I'm about to become a supply teacher....so I bought all the things

punky pins

I left school almost 20 years ago, but I still remember the excitement of getting a new school bag. So, when I got booked for a day's supply teaching, I knew I'd have to treat myself to a 'supply teacher' appropriate bag. It came with the toucan patch, but I added the Punky Pins after they were sent to me to review (review sounds silly, they're pins, but you know what I mean).

I used to be a primary teacher, perhaps 8 years ago now. If you want to learn more you can read about in these old blog posts:

teaching+in+2005+weight+gain.jpg.jpg

10 things I learned from being a teacher and What was the final straw that made me leave teaching?

I completed a 4 year degree in teaching, including a placement in Arizona, and summer camp teaching in New York. I taught in London for about 2 years, and then I became a secondary school librarian. Then I quit it all, and started my own business. Fast forward to over 7 years of self employment, and I fancied dipping my toe back into the education world.

So I've decided to supply.

 

This could well be a fantastic idea, or a terrible one, but worth a try I reckon! Some of my old colleagues who left education have also returned to long term supply, and they're loving it, and if I don't like it, I don't have to continue, right?

Me, being me, it's been a great excuse to buy some stuff, and get organised. 

supply teaching supplies

Of course I printed personalised labels with my name on. Of course I ordered a personalised marking stamp. 

book for supply teaching
supply teaching stickers

I've used it as the excuse to buy new books, and I started with Ada Twist, Scientist, as a the ideal filler story. Off the back of it, you can work on rhyming pattern, a research project on Ada Lovelace, science explorations with any questions we can come up with etc. I also bought a billion stickers, as children just never get tired of them. They're great rewards. The pug ball is great for controlling who talks, or who has a go next, when you throw her around the room.

supply teacher note

I'm so extra that I designed my own note to leave the teacher, because why not do what makes us happy, right?

Now, after all the faffing, the day has finally arrived, tomorrow I'm due to do my first day's supply. I'll be very nervous, I'm so out of the game I've long forgotten all of the rules. But I'll focusing on turning up, and seeing what happens. Wish me luck.

A doctor told me I needed to lose a stone to be a healthy weight

reeree rockette swearing

Today I visited my new GP, after discovering a mole that seemed itchy on my back (I'm very moley). I entered the room, happy to find a young female doctor sat waiting for me. She checked my shoulders, and said she couldn't see anything that seemed off, so I said thank you and started getting my stuff. It'd taken all of a minute. 

She said that as I was there, I could just complete some data about me. She asked if I smoked, to which I said no, never. She asked if I drank, and I explained usually once, every one or two weeks. All good there.

She then said they didn't have a weight for me, so could she weigh me. I stepped on the scales, and then removed my shoes to have my height measured. I apologised for the big hair.

As she entered the data into her system, she mumbled my weight and height, and then my BMI (27 I think?), and she said that I would have to lose  a stone if I wanted to be in the healthy bracket, "...if I cared about things like that".

Firstly, for an exchange that lasted two minutes, half of which were spent looking at moles, I don't see how telling me my BMI, and that I needed to lose a stone to be a healthy weight is useful or warranted.

I include my photo from today, but sort of know it is irrelevant at the same time. Say I was carrying more weight than I am; say that the amount could be a potential warning for health issues....I'd obviously know that. Who on earth doesn't know that excess weight can carry health concerns? Does telling me my BMI magically make me aware of that fact? But I include the pic to also show that I honestly don't believe the weight I carry is what my doctor should be concerning herself with, in a short appointment.

She doesn't know if I've had eating disorders, or if my weight has fluctuated massively recently. She didn't know if her super fast comment/advice would send me into an eating binge or self harm hole (it didn't....but still).

being weighed by doctor

If she's telling me I'm carrying extra weight to try and keep me healthy, shouldn't she have asked about things that relate to my health? Do I exercise (Yes, 3 times a week, I run and lift weights), and how is my diet (generally pretty healthy, with fruit and vegetables heavily featured). Or how about whether my bowel movements are regular, or what my periods are like, or whether I check for breast lumps regularly.

I've read some things online about why the NHS still use BMI in this way, and it all seems to say stuff like, "It's a useful tool to use to judge when people are overweight, because being overweight generally comes with health concerns." When arguments are made about it's pointlessness (particularly in reference to muscle-heavy athletes), they just shrug and say most people aren't athletes. That BMI is relevant to most people.

I've yet to work out why we/they need a scale like BMI at all, to work out if someone is overweight (and therefore worthy of being concerned about their health and potential issues they may face - which is a whole other debate). Surely doctors can just tell by looking at us? I just can't work out why GPs are still chucking our BMIs in our faces constantly? What do they even imagine it does?

Don't get me wrong, this rant isn't about my weight at all. It's about the fact that in a two minute appointment, my GP randomly told me my BMI, and what I'd have to do to be in the healthy BMI range. Who is telling her to do this? Why do they think it is a valid thing to say? 

I am fully aware that people who carry more weight than me, deal with this nonsense with almost every medical professional that they meet. That it is common for every ailment they bring to a doctor ends with a discussion about their weight, and the apparent revelation that they are deemed obese. I am sharing my experience as it angered me, but I aware that for many people this is a constant, and even more stupid issue than my two minutes with my GP.

