Start-Struggle-Finish

This is an extract I read today from Thomas Plummer, which inspired me to write this post:

“When we fail to commit, we set up failure in advance as a built in excuse to avoid success. Failure to commit your soul to anything guarantees you will fail, but then you can tell everyone you tried and it wasn’t your fault it didn’t work…..Failing to commit and failing is so much easier than going all in with every single ounce of your talent and being, and that is just too much for too many people.”

We can’t do everything and do it well. I am constantly trying to figure out a balance between my love of running and bodybuilding, because it is not wise for me to attempt both simultaneously. There are many other examples I could list and I know for most of you, there is a constant stream of unfinished projects cluttering your lives and this only leads to frustration. We need to realize we have limitations and should not be afraid to face them. However, this is not an excuse to backslide when we cannot obtain instant success.

At the start of a new year, there is always a lot of heightened energy as we make our resolutions but when the newness wears off and the emotions fade, we often quit and walk away. Before you commit to something you need to count the cost and know from the beginning there will be many hard times to struggle through, other than the exciting ones.

In our society it is easy to get addicted to the trying to do too much. I have been guilty of this many times and as my to-do list grew, so did my stress. “When we fail to commit, we set up failure in advance as a built in excuse to avoid success.” It is easier to be lukewarm about our commitments and then when we don’t follow through to the end, we are full of excuses. What are you willing to struggle for? I want to be someone who refuses to start what I cannot finish. I want to choose my struggle wisely and see it through to the end.

“In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)

All The World’s A Stage

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“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” (W. Barclay)

I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling yesterday and am not sure today is any different. However, I want to write something, even if this is simply for me (to pop up as a ‘Facebook memory’ this time next year!) and share how honoured I was to place in the top 10 at the NABBA National Championships this weekend and then unexpectedly receive an invitation to the W.F.F World Championships next month too!

When I was presented with the invite on stage, I could feel my lip start to quiver and my eyes were burning as I desperately tried to hold back the tears. (I didn’t do a very good job, as many people commented on my reaction afterwards, which was a little embarrassing.) The expression of such raw emotion wasn’t only because I now have the privilege of representing my country next month (which still doesn’t feel real), but also because of what it means to me, every time I stand on stage:

To rise above feelings of insecurity, fear of rejection and inadequacy; to work hard for months and believe in myself no matter what others say. To not compare myself to others and know I am not a failure because I am not perfect (all these things I am still working on, but it’s getting better!) These are lessons we can all apply to everyday life. Let God meet you where you are and use you in the most amazing way. Allow Him to direct your steps (even if it means those steps are done in high heels on a stage!)

I may never be a top contender in this bodybuilding field (especially if I keep returning to my other passion, running, during the off season!) but I am using what I have to the best of my ability, I enjoy it and I believe this path was part of the plan for my life all along. Every one of us experiences hardships and we have to keep fighting to not let those circumstances smother us or dictate who we become.

“God is always working to make His children aware of a dream that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream, a new dream that when realized will release a new song, sung with tears, till God wipes them away and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts.” (Larry Crabb)

Stuck In The Mud

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” (Vincent Van Gogh)

Over the last few weeks, I have felt myself backsliding in all areas of my life: physically (which has been humbling, especially after last year’s achievements on stage); emotionally (triggered by the physical changes, as well as turning 35, with motherhood still eluding me and fighting hard not to sink into a pity pit) and spiritually (neglecting to remember God is there to lean on, I don’t have to do it alone and even though our situations themselves may not be good, He will bring good out of them).

It is easy to be excited about our goals, a new relationship or venture, when we are at the beginning of the journey. However, it is that middle bit where we encounter overwhelming obstacles, when the emotion has worn off and all we see is hard work! It is then that we need to press through, cross the finish line and never give up on what’s important to us. Difficulties are unavoidable and may lead you astray, but if you are determined, you can overcome them. We all have weaknesses, and I have been very discouraged by mine recently, but this isn’t a reason to give up.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” (Thomas Edison)

