real life

dumplings and change

The face of someone who had been anticipating Melbourne dumplings for some years.

The face of someone who had been anticipating Melbourne dumplings for some years.

On our first night in Melbourne, we made a pilgrimage to my old favourite haunt from the days when I lived in this city - the Shanghai Dumpling House. An unremarkable building down Tattersalls Lane but within lurked the most glorious treasures imaginable.

From September 2005 to April 2007, you would find me there at least one night a week (and maybe one lunchtime too). Such was the lure of dumplings. And I loved the rough-and-ready atmosphere, completely devoid of pretension. It was a place I sought refuge in, for the stomach and the soul.  

At age 25, I felt so alive and powerful in this city, like anything was possible. I loved Melbourne and it loved me right back. While the city changed a lot in the years since I’d been gone, the dumpling house was like a little time portal, exactly the place I remembered. The menus, the tables, the staff, the prices, the urns of tea, the vats of chilli soy sauce, the strange 90s music they played...it was all still the same, every time I returned.

But on our return this time, it had changed. Nothing bad, the food was still yummy, but just lots of those little details were different, which means it is not the place 25 year old Phil frequented any more. That place only exists in my memory now. To not want to claim this space and ritual for myself anymore means acknowledging how much time has passed. While the dumplings were still good, I realised I was now just going there out of nostalgia, nothing more. And that was a surprisingly sad revelation. I guess we’ve all been there, revisiting somewhere that meant so much to us in years past, only to find it doesn’t quite stir the same emotions in us any more. But that’s good, it means we’ve changed. And change is life. 

So, on a friend’s recommendation, the following night we tried another dumpling and noodle house...which was a divinely delicious experience. If you’ve been to the Nong Tang Noodle House and had these chilli oil dumplings, you’ll understand.

nong-tang-chilli-oil-dumplings

So, it would seem that when the time is right, it’s surprisingly easy to move on, grateful for the memories but ready for something new. Especially if it involves chilli.

departed australia

Ten years ago, I took the biggest leap of faith of my life.

In the lead up, I was permanently anxious, trembling inside, terrified of it all going wrong.

But I chose to push through that discomfort, for underneath it all was a wise, calm voice that told me I simply had to do this.  And I trusted that voice.

I couldn't have told you why. There was only a knowing that I had to listen, I had to trust. I couldn't explain it. Sounds dramatic, I know - it felt dramatic at the time. I was reeling from the breakdown of my marriage the year before, feeling restless and shaky-footed in Melbourne, like a baby giraffe learning to walk. Every step towards this dream felt so freaking hard. 

But healing is hard. Change is hard. Finding out who you really are is hard. Moving away from the familiar and into the unknown, alone, is hard. 

It didn't feel particularly brave at the time - it felt exhilarating, terrifying and a little bit reckless. I didn't know what I'd find on the other side. 

But I had to depart so I could arrive.

Whatever your dream, I hope you find a way to face your fears and make it happen. It's so very, very worth it. 

 

even against the odds

I wrote a lot - and learned a lot - while I interned at Cosmopolitan UK nearly five years ago. Even though I did Fifty Shades-style workouts, made pasta like a pro and even got to see the Iceman in South Tyrol, this story is still the one I'm most proud of.

This year's London Marathon is on Sunday and I remember both my own race in 2011 and Anna and Vicky's incredible feat of running from Paris to London (eight marathons in eight days!) to celebrate life and raise awareness for a good cause with lots of fondness and pride. 

Read their story here and make sure you scroll down to the bottom to see the video interview with Vicky and Anna (I am the silent interviewer....crying silent tears!)

I really love revisiting this story every now and then. You really are stronger than you think. And even when you think it's the end, it's really not. There's always a way forward.

how I started running again

As most of you would know, I run for beer! :) 

As most of you would know, I run for beer! :) 

On Sunday I ran the RunThrough.co.uk Finsbury Park 10k race. It was -4 degrees, I ran with about four layers on, wasn't able to keep my no-toilet-break record, and stopped to walk twice, but I finished! And that was all I wanted.