Chucking someone's BMI at them is at best pointless and silly, and at worst harmful and damaging. 

I spent over £700 on a PT....was it worth it?

what is a personal trainer like

I shared my experience of having 10 sessions with a PT after having a personal trainer for 5 weeks, and now I've reached month 4, I'm back to update my experience 24 sessions later.

At the beginning of January I signed up with a PT. I'd fallen off the fitness wagon, and just lost my confidence with it. I really missed feeling strong, and most of my clothing didn't fit anymore, but I was just struggling to get into the mindspace on my own to return. 

I started with 2 half-hour sessions a week, which over time, dropped down to one session a week, as I added in other fitness activities (I joined a running club, and started going to my gym again). Its now the end of April, and in total I had 24 sessions with my PT, at a cost of over £700. Was it worth it?

After 10 sessions I'd learnt the following:

1. Exercise should feel hard. That's the point of it (if you want to change your body).

2. Target all muscles, not just your favourite ones!

3. It's absolutely part of the process to attempt and fail certain moves. The attempts are the exercise.

Do I have anything more to add, now I'm 24 sessions in? So much of exercise if about your mind, but at the same time, if you waited to 'feel like it', we'd never achieve much at all. I've learned the power of grit, and commitment. That I just need to make sure I keep turning up. I've learned that I can push my body pretty hard, and that's all that matters. It doesn't matter if the person next to me is performing the move better/faster, all that matters is that I'm pushing hard. That's what exercise is, and no matter how fit everyone is in the room, we should all be feeling that it's hard. That we're all pushing hard. That's the point.

Paying for a PT has done what I needed it do; I'm now going to the gym, and exercising in some way 2-3 times a week. I'm not returned magically to the body I used to have, as my diet isn't as committed as it was back then, when I was at my strongest/smallest, but I have changed my body a bit. Its definitely stronger. I've lost a bit of weight from my face. Fitness is back in my life again, and that was the point. Money well spent I'd say.

It's not something I can afford permanently, but this investment in myself was worth it.

Does Head and Shoulders really strip colour?

does head and shoulders strip colour

We advise people to use Head and Shoulders (or washing up liquid) to strip colour all the time. It's long been the advice of hairdressers and the internet. I've also enjoyed a lot of videos on youtube that show different quality shampoos being pitted against each other. So I wanted to give it a go. It didn't go as expected....

I coloured 4 blonde samples using La Riche Directions, which is the semi-permanent colour we use the most for rainbow and mermaid colours. I used Head and Shoulders, a cheap Alberto Balsam and the salon L'Oreal colour shampoo we tend to use in the salon at the backwash.

I took as much care as I could to wash and rinse each sample in the same way, and they probably got washed about 8 times.

testing different shampoos

From left to right: The unwashed comparison sample. Head and Shoulders. Alberto Balsam. L'Oreal. THEY FADED THE SAME.

I returned to some of the videos on the internet, to work out why I didn't get the results they'd led me to expect. Most of them seem to judge the colour loss by the colour of the water, which for many reasons, isn't really worth doing. All that matters is the colour left in the hair.

So.....next steps for me. I want to compare another salon quality shampoo, to see if it provides any different results. Perhaps I need to try a permanent colour, rather than a semi-permanent. Perhaps semis just fade the same amount, regardless of product. Or perhaps, old ReeRee was right, it's all just a marketing scam.....watch this space.

Jerry the foster cat - 6 weeks on

jerry the foster cat

Jerry the foster cat has been with me 6 and a half weeks now, having initially arrived with his pal Ron (My first failed foster experience). Cats are so full of personality, they really are so different. Jerry started out as the invisible cat; I barely saw him! He stayed under the bed mostly, hiding away from the world. This was the complete opposite to my first foster cat Bronwyn, who leapt right onto the bed and made herself at home.

feline friends fostering

Jerry has reminded me the importance of understanding that everyone makes sense of the world in their own way. I got frustrated at times, unable to understand why he choose the cold floor under the bed, rather than hopping onto the soft and warm duvet (I rationally understand why of course), but eventually, a few weeks in, Jerry was ready. He started with just a little sit, but was very jumpy, and if I moved, he moved off and hid. 

But forward to him now, and he spends a lot of time on the bed (he still likes his spot under it though!), and he doesn't jump off when I move. It's basically his bed now, that he allows me to use at night.

What I enjoy about Jerry is his responsiveness to being called. Bronwyn the fostercat was so stubbornly herself, just doing what she fancied, whereas Jerry comes when called, which hasn't stopped being cute yet. He doesn't yet sit on me, but he'll walk over me, and sometimes sneak under the duvet for a 5 minute snuggle. 

jerry the cat

Jerry was initially fostered as his elderly owner was taken to hospital. As a fosterer, I'm not privy to updates, but obviously 6 weeks on, who knows if Jerry will get to return home. Even if he doesn't, I'm comforted that perhaps the owner was comforted, and could relax, knowing his cats were being cared for, and that he'd be able to get them back. I can imagine that being a cause of worry otherwise.

