Flossie Cheeks Will Rule The World!!!

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Well, it’s been a couple of weeks now and I’ve only just got round to writing about my amazing experience.  That’s very bad of me but, anyway, here it is now – so read on…..

Sometime last year, October I think, someone I knew from burlesque classes told me she was organising a burlesque evening to raise money for the local stroke unit.  She had had a stroke herself ten years ago, at the very young age of 24 and she wanted to give back something to the people and the unit that had been so good to her.  I didn’t know Anna that well at that time, I had helped out with lifts sometimes to and from class but that was about it but I wanted to help her.  It sounded like a colossal feat she was trying to pull off, with no experience of putting anything like this on before.  Neither had I but I wanted to help so I offered.  I thought maybe she would need help with phone calls, or fundraising or on the night, I don’t know really.  What I was not expecting was for her to ask me to perform a dance with her on the night!!!

And so began the adventure…..

Anna had a brilliant idea for a routine that involved her being in a wheelchair and being persuaded to get up and dance by her nurse, a sort of ‘healing’ process if you will.  I was to be the naughty nurse.  Yup, I thought. I can do that. He he.

Together we planned the costumes – Anna making the dresses with the help of a dressmaker friend (on account of her only having the use of one arm!) and me sewing all the fiddly bits on and making our bras and the rest of it.  I had to learn how to insert foam cups inside the dresses to keep them up, I made a nurses apron and covered our bras in sparkle and satin.  I sewed glittery things and I attached tassels to knickers.  It was great!  It felt like all my evenings were spent either sewing or practising our dance.

We choreographed the dance ourselves and had such a laugh along the way, coming up with ideas and rehearsing hard.  We booked  a studio and we filmed ourselves dancing.  We texted constantly, we watched clips of burlesque performers on YouTube.

As time went on it got more stressful for Anna who was negotiating with people, organising the event, from liaising with the venue and compere, sorting out the sounds, finding someone to do the table decorations, getting raffle prizes, selling tickets and generally being thrown in at the deep end.  Harder for her than some with the added problems her stroke had left her with.  Me, I just kept sewing and making Anna laugh.  That seemed to be my job, not a bad one I thought.

And then it was the evening of the event.  We had everything planned to the last detail.  Anna wanted it to be a surprise.  The rest of the evening was full of professional acts, all amazing and gorgeous or funny and quirky but all professional. Anna and I were to come on right at the end with an introduction from Sadie, the compere.  Nobody was to know, except a few who needed to be in on it.

And so we did it.



We performed to 200 people.



And it was AMAZING.  The support from everyone was fantastic, and we felt like stars.  I don’t think either of us were under any illusions that we were Dita but that was never the plan.  We were two amateurs, with various physical limitations between us, performing a comedy burlesque routine and we pulled it off!

Along the way, I learned to make costumes and that it isn’t so easy to make something that can be whipped off just at the right moment, particularly when one of you only has the use of one arm, I learned to put into practice all the tips and skills i have found out from the various classes and workshops I’ve attended as part of the Burlesque Jems, and I found out a bit about putting on an event.  Most of all though….I found a new friend.  Anna and I hit it off from day one and we had such fun and so many laughs doing this.  I don’t suppose we would have become such friends if it wasn’t for this and it really was one of the best parts of it all for me.  Anna is an inspiration.  She is strong and determined and she doesn’t let her disabilities hold her back. Those of you who know me, know I have a positive attitude to life and Anna is one of those people too.


Obviously, we want to do it all again now so…..


And for those of you who haven’t seen us, here is the link:



What I Love #1


I think I can include this next post under the LOVE heading.  It is, after all, something I love…..It could have fitted in nicely with last month’s theme too though, of motivation.  But I wasn’t actually doing it then so it will be fine here…..

What am I on about?


Those people who know me well may have had to read that a couple of times to make sure they hadn’t misread it.   You didn’t. I said EXERCISE.  I love EXERCISE.

For years, I have found it hard to keep myself motivated to do anything physically taxing.  I have been known to park as near as possible to anywhere, to avoid walking and I positively hated the gym.

