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  • Writer's pictureCrispieTales

This shorty is 40 and going to Worlds!

We all love a good sob story! Why is that? Because we see ourselves in each other’s struggles? Because we get a sense that we are not alone in our suffering, in our dreams and in the circumstances life throws at us? This isn’t meant to be a sob story! But it is my story! A brief one about what basketball has given me! I was chatting with my coach, we had had some thought provoking homework about resilience and emotional intelligence. I am fascinated by it all! Emotionally I have always been…well very emotional!! This can look like passion and fire and inspired action with a motivated and hungry competitive state! BUT it can also look like a crying heap on the floor! Exhaustion, overwhelm, over feeling, depression, a complete struggle. So, the happy medium in the middle right?! Or is it?!


I could go into why but for many years, almost as long as I can remember I have had IBS and digestive issues! My food has been a mess since being a teenager who controlled what she ate (only a misinformed one coming off the 90s weight loss industry who marketed fat as bad! But forgot to mention sugar!) eating all low fat foods; which actually meant a whole lot of carbohydrate and very simple sugars! My blood sugar was a mess. What is a major symptom of blood sugar imbalance? Mood swings! So anyway, long term blood sugar issues, with digestive disorders. It’s a wonder I could concentrate, study, play basketball 10 hours whilst at uni! I did play though! And one year we were undefeated in league, cup and trophy not only at University but also with my local league team, Solent Stars! Fast forward 14 years! I was missing basketball big time.


I managed to get back to playing and joined the second half of local league season and played a couple tournaments. One with a team in Venice, most of the girls who played with GB Maxis, a pathway for 35+ (and upwards!!!) year old players to represent GB! I wanted it, but something inside me knew I couldn’t sustain it. I had an achilles injury which nearly stopped me going to Venice. I went, and managed just about, but after that, I slowly came to realise, or now I look back I will reframe that as “Believe” my body didn’t like basketball. I could always look back at seasons where I was injured, or during the winter i would always be ill and tired and exhausted with low iron etc. So maybe I just wasn’t cut out for it.


I stopped! I pulled out of the next tournament and gave up! It wasn’t long before I couldn’t even go to the gym. I could barely be bothered to walk the dog, thankfully at this point he was old and didn’t care much, so I hadn’t noticed I had also needed the walks to be shorter! There were days I honestly was proud of myself for “bothering” to shower. If it could wait til tomorrow, often I let it. If i didn’t need to do it, I wouldn’t bother. If it was going to “cost” a lot of energy; well, I didn’t have it!


I had to rest when I wasn’t working, I would nap during the afternoon before going back to work, or I would struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I got through work. I had to! I have been training my whole life to act my way through anything! Always quick to say everything was ok. And I was fine. And put on the smile. In a way I was taught it from my mom. We even wrote it into her eulogy - “Behind my smile is a hurting heart. Behind my laugh I am falling apart. Look closely at me and you will see, the girl i am…isn’t me” a beautiful quote my dad found. It was all true. Apart from that, the smile was me! And it was my mom! But there was and is always another side.


As you can guess, life has thrown me some curve balls. I had lost my brother whilst at uni (possibly the same year or the one before or after the amazing basketball season!? I can’t tell you which, those few years blur into one!) I had lost my mom way too early to a progressive hereditary disease which thankfully I had later found out at age 30 when I felt ready to check that I do not carry it!). She was just 60 when she passed but the 20 years before that I lost her bit by bit every day!


I’d had injuries, heartbreak, the usual stuff!

Then 2 years ago, after the achilles refused to go, and I got really low, and struggled with waking and working and general energy, brain fog was a killer. I had no passion to learn, retain information, no drive to do anything. Autopilot was my savior and thank goodness I knew my trade well! But here I was, teaching others to breathe, to move well, to use mindfulness and meditation and manage their stress and general health and wellbeing, and I was, well….SICK!