If Jerry does need to find a new furever home, I'll be his advocate until one is found. He's such a sweet and gentle cat. He's very undemanding, he doesn't make noise, he doesn't cause a fuss. He likes to say hello when you come home from work. His purr is the loudest I've heard in a cat! He would make a lovely sweet pet for someone.

My breakup - a year on.

a year being single

I've made it, that year marker since breaking up with the guy I broke up with. Turns out I wore this t-shirt  in April last year too....so what's changed?

I moved house so I could live alone again. I'd been putting off moving, as it felt silly, as surely the next step would be moving in together. I mean, we'd been talking about moving abroad, so moving would be silly. But I've moved, and it's been fabulous. 

I've lost some of my 'relationship' weight and returned to fitness. I've been lifting heavy things, getting out of breath and running outside.

I've started voluteering! I managed a hair salon for Crisis at Christmas, I volunteer as a stylist getting women dressed for job interviews, and with a children's literacy charity.

I've been on two holidays, both of which were better than my holiday as a couple. One was with 50 influencers, and one with my best friend.

I've started fostering cats. I had Bronwyn for 11 weeks, and Jerry has currently been with me for 6 weeks. I've really missed having a pet, and fostering is just proving to be perfect for me and my situation.

I took two writing classes, one was 'Writing For Magazines', and one 'Writing for Children'. I needed to get my brain engaged again, with something new, and these were cheaper than I'd presumed, and a great creative nudge in a good direction.

I've become more politically engaged. I've been on 3 marches through London, and more engaged with feminist politics than ever before. 

I am learning BSL. I completed my Level 1, and am currently working on my Level 2. This was something I've always dabbled with, and as a couple I tried to get us both doing it, but actually, flying solo again, I just finally did it.

So, overall, I've really grown in the last year, which although is glorious in many ways, is sort of sad. Did being in a relationship provide a step towards all of this, or was it actually holding me back? It reminds me of one of my favourite life mottos, "I can do anything, but not everything,". Did the effort and commitment to a relationship, to another person, mean that I wasn't able to put the effort and commitment into myself? 

Skid Row Marathon - the documentary that will make you want to run

reeree running 2018.jpg

The morning started with a run with my beginners' running group, which I'm using as a confidence building commitment to get me back to running. I've run before. I've run with running groups before. But I haven't run recently. I loved it today. I adored the sunshine, and I felt fit and strong. I enjoyed seeing the turtles sunbathing in the pond, and watching the ducks spread their wings. Running in the sunshine is simply glorious.

I had a swift outfit change, and headed straight back to out to a preview screening of a film about running. Funny how things work out. 

skid row marathon poster

Now I'm not a regular cinema goer, nor am I a hard and fast runner, but I knew I'd enjoy watching this film. Despite the rare London sun showing its face today, off I went to the dark coolness of a cinema.

I'll be careful not to spoiler it, but the trailer gives a good hint of what's to come. It's an exploration of redemption, justice and what happens after people hit rock bottom. And larger than that, its about Judge Craig Mitchell and his ability to connect with people through his belief in their inherent value as a human being. He spoke after the preview, and I was able to shake his hand, and thank him, and he just had that ability to feel so 'present'. He looks people right in the eyes, and genuinely connects to them in that moment. He firmly and kindly shook my hand, and I was sad to have to let go. I can see how he was able to be the catalyst for change in some many people's lives.

judge Craig Mitchell

The film made me want to run. It reminded me of those moments where you feel like you can do anything. Those glimmers when the uncomfortableness fades, and you feel strong and untouchable. Those carved out portions of time that are just about you and your body, with your thoughts. 

The film made me want to run with a community. I'm a member of Parkrun already, and plan to run once my course finishes. I've run with Goodgym before, and I plan to return to them too (they blend volunteering with running). But it made me want to run with a new community too. 

Running is free. Its empowering and powerful. But as Judge Craig Mitchell said, it's not just about the running. The runs provide a reason for a community to exist. You can run and talk, or not talk at all. You suddenly have something in common, where at first glance you had none. There is an instant "running community" to join, and of course, while they're very supportive, and big cheerleaders, they don't really care how far you run, or how fast you run it. They simply care that you turn up.

There's so much in that, isn't there. We all want to belong, and there aren't many sports activities where you can join in at any level. You're all just runners, running against yourself. Running provides a great middle ground between being solo, and belonging to something bigger than yourself. 

skidrow marathon

What the film also did, was make me want to continue to have volunteering in my life. The Judge talked about how by giving something of ourselves, it returns far more than you ever gave, and it just reminded me how much better the world would be, if we all just did this more. If we all spent a little less time worrying about our own thoughts, and finding little ways to engage with people who have been less fortunate, or have challenges they have yet to overcome. Money matters of course, and awareness campaigns are important too, but what we really need more of, is people engaging with people. Forming connections. The tagline of the movie is "Finding dignity one step at a time", and the Judge is right, we need people to have an opportunity to feel success, to develop perseverance, and to feel like they have value. 

This film is being shown in many cinemas, but for one night only. MAY 9th. You can, and should, buy tickets here. You will cry. You will want to run.