Monday Motivation

There is never a better time to be kind. Be kind to others but also yourself.

Remember how far you have come, not only how far you have to go.

Create a love for yourself that does not rely on the words or actions of others.

The past is not a failure but teaches us to get back up for the things that matter.

Remember there is always so much to be grateful for, especially the little things.

Living Joy

During my “Inspirational Interviews” podcast interview last month, I was encouraged to keep embracing my story, but also remember it is okay to keep choosing joy, love and fun, while still feeling the pain. I have always done my best to do this, however it was good to be nudged in that direction again and reminded to think a little less, live a little more.

The struggle is part of the story.
Infertility. Suicide. Hope. Distraction. Goals. New Beginnings.

Jen came up with “LIVING JOY” to be the theme I carry forward this year. “Pain to Purpose” will always be there, but I am embracing change as best I can, and feel God is reminding me that joy comes when I let Him hold me, not when I try hold it all together. You can love, help and pray for someone without knowing their full story. Details don’t make prayers any more effective. God knows.

Although I share a lot, and this interview was more raw and real than I have ever gone before, there will often be pain I am processing that you know nothing about. Most of us are fighting private battles, so with this in mind, let us remember to be slow to judge and instead be gentle and kind towards one another always.

I am also sharing this short, messy, random post, between the chaos of another crazy day of unpacking boxes in our new home, to remind myself that “doing my best” may look different every day. And that is okay!

In the words of Brene Brown: “Sometimes it helps me to wake up in the morning and tell myself, ‘Today, I’m going to believe that showing up is enough.’

The Biscuit

In the spirit of saving ingredients and wanting something homemade (that would be ready as fast as Bruce could make his coffee), I decided to experiment and have some fun, by baking one giant biscuit (in the microwave!)

I felt like doing something to spark a little joy at the end of the day, and this did the trick.

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It is amazing to see the gift of families coming together in a new way during lockdown and committing to make this a regular part of their lives going forward. I love this. We are learning the true value of human connection. However, there is also a lot of productivity pressure, most of which is shared on social media and many of my friends who are mothers, are expressing the shame they feel for not being the perfect quarantine mom with the perfect quarantine family. This guilt is unnecessary. You are all doing amazingly well!

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If you need to, there is nothing wrong using the time and energy you have, to care for yourself and others, instead of ticking off that to-do list right away.

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We are in this for the long haul. Be it home workouts or sit and rest. Having cereal for dinner or cooking a meal from scratch together. Pajamas or fully dressed. All are perfectly acceptable. Don’t overburden your body and mind. Comparison is the thief of joy and we cannot afford to have anything rob us of joy at this time. Between the work and achievements and chores, take times of recreation and refreshment too. Whatever that looks like for you.

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Find something to celebrate every day of the lockdown and beyond, because on the other side of this pandemic, there will still be time to pursue these things too. Remember, no matter what your day has looked like, even if it has been filled with chaos and mess, do your best to keep looking for a ‘biscuit’ moment between the crumby bits.

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EAT THE BISCUIT!

 

Don’t Wait Until Friday

Love can be such a confusing word. We love people (I love my husband), love activities (I love my running), love food (I love my peanut butter) and we do things out of love (like bake little messy chocolate surprises for pudding, without waiting for Valentine’s day or a special occasion.)

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Watching sport with our spouse until late at night, because you know how much it means to them, is love in action too. (‘Liverpool for life’, shouts the wife!) Yes, I am proudly brainwashed.

“I am in love and out of it I will not go.” – C.S Lewis

Love can mean different things to everyone, but ultimately, love is a choice, it’s an action and we need to choose it and keep choosing it, daily.

In a similar way, every day we choose our attitudes too. We should not wish the week away, living only for the weekend and although every day may not be good, there is something good in every day. Joy can come to us in the seemingly mundane and ordinary moments. Don’t miss it.

