Category Archives: People
I did it! Yesterday I took part in the BUPA Great Birmingham Run. A whole half marathon. 13.1 miles. It wasn’t easy but it was pretty amazing. It was a personal challenge of course but I also raised some money for Kerrang Radio’s Cash for Kids. You can still donate here if you’d like to top me up!
The streets of Birmingham closed off to make way for over 18000 runners of all abilities. The crowds were so great and hearing strangers calling my name out and cheering me on was quite overwhelming. I had a few ‘moments’ as I was running around because there was just so much support. Small children holding their hands out to be high fived, students banging on saucepans, different bands all along the course of all ages. So many people! It made me very proud of Birmingham.
My first 10K (6miles) was pretty easy, I had metal in my ears to keep me going, in fact I could’ve probably run faster but after all the scare stories about the hill at 10 miles I wanted to conserve the energy in my legs. I told myself that once I got to Cannon Hill Park at 9 miles then I would be nearly done (I was wrong on that one!). As I ran through the park I had a packet of sport’s beans I had finished and even though there was all sorts of race litter like bottles of water everywhere I couldn’t bring myself to drop it so I ran over to a woman cheering me on and asked her to get rid of it for me. I hate litterbugs! Haha. My mother and father in law were in the park waiting for me to go past so it was pretty ace to see them.
Then things got a little more difficult. I was running through residential roads in an area I wasn’t familiar with, it was a little quieter and the impending hill made it bit more ominous. As I got onto the main road I could see an incline, I ran as much as my little legs could take and it was OK for a while although my language may not have been the most ladylike. Rounding another corner at about 10.5 miles it got steeper and although I kept my arms moving as if I was running my pace slowed right down and I started to feel the burn. I had to push myself to keep going and I was relieved to see the 11 mile marker. Even though I had run 11 miles I thought to myself, ‘I can run 2 miles easy’, so I went for it, down into the dip and up onto Broad Street, kept on going, then lo and behold in the distance I could see the finish line! A beautiful finish line.
At the 200m marker I heard familar voices shouting my name and I saw my man, my Mom, stepdad, brother, sister in law, Nan, Aunt, Uncle and cousin all cheering me. Best thing ever. I ran over the finish line and my eyes started leaking. I couldn’t believe it was over and I had done it, I so was overwhelmed by the whole experience. There was quite a walk to get my medal and goodie bag before I could find everyone to get some hugs and I broke down, it was all too much! I felt so chuffed but so knackered.
Walking back to the car park near Moor Street station was a challenge. When we got home the bath was most welcome. I made the mistake of lying on the bed afterwards and then it was game over for a couple of hours. I woke up tired and still quite emotional. Then I heard the news of the runner that passed away at the finish line and I felt very sad.
So that was yesterday. I woke up this morning after a long sleep and it all seems unreal now. I had so many messages of support on Facebook and Twitter too and there have been some brilliant photos taken to remind me of my day. If you’re reading this thinking ‘I could never do that’ then think again. Look back at my first running post when I could only run for 1 minute at a time. Anything is acheivable. Literally one step at a time.
Thanks for reading and for everyone who has wished me well.
Love & hugs,
Follow me on Twitter @StaceInspire
Yesterday, on the 2nd of June I celebrated a very special lady with my family. My Nan!
We decided a few months ago that we would have a Jubilee party for her 77th birthday as the two coincided. She has always been a fan of the Royals and I think that has rubbed off on her grandchildren too. I’m not going to get into a pros/cons of the Royals debate, Twitter has depressed me enough with all the joyless miseries. I enjoy British traditions and I think it made it an even better excuse to celebrate a memorable occasion. Oh and of course you may know me by now, I love a theme for my nails!
My friend Emma solved the what to wear problem by kindly lending me a dress which I spotted her in on Facebook. This is me in it with my two ‘little’ brothers Ricky and Joe. I love this picture so much.
I made a Spotify playlist for the occasion with one song for every year from the last 60 years. We all love music in our family and having a sing song. My cousin Charlotte filmed everyone singing ‘Two Little Boys’. I can’t post it because it’s not on YouTube but it’s probably for the best, haha. My stepdad Tom made a big box covered in Union Jacks which we used as a DJ stand i.e. something to put the iPad and speakers on.
We didn’t want Nan to have to faff around so we all made something to bring, her only instructions were to make a trifle.