But, something happened last month. I saw the light.  And now, I am a keep fit convert.  

A Born Again Exerciser.

I’ve had phases of doing different types of exercise, it’s true.  I enjoy badminton and I don’t mind swimming (apart from the getting changed and the getting in and out of the pool. Oh, and the swimming). But recently, something has changed.

I took up a new hobby, burlesque dancing.  I’ve only been twice but I’ve found my ‘thing’.  I love it because, not only do you prance around in a provocative way, looking alluring and sexy (in my head, in my head, ok??) but you also get to wear frou frou outfits, with feathers and lace and SPARKLY bits.  What could be more fun??  I don’t really care about the dancing bit, I just LOVE the attire!  But the dancing is the exercise.  So I’ve cracked it.

However, the more surprising thing, for me, is that I LOVE the gym now.  Well, maybe not the gym exactly, but my personal training sessions.  This love of training was sparked by a television series that is on currently, Fat Fighters (not Fat Losers as I previously wrote. Oops!).  Prior to this, I paid to have a trainer but I dreaded going.  Watching the programme, I was suddenly inspired.  And I texted my trainer to sign up again.  I now go religiously every Saturday morning, a time that suits me.  I realised that planning to go after work was the reason I hated it.  It’s too late for me and the traffic meant I was always stressing about making it in time.  I now get to have a little lie in on a Saturday before going to the gym and waking myself up properly.  It’s great!

But the main point of this post really is that I have a totally different attitude towards exercise.  Instead of being something I HAVE to do to be healthy or lose weight, it is something I do because I WANT to….

I love that

(That’s not actually me in the cocktail glass.  But it could be, one day!)

I Love my Motivation!


Well, we are almost at the end of January.  My initial resolve was to take part in the 365 Project and post on the same theme for a whole year.  I chose motivation but quickly realised that I’d bore myself, let alone my readers, if I posted up about that for a WHOLE YEAR!!  So, I decided to adapt the idea and post on the same topic for a month.  I also allowed myself not to post every day.  I pretty much abandoned the 365 Project in fact!

Anyway, I have, more or less, posted motivationally themed stuff throughout January, I think, and I intend to end with a summary of how my own motivation has helped me to keep up my fitness training and started all the other things I said I would do.

Or rather, that WAS the intent

Unfortunately, I’ve just returned from a slap up meal of Tapas with copious amounts of wine and I really feel a bit of a fraud talking about how determined I am to eat healthily and keep fit.

Although I did go to a personal training session at the gym this morning. AND I have been walking regularly. AND…and this is the bestest AND….I have joined a burlesque dancing class.  So far, I’ve only been to the taster session but I’ve signed up for the full six weeks.  It’s so much fun!   The challenge for me is how to look alluring whilst trying to follow the steps.  Not quite there yet but I’m hopeful!  Anyway, I highly recommend it as a fun way to exercise.

And, joking apart, I am really enjoying my exercise, whatever form it takes.

The Italian classes are great fun too, not too hard but I’m learning new stuff.  It’s fun doing the class with KD who has a fantastic accent and we practise our new words during the week so I fully expect to be fluent by the end of the course (well, I hope to be able to order wine and food at least. Or just the wine even….).

As for the other projects I had intended to pick up on, well, the photography is slow. The weather has been poor and I have yet to find the subject that inspires me….but I will. I am a frustrated photographer.

I have not done any more drawing and I have totally forgotten about the needlecraft apart from a brief spell (one evening) where I got out the knitting needles for half hour.

Still, it’s only January.  Eleven more months to achieve my goals!

I have decided to make my theme for February ‘Love’.


Not sure what I’ll post yet but isn’t that the beauty of it all?

Ciao Belle.


Fuzzy Eyes


I am having trouble focusing this morning.  I mean,literally, focusing.  Everything is a little bit blurry.   I sometimes find that my eyes take a bit longer to wake up than the rest of me but this is much worse than usual.  I have cleaned my reading glasses at least three times in an effort to clear my vision but to no avail.

