words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Those you love are never far away

Pa and Nerissa

My grandfather and I … 16 years ago.

This past weekend, our family enjoyed a quick trip to QLD for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary. It had been a long-time in the planning, which meant that family from around the globe could come.

Firstly, my husband’s oldest brother and his family from Cairns. The last time we saw them was over six years ago. My husband’s other brother and his family live in QLD, but we hadn’t seen them for almost two years. Then there was an uncle who came from Scotland who we hadn’t seen in a few years and another aunt and uncle from New Zealand who we hadn’t seen since our honeymoon, 16 ½ years ago.

Needless to say it was a houseful of people, brought together because we were celebrating a special milestone. And while it was a very busy time (we were organising and catering for the celebratory lunch), it was also a great time of catching up, swapping stories and lots of laughter.

Our kids were particularly excited to see their cousins. Their oldest ones from Cairns are now adults (18 and 19), so they were keen to see ‘how big they really were’ as last time they were together my daughter was 2 ½ and the older cousins were about to enter their teenage years.

They were also excited about seeing their other cousins whom they hadn’t seen for about 18mths. Closer in age, they always get along like a house on fire.

I expected the weekend to be busy (after all, we were flying in on Friday morning and out again on Sunday morning and in-between we were catering for and organising a lunch for 42 people). I expected the weekend to be fun. I expected that there would be a lot of celebrating and I expected to see some familiar faces at the celebration lunch.

However, there were two guests I didn’t expect to see — and the fact that I saw them both on the same day, out of the blue was quite amazing to me.

The first was my grandfather who passed away just over 10 years ago.

No, it wasn’t a ghostly apparition. My mother-in-law had a photo she had taken of Pa and I, 16 years ago — shortly after Nan had passed away. She said she thought I would appreciate it more than she would. She was right. What a special photograph.

My grandmother, mother and aunty are all in this photo.

My grandmother, mother and aunty are all in this photo.

The second person I didn’t expect to see came along with a guest of the party. A lady called Judy, came up to me with a photocopy of an old photograph and asked me if I recognised anyone in it. To my astonishment, there was my Nan smiling out from the picture. It was a much younger version of her, as the photo was taken in 1962. On closer inspection, my mother and my aunty were also in the photo!

Talk about being gob-smacked!

Two guests from my past, but two very important people in my life, who had influenced me greatly as I was growing up. Two people who I miss most days were there with me unexpectedly. And it brought a smile to my face.

Since they have both passed away, my grandparents ‘pop up’ unexpectedly every now and then. Sometimes their ‘visit’ coincides with a significant event or date and other times, they appear out of the blue.

Just to remind me that those you love are never really far away.

 

 

Nerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

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Do you really ‘suck’? Or do you simply need to improve your game?

tennis ballThere’s a lot you can learn from tennis.

This week I went to cheer on my son and his friend as they represented their school in the District Tennis competition.

Before the competition began, most boys seemed full of confidence. Stories of how they had won their matches on the weekend, descriptions of how they won a tie-break or a long point, and predictions of how many games they were going to win during this competition. Many of them were itching to get their campaign underway.

However, it wasn’t long after competition started that some of the boys began to tell a different story.

And it wasn’t with their mouths.

As they faced their opponents, some of them realised they weren’t all that good at tennis at all — or that is how they saw it.

As I watched matches across four courts, there was a common theme. I could tell who was losing, simply by their body language.

Shoulders were slumped, feet were dragging, and heads were hanging between points. There were frustrated sighs and a bit of racquet tossing.

I was sitting next to one father who was watching his son. Every now and then he would call out, “good shot.” His son would look up and shake his head, then proceed to look at the ground. At one point, his dad called out, “Don’t give up, mate.”

At the end of the game, his son came and sat down next to me, clearly devastated by his loss.

“Why did you give up?” his dad asked.

“Because I suck at tennis,” was the reply.

Probably the same sentiment going through the other boys’ minds as they were getting beaten on court.

It occurred to me that most of us say things similar to that at one point or another.

We may feel confident in our abilities (whether it be tennis or something else) but as soon as we come up against someone else who is better at that particular activity, all of our confidence evaporates. We begin to compare our game to theirs, we watch how good they are at something and then begin telling ourselves that we are not that good after all.

It’s really only another thought or two before we begin to think “we suck”.

The father put his arm around his son and said: “Hang on. Did you think you sucked before you started playing?”

“No, not really,” answered his son.

“So what’s changed?”

“He beat me.”

“Yep, that’s right, he beat you. What does that mean?”

The boy just shrugged his shoulders in an answer.

“Does it mean you suck, or that he’s just better than you are at tennis?”

And there it is, the question that we all need to ask ourselves.

Do we really ‘suck’, or is someone else just more gifted in that area than we are? Perhaps they have worked harder than we have, or have more experience in a particular area than we do.

