Vulnerability

What feelings or thoughts does the word vulnerability stir up in you? For some maybe it doesn’t do anything because it’s something they wouldn’t even consider doing or ever necessary. For some the idea of vulnerability causes such a negative response. For others it’s something they’ve done before and been stung by. Perhaps more wish they could be more vulnerable but can’t bring themselves to do it.

For me vulnerability has become a necessity. Vulnerability has often been the start of friendships and relationships. It’s been the start of growth or changing of a path. It’s opened discussions, freed me from thoughts and actually often helped me to realise I am not alone.

When I started my weight loss journey properly back in March 2016 I was looking for inspirtational quotes to fuel my way. I found one that has always been in the back of my mind since but has become very real recently.

The quote read: aim to inspire, not to impress.

The defintions of those two words are very interesting to me

Inspire: fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something
Impress: make (someone) feel admiration and respect

I love that to inspire is to help someone feel a hope for themselves instead of impress which causes someone to feel something for you. Who doesn’t want to be a person who helps someone to be something they desire to be by inspiring them?!

Recently I’ve had a number of people tell me that they have been inspired me or spurred on by me to make changes or decisions. What an honour. What an honour for God to use something that I am doing anyway to inspire people.

As i spent time with God this week I felt God say to me ‘you can’t effectively inspire without vulnerability and getting onto someones level’.

Vulnerability makes change seem possible not unattainable. It shows that it can be hard to make the changes but that it’s doable. Without the vulnerability you can inspire a desire to change; “I wish i could do that” but you probably won’t inspire a belief that it is doable.

Vulnerability and relationships are so important to grow and change and to be real. They are beneficial to the individual and the people around them. It creates the opportunity for community and support systems. It can remove loneliness and fear of being ‘different’.

Vulnerability is to take a risk that the person or people that you are sharing with will respect you. It’s not something to be done without consideration but in the right circumstances it can create and inspire beautiful friendships and wonderful communities.

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Like learning to ride a bike

Have you ever tried to teach someone to ride a bike? I hadn’t really until today.

We got our three year old a bike with stabilisers for giving up his dummy and so we now start the process of learning how to do it. He happily asks to have the bike out from the garage, puts on the helmet, climbs on the bike and then he just sits on with his feet on the pedals going nowhere fast, or at all to be honest!!

I tried to help. It wasn’t pretty. It was the end of a long day with the kids and my patience was low, maybe bike riding should not be a post 6pm activity! Anyway he would put his feet on the pedal and push one foot down and start to move which sounds and looks promising. He would then take his foot off the pedal that he next needed to push to keep moving. He would lose the flow and he would have to start again.

It did not matter how many times I would tell him that he needed to keep his feet on the pedal, he would still keep taking that foot off and that lead to me getting more and more frustrated with him, losing my patience, raising my voice slightly, all the usual ugly moments you wish you could go back and change.

After a little while of attempting this and repeating the phrase you need to keep your foot on the pedal to no avail, my lovely husband came outside and I exclaimed “I just need to go inside for a few moments!”

As I sat down exacerbated by really quite a short exchange I just felt God say “that’s what you do”. And as I thought about it I realised it is in so many situations. I request to do something, get all kitted out for it, get lined up to start, take a small motion towards it and then I take my foot off the pedal and God’s somewhere in the background shouting “STOP TAKING YOUR FOOT OFF THE FLIPPING PEDAL” – to be fair He probably isn’t shouting that but in my head that’s what I think he is shouting.

It’s so easy to lose momentum. Something gets hard. Something is boring. Something is frustrating, The weather changes. You get injured. People distract you. Life gets in the way. Another ‘thing’ needs our attention and it seems more important. Priorities get confused.

The thing is that I am sure that there are things in everyone’s life where we keep coming back to that very same issue, and keep making a start and then taking our feet off the pedal without even really meaning to sometimes. If you keep going round in the circle to the same situation chances are you keep starting and then stopping.

I can think of a few things where I do this but weight loss is the most obvious. It’s easily been 10 years of starting and stopping. Getting distracted, giving up, life causing issues, children. I’ve all the excuses in the world and many of them are justified but for me weight is an issue. It’s something that need to be dealt with. It’s a physical, emotional and spiritual area of my life which needs me discipline, attention and effort. I need to keep my foot on the pedal.
I’m doing better with this. I’ve got further than ever before but my mojo has disappeared a little. My discipline is lacking. My focus fuzz. My attraction to chocolate stronger. I need to spend time getting back that self control and discipline so that God doesn’t have to keep shouting to me about my feet on the pedals! I can’t do it alone but I’m so blessed to have friends and family who have my back and maybe I need to start by asking for help!

Keep your feet on the pedals because you never know just what you might achieve if you stop pulling it off at the most important moment. Just imagine the progress and then maybe gaffa tape your feet onto the pedal which I will confess was what I was tempted to do with the three year old!

What am I doing?

Someone asked me what I’m doing to lose weight. I thought I’d share my response!