I can only surmise, therefore, that the problem lies with my sight.

I have fuzzy eyes…..

I found the solution!


Last year, around the beginning of November I think it was, I had some sort of ‘awakening’.  I have always struggled with exercise and I had reached the point where I just didn’t know how I was going to stick at anything.  I was a member of the gym, I had a personal trainer and I still hated it and I still made excuses not to go.

Being in the business of motivating others I felt a complete failure, not being able to motivate myself to do something I knew would be good for me.

About this time I went on some training.  Solution-focussed brief therapy training. I blogged about it at the time –  solution-focussed fitness plan 

I volunteered to be the ‘dummy client’ and I had to bring something for the trainer to work on, to demonstrate the technique.   I blogged about my first day in this previous post but there was a second….and a third.

Something clicked after that second day.  I realised that I had been approaching it all wrong.  I didn’t like the gym and it wasn’t working as I kept cancelling my training sessions.  So I knew what I didn’t like but I had no idea on what to do about it.   It was decided in this training/therapy session that I would try out some other types of exercise until I found one I liked.  I agreed to go for a bike ride and to walk after work at least twice a week between this session and the final one.  I had to come back to the third day, two weeks later,  with a report of my progress. 

The training focussed on when I had enjoyed exercise.  I realised I liked exercise more if I had company. So, with the help of KD, I started my plan that weekend.  We went on an exhilarating bike ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Every night that week, even though it was dark, we (and the dog) went for a walk.  A brisk walk. In fact it was a little TOO brisk for my liking at first but I had promised to try things out so I stuck at it.  After only three nights, I had started to enjoy it and my pace quickened.

I kept up the walking with KD almost every evening after that, until just before Christmas, mainly because of social commitments.

The most surprising thing (to me) was that I started to enjoy going to the gym.  I had 5 sessions left with the personal trainer.  We agreed I would only go once a week, rather than book two sessions in which I dreaded and that I would go on Saturday mornings, rather than after work.  This really worked.  I am most definitely a morning exerciser!  By the time I got to my last session, just before Christmas, I was almost sad that they had finished.   In fact, I will probably book some more in soon….

After three weeks, I had lost weight but, much more importantly, I felt so much fitter.  My blood pressure came right down and I felt energised.

Christmas and New Year have caused me to slip back slightly.  I haven’t done any exercise, apart from one walk and I’ve been eating all the wrong stuff.  But I still feel motivated and I know I will get back to where I was.  I have decided to start again properly on Monday, since we are having another Christmas Day on Saturday with plenty of food and drink….

I am now, obviously, a HUGE advocate of solution-focussed therapy!  If you focus on what works, rather than what doesn’t, you are going to succeed.  Trust me – it works!!

How to give up smoking


This is the time of year when, traditionally, New Year Resolutions are made.

I myself have had many New Year Resolutions, ranging from losing weight to doing something I have never done before.

Some people say it is silly to have a New Year resolution – that if you want to do something you should be able to do it anytime, not wait for the New Year.  I think this argument is particularly applied to smoking – usually by smokers.  In a way that is right.  If you want to do something, you’ll do it but it does actually help to have a plan.  New Year resolutions are plans.

I’m going to talk you through how to give up smoking in this post.  This isn’t the only way to do it but it is a way I think works for a lot of people and it is probably one of the most common resolutions that are made (and broken) at this time of year.

First of all you need to ask yourself, how much do I want to do this? And how much do I want to do it NOW?  Might seem a bit silly because of course you want to do it – but how much?  If you are doing it because everyone is nagging you to stop or because you know it isn’t good for you but you still enjoy it really, well, your motivation isn’t that high.  And that is going to make it more difficult for you to stop.

So, the first step is to really think about how much you want to do it.  Think of all the reasons you want to stop and all the reasons you might not…..

Often, writing this down can be a very powerful way of seeing just how much you want to do something.  The list of reasons to stop will hopefully be longer than the list to continue!