It’s so easy to put ourselves down and talk to ourselves negatively, particularly when things don’t go the way we want, or when someone else’s abilities show up our weaknesses.

However, all that does, is erode our confidence and cause us to mope about, shoulders sagging, dragging our feet. The more we do that, the lower our confidence dips, and then we begin believing, acting and performing as if we do ‘suck’.

What we need to do, is accept that while we may be good at a particular thing there is always someone who is better than we are. Just because their abilities outshine ours, doesn’t mean that we have lost our abilities all of a sudden. Just like the boy’s tennis abilities were no different between when he stepped onto the court and when he came off.

Before the boy went back on court for his second match his dad gave him some advice.

“Firstly,” he said “go and have fun.”

“Secondly, instead of thinking you suck, or you’re going to get beaten, ask yourself what can you do to stay in the game.”

“Thirdly, think about the aspects of your game you need to improve. Off you go.”

With a smile on his face, and a spring in his step, the boy went back to meet his next opponent. There was no more sagging shoulders, shakes of the head, or dragging of his feet. He played some very good points against a very good opponent and came back with a win. the only person you should try to be better than

So next time you find yourself questioning your abilities, think about the boy on the tennis court and the questions his dad asked him —

“Does it mean you suck, or that he’s just better than you are?”

“And what can you do to stay in the game?”

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Want to change your life? First you need a support team

surround yourself with peopleAs some of you may know, I am currently participating in a 12-week Transformation Challenge.

What most people think of when they hear the words ‘Transformation Challenge’ is that if you really focus, you can have an amazing body at the end of it.

Well, that’s what we are led to believe with shows such as The Biggest Loser gracing our screens.

While some people do have amazing physical transformations, the biggest transformation you can achieve is that of your mind.

Improving your confidence, learning how to set goals, learning how to step out of your comfort zone and do things you have never done (or didn’t think you could do), is all part of changing your mindset. Part of the mental transformation may involve turning your negative thoughts into positive ones. Sometimes it’s about learning to change unhealthy habits into healthy ones.

I have done a couple of Transformation Challenges and while there have been transformations in my body, they haven’t been as amazing as those that have happened in my mind. I have learnt to be more positive, to set goals (in all areas of my life), and have grown in my confidence and belief that I can achieve my goals — even though some of them will take some time.

One of the most important things you need when undertaking a Transformation Challenge (or when you set out to change any part of your life), is a great support network.

One of the key people who has been supporting me in my quest for a happier, healthier life for over 12 months now, is Mel Cook, founder and owner of Run With Life. She offers personal training, nutrition advice, running coaching and is one of only 30 trainers world-wide who is a Level 4 trainer in Metabolic Precision (MP) — a science-based approach to achieving permanent body transformation.

You could say, that Mel is very knowledgeable when it comes to the world of health and fitness.

One of the most amazing things about Mel is how she has built a community of people who support one another. Her Run With Life community is made up of people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Some of us are super fit. Some of us are working to be super fit. Some of us are part of her running crew and some of us are not. However, the one thing that we all have in common is that we support each other, no matter what our goals are.

I’m pretty luck really, to be part of such a group. So this week, I thought I would introduce you to one of the people in my support group, who inspires me each day to make the right choices in order to reach my goals.

Please meet, Mel Cook.

Why did you become a personal trainer?

Do you know what, I actually never wanted to be a personal trainer. I used to be so shy, it scared me to think I had to talk to and tell people what to do as a trainer.

I went to Uni and did health sciences. In my degree I had the option of following exercise science but I decided to follow health promotion and nutrition. When I finished my degree, I got a desk job in health promotion and that’s when I started running. In my desk job, I always seemed to try and find more ways of challenging myself. Then I came up with the idea that I wanted to educate people on how to start running or start exercising. With my nutrition background, I thought it would be good to put the two together and form my own business.

So off I went, I left a secure, great paying job to take a risk, to challenge myself to see what I could do with my own health and fitness business and for other people

What do you love most about your job?

My clients’ gratitude 🙂

How do you get the best out of your clients?

I develop a great trusting relationship with my clients and get them to be 100% honest and truthful with me. No more ignoring the actual underlying factors that are causing the problems. And of course follow the structure of MP.

What do you think your clients value most about you?

I am not too sure. I have never asked them the question. But if I were my client I would value that I offer them the best program possible, which is Metabolic Precision. Without this program many people fail. On top of this, I would also value how much time and energy I put into each of them. Little do they know how much I think about them and do for them outside of when I actually see or talk to them.

What differentiates you from every other personal trainer out there?

