I headed down the M6, from my hometown of Manchester around 15 years ago. Like most people who land in the big smoke for 5 years, I played the 6 month renting merry go round of South West London and finally put down roots ten minutes from the lovely leafy Thames in Surrey. I absolutely love where I live. I am surrounded by beautiful historic places, the Thames flows freely and the coffee and cake are plentiful! However if I wanted a quick cup of tea, or a chat about the weather or my latest dating shenanigans, with my favourite people, it was a military operation that needed a trek across country and to be planned months in advance. In a world where everyone is working hard; traffic means 14 miles in 2 hours and family time is scare anything being quick and spontaneous is impossible, that was until recently!
At the core of operation banish slug is connection and community. Becoming PART of where I live, reaching out, giving back. Making new friends and feeling like I belong.
If you have looked at my important stuff there are key things that I set out to do. One was give random strangers compliments to raise a smile, I have and it’s brilliant. I dare you to do it tomorrow. Go on; tell someone you like there coat, eyes, bag- whatever. You will become part of the story of their day and like me, may even get a cup of coffee out of it! The least it will do is create a smile and a brief connection.
Another thing I set out to do was join a local club. This one wasn’t as easy as telling someone who I would never see again, that their umbrella rocked. This meant making a commitment to be there, regularly, whatever else came up. It also meant introducing myself to new people, as well as learning something new. What if they weren’t very friendly? What if they were all brilliant and didn’t want me on their team? What if they all ignored me when I got there? A lot of what if’s!!
I’m am delighted to say NONE of those what if’s came true! After a bit of internet surfing I stumbled across Dodgefit. (@dodgefitsession) I had no idea what this was and never played Dodgeball at school. The nearest I’d ever got was the movie with Ben Stiller! No matter, it was in walking distance of my house (Mole Hall, Molesey) and timing wise, 11:30am, was perfect. Enough time to have a big sleep and also be finished and have most of the day left. So 4 weeks ago today I walked through the red front doors and introduced myself as the new girl. Everyone was lovely, chatty, friendly and inclusive. They had all been playing a while but still made time for me to understand the rules and no one laughed when I nearly did the splits!
For those of you, like me, have never heard of it. You basically run around a hall for a hour having small yellow balls thrown at you by the opposing team, which you need to, the clue is in the title- DODGE. If you get hit you then have a forfeit- 5 star jumps or leaping squats. If Angus (our energetic Dodgefit dynamo) is feeling particularly hard core we have to run round the hall before we can re join our team! There are other variations on a theme but all include squealing; jumping; running; shouting; clapping, getting very sweaty and most of all laughing!
It’s a good work out. You are taking part in your very own version of Mike Reid’s runaround with added balls!
It was brand new and it is brilliant. With my hand on my heart I can say I love it. I look forward to it and I’m feel really lucky to be making friends with some great people both young and old.
If like me you walk out of your house and know no one to stop and say hi to, then think about what is on your door step. What you can become a part of.
Who knows it might just change your life!