 Next, decide on a plan.  Personally, I think it is pretty difficult to say you are NEVER going to do something again for the rest of your life.  Or at least, it is difficult to imagine this is how it will be.  So, short-term goals are better – with reviews.  A lot of people decide they are going to completely give up on a certain day.  This is all very well but it can make life hell for you and those around you!   There are aids to help with the nicotine withdrawal but that will be over in five days anyway.  The psychological addiction lasts much longer……

So, why not decide you will cut down at first?  This works for a number of reasons.   The idea that you can still have a cigarette at some point helps because you know you only have to go so long without.  Decide which cigarette is the most difficult one of the day to cut out and which might be the one you can most easily drop.  Then, go for dropping the easiest one.   Maybe it is the one after a meal or your bedtime cigarette?  Just cutting out that one ritual will put you in control.  Do this for a few days and then see how it feels.  You will not have failed because your goal was not to stop smoking at this point, just to cut out one important cigarette.  So, now you know you CAN do it…move on to the next step.  This might be delaying your morning ciggie.  Maybe, instead of reaching for the fags as soon as your eyes open, you set yourself the goal of having a shower and THEN having your reward.  Whatever works for you.  It might seem like a small thing but it means you have taken back a bit more control of your smoking addiction.

Once you have managed these tasks, even if it takes a couple of weeks, you can successfully say you have achieved your preliminary goal – to make a change to your smoking habit.

The next step will also be relatively small compared to the overall goal of stopping but if you continue in this way, taking it a day or a week at a time, you are more likely to succeed. The idea is to increase the times you delay your cigarette or to cut out another regular smoke, such as the one after meals or even the one you have in the morning (possibly the most difficult one of all?).  Distract yourself, do something, anything to take your mind off it.  Give yourself a time limit, say half hour.  Resist the urge to smoke for this amount of time and then you can have one.  Or, you can delay for another half hour….as many times as you can do it.  Again, you haven’t failed if you just manage the first half hour, you have controlled your urge until you wanted to give in to it.  Simple but effective.   It’s just a mindset.

The beauty of this plan is that you don’t set yourself up to fail so easily.  If you don’t manage to stick to the plan it is only a three or four-day plan, as opposed to a lifetime.  You can just go back three days and start again.  You are only three days behind and you can catch up again.  There is no failure, just review. 

If you found it difficult or impossible to achieve your short-term goals, look at why this might be.  And also, don’t forget to really look hard at the times you did manage to delay smoking or cut one out.  What made it work for you?  If you know, you can make it happen again.

This is a very wordy blog I know.  I promise they won’t all be like this.  And it only glosses the surface of motivating yourself to stop smoking really.  It is not the definitive text on the subject! It is just my take on it, based on my work and on the evidence based research that is out there.   Also, I don’t talk about how to continue with your not smoking plan….maybe I will revisit this in a few weeks with stage 2 of the plan!

Tomorrow I promise to write a very short blog about something really fascinating! (“Shit!! No pressure then, eh, Flossie??!!”)

Solution focused fitness plan


Today I was on day one of a training course.  It was a therapy course so we naturally had to do some role plays.  The trainer asked for a volunteer with a real life problem that he could interview and demonstrate the model we were being taught (Solution Focused Brief therapy, if you are interested!)

Anyway, I didn’t volunteer but, as always seems to happen, I did end up being volunteered by the others.  I don’t really mind.  I am not naturally shy (believe it or not!) and I did have a problem I needed to work through.  So it was fine

My chosen issue was my difficulty in maintaining my fitness and health.  I go to the gym for a couple of weeks and my motivation drains away and I cancel my personal trainer and slip back into my sedentary ways again.  It’s an ongoing problem, and I wanted to discuss it with someone to find a solution

So this was the ideal opportunity

The conclusion was that I actually HATE the gym.   This is true.   Even with a personal trainer I can’t stick at it for any length of time

Having thought it all through with the trainer AND the group, who all became very personally involved with my issue (I have a way of doing that), the class was divided

Half thought I should stick it out for a bit longer and the other half said why do something you really detest so much?

