Next Year I Promise I Will NOT …

2013 is approaching and as I look back on the past year I find myself reflecting on what went well and what did not.  So the done thing is to make some new year’s resolutions.    The same time last year I promised myself I would start running, eat healthily, find my degree interesting and stop biting my finger nails.  By the 5th January I was sat in front of the TV in my newly purchased running gear, eating a 1 kilogram bar of dairy milk chocolate, in a deep state of denial about the large pile of books on the French Revolution lying on my desk, whilst intermittently biting my finger nails in a state of panic about my other three resolutions.  It is safe to say that this trend continued well into 2012.

It's safe to say this was not me!

It’s safe to say this was not me!

This year I’m not going to set myself resolutions in the traditional sense, I’m going to make a promise to myself about what I am NOT going to do!  I see it as channelling my inner whiner!  But these are definitely my top three.

Number 1 – I refuse to be inspired!

A hasty statement perhaps but I will explain.  I watched the Olympics, I enjoyed the Olympics, I believed with no training or commitment I could become the next Jess Ennis.  In short it is fair to say I felt the Olympics was inspiring, but my inspiration only went as far as buying some trainers!  So when I say I refuse to be inspired.  What I actually mean is I refuse to be inspired, spend money on my new inspiration and fail to commit to the cause.

Number 2 – I will NOT think up ridiculous money making schemes!

I say this as I have a penchant for believing, as exhibited by my Olympics example that I do not need to plan things.  In my wisdom I thought I could write a book in 2 weeks, send it to a publisher and be a millionaire before returning to university in October.  One small problem was that I didn’t actually have an idea for a story; but knew that 50 shades of Grey had been a big seller, so set about writing my own version.  It is safe to say that 50 shades of brown remains in a state of permanent incompleteness!

Number 3 – I will not embark upon DIY skin care projects!

Now when I say DIY skin care I mean, in essence homemade face masks.  Lidl at some point in 2012 had avocados for sale at about 30p each.  I thought ‘bargain!’ so bought 5.  Of course having not thought the process through I couldn’t think of anything to make with avocado except guacamole.  So they stayed in my fridge for 2 weeks before I hit upon the idea of making a facemask.  The face mask was a combination of avocado, natural yoghurt and honey – a recipe I wish I had never  found on the internet.  I mixed up as it said to do and applied to my face.  Unfortunately the avocado pieces were too heavy and gravity came into play.  I had pieces of avocado falling into my eyes, mouth, lap and covering the table I was working at with a thick unpleasant, lumpy, green paste.  And to top it all off when it was removed – my face was just sticky – Not a success!

Face mask take 2:  the turmeric disaster!  This one was truly the worst of all, I forget the other ingredients but I know there was turmeric.  I mixed it all together, applied to the face and left for 30 minutes.  Unfortunately upon removing the facemask I was made aware of the fact that turmeric stains.  I was yellow for a week!

Sigh!

New-Year-2013-Frog

Happy New Year Everyone!

Follow me on Twitter @LucyBarclay1

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Disabled or just differently abled?

Apologies for the long gap between this and my last post, life suddenly took over!  A bit out of date but I think still relevant.  An article I wrote for newspaper on whether the Paralympics will have any lasting impact on people’s perception of the disabled.  As always, feel free to comment!

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“I do not deny that Paralympians have shown us all what can be achievable in the face of extreme adversity.

I do not deny that they have the potential to become heroes and an inspiration to us all.  But as the glamour of the games quickly fades away, the long entrenched prejudices and perceptions of the disabled remain.  This cannot be altered in just eleven days – fact.

One could argue perhaps callously that by holding the games at all only serves to widen the gap between the abled and the disabled.  Why?  We do not see the accomplishments of these Paralympians in terms of just achievement.  A fact of course which does not hold true for the Olympic games.  We see these athletes as amazing because of their disability – ‘oh look what he did even though he’s in a wheelchair’.  In my mind this does not alter perceptions, it merely reinforces the idea that these athletes are disabled. In order to make true leaps towards altering perceptions we must see people in terms of ability not disability.  The Paralympics while of course emphasising achievement in the face of adversity inadvertently emphasises achievement because of adversity.

