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.’

A Tribute To KZN Trail Running

KZN Trail Running does a lot of good, so I wanted to give some heartfelt thanks and praise.

So far this year, with races run, an incredible amount of R174 345.00 has been raised!

Andrew Booth and his team are an asset to the community and deserve this humble applause.

They are donating the money towards various nature conservation projects, all for a worthy cause.

Not only do they give back to the beautiful environment we enjoy but to the local people too.

When you arrive at a trail run, Andrew and Lauren always have a welcoming, friendly smile for you!

They are a kind, generous couple (with two of the cutest kids around!) full of life and energy,

I am still a newbie on the trails but already am full of gratitude for what this family has done for me.

Trail running unexpectedly came into my life a few months back, at exactly the right time.

I was a little down and even my joy of running was starting to wane, which was an early warning sign.

For someone who often battles to fit in, when I was around the trail runners, it instantly felt like home.

I took time to reassess, go back to basics and it was in the forests that I felt alive, yet never alone.

I’ve had to let go of many dreams in the past and when life becomes painful, my running helps me cope.

Meeting new people and seeing others overcome their obstacles too, continues to give me hope.

My technical skills on trails are lacking (I have fallen several times!) and even cried because it really hurt,

But I echo what John Muir said: “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

Crunchy Courage

I had a delicious spoonful of crunchy, homemade peanut butter at a farmer’s market on Sunday, which inspired this title. There is no deep meaning (although if you give me a few minutes I’m sure I can come up with one!)

Too often I have not done something out of fear but I am not letting fear decide my future anymore. Even something as simple as driving an hour by myself to a race used to scare me, especially when I had never been to the area before. However, this is exactly what I did on Sunday and the risk was worth it. I spontaneously decided to participate in a 12km trail race, which was being hosted in conjunction with the Eston Agricultural Show. It turned out to be a fun-filled morning, with highlights including winning the ladies race and having an ostrich run alongside me for a few metres in the game reserve!

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Winning races is new to me. I have run for years and never stepped on a podium, yet I have been humbled by that honour lately. However, I have never pursued this kind of success and prefer to value each day and think that if we are working towards our goals, and becoming better version of ourselves, we are already successful now, not only when a podium or promotion shows up.

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I have to fight fear, anxiety and self-doubt daily and often I do it publicly in my blog or in the conversations I have with the people I meet on my journey. It isn’t easy, however, this vulnerability is necessary in order for me to grow and in turn this enables me to have more to give others, because you can’t give away what you don’t have. I do my best to relate and listen to friends who trust me with their pain and this month have been humbled by stories of addiction and recovery that have been shared with me.

The consequences of being open and no longer living behind a mask, are that you will be attacked by critics and those peanuts from the gallery will hurt. (I think I just found a deeper meaning to my title!) In the future, instead of dodging the peanuts thrown at me, I will simply wave my arms around and catch them, stuffing fistfuls into my mouth and enjoying every bite (this may not seem as effective if you aren’t a peanut butter fan like me, but I hope you get the idea.)

The truth is we are usually our biggest critic. Be kinder to yourself this week and in turn you’ll be able to be kinder to those around you too.  Stop hiding who you truly are and know deep down that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

From Pain To Purpose To Podium

On Sunday I joined 620 other runners as we made our way to Nagle Dam for the 1000 Hills Challenge. This is an epic, tough event and for many (like me) it was the first time visiting this hidden gem, tucked in the upper reaches of the Valley of 1000 Hills. It has become one of KZN Trail Running’s premier races and a highlight on the trail running calender. With 5km, 10km, 20km and 38km options, there was something for everyone.

With the picturesque rural setting of Msinsi Nagle Dam, the unspoilt bushveld and the breath-taking beauty of the route, we were able to endure the tough terrain and steep climbs, because the joy of absorbing your surroundings, made the challenge worthwhile. I felt privileged to be there. Wildlife like zebra were around too and gave another unique experience to the event.

From an adventurous river crossing to running through the tunnel under the dam, these new experiences are ones I will treasure forever. An unexpected highlight was winning the 20km ladies race and it is a moment I will never forget. My trail family made me feel so welcome and we all had a great morning relaxing in the sunshine afterwards, enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Running the trails has helped me overcome an emotional last few weeks and it reminded me that every season of life has a purpose. For some reason I have been drawn to the wilderness and dirt roads and found them to be the perfect metaphor for this stage of my journey. Like the terrain we run on, you go through mountains and valleys, get caught in currents and often need others to help you through those difficult patches, until you find yourself on dry land again. However, just when you think it is going smoothly, you hit another rocky road and have to reassess your game plan.

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Many years ago, I wrote a book entitled “Whole Pieces”. Through my infertility journey I realized if you trust God with the shattered pieces of your life, He can make something good out of it. Not everything is good. There is so much we all endure that is plain awful! But in time, God can take the very thing that you are battling with and turn it around to use for good as He intends. I have seen this happen in my own life several times and want to encourage you to never give up and know your pain can be used for purpose.

 

Body Shaming

Courage is contagious.

It takes courage to speak your mind and share what is on your heart. I am no stranger to doing this and have used my infertility journey to create awareness and compassion around this subject and others, because you never know what pain lies behind the smile we show the world and I want to teach people than vulnerability is okay.

I have had various encounters this week that have encouraged me to never see vulnerability as a weakness because the more I share, the more it seems to free others to do the same. Yesterday I had a conversation that inspired me to write something around the topic of ‘body shaming’. I was tempted to do this last week but then changed my mind and decided to rather let it slide. However, when a friend shared her experience with me, I realized we both had been affected on opposite ends of the spectrum and it would be silly to avoid the topic, simply because it is not comfortable.

Body shaming can be described as: ‘The action or practise of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size.’ It is a form of bullying.

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‘Eat a cheeseburger!’ (skinny shaming – implying you don’t eat and need loads of greasy calories.)

‘Should you really be eating that?’ (fat shaming – implying you don’t need to eat much, if at all.)

‘Real women have curves!’ (There are no fake women. We are all real women!)

‘You’re not fat, you’re beautiful’ (fat is not a synonym for ‘ugly’ – you are reinforcing the idea that being fat is not beautiful.)

‘Men like women with meat on their bones’ … the list is endless.

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I enjoy my active lifestyle and am always excited to be able to inspire others but the focus should be on health, not solely on outward appearance. There is a growing trend to shame each other’s body types in order to validate our own and this attack has to stop. Body shaming is not the same as encouragement or concern. It is not tough love or helpful. There is a difference. You cannot humiliate someone into a healthy lifestyle.

“You don’t encourage people to take care of their body by telling them to hate it.” Laci Green

Fat shaming is not okay. Skinny shaming is also not okay. Body shaming is body shaming, regardless if it is directed at ‘curvy girls’ or ‘skinny girls’. The bully is implying you should be more like them and you are undesirable. They want you to be ashamed of your body and for many people this crushes their self-esteem and confidence. In general we need to not be so vindictive, shallow and jealous and support one another instead. We all know deep down that we should not let our self-worth be determined by what our body looks like. I am older and wiser now and am fortunate to rise above this most of the time but for many younger girls (and boys) they are vulnerable and cruel comments (no matter how humorously stated or helpfully intended) crush their spirits.

Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle and don’t allow yourself to become trapped by other people’s perceptions of your body. The size of your body has nothing to do with your worth.

At the same time show compassion to others and perhaps look inward and examine your own assumptions.

I hope I have given you food for thought…

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