When I go to the course tomorrow, they’ll be eagerly waiting to hear if I went ahead and did the training or not

I didn’t go

I feel so much better now

In a totally unhealthy way


Boot camp – day two


I have just returned from the second boot camp session.  Well, for me anyway. 

I was supposed to go on Friday but, since I still had difficulty walking upstairs I felt it wise to leave it another day or so before punishing myself again.

That extra day or so made all the difference.  This morning I woke up early, pulled on my gear and drove up the road for the hour of training

The trainer had a word with me about pacing myself and gave me some low impact exercises to do while the others were doing star jumps and BURPEES

I didn’t know what burpees were before this, I thought they were just the result of eating your dinner too fast! 

As it turns out, they are hideous exercises but, like I said, he told me to leave those for today.

I managed to last the whole hour, working at my own pace, today.  I feel very pleased with myself!

The best thing though, is that now, an hour later, I actually feel GREAT

I can feel I’ve done some exercise but I feel energised, not ill, like I did on Thursday!

I think I’ve cracked it!

Change isn’t always good


Last night was one of those nights.  One of those nights where you go to bed tired but wake up in the small hours wide awake.    For me, lately, 1.50 a.m. seems to be the significant wake up time.

Two hours of half sleep and fidgeting and I finally drifted off again.  This is happening a lot these days.  I blame my hormones.  I am in the midst of the menopause.

Before it started, I must admit that I thought women who went on about how awful it was were a little melodramatic.  Come on, I thought, it’s just like PMT only more erratic, surely?  Well, I got THAT wrong, didn’t I?

The menopause can consume you if you let it.  I won’t let it but it has a damn good try every now and then.  Hot flushes that wake you hourly, the insomnia that seems to kick in at any time, usually when you HAVE to be up early or have a very long day ahead of you, the feeling that everyone around you hates you (yes, paranoia is a symptom of the menopause) and the general tiredness that can only be compared to the feeling of being drugged.  This is not an exhaustive list either, it is just the way I experience it.

I think the worst bit is that you have no way of knowing when it’s coming or how long it will last.  It isn’t present ALL the time thankfully but, when it happens, it’s a nightmare.  I am not alone in this experience, I know.

However, some research into the symptoms, and how they are experienced by women worldwide, shows some interesting differences.  In Japan, for example, the most reported symptoms are headache and pain in the shoulders.   They do not seem to experience the other symptom I have described above, yet these are prevalent in Western society.  A possible explanation is the diet, rich in soya protein.  Here, we eat very little soya protein, generally, and too much processed food.

In some cultures, there are no physical symptoms at all and there are various possible explanations for this, aside from the dietary aspect.  In some cultures, women are perceived as unclean when they are menstruating and the menopause provides a welcome sign that they are no longer outcasts at certain times of the month.   The menopause signals the end of the reproductive phase of a woman’s life and this can be a blessing in some places where childbirth carries a high risk of mortality or where it takes women away from being a useful member of the labour force.  This positive connotation is thought to affect the experience of the menopause.

Here in the west, we see the menopause differently.  It announces that we are getting old and that we are no longer able to compete with younger, fertile women.  It means sagging skin, osteoporosis, lack of sex drive.   Here, the social construct is against the menopause.   It provides one explanation of why women in more developed countries find it so difficult to cope with and, possibly, experience it in a less than positive way.

Exercise is also known to help with symptoms and it is probably fair to say that we are not as healthy as we should be here in the UK (I am using the UK  as an example purely because this is where I live but this is just as true of the USA and many other countries).   A woman living in a small tribal village, with no car and no job that involves sitting in front of a computer all day, is not going to have to worry about fitting in time to go to th gym – indeed, her daily activities probably amount to more exercise than I get in a month!

Obviously, I am generalising.  There will be women reading this who lead a very healthy lifestyle and who do not experience major problems with the menopause (or they have taken the cheat’s option, like me, and opted for HRT!).

Clearly, there are a lot of factors that influence how we experience this time in our life, I haven’t even touched on genetics, but I think it’s fair to say we CAN help ourselves to a certain extent. 

So why don’t I??