Battling the criticism…

Today, I helped a stranger access cancer support for her son who is struggling to find work after going through treatment for cancer.  Many people struggle more after their cancer treatment has finished because of the many side effects, as well as the psychological, social and emotional effects going through cancer treatment brings.

It might just be one person (or hopefully two!), but it felt good because I could really help.  She said to me at the end of our conversation, ‘You are really inspiring’ – well if only every day could be like that, I could really say I had achieved something!

When I started working in the charity world 6 years ago, I thought it would be nothing but positive things awaiting for me.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been and isn’t the case.  I want to work for a charity because I want to try and make a difference, to try and do something good each day – and yes I know that is slightly cheesy.  But even trying to raise money for people affected by cancer and their families, we are criticised by many.  Criticised that we are asking for money, criticised that we ask too often, for too much and worst of all that we get paid to do all of the above!  We have to battle against around 160,000 other charities in the UK alone for people’s hard earned money and we have to battle the criticisms as well.

What the people criticising forget (and I mean criticising, not simply asking questions about where their money is going) is the reason charities exist in the first place – because people need them.  We are trying to help those in need, not to help ourselves.

The purpose of the post wasn’t to start arguing the case of charities, only that I felt proud today that I could help someone through what I do.  I am living Macmillan’s values in my day job but also in my life, because I believe in their values and they mirror my own – I am personal, open and I demand better for people.  I am learning daily and yearly to be an expert at what I do (personally and in work) however long that might take!  And I am trying to inspire others to be and do these things too.  I can brush off criticism because I believe in what I’m doing day to day and I know the value.

So I encourage other fundraisers to keep doing the good things you are doing and I also encourage everyone else too – if you believe in what you are doing, keep doing it!

Today was a good day… but tomorrow is going to be better.

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New year, new me! I’m afraid not…

Well 2015 has been harsh to us.  But let’s stay positive – I’m finishing the year knowing how truly resilient I am – how strong and determined I can be.

Everyone is thinking about new year’s resolutions – “I’m going to do things differently next year, a new me!” Well unfortunately, you will still be the same person when you wake up tomorrow, with the same likes, weaknesses and so on… I’m not trying to be negative or put you in a bad mood, but trying to make you think slightly differently if there are things you want to achieve or do differently in 2016.

I’m the same person I was in 2014 but life has demanded more of me this year, challenged me to up my game.  I still have my weaknesses (chocolate and wine!) but I have also worked out what my priorities are and what is realistic because I’ve had to – a person can only do so much in a day.  So I’m not going into 2016 thinking life will be any different – the twins will still keep me up at night and life will still be chaotic – BUT there are things I want to change and achieve and I want to keep evolving as a person.  One example for you is that I want to stop eating so much chocolate, but I’m not going to stop eating it all together because that’s not realistic and it won’t make me happy!  But the reason and purpose behind wanting to change that element of my life is because we all know sugar is bad for us and I would like to be healthier, in order to help achieve the body shape I want.

So what do you want to achieve or change in 2016?  Why?  What is the reason?  You must find your purpose if you want to stay focused and must really want what you are trying to achieve not just think it is the right thing to do.  If you don’t believe in the purpose or actually really want it, why try?  It’s not enough to say I’m going to reduce my sugar intake because I know it’s bad for me, but to have the purpose of trimming up the fat on my body and being happy with the way I look.

And is your goal realistic?  I’m not cutting down on chocolate to lose weight as I’m not sure that is realistic – instead cutting out some of the sugar in my diet will help aid me in toning up, in combination with working out.  If you want to go to the gym four times a week but only managed once a week this year, then that isn’t realistic for you – either because the motivation or purpose isn’t there for you or because life puts different demands on you that aren’t going to make this possible no matter how motivated you are.  Maybe aim for twice a week with one run or workout at home?  Or just accept that going to the gym isn’t for you and find something that is.  When you plan to be realistic with real purpose behind it, you will find change much more achievable.

And remember – this is life!  It doesn’t slow down and it will throw challenges at you to make you question yourself and that’s when you will wobble and find those excuses – ‘I’m too tired today’, ‘I’ve had a stressful day’, ‘I feel down today’…  But believing in your purpose means you can be strong in those moments and when you can do that, those small changes become part of your daily life.  They don’t become the added extras or things we do just when we can be bothered or if we’re having a good day.  Working out becomes part of you; eating healthily becomes what you do, not what you think you should do; making more time for family/friends/whoever becomes part of your week, not something you plan to do next week.

So if you want to make tomorrow different then do it!  But don’t use a new year as the reason, use a new day.  Be better tomorrow than you were today IF you have a reason to be.  Find your reason why and be realistic – small changes with purpose and you will find change is possible.  And then we can achieve anything!