I made Jubilee Battenburg from this recipe from Wright Little Baker
I also made some red velvet cupcakes with buttercream and some nifty icing Union Jacks , sorry Union FLAGS I got from Icing World.
Man being a man wanted to make something meaty so he made BBQ pulled pork from the most recent Good Food magazine. Plenty of opportunity for pork pulling jokes.
Mom made a ton of this amazing warm potato salad with blue cheese. Nom nom. Quite jealous she got to make it into bubble and squeak today with the leftovers. Other foodie mentions, my Uncle Steven’s marinated chicken, the spicy one was my fave, my cousin Emily’s sausage rolls and not forgetting my cousin Liz’s cheese and pineapple on sticks! A party isn’t a party without something on cocktail sticks!
Despite the weather not being perfect the rain stayed away for the afternoon. My Nan has a pretty massive garden so we put two gazebos up and got on with it. My Mom got too cold in the end and went and stole a blanket off Nan’s bed. She will thank me for posting this.
My naughty cousins managed to get behind everyone without them noticing with flags. This is the moment they caught us.
We added candles (a ‘2’ and a ‘7’) to Nan’s trifle and sang her happy birthday. By then I was sporting my Mom’s hat and a leather jacket donated by Nan’s friend, even my hot blood gave in in the end!
This is a photo of the full rabble (Minus my Aunt and cousin who are on holiday).
This says it all for me. God bless the Queen of our brilliant family.
Hope you had a lovely jubbly Jubilee too.
Follow me on Twitter @StaceInspire
A round up of Christmas and New Year, mainly just to get me back in the blogging zone….
I made cupcakes, peppermint creams and ginger biscuits. This year it was my family’s turn to have us but we cooked Christmas din dins this year to give my Mom and Stepdad a break. It was great. I prepared a lot of the veg the day before. We made turkey with lemon and sage butter with streaky bacon and Topside of Beef. I made Delia Smith’s bread sauce which turned out well. For pud we bought a Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Christmas pud and Ban made a chocolate and raspberry ganache tart inspired by the one Michel Roux Jr did on Masterchef.
We had some very helpful monetary donations from various family members which we have put towards a new fridge freezer and wallpaper for our living room. Not usually one for branded products I seem to have developed a longing for all things Joseph Joseph. We now have the indexed chopping boards , Preparation bowls set and Fold flat grater. I love the bright colours.
My River Cottage Everyday cookbook will keep us in new recipes for a while and there’s enough Thornton’s Continental left in the house to delay Slimming World for another week. Still on a kitchen theme my brother bought us a pestle and mortar which we’ve been after for a while and I’ve had an addition to my collection of Letraset Promarkers.
Ban’s brother Richard lives in Chicago and he came over for a week over the Christmas period. We spent Christmas Day and evening with my family (see Games below) and Boxing Day with his Mom and Dad, brothers and two nephews Sam and Tom who had a crazy amount of presents as always. My favourite was the Harry Potter night bus. I REALLY want some Harry Potter LEGO.
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without games. On Christmas Day we played Rapidough and had a good singalong to traditional songs like Tenacious D Tribute, haha! On Boxing Day we played Top Gear board game with our nephews and then the more grown up Cranium which is quite hard. On New Year’s Eve my little cousin Becky bought her new games Pass The Bomb and LOGO’s to play. At our friends new year party we played Dance Central. I’m more of a head banger than a dancer but it was a laugh. Just imagine me trying to dance to MC Hammer and Britney Spears. Thankfully it’s not on YouTube yet.
Oh and before I forget….Skyrim! I bought it for Ban hoping he’d like it but I’ve been sucked into it too. Awesome.
A nice heartwarming episode and for a change I didn’t have to hide behind a cushion.
Pat’s dead! David Wicks came back though. Bonus.
Clever and brilliant. Best thing on TV.
Erm.. anyway that’s about it for now. I’ve written something at least.
Happy New Year everybody!
Thinking back to the panel on Stigma and Discrimination at the National Drug Conference in Dublin this month it was highlighted that we never read good stories in the papers. Bad news sells. Users get all the bad press but rarely do we hear of the success stories. Maybe we can’t change the newspapers or society’s hunger for bad news but the more positive messages we can get out there the better. Twitter gives me an opportunity to engage with some interesting people and this is the story of one of my Twitter friends. I thought it would be nice for Johnny to get his experiences heard.
When Johnny was 16 his grandfather passed way and soon after his grandmother. He had little understanding of how to deal with grief and death and began drinking a lot. One night he tried Heroin for the first time.