I’m almost at 2.5 stone off in 6 months. There’s a few things I’ve done.

1) The biggest thing was learning that I’m worth the effort and therefore not to just give up. I’ve spent all my adult life trying to lose weight and getting nowhere because when others needed something that got in the way I’d give up.

2) I read a book called Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. It changed my mindset about diet towards it being a journey of discipline with God but that he’s the one who defines my worth and not the scales. SO worth reading.

3) I’m using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track my calories and write down everything that I eat. I’ve done slimming world and weight watchers over the years and they just don’t work for me. I find I give up and all I want is the banned food. With my fitness pal I can eat whatever I want as long as I am within my calories for the day (though I have found that I have naturally fallen into making healthier choices because it normally means fuller for longer!) and if it gets to the end of the day and I want to eat something I don’t have enough calories for I go for a walk or I pave around the house to earn the calories. If I don’t want to earn them I don’t get to eat it.

4) I got myself a Fitbit. I started by aiming to walk 5000 steps a day and I really struggled. I now manage between 10000 and 15000 a day. I pace while I read my bible or a book to gain more steps!!

5) I have friends on my fitness pal and Fitbit who keep me accountable. I also make it very open that I’m trying to lose weight including posting my weekly weight losses on my Instagram feed. It means that if I went off plan people would notice because my habits would change and so someone would ask me and bring me back in check!!

It’s a really hard journey and there are so many things that get in the way. I’ve always been a comfort eater and I’ve always been an all or nothing person so I’m either fully on plan or not at all. I’m trying to change both of those things and have seen real breakthroughs partially because of the book.

I’ve been to a BBQ and a baby shower recently where I knew if I started eating the food I wouldn’t stop. Before the BBQ I ate dinner. I wanted to go to the BBQ for the company not for the food. Before the baby shower I told both the mum to be and the friend I was going with that I wouldn’t be eating anything. The sense of achievement I had at walking away from both those events having stuck to my plan was incredible.

 Sorry to have rambled on for so long!! Any questions or anything else please do feel free to message back. It’s something I’m incredibly passionate about and empowering other people to make process in their journey is so important to me too!! So anything I can do to help just shout!

Key words [God loves a trier]

Are there key words that motivate you to do something? 

I’ve recently discovered with my two year old if I use the word try he’s keen to have a go at doing something that’s initially been reluctant to try. Instead of ‘have a go’ leading him to say I can’t do it, ‘have a try and if not we will try together’ seems to motivate him to see if he can. He’s becoming a trier and discovering there is much more he can do than he’s realised before. All because of one word. 

And I am incredibly proud of him every time he tries. I love his awe when he realises he’s managed it. I love how he asks me to help him try when he can’t quite get there. I love my trier!! 

As an aside note I realised as I was writing this that it’s entirely how God sees me and you! God loves a trier. He loves us to take risks and to challenge ourselves to take steps out of our comfort zones for him. He loves us to have a go knowing he’s encouraged us and he loves it when we turn back and ask for some help from him when we find its hard or overwhelming. 

In fact as I write I find this post talking to me in an entirely different way. See I started this post to think about what motivates me, and you. If there were key words someone could say to you get you fired up or key passions?! But actually as I write in finding God speak to me about something I’m struggling with today. 

Today my self esteem is low and my tears are flowing easily. I’m finding myself frustrated and like my weight loss mountain is too high whilst my self esteem is too low. 

But how do I agree with something I’ve just written myself?!? God loves a trier. Simple. 

GOD LOVES A TRIER. 

If I give up on my journey I stop trying because it’s hard and it’s overwhelming. If I keep going shouting at God to help me in my frustration and low self esteem then I’m a trier and he’ll be there with me. 

The past often makes me feel like a failure. If you look back at my history you see how long this journey last and you see I’m worse off now than when I started. It’s hard to not let that infiltrate your heart and cause you to despair. 

But I keep trying because it’s important. It’s important for so many reasons

  • I want to see change in myself and be the best that I can 
  • I want to honour God with what he has given me, my body being a good place to start!
  • I want to be disciplined in my life and my choices
  • I want to be healthier and more able physically 
  • I don’t want my boys to bullied because of how their mum looks (kids are mean!) 
  • I want to see my boys grow up and if for any reason that doesn’t happen I never want them to wonder if I’d taken my weight loss more seriously would life have been different
  • I want to achieve what so often feels I achievable. 
  • I don’t want to feel like I keep failing in this journey 

There so many more reasons which I haven’t  really thought out because this post has taken me a little by surprise. 

I want to be a trier and not a quitter or a failure but man alive do I need Gods help from him and from the community he has placed me in – especially on weeks like this one. 

Being a mum is hard

Now before you jump on me I’ve already written a post about being a dad being hard so you’ll have to scroll and find it, but it’s true that being a mum is hard.

