the real me

keeping a promise

uts-creative-writing

I have wanted to do my PhD for a very long time. Apparently I even talked about it at school! In my last year of my BA I remember it being all-consuming, and being devastated when, convinced I was speeding merrily along that path, I reached a dead end after my Honours year. 

But life went on. As some things ended, I found new beginnings. I moved interstate, then overseas. This time last year, more than 15 years had passed since reaching that dead end. Tom and I were packing up our lives in London, our flights back to Australia booked, his visa safely approved. I was in a routine I’d been in for years, though admittedly at the tail end of it. The daily grind. Happy enough but wondering if this particular dream would ever see the light of day after the best part of two decades in a cupboard. 

If anyone had told me a year later I would be enrolled in my PhD and attending seminars at University of Technology Sydney, meeting my supervisor who is one of the most creative, motivating and intelligent women I’ve ever met, well....I would have wanted to believe it. But I still thought it was unlikely. 

I entered the UTS building last Thursday and thought I would explode with joy. I sat at tables with some of this country’s brightest minds, most respected historians and highly praised writers and thought.....I belong here. Not in an arrogant way, you understand. I am honoured and beyond grateful to be here, but I also know this is where I’m meant to be. These are my people. This is work I understand and want to do with all my heart.

But this isn’t happening because I was ready. I thought my PhD was still years away. I’m here and doing it because life decided I was ready. After all these years, the space suddenly opened and when it did, I didn’t question it. With encouragement from some wonderful people, I jumped. 

This feels like the biggest journey of my life. Bigger than the move to Melbourne or London, bigger than the quest to get fit and healthy, bigger than the marathon. This is the keeping of a promise to my younger self, my most essential self. I want to look back on my life and know that, despite taking the scenic route, I did not fail her. 

So if you’re reading this, wondering if your own dream - the biggest dream of your true, most authentic self - will ever happen, please take heart.

Trust yourself and the timing of life. 

And never, ever give up. 

at first i was afraid, i was petrified

The great Gloria Gaynor ( image source )

The great Gloria Gaynor (image source)

It was November 2015, and The Latte Years had just gone to print. Contrary to what I had expected, that moment and the days and weeks that followed it, leading up to publication, were not full of excitement - though, naturally, I was excited too - but they were also full of dread, dread that seeped into my bones.

My anxiety went into overdrive and it was exhausting. I had permanent nausea for a month, so much so I bought a pregnancy test to make sure it wasn't for some other reason! I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. I felt so frightened and exposed. The book had gone to print. I couldn't change my mind now. I had kept my shield up for so many years and finally, it had been put down. The moment I'd been waiting for, to have my say, at last, was here and I felt too frightened and too weak to see it through. 

In the midst of this, Tom took me to see Jason Donovan in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the musical in Wimbledon.

They sing Gloria Gaynor's disco classic ‘I Will Survive’ quite a few times during the show.

About five months after my first husband and I broke up, I went to a seventies disco party where there was a karaoke machine. This felt like the perfect song choice for me at the time, and I meant every word of it as I sang it. Because Glenn really did think I was the one who had missed out - that I would indeed crumble without him. And I knew that was not the case at all. 

Sitting in that theatre in Wimbledon nearly ten years later, Tom's hand in mine, feeling homesick, terrified and proud all at once, hearing "I Will Survive" again reminded me of who I was in 2006, a 25-year-old who was discovering her own strength but still so afraid of the man who had hurt her, who felt she had to stay silent and not tell him the truth or stand up for herself because she was so deeply afraid he would destroy her and never set her free if she did.

I wrote The Latte Years for that 25-year-old girl. And for every woman who has had to wait until she felt safe before she could tell the truth.

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