I found out it was mold toxicity. The flat had had a long term leak, as of 2022 summer when it finally got fixed, it was over 3 years since the initial burst pipe!! It was a long term problem of damp and mold and not only was I unwell, I was trying to fight to get it all fixed and sorted through the longest insurance/maintenance claim ever! I used every spare ounce of energy to fight to get it sorted and sorted once and for all so as never to get this sick again. I was supported and helped back to health with a nutritionist friend who was studying at the time and had realised my symptoms were likely mold (not just the IBS and bloating I had started to get help for) and a medical herbalist who I had been working with for my belly. There were no magic pills. It also took energy, strength and effort, all of which was why I was seeking her help in the first place. But, each little thing I did to help, continually added and added until I started to see the shifts. It has taken me a long time, and along the way you realise, you never get “there” as other things come up or need tweaking. I literally said to a patient I was treating earlier today for his complex health issues that cause him pain and weakness, we are one big evolving healing machine! But when I realised I had my sanity back and a brain that worked, that I had some control over, and some will to find passion and fun in my life again; where did I look!? Basketball!!!!


It was my first love. I have retired and restarted my basketball career more times than I care to remember. This had felt like the biggest break I had had though. I had completely abandoned the sport, amongst many things! I had to! It was survival. BUt now I was interested in THRIVING, not surviving! I needed to get back to playing and the beginning of a new season was close. It was the summer of 2023 and I was ready! Well, nearly! That pesky achilles wasn’t quite right! It was still my excuse for not really doing hard core exercise again! But I didn’t want an excuse any more. My energy was back and I wanted to use it. I did everything in my power to now implement small steps to helping my achilles, actually looking after it like I would look after a patient’s achilles, and going over and above in fact!


No more excuses, and no more not doing what I loved. It was time to find my passion and I was so excited to play again. I asked to join a new ladies team as the one I had played with a couple years before had disbanded. And, to bring back old habits of the past, I joined a mens team! My husband and I were going to summer runs with some guys locally. They called themselves the seniors! And one day after we practiced with them, they told us they were going to enter the league this year and asked if I wanted to play. Maybe they were joking! Or maybe they only half meant it. I didn’t give them a chance to take it back! I said I would commit around the ladies as I had already said I would play for them.


I was about to play basketball, with my husband (of only 1.5yrs who about 1.5years before had never really played basketball ever!!!)


We got MATCHING names on our kit!!! Petrucha-Rourke. Him and Me! It was a little cheesy, but also a dream! I loved playing the first game and felt so proud that we could play together with the nicest group of guys. I mean, I have only ever played with the nicest guys, after all the assholes wouldn’t have asked would they?! ;)


The season started and I remembered the Maxi Basketball program and checked out their website. It was another reason for returning and getting back to basketball. I wanted to see if I could make the team. I had missed out by quitting before and wanted to see what happened if I went for it.


SO! I had already missed two training camps over the summer but was allowed to join the September camp which was still an open camp. After that it was invite only! Eeeeek.


It was fab. I mean I was in no way prepared physically! But luckily mentally my whole life is preparing me for it all the time! My major memory and stand out thought was, on day one of two, in hour 1 of 10; “OMG they are trying to kill us”


My body was not ready! But, it coped! I had done it. The next week wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I was walking fairly easily after tuesday! I wasn’t even that tired considering the journey to Nottingham and back and staying the night in a hotel.


Fast forward to the end of Jan 2023. I was turning 40! The last camp before World Pathway Selection was on my birthday weekend.


My husband and I got married in 2020! Don’t ask me how it actually happened that year but instead of the May it happened at the end of August and we didn’t really bother trying to plan a proper honeymoon! So, for my 40th we decided our honeymoon was long overdue and booked to go away on the 29th Jan. On the 28th we drove to Nottingham (Hubby was awesome and drove me up and spent the day as a tourist in the city!) and drove me home! The following morning we flew off to Egypt. The first morning we were up early in the outdoor gym and I was running along the beach (first actual run i had done in years! Inspired by basketball!) The team selection was being announced on the Monday night, the 30th.


We were 2 hours ahead being in egypt, so it was late ish, gone 10 when we had to go to reception to get wifi! And I logged onto my emails. I skimmed the first section to see if it said successful! And then I had to go back and read the paragraph before!!!


But the bit I read first and couldn’t quite believe was - “Therefore, I am delighted to inform you that you have been selected to represent Great Britain

Women 40+ at the World Maxibasketball Championship, in Mar del Plata Argentina from 25

August to 3 September 2023.”


So here we are, on the road to Mar Del Plata.


It hasn’t been easy, but it is and will be so worth it!


If you'd like to support me on my journey please do watch out for raffles and events where you can donate. You can buy items from my Etsy Store BodywavesBoutique which are all eco friendly and designed by me with love.


Or you can donate at https://gofund.me/2789d5b5


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