An unfortunate irony of the London 2012 Paralympics is that London itself is not truly accessible to the disabled.  Try being a wheelchair user and attempting to use the tube for example.  This of course is one of many more pressing concerns for disabled people.  To broadcast eleven days of Paralympic sporting achievement, whilst I hope proves to be an inspiration to many, puts the interest of an elite minority above the concerns of the majority.  11 days of sporting achievement does not change the reality for many disabled people.  The Paralympics does not articulate the emotional effects of disability in its more negative forms, nor does it articulate the real concerns of many disabled people facing day to day tasks.

Disabled people are facing the terrifying prospect of 20% government cuts, should the coalition push ahead with plans to abolish the Independent Living Fund in 2015.  With this in mind I find it hard to believe becoming a Paralympian is top of the agenda for many. And in that respect, no the Paralympics will not, in my opinion having any lasting impact on people’s perception and approach to the disabled.”

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1

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Olympics vs Paralympics

Last week I was lucky enough to head over to the Olympic Park.  It was an amazing day and an amazing experience.  I have to say it really refuelled my excitement for London 2012 – Patriotism took hold once again with ferocious cheering for team GB.

Photosynth pan of basketball arena

Olympic Park

Trafalgar Square

The park is incredible and six times the size I had assumed it to be.  I have to admit it was quite the walk between venues.  I saw goal ball in the copper box followed by wheelchair basketball at the (what looks to be inflatable) basketball arena.  Both sports I found to be an inspiration – the basketball, well quite frankly it was terrifying!

Later on in the day having headed Trafalgar square-ward I sat watching the big screen (although it’s supposed to be summer, I would advise a thick coat at the very least).  An explanation of how different disabilities are ‘graded’ in events hit the screen, showing how events are grouped and how according to disability, more points or time concessions are awarded.  So forgive me, if the Paralympics is graded according to ability why then doesn’t everyone compete in the same games?

Ellie Simmonds wins Gold

Of course there is the argument that the media would automatically gravitate towards the likes of Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis leaving those less able-bodied in the lurch.  Yet may I point out that in Beijing, team GB came second in the Paralympics yet 4th in the Olympics.  Is it then not true to say that these Paralympians would so too act as media magnets just as any able bodied Olympian?  The likes of Ellie Simmonds and David Weir spring to mind …

If this ‘grading’ system separates Paralympic athletes then why not have a 4 week games that includes people of all ability levels?  Why is the separation from ‘mainstream’ athletes necessary? Everyone would then contribute to the same medal table, competing for the same team.

At the end of the day I’m cheering for team GB – why that has to be team GB in two separate tournaments I am bemused by.  Olympian or Paralympian – they are both an inspiration, and both could thrash me!

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1   

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#GOLDRUSH!

I will apologise in advance for my innumerable Olympics posts at the moment.  Like I have said previously, me the non-sports fan, in fact I would go so far as to say, as a rule of thumb, the sport hater (arguing non-stop about the immorality of footballers vast pay etc etc),  have become glued to the television, waiting eagerly for the next Team GB event.  I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, biting my nails down to the quick – This is what I have become!

Jess Ennis Gold Medal

But apology over, back to the Olympics …

The defining moment for me in Britain’s gold rush was seeing  Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in ruins having come second in the men’s lightweight double skulls.  What?! If that were me I would be jumping for joy, I’d be second best in the world at something  – especially when you consider Zac’s seat broke and the race had to be restarted.  I certainly wouldn’t have gone for it in fear of some horrific injury.  But nonetheless they were in pieces apologising for letting people down, which was certainly not the case.  These men showed their passion and desire and not least showed themselves to be true members of team GB.

Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter inconsolable having come second

If only I had that kind of passion for my history degree, it would make me the next David Starkey (or any other discreetly famous historian)!

These people are incredible; they have a passion for something and go for it.  It’s that single focus that makes them an inspiration.  Watching the reactions really sums it all up.  Jessica Ennis in tears receiving her gold medal, the mens heavy weight fours smiling uncontrollably, the ladies cycling team euphoric, Greg Rutherford flag clad, the rowing girls unable to speak and Mo Farrah doing the ‘Mo’.  That’s what it is all about for me; these are people achieving their life aim, what they have worked so hard for.

On the other hand, to see Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in pieces having come second and Rebbecca Adlington so disappointed with her 3rd place medal was nothing less than human.  This is a reality we are all going to have to face at some point during our lives; it’s just seems more extreme in sport.

Go Mo!