This week I have decided to make some changes, as I refuse to walk around lethargic, lacking energy and passion to enjoy my life. I am fighting back to win this battle and most importantly gain control over my thoughts once more. I realize that I have been sinking but it is never too late to get back up and begin again. I am not proud about how I have let myself slip, and I am not exactly sure how I will do it, but I will find a way. With God there is always a way! Progress is progress, however small, so I am taking it one day at a time, reaching deep down to find the courage to press past fear, mistakes and other challenges that life brings.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” (Harriet Beecher Stowe)

Goals, Guts and Glory

I wrote down this heading in my notebook (over a week ago) and that is as far as I got! I was stuck. How could I start off my blog for the year, hoping to write about goals and resolutions, when I am still confused about my own plans for 2015? Instead of waiting for the perfect time, when I have it all figured out (because that will never happen), I think small steps are better than no steps, so here I am at last, sharing a few thoughts with you.

I almost considered having no goals for this year, to rather ‘go with the flow’ and relax a little more, especially after a bumper 2014. However, goals help me to endure and give me hope to keep moving forward, so I will definitely be setting a few. I have come to realize that a goal does not have to be big to motivate you. Sometimes we are so extreme that our goals soon appear unattainable and we give up on them. Small goals are important too, because they encourage us to carry on.

I have had a two month break, after competing last year, and I am unsure whether I should work towards stepping on the stage again or do I return to my other passion, running, and perhaps attempt the Comrades Marathon? These are both huge goals. When I think about how much work it will take to achieve either of them, I am tempted to get discouraged and not do either. It has caused much frustration and as a result I am getting nowhere.

We mustn’t forget that getting to the finish line of any goal is not achieved in one giant leap. It takes many small steps. With that in mind, I am going to make daily changes to become both mentally and physically stronger, ensuring that no matter which sport I choose to pursue, I consistently enjoy it and make my goal improvement, while focusing on being the very best that I can be. I also need to remember to compare myself to my potential, instead of comparing myself to others. I think that’s a good place to start!

If you are tired of where you are right now, make the necessary steps to start changing. Having no goals is essentially deciding to stay the same. Transformations of any kind do not happen overnight. You are a work in progress that will continue your entire life. You are under construction, and God is not finished yet!

Eleven (1+1=2)

“We’re all from our own planets.
That’s why we’re all different.
That’s what makes life interesting.” (Cary Grant – The Bishop’s Wife)

A few years ago, I put together a little book entitled ‘Whole Pieces’. It is a compilation of some of the emails, journal entries and poems I wrote during the first five years of our infertility journey. In honour of our wedding anniversary tomorrow, I thought it would be a nice idea to share some extracts from my book with you:

“Bruce, my husband and partner for life. This is a tribute to you and our little ones in heaven too. We have been through this TOGETHER and as painful as it has been, we still manage to smile and haven’t lost our passion for life, God and each other. I love you so much!”

Sometimes, waiting for God’s final plans to be revealed for my life, hoping this will include children, yet uncertain of the outcome or timing, is very hard. But with a decade behind me now, I have reached a peace that can only come from Him. I don’t know if I will ever be able to join the club of “motherhood” but I do get a joy out of being able to be a wife, a role I treasure, value and am proud of.

“Life may not be the way we want it to be right now but there are reasons why. As long as we can remain an example for others and hold on to each other we will make it. Even if we don’t have children, it doesn’t matter when I have you to share my life with! Love from the husband!”

When Bruce wrote those words, I knew of course that he loved me, but the infertility journey made me realize just how much! Children are a gift and wonderful blessing, but regardless, children don’t make a marriage and we continue to give our best effort to our relationship and get the fullest blessing from it.

“A few of you have been asking how things are going and I have battled a little to keep everyone informed, as it is a new experience for me to share in this way, after being private for so long. Not much has happened over the last two months. I have worked through a process of healing, trying to reach a place of closure and then tried to figure out if I am ready to do this one more time. I had to give my body a two month break to heal and although my emotions will take a lot longer, I feel strong enough to press on in hope and have faith that God will carry me through yet again.”

Infertility can certainly take a toll on your relationship, just as any challenging experience has the potential to cause marital stress. It is important to keep communicating and understand each other’s reactions as reasonable behaviour, even if they are vastly different. How you handle these differences is what is important, and although it hasn’t been easy (not even close!) we have emerged from this experience as a united front, stronger than ever before.

Eleven years and counting….