“It was my miracle answer; it took all the pain I was feeling away”.
He admits his understanding of addiction back then was that it was all in the head, a choice people made that could be controlled. His use increased to every Friday, then every Friday and Saturday and it wasn’t long before he was using every day. In the early stages off his addiction when he worked he remembers particularly bad times. One of these was when he was talking to a guy at work and found out one of his friend’s had died from an overdose. Again grief affected his use.
“I was convinced something would happen and the penny would drop but then I accepted that I was going to die an addict. I wrote a suicide note explaining to my friends and family how they would be better off if I was dead.”
Luckily before it got too far an unlikely source helped him…
“It was a policeman who came to tell me I was being watched on the town’s CCTV. He noticed my low mood and asked what’s up? I’d wanted someone to listen so I showed him the suicide note explaining how life would be better with me dead!!”
That was how Johnny was first directed to help and got into rehab which began a cycle.
“Every time I got into rehab I always seemed to have it in my head that I would still have to use again.”
He eventually began a relationship with his lifelong friend and it was made clear that drugs couldn’t be a part of it. Although he initially struggled with this, with her love and support he got his life back. Johnny also has high praise for Methadone.
“The reality is that Methadone allowed me to have stability, a fiancé and a life. I think it’s more addictive than Heroin but it gave me a chance to see there’s a light at the end of the tunnel”.
When I asked Johnny what he thinks would’ve helped him more along the way he simply said.
“Reassurance. No one had ever said to me how you are feeling is OK, normal, part of the process. You can do it Johnny”.
Johnny who used Heroin and other drugs for over 15 years is now 31, 8 months Heroin free and engaged to Hazel. They live in Ballymena, Northern Ireland with their ‘son’, their dog Marley. He is looking forward to getting married and getting back into work. He would also like to be able to help others recovering from dependency like him. He would like to say big thank you to all the people that helped him along the way especially Hazel and his big mate Jim.
This is a poem Johnny wrote for Hazel….
While I was looking for a perfect verse, so happy I was fit to burst
Acceptance, just 1 word. Cos u accepted me as I was, a junkie chasing a buzz
This is pure n simple truth, u welcomed me under your roof
At 25 you got ur own place, while i was still gettin off my face
When I was a teen I wanted to sell drugs, cos then id be one of the cool thugs.
How could I be such a fool, for flip sake I was still at school
I love you with all my heart and life would be bad if we were apart
There’s just one dream id like to come true, no more gear-just me, marley n you
I hate it when you cry cos youre my love and thats what gets me by
So, no more tears except for joy, me, you n our doggy boy!
No more madness cos thats the reason for ur sadness
I love u forever. xoxox
Ballymena, Northern Ireland
You can follow Johnny on Twitter @wjc80
I was lucky enough to be invited back to Dublin again to help at this year’s National Drugs Conference. I flew with Nigel Brunsdon Injecting Advice and now HIT Community Manager and we met Kevin Cundy of Frontier Medical Group at the airport.
It was held as previously at the Radisson hotel (great showers!). Tim Bingham of the INEF again pulled off the organisation of this big event and didn’t seem to stand still for three days but his efforts are very much appreciated. The conference consisted of plenary speaker sessions and break off workshops for delegates to attend.
The full programme of speakers can be seen on the INEF website.
On the Thursday morning we had a manic time registering everyone and it was good to see some familiar faces both from the real world and Twitter.
As always I tend to go to the sessions of my friends or people I know. Roweena Russell who was a big help with the recent tender I wrote delivered a session on how the website Hiwecanhelp has developed and can benefit organisations all across the UK. Check out their funky new homepage.
I also went to see the seriously inspirational Annemarie Ward who really got the delegates engaged. You can read all about the work of the UKRF and their principles are well worth checking out. They (Annemarie and Alistair Sinclair) are doing great work changing the face of recovery to bring everyone together to encourage choices in treatment and developing supportive recovery networks across the UK. See my previous post on the UKRF conference here.
It was good to see the HIT O’ Hare’s again and I’m looking forward to the fundraiser in Liverpool later this month. I also met Stephen Malloy (Scottish Drug Forum) and Julia Elspeth who were formerly just little thumbnails on my Twitter screen.
Of particular interest was a panel discussion on Drugs, Stigma and the Media. The panel consisted of:
Erin O’Mara, editor of Black Poppy, a UK-based health and lifestyle magazine produced by and for people who use drugs.