We are all going have gold moments.  But with gold inevitably comes silver or bronze or less.  That doesn’t mean stop trying, if anything those bronze, silver and medal-less moments are those from which you learn the most.  It is those instants that create the gold moments, which of course are the building blocks for success.   I will certainly be taking inspiration from these athletes.  I am no sports woman, I can assure you my passion in life is not going to become the 10,000m or rowing anytime soon!  However I am going to keep trying in what I am good at, find my passion and win my gold!

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1

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Inspire and be Inspired …

If my previous posts haven’t been clear enough I have been watching quite a bit of the Olympic games so far.  And even though sport isn’t usually my thing it seems to keep inspiring me.  I then came across this little gem online …

Be inspired

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“You Heard Me Bike, It’s Game On!”

A cold rainy day in London, not ideal for a three and a half hour cycle ride; nonetheless the ladies powered, or rather power-cycled through.  And Lizzie Armitstead came away with Britain’s first Olympic medal of London 2012 – and I have to say it may have inspired me to get on my bike (perhaps when its not pouring with rain though).

Lizzie Armitstead wins silver for Team GB

Watching it, it’s scary how close the cyclists get to each other.  And when you think it could all be over if they touch, you realise the amount of concentration and fearlessness of these cyclists.  Impressive stuff!  Now  I am most certainly not usually a sports fan, but even I can appreciate the amount of drive required to win (in case you couldn’t tell I think I’m getting excited).   Especially when you consider how absolutely exhausted you would be, having cycled tens of kilometres.

Now I’m not very sporty, so while in my mind having been inspired by today’s cycling, I am the next Olympic cycling champion, I know that that is probably not going to be the reality.  Especially when you consider that these athletes train practically every day, all day.  So don’t expect to see me competing internationally in the velodrome or as the front runner at the Tour de France anytime soon!

Just in the post because I love these little vintage shopper bikes – makes me think I’ve stepped back in time

Regardless, I remain inspired.  The bike is being wheeled out again (excuse the pun)fFor regular riding (which would of course tone the thighs – my biggest nemesis).  I have also been toying with the idea of a charity fundraising cycle ride.  I read about it months ago and thought to myself ‘that sounds cool’, never did anything about it, but after today I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to the idea.  The genesis Research Trust organises cycling trips all around the world and you can now register for Cycle Sri Lanka 2013.  I am definitely keen! It’ll be my very own Tour de France – An adventure and for a good cause. It’s being added to my bucket list!

Cycling for a good cause

http://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/events/cycle-srilanka

http://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/events

Right – game on! I’m now off to wipe the cobwebs off the bike …

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Olympics Hype, You’ve Got Me (Unconventionally)

Me, a non-sports fan, have suddenly found myself swept up in the London 2012 hype.  Why?  Well my feelings towards it prior to yesterday were fairly nonchalant: I didn’t really see why people were excited but equally didn’t understand the people moaning.  But yesterday I travelled to London for the launch party of the online TV channel I’ve been working on, it just so happened that the launch was at Marble Arch.  As I approached said location the torch was apparently going to be ‘travelling’ through there.  And for me it was not so much the seeing of the torch that got me thinking.  In fact I didn’t manage to catch a glimpse!  It was more the atmosphere, everyone around me was excited and talking about the games.  You couldn’t move for the people around you and I realised that this was something bringing everyone together.

London 2012 Tower Bridge

As I said I’m not in it for the sport. I’m not particularly riveted by the fact that Usain Bolt may run the 100 metres in 9 seconds (if I blink I might miss it), nor am excited by the thought of watching people on bikes cycle round really fast in circular dome.  But that aside while I don’t enjoy the sport itself, I do enjoy watching an athlete’s reaction upon winning and achieving their goal.  It’s not the physical feat that I get excited about, I’m not interested in the world records or medals themselves, but watching someone achieving what they have worked so hard for.  (And I don’t like to admit it) That is one of the things I do find inspiring about sport.

Some things will be unmissable.  I’m excited to see Oscar Pistorius run for the South African team.  He of course has been nicknamed the fastest man on no legs.  This is a man that has overcome massive adversity to fulfil his dreams.  I for one hope he wins!

And of course the other thing I’m excited about is the opening ceremony.  I felt the atmosphere in London yesterday and know that it will continue to be incredible.  I just want to see what London can do!

Oscar Pistorious aka Fastest Man on No Legs

Maybe this time Boris Johnson will succeed in waving the British flag properly: well we can always hope …

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