Being a mum has probably always been hard. Let’s face it the physically hard part hasn’t got harder, maybe it’s actually got easier with all the gadgets we have to help us. But maybe, just maybe the mental side has got harder. Bare with me…

Physically, carrying a baby often sucks. Sickness, nausea, heartburn, sore back, sore hips, sore tummy, sore boobs, needing to go to the toilet all the time….I don’t think I need to go much further!

THEN there’s HAVING a baby. I only did labour to a certain point. Admittedly that certain point took 37 but both boys were csections so the pain I recognise to do with child birth is probably quite different to others BUT it still physically hurt!

THEN there’s breastfeeding. Anyone who tells you it’ll only hurt if you’re doing it wrong is lying to you. Nipples suddenly being used to feed for almost 180hours in 30 days are going to hurt. The most important thing you need to know is if you keep going chances are it won’t hurt as much or at all!

But all those things will always have hurt. What I’m contemplating is whether being a mum has maybe got more mentally and emotionally hard?

Mentally and emotionally mum’s face a world that is bigger and more in your face than ever before because of the internet and social media. Now don’t me wrong this has MASSIVE benefits. We ask google for advice (Top tip: never google medical problems! Dr Google is unlikely to ever be right!!), we can join forums with mum’s who are due at the same time or have children same age or who wean in the same way or who are as ecologically minded as we are and we find ideas for activities for our kids (read put on iplayer/netflix/amazon video).

BUT this often comes at an emotional or mental price. You browse facebook and see all these mum’s who’ve done crazy crafts, baked cakes with children who are still smiling (because when you bake either you or the toddler end up crying), built towers, had lovely days out or whose houses/children/cars look immaculate and if you’re not careful you are lead to compare, to feel guilty or to feel like you *should* be able to be doing the same.

Firstly there’s the matter of *should* to be dealt with. Should creates instant pressure and instant guilt. It makes many people feel like a failure before they’ve even climbed out of bed because they *should* be happy, they *should* go out or they *should achieve something because Jane Smith on Facebook managed it and she’s got THREE children and her youngest is only 1 month old whilst you’ve *only* got 2 children and your youngest is 5 month. As an aside as Christian mothers the bible tells us there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and so therefore *should* is actually quite a distructive thought process and one we *should* probably be handing over to God regularly.  I think *should* often stops us from asking for help because we *should* be able to cope, we *should* be enjoying being a mum and we *should* be able because every other mother on Facebook seems to be able to.

The key word in that sentence is SEEMS. On Facebook we create a different reality. I don’t think we do it on purpose but it certainly happens. No one really wants to see my toddler and baby screaming but the true reality, particularly with the smallest one, is that often what he’s doing. I post pictures of them smiling and cheerful and often want to write a “by  the way most of my day they’ve cried but they’re so cute when they smile”

In a world of Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram it’s incredibly easy to be overcome with inadequacies but worse than that we create the notion for parents, and particularly mums to be, that this parenthood thing is easy and clean and predictable and pain free and something we all take in our stride. Of course no mum to be really wants to know what’s really coming and actually often you don’t really understand what it’s like till you’re actually in depth of it but maybe its worth a little more reality, a little more of an accurate perspective with those we know how are having children and with those mum’s we spend the most time with.

Perhaps that extra honesty will relieve one mum’s feeling of being overwhelmed, of being a failure, of not being as good as the person next door and allow them to better enjoy the reality of this challenging but oh so rewarding, messy but oh so worth it experience.

I also think that sometimes we take being a mum for granted in those moments of despair. There have been many times, as a direct result of having struggled with infertility I suspect, that in my lowest and most frustrating times I have turned to these little people who cause my world to run in chaos and been overwhelmed with gratitude that they are here to cause my chaos. Being a mum is hard. Wanting to be a mum when it isn’t happen is just as hard, if not harder and to anyone in that situation reading this I sending you such a huge love and grieve with you your monthly disappointment at not being the mum you long to be. xx

Who goes with you?

IMG_2454Community is a beautiful thing. Real community is there in good times and in bad. They stretch us and encourage us to grow and become better versions of us. They keep us accountable and they hit us with spoons when we do stupid things – normally metaphorically not literally!

I’ve found myself pondering my small group of friends and I found myself feeling sad that I have so few friends in recent days and weeks. I know a lot of people but I’m not sure I have that many friends.

I know this sounds like a sob story and truth be told for much of the time I’ve been pondering my friendships and community I probably have been looking at it as more of a sob story.

However, there’s a but, a big BUT. The friendships that I have, the people who I spend my time with, the people who spend their precious time with me and invest in me are precious and amazing friends.

They are the types of people who I want to help, invest in, build up, encourage but also to challenge to do more, different, less, change and just generally be the best that they can be. I want that because whether verbally or through their actions that what they do for me.

Who goes with you? Who challenges you to be the best person you can be? Who really wants a bunch of yes men around them who pay lip service but not heart service.

Yes my group of friends is small. Yes there are times when I wish I had a bigger pool to pull from (to be less of a burden more than anything) but this group are friends are the perfect group of friends for who I am now and where God would have me go.

I am BEYOND grateful.