Remember that today is the youngest you will ever be #noexcuses

Good luck and happy new year!

#noexcuses

Most of us are winding down now, looking forward to Christmas, to getting some rest and eating and drinking lots. Chris and I may be strange, but we are looking forward to having chance to work out more! (We will be eating and drinking too!)

I don’t really believe in new year’s resolutions – too much pressure and if you want to do something, do it now! I wanted to write a post for those people who are in need of some motivation…

I am the person who could have all the excuses in the world not to exercise and not to be ‘in shape’. I have a long list of excuses and I could choose many of them on any day – I’ll share just a few:

* For the last 18 months, I am surviving on 4-7 hours of broken sleep
* Last year, I had a c-section – which I’m still recovering from
* I get pelvic pain from a forceps delivery in 2012, which locked the SI joint in my pelvis
* I have pain in my hands with certain movements because of the excess fluid following my twin pregnancy
* I regularly have back and shoulder pain from lugging three children around!
* I have no time to go to the gym because my husband works late most days and I have to be home with the kids
* I have no money to pay for the gym because I pay for three lots of childcare!

I could go on, but I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I refuse to let these excuses define who I am. I generally feel exhausted, I ache when I wake up and my husband is rarely home to help with bedtime so I have about 2 hours every evening to do everything a responsible parent needs to (how boring…) and anything that I would like to do when I’m finished with that!

But here’s the thing – I am in the best shape of my life. I am motivated to exercise because I want a better and longer life for me and my family.  We can always make our excuses but the only excuse we really have is ourselves.

So how do I fit in exercise with no time, without leaving the house, with no kit and that doesn’t hurt my battered body?!  I want you to check out http://www.thezuu.com.au and find The Zuu workouts on Youtube.  It is movements that anyone can do, you only need minutes, not hours and you can do it from the comfort of your house!  I’m not being paid to write this, these workouts have changed things for me.  I can workout in the living room when I’ve put the kids to bed, I don’t need any kit, to pay anything and I don’t need to spend hours when I only have precious minutes.

So what excuse did you have today?  Put it aside – believe that you are worth more and that you can do more.

#noexcuses

ps. If you want any help with workouts, please get in touch with me/my husband!

Old friends

I’m meeting up with two of my old uni friends on Friday for a few drinks – I know, imagine how excited I am!

We met up a few months ago, the first time the three of us had been together in 14 years – 14 years?? How can I be that old?! I lived with all boys in my first year of uni, so it seems fitting that I ended up with a house full of boys for life…

Sitting across from these two 33 year old men, I couldn’t help but see them as the two 18 year old boys I spent such an important year of my life with, even though they are both very important now working in law and banking. We went out in the world together and they looked after me when I had so much to learn in my first year away from home. One cuddled me when I broke up with my boyfriend from home even though he’d only known me a few days, because he knew I was alone. He also played so many pranks on me I can’t remember them all, just to keep me on my toes and prepare me for the real world. (I once couldn’t find my forks for about 2 months). The other is responsible for my love (still) of garage music and Bob Marley.

So why am I writing about them now? Because even though we haven’t seen each other for so long and our lives have dealt us very different cards, we still have history. Friends will always be friends if you have shared life together. They might not think that going out for a few drinks with me is a big deal, but it is to me. Firstly I get a night out (hooray!), but I feel really touched that they actually want to meet up with me – I’m a mum now with a zillion children, and they don’t have kids yet, so it means a lot that they are still interested in who I am. They will probably tell me they were just bored and didn’t have anything better to do, but I’m okay with that too!

And meeting up with uni friends also means I can remember who I used to be then and be proud of how far I’ve come. I can enjoy finding fun me again amongst the chaos of every day. If you’re reading you two, thanks for making time for an old friend :O)
And for any other long lost friends reading this, I do think about you all, always with a smile at what we used to get up to – let’s book our meet ups in too.

I’m making it…

Chris went away on a work trip to Las Vegas last week (yes without me) – I had to survive six days (4 working) and five over nighters with the kids (2 who still get up in the night).  I was slightly dreading it, but was mostly in denial that it was actually happening until he walked out of the door with his suitcase.  I looked at the kids, they looked at me…oh crap it’s happening.  And then I took them all to my parents house…

But six days later, everything was under control and surprisingly I could still function. My brain did feel like it was going to explode at any minute with all the things I had to remember but thankfully I held it together.

My life is pretty hectic day to day and each evening as I go to bed, I generally feel quite pleased that I’ve made it through another day. But surviving on my own with the kids took it to another level – and yes I did buy myself some presents to celebrate.

