DARE TO SHARE

“The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness – even our wholeheartedness – actually depends on the integration of all our experiences, including the falls.” – Brene Brown

Your story matters.

I received a surprise last year when my friend sent me a draft copy of a page from the book she was working on and was humbled to see she had used my story as the illustration for the devotion on 19 June. When she asked me if I was happy for her to go ahead I replied with an excited yes please! What an honour.   

The book has since been published and ‘Walk out on the Water’ 365 daily devotionals for Women by Caitlyn de Beer is a book I highly recommend.

It is incredible that this year 19 June 2021 falls on the day before Father’s Day and ties together some of the most painful pieces of my journey, which God has used to work in my life. I am now able to share these experiences and encourage others to overcome their fears and barriers and give them hope. When you have gone through a similar situation someone else is facing, it reassures them that God will get them through too. Courage is contagious.

What are you doing here Debbie? God has used this question recently with me, which has required soul-searching to examine issues of my heart that I have not recognized or simply ignored.  It is often hard to own our story but it is even harder if we keep running from it our whole life. Your story can be someone else’s guide and their own fears are lessened when they hear you share how you overcame similar circumstances and hope is restored because they realize it isn’t impossible.

Nothing goes to waste if we share our experiences and use them to encourage others and give them hope.

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.’

I’m Rooting For You

Something on my mind this week, is how important it is to nurture our inner self and not let the external have so much power in our lives. After chatting to a few friends about this, I think it is worth exploring more next time, but for now, let us remember that the external fades and although it is important to take care of ourselves, we are more than we look like. We are more than what we do, and we are certainly more than what other people think of us. Fear of not being valued is a very real problem today and we need to interrupt this torment and support each other and provide a safe space where others feel they can share their battles and come forward for help.

By whose definition will you live?

Returning to running continues to be a challenge, and as much as I love challenges, it is still unsettling to wonder where should I fit in in the athletic world, what role sport plays in my life and what is the right way forward, especially as I age. It can leave my mind full of insecurities, as I continue to find my place, but I guess part of the excitement of life is that we are always under construction and it is okay not to have it all figured out!

We rise by lifting others. Let’s root for each other and watch each other grow.

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Tuesday, 10 September, was World Suicide Prevention Day.

I wrote a short post on Facebook and I wanted to share it on this platform too, as I feel it is a message worth repeating:

“The subject hits close to home for me and I know the pain of losing a loved one this way. I do my best to share my experiences and be vulnerable, but many people battle to express how they are feeling and keep it stuffed inside. In our society we spend so much time keeping up appearances and pretending to be ‘fine’ instead of reaching out for help. This needs to change.

Last week I had two people share with me that they had considered ending their lives recently and couldn’t share this with their families. We desperately have to break the stigma and start a conversation, that is ongoing. It is devastating that there has to be a day for this, but my prayer is that we all become more aware of those around us and take the time to check in with people and dig a little deeper. We also need to realize it is okay not to be okay and ask for help.”

SA Suicide Helpline:
0800 567 567

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A Defining Decade

This is one of those posts where the heart takes over and you have to write quickly, before the head has too much time to think, analyse and object. It is a little before 5am and we have no electricity, so I’m sitting on the couch, using a torch for light, as I scribble on my notepad (I still love writing the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper) and will type it out later. Maybe.

This February marks ten years since I did my last IVF cycle. I have no idea why this thought came to my mind this morning but perhaps it’s because I have had the privilege of meeting several new people recently and it’s interesting to observe how they judge you on the chapter of your life they are walking in on. Of course, I understand this is normal and I often do the same. We forget that everyone has a history that has shaped them into the person you see standing in front of you today.

February 2008 was a watershed moment for me. I had to let go of a dream and choose how I was going to live the rest of my life. Was I going to be bitter or better? Most people who have met me in the last few years, know me as a runner. I am described as a positive person. Always smiling and inspiring. This is humbling and I am grateful to be able to use my past pain for purpose to encourage others. However, I am like everyone else, flawed and vulnerable and have days filled with tears and tantrums too!

Real life is usually messy and sometimes my past catches up with me and I feel anything but strong. Right now, I am doing my best to find that silver lining in the middle of yet another storm and I need to keep reminding myself where I have come from and what I have already overcome. Ten years ago, I was in a foetal position on the bathroom floor, sobbing. I had bad stomach cramps and was bleeding. It was another miscarriage and I honestly didn’t know if I had the will to carry on. I had been there before, literally watching the lives of my unborn children slip away from me and I was helpless once again. Three years before this, another tragedy struck when I lost my dad to depression. I battled to comprehend how someone could feel that level of desperation and pain, until that moment in the bathroom when I experienced it for myself. That day God gave me peace about my Dad’s passing and I understood.

I have left out chunks of what I wrote this morning, as I don’t want to get too graphic and would rather leave some boundaries in place. However, I still believe you need to risk exposure to allow for change to happen in your life and being open about my struggles has allowed me to move forward. I often wonder what my dad would think if he knew that the shy, quiet, academic child he left behind, was now a confident, sporty woman who has completed five Comrades Marathons and has a heart full of goals for the future. I hope he’d be proud.

It’s easy to stay silent and try fit in with the crowd but I dare you to let your true self show up this week. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help and drop the mask, even if it means risking criticism and uncertainty. Our world is rife with perfectionism and needs the real you to stand up. If you do that, you will give someone else the courage to follow.

We are all doing the best we can. Like I said last week, everyone needs compassion. Let’s be kind to ourselves and each other.

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Phoenix Rising

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I was recently asked if I would like to be interviewed for a feature in our local community newspaper and although it is always overwhelming for me to share my story, I agreed, as I saw this as a great opportunity to be able to encourage others. I have been humbled by the messages pouring in and how the readers feel I am someone they can relate to, because I’m not afraid to be vulnerable and express my heartache.

‘I would never have guessed….’ is a common response I receive from friends who don’t know my history, and that is why I feel it is important to share that behind the sporting achievements and signature smile, there is something deeper that fuels my passion and I’m no different to anyone else. I also struggle! I choose to focus on the positive but it is a daily decision to win the battle in my mind.

Central Gazette - Article

‘Phoenix Rising’ was the heading the journalist gave my article. I wasn’t familiar with the term and looked it up straight away. I think she chose well! It has several meanings but the one I liked the most said the following:

“To many a Phoenix may represent a new beginning, that no matter how bad (hot) things may get, you will get back on your feet (rise out of the ashes). The Phoenix always rises from its own ashes. It can be a metaphor for always picking yourself up when you are down.”

I do my best to not waste my pain and use it to fuel my passion for life and to keep fighting when it would be easier to wallow in bitterness instead. However, I do understand how difficult this is to do and I have deep compassion for those who are battling to find a reason to keep going. I know what it is like to be lost in the darkness of despair, which is why I continue to bring light to these issues and encourage others to not bury their feelings and rather bring them to the surface and get help.

Nobody has a perfect life, no matter what their social media profiles portray. We all wear masks and suppressing our pain can be unhealthy, even dangerous. I was reminded of this when a friend of ours ended her life last week. I was shattered. Nobody knew she was feeling that desperate. Unfortunately, this is not the first time someone I know has committed suicide. It is one of those topics people don’t feel comfortable talking about, but like infertility, I hope I can help squash the stigma and stimulate conversation around these sensitive, serious issues many are facing today.

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