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I saw a friend post this. I think we can all relate to some version of it. You are allowed to have those days when you cannot wait to go to bed and start again. However, let us do our best to starve the negative thoughts and feed our focus. If you want to change your life, you have to change something that you do daily. Thinking about what you are thinking about, is a great start. Give every day the chance to be good one.

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Stop waiting until Friday and make the most of the moment you are in now. Find joy where you are now.

Have a happy Thursday!

Morphing Into A Different Kind Of Athlete

After a turbulent 2019, which on the running side, included being out for 6 months with an injury, challenging me both physically and mentally, I’ve decided this year I want to keep the pressure off.

My aim going forward is to have fun and cross finish lines with a smile.

A photo from Sunday’s race:

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“Crossing the starting line may be an act of courage but crossing the finish line is an act of faith.” – John Bingham

I have been in this game long enough to know I will always have “those days” where tears will flow and my heart and body will hurt, but I am going to do my best to ensure between it all, the joy still flows too.

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Life is always both happy and hard.

A line that keeps popping into my head is ‘…just because I can, doesn’t mean I should…’ and this can be applied to racing and life in general. Sometimes it is necessary to set our egos aside and put our mind and bodies first. Rest and recovery are also vital, as repair takes energy. This is something else I am guarding fiercely and making sure I am disciplined enough to do it well.

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On a lighter note, when coming back from an injury or returning from Christmas holidays for that matter, remember you are not starting from scratch. You are starting from experience!

Those are my few Thursday thoughts, as I continue to find joy in the journey and hope it encourages you to not give up and keep choosing joy every day. (with the emphasis on choose.)

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A Time To Celebrate

In my last post, “Just Do Something”, I encouraged you to make 2020 better, starting now.

“The good news is you don’t have to wait for New Years to have a new resolution or attitude. Every day is a new beginning!”

I was thinking this morning, in the same way that there is no need to procrastinate when we want to ‘begin again’, there is also no need to procrastinate celebrating our progress, while on the way to achieving our goals. We can do it right now too. Whatever your resolution may be for 2020 or tomorrow, no matter how long it takes, remember celebration will strengthen you, so be excited about every step of the journey, on the way to your destination.

Change and progress will continue as long as we are on this earth and for me personally, I think when it comes to certain emotional or mental goals, it may take a lifetime to get it right! However, I love encouraging others and believe it should be handed out in generous proportions, so I urge you to take a moment to look back and see how much you have improved over the last year. Are you a little more patient or a little more giving? It is more productive to focus on the positive than mourning over your mistakes, which will only weaken you. Love fuels positive change more than punishment does, so build each other up and make a big deal out of the strong points and downplay the weaknesses. (Maybe practice this with your family over Christmas too. It could help change the dynamic and increase the merriness!)

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We need to acknowledge our small milestones, with the same enthusiasm we give to a puppy for fetching a ball or to a baby taking their first steps. Think about it! We get really excited about their progress and don’t keep a record of every time they fail. We should perhaps treat ourselves the same way and rejoice with those outward expressions we give to our pets and children. Reflect on how far you have come, instead of how far you need to go, and let go of guilt from past mistakes and perceived failures. If you find you have nobody in your corner, cheering you on, you can still celebrate your progress. Although it certainly helps to have someone encouraging you, if that doesn’t happen, decide you will learn how to celebrate your own progress, which will help strengthen you to continue towards your goal, without resentment.

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I have had a small break from the kitchen duties, doing this writing in between, which for me is a way to recharge my batteries. Now it is time to finish sorting the mess, so I need to end off and return to the dishes and making dinner, but thanks to the blog break, it will go more smoothly and joyfully, (and when I have a sparkling sink, that will be worth celebrating too!)

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The last few days before Christmas can be a stressful time, with last-minute to-do lists and endless chores weighing us down but let us give ourselves permission to lighten up and inject celebration and joy into our daily lives. Celebrate your progress (don’t strive for perfection) and by doing this you can change the whole atmosphere in your home this holiday season. One of the best gifts you can give your family is a happy, healthy you, which cannot happen without celebration being a regular part of your life (and I think humour always helps too!)