We were carrrying around this idea that we were wastes, wastes of spaces. . . when you go and seek treatment and you know they are treating you badly you think well I’m a junkie….it gets ingrained and it drives a big wedge and silences people.
Rick Lines, Harm Reduction International
Maureen Brosnahan, a veteran national reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
We need to be conscious of the language we use, junkie versus user, hooker versus sex worker, addiction versus dependency…
Kitty Holland, The Irish Times
Keelin Shanley, RTE
You can see the video of it below.
Good news is unfortunately not news. We are more likely to hear the stories of stereotypical users committing crime than the positive stories of people in recovery who have managed to get through difficult times. People who are stuck in their Daily Mail regurgitating views want the stories that perpetuate what they prefer to believe. They rarely look for what the real story is, the reasons why people may use problematically, attempt to understand dependency, happily keep the ‘us and them’ mentality while quaffing their own drug of choice, usually Alcohol and not recognising the irony or their hypocrisy. Ooh sorry, nearly a rant there.
Anyway, it was a brilliant couple of days and thanks to all involved both during the conference and socialising in the evenings too.
Thanks for reading.
Friday 9th September saw the 2011 UK Recovery Federation summit which brought together providers, supporters and people in recovery from all over the UK.
It was held at the All Nations Conference Centre, Cardiff. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and met with UKRF Directors Alistair Sinclair and AnneMarie Ward who organised the conference as well as other speakers for dinner. It was slightly daunting in some ways as there were a lot of prominent people from the field at the table but they are all really interesting and passionate people and I appreciate the opportunity to meet people who I can learn so much from. Always nice to see my Twitter friends Nigel Brunsdon, Tim Bingham and Melody Treasure too.
We were lucky enough to have a stand there to promote training and EFT for Recovery. There was an immediate interest in EFT and it restored my faith that I should continue spreading the word. There’s an obvious need for people to have access to emotional support at all stages of recovery and EFT can help with that so I’ll keep right on and see what areas of the UK it takes me to. It was an opportunity to connect and it was great to meet so many inspirational people and hear their stories.
Keith Humphreys Professor of Psychiatry at Stamford University
John Strang National Addictions Centre, Kings College London
Neil Hunt University of Kent and UK Harm Reduction Association
Carol McDaid Faces and Voices of Recovery, Virginia, U.S
Colin Wilkie-Jones Chief Executive, eATA
Bryan Morgan West Sussex DAAT and EXACT
AnneMarie Ward & Alistair Sinclair UKRF Directors
There were two people in particular who made my trip to Cardiff even more worthwhile. Francis and Rie. I met them both separately and then found out they were husband and wife. Amazing people. Here is Rie’s Wired In blog.
Next up the Recovery Walk.
I felt the need to have a bit of a rant after hearing the news about Amy Winehouse. Now I wasn’t a particular fan but of course have followed her life over the last few years as we all have as she batttled her addictions.
Here comes the rant. Having logged onto Twitter and (and Facebook briefly but really, I knew that would be even more ignorant) there are varying comments being made. A lot saying how sad it is, some how it was inevitable but also some that she deserved it.
After the news yesterday about the mostly young lives lost in Norway then of course one death is not as big but the fact is Amy’s death is more relevant to us in this country and she’s a celeb. Celeb stories alway pull in the crowds rightly or wrongly.
Amy had a lot of problems and she did access rehab and help on several occasions but it just shows the power and control that drugs (legal and illegal) had on her that she lost her life due to it. The thing that gets me is that people fail to realise that all sorts of addictions can lead to death. OK so we’re not all dying suddenly like she has but people do die from making unheathy choices in life be it smoking, toking, drinking, snorting, injecting, overeating or engaging in other risky but fun behaviours. In fact how many deaths are really 100% blame free? If someone dies of cancer because of an addiction to legal drug Nicotine should we all not be sad and dismiss it because they ‘deserved’ it. If someone dies of heart disease because they enjoy eating junk food should we not give a shit?? If someone doesn’t wake up on a night out after too much legal beer and vodka do they deserve it? If a young person snorts a few lines too many on a Friday night and their heart gives out should we all hoorah??
I hope Amy is at peace wherever she is and I hope all the people who are making despicable comments do not lose anyone they love because of a natural human compulsion to eat things, drink things or take things that make them feel better.
Peace, love, EMPATHY!!