It’s been a strange couple of years for me. Full of incredible highs, but equally full of lows. Stress, anxiety, grief, burnout…. they certainly make life less fun. They rob you of the ability to see the bigger picture. My wellbeing/self-care is always the first to suffer when I feel like that. But the desire to run, to keep up the kind of training I'd been doing, had completely left me, After years of running a half marathon every weekend, I was exhausted and needed a break.

That's not to say I've not gone running since then - but it's been jogs round the block when I could be bothered, really. But until Sunday I hadn't run a proper race since 2013. Sunday was my first 10k in all that time.

I started running again last year. Once a week, with a group at work. I was in a very apathetic place, very much with a can't-be-fucked-what's-the-point mindset, but figured once a week was better than nothing. Most weeks I managed between 4 and 5k on those runs. It wasn’t a marathon, but, as I say, better than nothing.

I spent so much of last year feeling utterly drained, unable to move forward. Spending such a long time in the company of your past takes a real toll on your sense of self, I discovered. I spent a lot of last year wondering who the hell I was any more. Things that used to be so easy for me were suddenly REALLY BIG THINGS. Like going to parties where I didn’t know anyone. Like writing. Like running. Those things used to excite me, give me energy. But now I NEEDED energy to do them. It was exhausting, frustrating and left me in a bit of a heap.

2017 is only 26 days old but I’ve already bought new running shoes, done two park runs, my standard run with my work running group is now 6k and now I’ve done my first 10k race in nearly 4 years.

Six years ago, almost to the day, I had just started training for the London marathon. I was doing 10ks before breakfast. So you might think it’s a bit disheartening to only be doing 5ks and 10ks considering how fit I used to be. But it’s really not. I feel so happy, so grateful, to be running again I don't care about the distances. I just want to run. It's part of who I am. Something I didn't realise until I wasn't doing it any more.

My life has been a series of ebbs and flows, ups and downs. You can’t have one without the other. The story I shared in The Latte Years keeps going. I’m not the same person who went through all those highs and lows in the book – I’m not even the same person who wrote it, a mere two years ago. I’m a work in progress, always. I’m (still) learning that when life gets a bit much, as it does for all of us, not to let go of the things that take a bit more effort than sitting on the couch with Netflix and crisps, because it's those things that truly light me up from the inside.

Returning to running - not just a jog here and there when I could be bothered - has been marvellous. Not just the joy of being physically active and pushing my body beyond its comfort zone, but I’m remembering how to be my own cheerleader. I’m remembering how important it is just to show up and give it a go - you don't have to be the best, just do YOUR best. How important it is to just run your own race and not worry about what other people are doing, how much further ahead they may or may not be. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my good health, for the ability to run at all. I have been reminded that negative thinking, in running and in life, is a luxury I simply cannot afford.

Most of all, thanks to running, I feel more like myself than I have felt in a very long time.

PS: I totally signed up for that 10k because of the medal. Isn't it beautiful?

philippamoorerunthroughuk10kfinsburyparkmedal

tell the truth about yourself

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”

So said Virginia Woolf, who was born 135 years ago today.

It got me thinking about my own work, the evolution of what became The Latte Years. I wanted it to be a novel, to take everything that had happened and make it not about me, have it be someone else's story. Also, I like making stuff up. In the three years where the only version of The Latte Years that existed was a novel (and lived on my laptop),  I had so much fun embellishing the facts. Things became far more dramatic, but also neater, than they had been in real time. 

Now, not only do I know in my bones (however reluctantly) that everything to do with The Latte Years - both the events described within it and everything that's happened since - had to happen the way it did, but Virginia Woolf's words above feel more relevant to me now than ever before. It's like a favourite teacher giving me a pat on the shoulder, as if to say, "you had to do this first. Now you can do the other thing."

The writer I used to be, before The Latte Years, used fiction as a place to hide rather than a place to let her imagination run wild. Looking back, memoir was the only way out, the only way that story could be told. Memoir was my rite of passage. I emerged from that year - 2015 - a changed person, and a completely different writer. To become the writer I am now, The Latte Years had to be written. As it is. The truth of my life, my story, my experiences, as I lived them and remembered them, nearly a decade on, alone in a study on the other side of the world from where most of it took place.

So now that I've told the truth about myself - as confronting as that was -  I'll be able to write other true things. Hemingway said, in one of my favourite books A Moveable Feast, "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know."

That's advice I intend to follow.