So this one is for the single mums – you have the toughest job in the world. Sometimes we need to go through tough times, to realise just how tough we are too. I am realising with each week that goes by, just how strong I am – don’t get me wrong, I have my moments when I say ‘I can’t do this’ and I almost break, then Chris, my family, my friends give me encouragement or step in to give me a break and I re-charge. Weeks like this make me realise that I can achieve anything! But no-one can do everything, all of the time, on their own, with no support.

A song came on in the car this week, which I wanted to share – if you’re having a tough week, have a listen to it! It’s called Beautiful Flower by India Arie:

Here’s to making it…

‘This is a song for every girl who’s, ever been through, something she thought she couldn’t make it through.

I sing these words because I was that girl too, wanting something better than this.  But who do I turn to?

Now we’re moving from the darkness into the light, this is the defining moment of our lives…

Cause you’re beautiful like a flower, more valuable than a diamond.

You are powerful like a fire, you can heal the world with your mind.

There is nothing in the world that you cannot do, when you believe in you, who are beautiful.

Yeah you, who are brilliant,

Yeah you, who are powerful,

Yeah you, who are resilient.

Yeah you, this song is for you, you are brilliant.’

New arrivals

I saw my lovely sister in law yesterday, who is due her first baby on Friday.  She is one of those who has been glowing all the way through pregnancy – yes, one of those!  With a lovely bump (not too small, not too big – just right, which we all know is the only type of bump), she has taken pregnancy in her stride.

My brother and her are obviously very excited about their new arrival and I am very impatient to meet this new little munchkin.  I have three beautiful nieces and three gorgeous nephews already, but the excitement of having a new family member is just the same each time – maybe a bit more this time as I know I will never have another baby, so can enjoy this one even more!

They are in the beautiful bliss of first time parents, with no clue what to expect and no knowledge of what life is really going to be like when this beautiful baby arrives.  They have heard plenty of stories from me of course, (too many I’m sure) and have been hands on auntie and uncle to my boys, but nothing can prepare you for being a parent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They have all the gear, have worked out how to use it and have prepared themselves as much as they can – now they are playing the waiting game.

Seeing them yesterday just reminded me what being a parent is really about – love.  How wonderfully overwhelming it is to know how loved this baby is before it has even arrived in the world.  How many people love it without even meeting him or her, how many lovely clothes and toys he/she has waiting for them, a wonderful home and room patiently awaiting to welcome them, and how fiercely protective we will be when they arrive.  I know it isn’t like this for every child in this world – I am very blessed that I have a wonderful family and that I and my brother have both married into equally wonderful families.  How blessed we are that we have multiple grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends fighting to look after our children and I know many of you reading this will be in the same position.  I know not every child has a big house, a wardrobe full of clothes, too many toys to play with all at once, fresh water and food on the table and I know these actually aren’t the important things – having parents who love you is something I take for granted, but is really the only important thing.

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world and many of us will face challenges we never imagined or wanted.  But we also get to experience the most amazing of things – unconditional love.  Whether we are here on earth for just one day or for 90 years, we are loved unconditionally and what could be more wonderful than that?

To all of you who are or have been parents – here is a virtual high five to being so lucky to experience the most wonderful thing this world has to offer.

To all expectant parents and parents of the future – there are so many blessings coming your way!  Embrace them with both hands.

Let’s never forget the most important thing – love.

Turning one…

A month on, I think I’ve just about got over the shock of the twins turning one. I can’t believe we have survived a whole year of life with twins and a toddler! And I’m happy to report that things have started to get easier – they are sleeping for longer (most of the time!), they are eating better and are almost on the move.

We are starting to see their lovely little personalities! Ruben is always happy – he always has smiles for everyone and will eat whatever we give him! He’s really easy going but makes us laugh because he always wants what Finn has and usually manages to take it! Finn will shout at him in his baby noises and Ruben ignores him whilst playing with his new toy…

Finn is a bit more demanding – he always has smiles for me, Chris, Max and Ruben but others have to work harder! He is a bit more serious and thinks about things more thoroughly. He takes everything in and makes his own decisions – quietly determined and focused. He is a fussy eater. which drives us mad, but also shows his knows what he wants and knows his own mind – I can’t be annoyed, as he gets that from me :O)

It’s lovely to see them turning into little boys, with their own personalities, and with so much love for each other and their big brother Max of course! Their first year was truly the hardest thing I have ever done, but now we are through it and on to the next year and the next chapters for them, the memories are slowly starting to fade and we are starting to feel like life can return to some kind of normality – a crazy normality, but that’s okay by us.