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Run Spud

It has been 2 weeks since my last blog post and 6 weeks since my last run. I’m still using crutches but am on my feet a lot more than I should be. I am finding it very difficult to do everyday life stuff, while following the doctor’s directions to “sit” but the pain has not subsided, so I need to be a better patient and cultivate more time off my feet. As a result, here I am, on the couch, writing a quick ramble, with a bowl of baked potatoes on my lap!

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Last time I mentioned how humour always helps me through difficult times, as well as finding a new challenge to distract me, and doing my best to use my story to encourage others along the way. My nickname “sticks” given to me by my husband, makes me smile and our friends joke he planned this fate, so I wouldn’t beat him in any more races. You have to see the funny side, or it is easy to get depressed and as I heard this week, there is not always light at the end of the tunnel, just more tunnel! With many months ahead of me, I am doing my best to embrace the tunnel and am not going to let this injury get in the way of me living my best life. Messages of encouragement I have received, saying you can get through this, stronger than before, really help me to keep positive and I start to believe it again too.

Running does not make me who I am, and just because I cannot run right now, it does not mean I cannot inspire or motivate other people, and my identity does not come from this sport alone. With all my goals and aspirations centered around Comrades for the first half of the year, this setback has made me re-evaluate these things and I am focusing on what I can do (watch these biceps grow) and cheering other people on, keeping myself positive, setting small goals and trying new things (like eating loads of potatoes in a fun experiment I am trying, but more about that next time!)

Instead of asking, why me? I am asking, why not me? I am limited in my physical abilities but still have my mental strength and will keep working on that. In many ways I know I needed this forced rest and God is working good out of it already, as I am making changes in areas I may have continued to neglect, if things had gone smoothly.

When I come back to running, I hope to be fearless and go for my goals with the same courage as before. There will still be lots of ups and downs, but I am focusing on the good in every day and making an effort to be grateful and excited, for this unexpected season I find myself in. This setback is a learning experience and I have faith that each day will be better than the one before.

“One day you will look back and see that all along, you were blooming.” (Morgan Harper Nichols)

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Resolutions

“We spend January 1, walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. But maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives … not looking for flaws but for potential.” Ellen Goodman

As the year comes to a close, most of us will spend time looking back and if you are like me, perhaps you are surprised you are still here and made it through to the end in one piece! There are always so many unexpected highs and lows and yet, here we are, ready to begin again.

Sometimes these reflections lead to resolutions for the new year and focusing on things we want to change. While this is important, remember to concentrate on the positive potential and not the faults and flaws. Before stepping into something new, we usually have to let go of something we are holding onto and perhaps this is a bad attitude.

I know from experience how easy it is to slip into bitterness and self-pity but I have learnt to be better and choose joy, on purpose, even when I don’t feel like it and things are not going my way. We can make resolutions for 2019 but without a doubt there will be obstacles in the way. I read an article recently by Mark Gungor, on love in relationships, and how it is not something that is constantly there, following you around like a puppy. Instead it is more like a greased pig!

“You have to chase after it and pursue it. You have to run it down and tackle it. And when it gets away, you go after it one more time. You may finally get hold of it for a while, but then the little rascal can slip away and you have to chase it down again.”

I hope this brought a smile and reminds you to pursue what you want most out of life and don’t give up so easily. Keep chasing those dreams and working hard, despite difficult circumstances. It is also important to have fun between the obligations and responsibilities, so make sure you work in some things you enjoy and don’t overlook the little things either.

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A spoon of peanut butter always cheers me up. Maybe a good cup of coffee is something you relish or a glass of red wine like my husband. Your child’s laugh, a cool shower after a hot day or the sunset…there are so many treasures and pleasures in everyday life, that are easy to take for granted. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to blessings and it will serve us well to carry this gratitude attitude into the new year.