Winners Don’t Quit

I am nine days away from stepping on stage again and fear is rearing its ugly head, causing me to worry about things that haven’t even happened yet. There have been moments when I have wanted to give up, but like many of my friends competing over the next few months, we have made up our minds that no matter what opposition comes our way, we will finish the course. Quitting is not an option! I don’t only want to finish what I started, but I want to enjoy the journey as well and this is not possible if I am afraid all the time. Many of my friends struggle too, it is a hard sport, but they dig in their high heels and keep at it. We are all striving to be the best versions of ourselves and aim to keep improving every time. I am so grateful to these ladies for their support and example and most importantly, friendships.

Confidence plays a key role here too and I struggle with this, but I am going to ‘do it afraid’ despite the feelings once again! My body language gives me away every time and this weekend at our posing class, I was told to stand tall and stick my chest out! (I tend to slump my shoulders and hang my head when I am shy, in an attempt to shrink smaller and go unnoticed.) But this is unacceptable and I want to be proud of my hard work and walk out there with my head held high. When we look confident on the outside, we feel confident on the inside. After years of putting myself down, and developing a wrong mind-set, I am learning that words are powerful too and by changing how I speak about myself, I can change my life. I find myself saying things like “I am not confident” or “I am discouraged” and this must stop. One of the best ways to improve your self-image is with words because they will drop down into your spirit and produce exactly what you are saying. That is why it is important to get in a habit of declaring good things over our lives every day.

If you are tempted to give up on something right now, don’t! Winners don’t always take first place, but they must finish what they started. This helps build confidence too and we all have the ability to push through no matter what opposition comes our way. All you need is more determination than anyone else you know! There is greatness and potential inside of you, but it is up to you to believe it and act on it. You can finish the course. Keep going! You’ve got what it takes.

Commitment – It’s A Choice

The month of May was a particularly difficult time for me and circumstances outside of my control left me feeling highly vulnerable and confused. It would have be easy to justify giving up on my goals or use these circumstances as an excuse for poor behaviour. It is hard to do the right thing when we are full of hurt, resentment or simply exhausted, but we always have a choice. Too many homes, marriages, friendships and even dreams, are destroyed through wrong priorities and bad attitudes and we need to dig our heels in and fight for them! Don’t give up. Keep pressing on.

“Don’t give up” is something my husband may have said to himself several times this weekend, as he ran the Comrades marathon. He had an exceptional race and finished in under nine hours. I am so proud of him! I decided to sacrifice my running this year, in exchange for pumping iron at the gym, as I pursue a new interest in bikini fitness competitions. Although I do believe it was the right choice, it has been difficult to be on the sidelines when a large part of me ached to be out on the road instead. However, I managed to put those feelings aside on Sunday, which meant I was able to give my whole heart to being the best supporter I could be and make the day all about my talented husband! I cried more this year than when I ran the race myself and the relief and excitement was written all over my face in tears as he crossed the finish line. The journey to Comrades hasn’t been easy and like any runner will tell you, it takes the whole family’s participation, willingness to compromise and make sacrifices, in order to make it work. I believe we achieved that balance for the most part and since my man plans on running many more Comrades, it seems we have years of practise ahead of us!

Bruce and I don’t agree on every single thing but we are committed to each other. This is easy when things are going smoothly but when romance is replaced by countless hours alone while the husband is out running, washing sweaty workout clothes or cooking multiple pots of pasta, believe me, that takes commitment! I’m teasing a little bit here, which brings me to my next point: to try create a fun-filled atmosphere in your home. We all experience stressful times but do your best to not allow that heaviness to linger and do whatever it takes to keep the peace. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I put my energy into making Bruce’s life easier, so he could put all his energy into training. Love is about self-sacrifice not self-gratification and I believe if you meet other people’s needs, God will meet yours.

Encouragement is important too. It’s one of my favourite things to do and I love seeing how a few simple words have the power to propel a person’s spirit to new heights. Everyone needs that sort of encouragement. Perhaps even Bruce had an extra spring in his step on Comrades because of the power of positive words we spoke over his running for weeks before.

Starting today, do your best to choose to approach things with a good attitude, despite how you feel. Honour your commitments and show love and respect to those around you. Have a great weekend everyone!