are connected online through social media. Whereas the traditional tribe would be physically close, online or ‘digital’ tribes are often virtual communities who may never actually meet. The common link is that both ‘tribes’ share something – maybe an interest, values or cultural beliefs.

For most of my life I have been searching (unknowingly) for my tribe. I just knew I didn’t ever quite feel part of a gang, even though I’ve always had friends. Over the years, I have decided maybe I’m just a bit ‘different’ and I’ve sort of got used to it. I’ve told myself I didn’t want to ‘belong’ anyway and in a way, I believe that might still be true.

Then, last year, I became involved with a group on Facebook, a fitness community called ‘The Rude Rebellion’. Initially I felt the same as I usually did when being involved with a group of people – that I was on the outside looking in and, even though I got involved very quickly, still not feeling this was any different from any of the other social groups I had been part of.

Very quickly though, something started to change. This group was different – they didn’t judge, negativity was banned and everyone was encouraged to share their progress and support and uplift others at the same time. For the first time, it was ok to post selfies, to be publicly proud of how well I was doing and to feel uplifted by the positive feedback. As the weeks and months passed, I found myself feeling more and more aligned with this group and the people in it. I wanted to cheer on the others as much as they did me. I joined the gym – I’d joined many gyms over the years but this time, there were members of the group also in this gym and it became a social thing for me as well as a place to get fit.

As more time has passed, friendships have been forged that go outside the group but are still part of it. I know I will continue to be part of this group, this tribe – It’s the nicest, cosiest, most comfortable feeling I have ever had – it’s hard to explain but it feels like I have ‘come home’.

How to Find Your Tribe

Well, firstly, know yourself – self awareness is key. Once you understand yourself and what it is you want from relationships and friendships, you can start to find a group that aligns with your values, beliefs and interests. So a bit of self-reflection is needed.

Don’t be afraid to try something different or new – step outside your comfort zone. If you don’t try you won’t know. Walking into the gym on my own used to be a big deal to me. It isn’t anymore – I OWN that gym when I walk through the door! It might take a few tries before you find that group who you feel ‘right’ with but if you don’t test the water you will never know.

Be proactive – go along to any meet ups or suggest one yourself. We have a regular coffee morning at the gym i go to, organised by us – some of us have trained first, others come just for the coffee!

Don’t be quick to judge. Be open minded, there will be different people in the group, people who you don’t initially take to. Keep your mind open – find out more before you commit but be open to compromise and to meeting people who are different to you. Initially I thought everyone else was a fitness/health freak – turns out most of us aspire to be but we aren’t – yet!!!!

Reach out, don’t hang around in the shadows – be brave and speak up. Chances are you will be welcomed with open arms. If you aren’t – maybe this isn’t your tribe or maybe you need to work on yourself a bit more. I jumped in at the deep end when I joined the group and started posting immediately. The beauty of social media is you can at least hide behind your screen while you feel your way in the group.

Above all though, love yourself. If you do, your tribe will love you too!

(Thank you to all the Rebels and to Kelly, Ben and Leo for being the Rude Rebellion xxx) Click here for more info: http://theruderebellion.com

Living with Pain

When I was nine years old, in the late ’60s, it was discovered that I had juvenile scoliosis – a curvature of the spine. They identified that I had not one but two ‘primary’ curves, meaning that both were progressively getting worse. At that time, the treatment consisted of traction (literally being stretched on a frame) followed by a plaster cast from the neck down to cover the whole torso, and then a milwaulki back brace, which was made of metal and leather and had to be specially made, hence the plaster cast. To get the size right, a cast of my body was made by wrapping a hot sheet of a plastic like substance around me while I was on the ‘rack’. This hurt. The plaster cast was uncomfortable and gave me boils on my chin where it rubbed and it hurt my hips where it rubbed there. Also, the smell of wet plaster of paris made me throw up. Once fitted, I was allowed to take the back brace off for an hour a day but had to wear it at al other times, even to sleep.

As I grew, a new back brace had to be made to fit so the process was repeated another two times until I was around 14, when they decided it wasn’t helping and that I could be brace free until I was sixteen when I would be old enough to have surgery. Due to the nature of the surgery at that time, it couldn’t be done before growth had reached a certain stage.

Surgery took place in the late summer of 1976 when I had just completed my GCEs and was due to start college to study art and art history A levels. I was in hospital for four months in total, at the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital in Stanmore and I had an extra two weeks due to a problem with the initial surgery that meant I had to go down again. During this time I had a ‘pelvic halo’ brace which was screwed into my skull and hips (literally) and held me rigidly in place. They would lengthen the rods each day by loosening and tightening the screws and it really did hurt. When they were satisfied I could not be stretched any more, after about three months as an inpatient, the surgery took place. I can remember being wheeled on a trolley to have X-rays and the bumping of the trolley over the ramps to the building hurting me so much.

The surgery consisted of removing bone from my hip and packing it between my vertebrae and then inserting a metal rod all the way along my spine to hold it all in place – for those who are curious, this was known as a Harrington rod. Following surgery, I had to wear the brace again for another 2 years while the bones fused together, until I was 18. I was allowed to take it off only to wash. Again, I had the boils and the discomfort where the brace rubbed against my ribs and my hips.

So why I am I telling you all this?

Because I believe that this is how I learned to cope with pain. I came from a family where we weren’t brought up to make a fuss about our aches and pains so it was natural for me to ‘deal with it’. As well as this, I was a teenager and I wanted my life to be as normal as possible – I didn’t want to be treated differently so I acted as if everything was fine, even when it wasn’t. Over time, the pain normalised and I just got used to it. I went to college, I went out socialising, I had a boyfriend, I just got on with it all. The brace came off, life carried on. I had some problems in my late twenties where the very lowest part of my spine that hadn’t been fused started to disintegrate and went through five years of being registered disabled before I had another fusion in my early thirties.

Latterly, I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, about two years ago. I couldn’t have been more surprised – I assumed everyone had the twinges and aches I had most of the time! It turns out they don’t…..what I think of as twinges and aches are actually incredibly painful to many sufferers, it seems.

Fibromyalgia is thought to be caused by the brain’s inability to correctly interpret pain. Sufferers may feel pain for no reason or they may experience pain that is worse than a non-sufferer would experience in the same situation. There are other symptoms, including fatigue and IBS but the pain seems to be the main feature of this condition.

I use my attitude towards pain, gained in my youth, to overcome the symptoms I experience. Exercise can be hard when the joints are screaming or the back of my head feels like someone is pressing a hot iron on it, but I know that once I have done it, I will not feel any worse – I will feel better, more mobile, less pain, more energy.


For this reason I am exercising daily, pushing myself as hard as I can and then some, to keep control of my body, of my mind.

Anyone can do this. I do not accept that fibro is debilitating. I know it isn’t. My mind is strong enough to overcome this physical nonsense. My mind IS overcoming it on a daily basis. I take no medication for my fibromyalgia – I don’t believe I need it.

Pain is subjective. It is up to us how we manage it……