Well, I don’t think there is another trainer with the name Mel Cook who combines the Metabolic Precision system with their running clients at the level 4 level. There are only 30 of us worldwide who have completed level 4, and now another 25 who are completing it this year, so I believe I am in a unique situation. I am not the best trainer out there, and I definitely do not know everything, but I am changing the way people who run view training and nutrition. I am changing the way a lot of people view their training, nutrition and health. I also invest a lot of my time and money into bettering myself so I can deliver the best possible program.

Why is running such a key part of your life?

I am going to keep this answer simple. Having something that you can train for and keep getting better at pushes you to places you will have never been before.

When you have a skill that you can keep training for and achieve goals with, the person you become is amazing and the experiences along the way teach you so much that nothing else can teach you about yourself.

What motivates you?

Life motivates me. Seeing people who have missed or wasted opportunities, or didn’t even realise they had the chance makes me so mad/sad/frustrated. Making the best life for yourself is so important.

What are your goals this year?

Last year my fitness goals were on hold whilst my body decided to work as optimally as I wanted it too, so at the moment I just want to get back into training hard.

I do have goals for later this year. I want to sprint. I want to be an athlete — I have the discipline and motivation to push myself beyond limits and I think I have so much in my tank to give. It will take me a while but I aim to be able to sprint competitively by November this year. If not, then early next year, and then I would like to see what I can accomplish by the time I am 30.

I would also love a sub 40min 10km this year. That would be amazing 🙂

What accomplishments are you most proud of (you can have more than one)

Setting up Run With Life and also running my fastest 10km (40mins 22) and my first marathon (3 hours and 29mins).

In order for someone to accomplish their goals (whether it be fitness or something else), what qualities do they need?

The most important quality is to be willing and able to learn.

The person has to want to be resilient and be able to handle all the ‘nos’, downs and disappointments because that is when we learn, when we get stronger and what helps us achieve our goals.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to make a change in their life?

Mel Cook - a super supportive and knowledgeable trainer

Mel Cook – a super supportive and knowledgeable trainer

Do it now because life is way too short and when you have made the change you will regret not starting earlier.

When you are healthy, feel fit and strong, I can tell you, life doesn’t get any better than this!  And…….please do not give me an excuse 🙂

So if you are looking to make positive changes to your health and fitness, but don’t know where to start, contact Mel at Run With Life. Not only will you have access to a highly educated and dedicated trainer, but you will become part of a group that provides great support, no matter what your goals may be.

And that my friends, is something that money just can’t buy.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Things I learned at primary school

Prep - Grade 6. How much they change

Prep – Grade 6. How much they change

This year heralds the last year of primary school for my son. Despite my reluctance, I have been forced to acknowledge this in a recent trip down memory lane.

Like most schools, our Grade 6 students have a graduation event at the end of the year. Already a group of us are beginning to organise it. Part of that organisation involves putting together a memory book for the kids of their time at primary school. Our job as parents was to go through all of our photos and pick out some that may be suitable.

What I thought would be a relatively quick exercise, took nearly a whole day. There was lots of laughter, some moments of sadness and a realisation that my son has done a whole lot of growing since being at school. And while searching through my archives and CDs full of pictures, I realised that even though I haven’t been an enrolled student in primary school for quite a number of years, I have actually learned some new lessons during my ‘second time around’ at primary school.

So if you have recently begun the primary school journey, or will do so in the next couple of years, I hope that my lessons may help you make the most of this incredibly special time.

Get involved: It can seem like a thankless task to be involved at school. And sometimes it is. But it’s important to be involved. By being involved you show your children that their schooling is important. It shows them that you value the school. By being involved (whether it be on a committee, helping out with excursions, school discos, stalls or being a class rep), you are taking an active interest in your child’s educational experience. And it’s one that they will value and remember forever.

Encourage your kids to be involved: Encourage your kids to play for a school sporting team, or join the environmental group, or go to the school disco. When your child is involved, they develop friendships and a sense of belonging. They feel connected to the school and it becomes a happy and safe place to be.

Help out: Teachers always appreciate help when needed (particularly in the younger grades). While going up to listen to kids reading every week wasn’t always my first choice of activity, I am so glad I did it. Not only does it help your children feel like you are interested in what they do, it helps you get to the know the children in their grade. One of my friends and I have some fond (and funny) memories of helping out during Grade 1 reading or with the Christmas craft. So there will be something in it for you too.

Get to know the teachers: I am really surprised at the number of parents who don’t get to know their child’s teacher. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should take the time to introduce yourself, particularly at the beginning of the year. When you see them in the playground, stop and say hello. After all, these people are spending most of the day with your child, so why wouldn’t you want to get to know them? They’re not intimidating and some of them are actually very nice people!

Support the teachers: On the subject of teachers, you really should support them. If you want them to give the best of themselves to the education and care of your child, then show them you’re on their side. If they are doing a good job, tell them — and the principal. Positive feedback goes a very long way. If you have a problem with them or their methods, then speak to them privately, rather than holding court in the playground and whingeing about everything you don’t like. If you don’t support and respect the person teaching your child, chances are your child won’t either — and that is only going to hurt your child in the end.