Peanut Butter And Peace

A day without peanut butter is like…

…Just kidding. I have no idea.

It has been an interesting week and it is not over yet. With my husband out every night with various commitments, I have had a lot of time alone to think.

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Jokes aside, between the deep thoughts (and evening baking sprees!) I have also helped friends with various challenges, from where to buy peanut butter in bulk, to how to pursue peace when you’re waiting on God. After chatting back and forth, we had success and all parties left feeling satisfied.

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I am more of an expert on peanut butter than peace, but I hunger for both and am willing to make great sacrifices to have them! I am far from perfect but making progress.

Yesterday was World Mental Health Awareness Day and anxiety was a hot topic. Anxiety is a problem for many people and I relate to this struggle too.

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Constant worry is also something that drains us and is totally useless. Usually we worry because we are afraid things in life won’t turn out as we hope. We even worry about things like a traffic jam, which we cannot control, and being upset won’t change it. We worry about what others think of us. What the future holds. If we want to have peace, we have to give up worry.

At first it may feel strange to let go and enjoy each day, without trying to figure out tomorrow. We get addicted to stress, strife and being busy, without even realizing it. It takes courage to say yes to rest, in a culture where exhaustion is often seen as a status symbol. If you sincerely want peace in your life, you have to pursue it and make this a priority. It doesn’t just come. We need to trust God in all things, beyond what we see and beyond what we know.

Peace is power. Peanut butter is too. And in my humble opinion, both are good for you!

Intentions Not Resolutions

As I type this tonight, newsfeed is filled with #transformationtuesday posts and I am sitting on the stairs (which is great after spending the day on my feet doing DIY) taking a few moments to reflect on how I have ‘transformed’ since this time last year. Since I like to share my thoughts, I am writing them down rather abruptly (in case I am needed again) however, I think I am in luck, as a VIP soccer game is starting soon, so the toolbox may be packed away until tomorrow!

Most people nowadays are living complicated lives and they are constantly worn out and weary. The January to-do list has already begun and instead of enjoying the holidays, they are worrying about what lies ahead and robbing today of its joy.  It is easy to get sucked up in what everyone else is doing and spend your life wishing things were simpler, but wishing doesn’t change anything. I’m not somebody who makes New Year’s resolutions but rather prefer to re-evaluate my priorities and goals on a regular basis throughout the year. Often this means making daily decisions to adjust my approach to circumstances and keep things simple.

One of the ways I have transformed this year is to not let my fear of what others think of me stop me from pursuing my goals. Many of my problems stemmed from being insecure and trying to please people, which left me miserable and frustrated. I finally realized I can’t change people and circumstances that are out of my control but instead can only change myself and my approach to them. There are plenty opportunities to get upset about something every day but as someone once said, ‘Choose your battles’ and rather let things go and remain peaceful, especially if they don’t make any difference in the bigger picture (and if we are honest with ourselves, most of the stuff we get upset about, isn’t all that important.)

Things are going to happen that we didn’t plan for and we don’t like (the water leaks we are busy repairing are a good example!) Things like this used to make me very upset. Luckily, I have learned it is not worth losing my joy over it and instead accept that this is life and deal with it, without having a bad attitude. Many of us usually visualize a perfect Christmas and perfect holiday but we all know that isn’t reality. Unrealistic expectations set us up to be miserable. If things haven’t gone as planned for you, don’t be so hard on yourself. Decide to enjoy it all anyway and going forward, tackle each day as it comes.

“Lay down the bat, and pick up a feather.” -Anonymous

I am now putting myself to the test by adjusting my priorities and letting the house mess remain ‘as is’ until the morning and instead I’m off to join the husband on the couch to watch his favourite soccer team play their match. He loves it when I enjoy the game with him and so for the rest of the night, the to-do list is forgotten and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” will be the only thing filling my head!