Over The Hill

Well, here I am at 53 looking at a whole new view on the world. I am unemployed.

I lost my job on the 7th March 2018. When a crisis comes, it’s good to have something to lean back into. I am an ultra marathon runner, I was a social worker for over 20 years, I know about resilience.

I have an amazing soul mate and 3 children aged 17 – 22 that I am immensely proud of. We are not rich financially but I am one of the most wealthy people you could meet when it comes to love.

This blog is intended to keep a record of the ups and downs of unemployed life and I aim to weave in my passion for the ups and downs of ultra marathon running too. My dream is to weave something out of the ashes of my lost job, and create a new pathway for myself. I want very much for this to be involved in running and enjoyment of the outdoors. The day I lost my job, I went dancing…..gathered with a bunch of like minded souls in a community centre in Heaton, Newcastle. My wife, Lynn was playing the music for everyone. Tears sprang to my eyes when she played, “I’m only human after all” (“Don’t put your blame on me”) by John Jones the Ragin Cajun.

The day after my sacking, I went to the job centre. Images of I, Daniel Blake came and went and apart from being met by a (friendly) security guard from G4S, it was pretty smooth and efficient. Got overwhelmed by messages of support. If the social workers I managed could write my references I would be fine. Went for a run along a very sunny beach with an ex work colleague, Great to be out and see the sea and chat possibilities. Feeling even and calm on the outside but my body has shut down internally. Feel numb and worried about money and shameful to put my family through this.

Lynn tagged me into a chance to take my clothes off for money on Friday. Never one to miss an opportunity. The chance to life model for a lovely mate at the university for Fine Art Students was the gig. Challenge accepted!

Friday 9th March and I stand naked before the world being drawn in various poses for 6 hours give or take. Learned about Fibonacci and number sequences were used to dictate how long I posed for. I was treated so well by our friend Tracey and the students and plenty of time to be clothed and drink tea too. Awesome day. Went dancing again on the Friday night. Summerhill bowling club was the venue for a weekend of David Mooney and Movement Medicine – a fellow teacher with Lynn and guesting up here in the frozen north for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We were David’s guests and had a beautiful evening of moving and letting the last few days wash through.

Saturday 10th March and I needed to run! 12 miles along the still snowy cycle path from Alnmouth to Amble and back. Got a half way stop at Mocha Mondo coffee pod but no Martin the proprietor to share my woes with. Great to keep this body in motion and try and unstick some of the negative thoughts and inhibitions. That night, got to socialise with David post class and catch up with Lynn and colleagues as they were curating the art show at the Alphabetti theatre. More dancing! Jelly from Bad Taste Cru was definitely moving better than me and with 4 on dance floor max, it was plain for all to see!

Mothers Day and massage present for the awesome momma of our three children. Probably had the first day of feeling sorry for myself today. Just tried to lean back into wise words once spoken to me about “setting out my stall” and being “a man with a plan”. (Thank you Ya’Acov Darling Khan).

The supportive messages are still pouring in and so appreciated. I have much to be grateful for. A connection from my past and someone I have known since they were a young woman offered me some gardening work on Monday. I had a day of chopping our finances as much as I could and clearing out direct debits and cancelling the odd policy, and then work came too.

Got to tell the job centre that I had taken my clothes off for cash last Friday, which was great and pretty well received. And that I had work coming this week. Felt less of a burden on the state, even though it’s my NI contributions that are going to give me my £73 per week.

More check ins from supportive friends by phone and some good news from a friend who has just heard his partner has been approved at panel to be an adopter.

Tuesday 13th March and a meeting with my friend John and his dog Elmo on Druridge beach. Very moving and deep connected work to mind map and physically map out in the sand where I am, where I am heading next and where I want to be. Like the most perfect life coaching you could have if you like the outdoors.

Had a nice reach out from a previous mentor in social work this evening. Said lots of lovely things about integrity and care. Gratitude for that and wrote 21 gratitudes in my book about that day. Something about the gratitude process is I understand it is not possible to be depressed whilst expressing gratitude. I had put a post in Facebook yesterday asking people to keep an eye out for work for me and I was blown away by the response.

Wednesday 14th March marks a week since job death. Travelled into Newcastle with Lynn and posed the question to Reed – could I work for you pending my appeal or would you not touch me with a barge pole. Barge pole, but very nice about it. Did a couple of rigging favours for Lynn’s company and we seriously debated about whether we could go and run Black Sail youth hostel for the season. We are due an adventure but not quite yet.

I started to ponder whether I could work in the Alps as a driver up until the UTMB but I don’t have the right licence bits. Went dancing again at Trewhitt Road. A week on and ended with a lie on the floor “dance” and feeling a bit disconnected.

Thursday 15th March saw cold and wetness but the most awesome day reconnecting with Raël and chatting, chatting chatting as we worked! Felt energised and useful! And she told me about Imposter Syndrome as I was sharing this dream of starting some coaching in the outdoors, ultra running and navigation, skills and possibly 1:1 coaching.

Friday 16th March meant packing for Hardmoors 55. To the uninitiated, this series of ultra races has to be sampled to be believed. There is a proper family feel about them and 12 of my 21 ultras have been Hardmoors ones from 31 miles to 112. Jon and Shirley Steele are the Race Directors and give superb attention to detail and make everyone welcome. My second ultra in 2012 was the 100k Hardmoors 60 and I’ve been coming back ever since. The North York Moors are the venue and this weekends race is from Helmsley to Guisborough.

Geeked over packing, over packed and with Lynn’s party in Grindleford cancelled due to bad weather, I journeyed in my own at 3:30 am Saturday morning.

Hardmoors 55 write up to follow. Still processing after the Beast from the East paid another visit and the BBC and local press had a field day misrepresenting what actually happened in the windy, horizontal snow lashed Moors!

12 Responses to “Over The Hill”

  1. Andrew Kirk Says:

    I think you have an untapped talent for writing…Ever considered writing a book about your running and journey in life…? I’d buy it, if only to see if I’m in there as a profound and beautiful influence on your life..😂
    Stay shiny side up mate, youre a winner…..xx Andy K

  2. David Compton Says:

    Book sounds a great idea … I would buy it .. as long as Iam in it …. I think a index or reference to the side might be a good idea … Another page in the great journal of life…

  3. John Says:

    Fantastic job Andy. Moving with honesty and clarity through the ups and downs. I can feel those wings unfurling! Looking forward to the reading the rest of the roller coaster. Xx

  4. Lyn Watson Says:

    Great Blog Andy – really enjoyed your honesty and musings and found it really helpful given my own dilemma! Interesting Imposter Syndrome reference – sounds familiar and must read more! Onwards and upwards lovely man xxxxx
    P.S you are most certainly not “over the hill” lol X

  5. Beryl Ashworth Says:

    Hey Andy you are some man that I am proud to know hopefully there is something good around the corner. Keep on writing I can feel energy in your words. You are a good man and nobody can take yhat away from you x

  6. Sharon Armstrong Says:

    Lovely read from a beautiful soul… a man that greeted me with an early morning smile and made my day seem better… Will miss you so much Andy xxxxx

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