Make an effort when it’s time to dress up: Looking back, there were many ‘dress-up’ days throughout my son’s primary school life — all of which hold fond memories. I remember searching high and low for a green and gold shirt so my son could dress up as an “Australian Athlete” for the Prep alphabet concert. Letting him wear his pyjamas to school for the annual Teddy Bear’s Picnic for the Prep and Grade 5 buddies. There were days of running around looking for supplies so I could make a “Jack in the Beanstalk” costume for the Grade 1 Fairy Tale Ball. Off to the shops again to find some red pants so he could dress up as “Mr Strong” for Grade 1 Book Week or a red sheet for “Captain Underpants” for Grade 5 Book Week. And of course the annual Footy Day! Some days it was exhausting and my creativity ran dry at times. But the look on his face as he proudly displayed his costume was priceless. And it makes for some great photos!

Take pictures — lots of pictures: Speaking of photos, take them. Lots of them. Don’t just leave it for the ‘first day of school’ or them displaying a ribbon after winning the 100m dash. Take photos of them participating in sports. (I have a very funny one of my son in Grade 1 diving over the high jump rope. Yes, diving with this arms together and his hands pointing forward). The more photos you take the more memories you have. Take photos of them with their friends. Getting on the bus to go to camp. Getting off the bus to come home from camp. Sports days, Christmas concert, School production. Take photos at any opportunity. You don’t realise how much they change and grow during these seven years at school. When their primary school years are over, these photos will be among the few memories you have left.

On the subject of photos, take comparative pictures. Amongst my favourites are the First day of Prep and First day of Grade 6  photos. This year, we took the time to recreate the photos that we took all those years ago when my son started school. Same poses, same positions in the yard. And it is such a great way to see how much they really grow and change.

Go to sports days: It’s not always the most exciting of days. Standing around in the hot sun, waiting for your child to run or jump. And yes, there were many a time when I would have rather have stayed home. But I am proud to say I have made the effort to go to every single one. Sports days, Cross Country, District sports, Hoop Time — all of it. The same goes for other special events. ‘Open Day’ at school where you have an opportunity to look through your child’s class. Information nights, the multitude of concerts and performances throughout their young years. They will love you for supporting them, and you will love it simply because you are watching them shine.

Which brings me to the next point –

Cheer them on!: Sure, you child may not be the fastest runner, or the best reader, or the most creative when it comes to art. They may not even be very attentive when they need to be. But you have an opportunity to build them up, or pull them down. Always praise them. Don’t lie about them being the best. Instead, a simple “I love the way you tried your best and never gave up” or “I’m so proud of you for being part of the team” or “Your reading is getting better and better”, really does go a long way. That said, if they do win a race, or an award, then be proud. Don’t play down their achievements because others may be jealous. Congratulating a person on achieving something is an important part of life, particularly for a child.

Enjoy the experience: I’m the first to admit that primary school is not all roses. There are so many issues to contend with — concentrating in class, making friendships, learning to be organised, getting homework done, etc. But the time really does fly. One day you’re sending them off to the big world of school, and the next you’re prepping them to say goodbye to that familiar place. Primary school is such a huge part of your child’s life and your own. It’s precious learning and growing time, and time when your child will begin to exhibit natural gifts and talents. Make sure you take the time to enjoy it, rather than rushing from one thing to another.

Show an interest: Show an interest in your child’s school life. Ask them about their day. Sit with them while they do homework. Read some of their books with them. When they think you value school, then they will too. Not only will you have a handle on where your child is at, you will also open up the doors to a whole lot of different conversations and opportunities for learning.

And finally…

Don’t cry when it’s over: I can’t guarantee that I will achieve this one. In fact, I know I won’t. My son’s primary school years have been so much fun. The school has been such a wonderful community and has provided so many opportunities for my son to grow and learn. He has achieved success in many things, and learned hard lessons in other areas. He has brought tears of laughter to my face with his various performances, both on the sporting ground and on the stage. Did I say it was fun?

What fun we had dressing up!

What fun we had dressing up!

I think it’s ok to be emotional about a phase of their life being over, but it’s not okay to let that overshadow their excitement and enthusiasm to enter the world of high school. We shouldn’t make them feel guilty for growing up or wanting to move to the next phase of life.

I know that it’s still early on in the year. We still have close to 10 months of primary school left. But if the rate at which time has already disappeared is anything to go by, the remaining year will be over in a blink of an eye. So with the lessons above in mind, my son and I are set to make Grade 6 the best and most fun year of primary school ever.

And the way it’s going so far, I’d say we are well on track.

Nerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

 So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

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